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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 20, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Paris Airport Attacker Vowed to "Die for Allah" (AFP-France 24)
    Troops at Paris' Orly airport on Saturday shot dead a man who tried to grab a female soldier's weapon.
    "Put your weapons down. I'm here to die for Allah. In any case people are going to die," the man told three patrolling soldiers, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Saturday.
    Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said the attacker, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, was "known to the police and intelligence services" and was linked to an attack on police just north of Paris earlier on Saturday.

Lessons from Friday's Israel-Syria Missile Clash - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    The airstrikes carried out against Hizbullah targets in Syria that took place early Friday were the first to be confirmed officially by the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson.
    Syria's air-defense forces launched a long-range missile in an attempt to shoot down Israel's jets. The missile was fired much too late to endanger the planes, but could have fallen on civilian areas within Israel and was therefore intercepted by an Arrow 2 missile.
    An attack carried out by Israeli warplanes flying over Syria (and not using standoff missiles from afar as happened in other strikes recently) may be an indication that there is an understanding with Russia over Israeli operations within the area that Russia protects with its own air-defense systems.

Argentinians Demand Justice for Attack on Israeli Embassy - Michelle Mendeluk (Jerusalem Post)
    Hundreds of people gathered in the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, on Friday at the memorial park where the Israeli Embassy used to stand, to remember the victims of the terrorist car bomb that destroyed it on March 17, 1992, killing 29 civilians and wounding 242 others.
    The perpetrators were never captured and Argentinians continue to demand justice. Iran is widely believed to have been behind the attack.
    Two years later, on July 18, 1994, another suicide car-bomb attack killed 85 people and wounded more than 300 at the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Iran is also thought to have been behind that attack.

Turkish Ambassador: Iran's Regional Ambitions Must Be Contained - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran's "nuclear file is a concern for everyone," Turkey's new ambassador to Israel, Kemal Okem, said Wednesday.
    "We saw the need for engaging and containing their ambitions."

UN Ranks Israel as 11th Happiest Country (Jerusalem Post)
    The annual World Happiness Report published on Monday by the UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network has ranked Israel as the 11th happiest country in the world in 2017 for the fourth year in a row.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in China to Boost Trade Ties
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Beijing on Sunday for his second official visit to the country, accompanied by the largest Israeli-business delegation to ever visit China, marking 25 years of relations between the two countries. (CNTV-People's Daily-China)
        See also Video: Israeli Prime Minister Lands in China (Facebook)
  • UN Secretary General Shelves Anti-Israel Report
    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the UN regional commission that represents most Arab countries to remove from its website a report accusing Israel of practicing an "apartheid regime" against Palestinians, a UN official said on Friday. The accusation has never before been made by a UN body. (Reuters)
        See also UN Commission Pushes Legal and Propaganda Offensive Against Israel - George Russell
    The UN's Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), which just published a report that finds Israel guilty of "apartheid," is comprised entirely of Arab states. An additional report commissioned by ESCWA, still in the works, is attempting to create an "innovative" and "scientific" methodology for estimating the cost of Israel's 50-year control of the territories, with the aim of demanding billions in reparations for Palestinians.
        Moreover, an ESCWA background paper describes plans for an elaborate propaganda campaign, making use of UN institutions and a variety of diplomatic and media channels, to create a new, sympathetic "brand" for Palestinians as victims. ESCWA is a $70 million body ostensibly concerned with social and economic coordination and development in the Middle East. Some 22% of its budget is paid for by the U.S. (Fox News)
  • UN Diplomat Behind Report Accusing Israel of Apartheid Quits - Rick Gladstone and Skomini Sengupta
    Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian diplomat who is executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, resigned Friday after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres insisted that she withdraw the commission's report describing Israel's treatment of Palestinians as apartheid. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, "When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN, it is appropriate that the person resign." She praised Guterres for his "decision to distance his good office from it."
        A UN spokesman noted that Khalaf's term had been set to expire at the end of the month. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, "It is time to put an end to the practice in which UN officials use their position to advance their anti-Israel agenda."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Chief of Staff: Israel Will Continue to Prevent Advanced Weapons Transfers to Hizbullah - Anna Ahronheim
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Sunday, "Hizbullah continues to arm itself and grow inside Lebanon. We will continue to act decisively to thwart these efforts and will continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbullah....Hizbullah continues to violate UN resolutions and prepare themselves for war."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Protects Israeli Drivers in West Bank
    The IDF opened fire at Palestinian assailants throwing firebombs at Israeli drivers near Al Aroub, north of Hebron, in the West Bank on Friday. One Palestinian, 16, was killed and another was wounded. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Who Killed American Ezra Schwartz Gets 4 Life Sentences - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Muhammad Haruv, the Palestinian terrorist responsible for the death of Ezra Schwartz, 18, from Sharon, Mass., Yaakov Don, 49, a teacher, and Palestinian Shadi Arafeh, 24, of Hebron, in a drive-by shooting in November 2015, was sentenced to four life prison terms by the Judea Military Court on Sunday. Haruv fired dozens of bullets with an automatic rifle at cars stuck in traffic at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank, wounding seven others. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Any Peace Deal Likely to Be Frustrated by Abbas - Malcolm Hoenlein interviewed by Barney Breen-Portnoy
    Malcolm Hoenlein - the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations - recently returned to the U.S. from a trip to Israel, Egypt, Morocco and Cyprus. "What we heard in all the countries was a sense of relief over the change of administrations and anticipation about what the new administration will be, who will be in it, what they will do and how they will govern. There is a feeling that America is back in the game. But there is also some anxiety and uncertainty."
        "The relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president at their meeting [in February] was good, Ambassador Nikki Haley has been very strong at the UN responding to attacks on Israel. And the president also protected aid to Israel in the face of major budget cuts."
        Regarding Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, Hoenlein noted, "President Trump has said he's interested in making a deal....They [the Trump administration] are likely to be frustrated, like everyone else, by Abbas, but at least they can tell the world, 'We tried.' Netanyahu has always said that he's ready to talk."  (Algemeiner)
  • New UN Report Libels Israel, Promotes Hatred, and Makes Peace Less Likely - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia published a report saying that the State of Israel was guilty of "the crime of apartheid" according to international law, calling into question the legitimacy of the Jewish state itself, even within the pre-1967 lines. The report is a pseudo-scholarly compendium of specious charges, distortions, and outright lies. Never before has the UN officially tied Israel to apartheid. The report's findings will make it even harder to persuade the Palestinians to compromise and finally accept the necessity of giving up its war on the Jewish state.
        And by denying legitimacy to Israel's basis for existence as the one Jewish state on the planet, surrounded by multiple nations that are explicitly Muslim or Arab, it implicitly legitimizes the century-long war that has been waged against the Zionist effort, positing that Jews may be legally denied rights granted to others as a matter of course.
        The UN report is a reminder that in our time, the singling out of Jews for discriminatory treatment is primarily driven by anti-Israel propaganda, which serves as a thin veil for a new and insidious form of anti-Semitism. (National Review)
  • Israel and China: Toward a Comprehensive Innovative Partnership - Matan Vilnai, Assaf Orion, and Galia Lavi
    Ties between Israel and China embody significant growth potential for the Israeli economy that must be maximized while taking every precaution to preserve Israel's strategic relationship with the U.S.
        Maj. Gen. (ret.) Matan Vilnai, former Israeli ambassador to China (2012-2016), is head of the INSS program on Israel-China Relations. Brig. Gen. Orion served as head of Strategic Planning in the Planning Directorate in the IDF General Staff (2010-2015). Galia Lavi is a Research Assistant in the China Program at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies)

The U.S. Is Back - Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)

  • The Middle East is already feeling the change. The U.S. is once again taking an active role in the region and, more importantly, Washington is once again standing by the allies and friends it had abandoned.
  • Despite being portrayed as an enemy of Islam, the election of President Donald Trump was greeted with a sigh of relief in the region. America's allies were fed up with former President Barack Obama's administration, which turned its back on them during tough times and did not hesitate to criticize them and even question their legitimacy.
  • The Obama administration was obviously biased in favor of pro-Islamic elements in the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. It also courted Iran and tried to appease it. This all created an unbridgeable gulf between Washington and its old friends.
  • Last week, Trump hosted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia's interior minister, whose associates declared it a historic turning point in the countries' bilateral relations. Similar voices have been heard in Cairo and in Ankara.
  • Trump is also sending additional forces to Syria to strengthen the American hold on its eastern part. This is designed to help deal a crushing blow to Islamic State and provide a counterweight to the Russian presence, and even more importantly, to the Iranian presence there.
  • Trump has also tried to have the Israelis and the Palestinians resume direct talks without accepting the prerequisites set by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

    The writer, vice rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

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