Monday, August 31, 2009

J Street anti-Israel

Speaker at J Street Conference Pointed Finger at Israel for 9/11

J Street, the pro-peace, pro-Palestinian lobbying group, is having a conference this October that will feature a wide range of speakers -- from Salam Al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council to Bernard Avishai, author of The Tragedy of Zionism and The Hebrew Republic and Eli Pariser the former director of It's going to be super "pro-Israel," I'm sure. But the appearance of Salam Al-Marayati ought to raise a few eyebrows. Not only is he an apologist for Palestinian terrorism, but he pointed the finger at Israel for the murder of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 just hours after the Twin Towers fell. His quote, as it was reported in the New York Times:

''If we're going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what's happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.''

You can read more egregious comments from Al-Marayati here, courtesy of the ZOA. Looking down the list of speakers, I'm pleased to note that J Street failed to secure a single Republican for their conference. A few Democratic reps will speak, including the anti-Israel Donna Edwards, "His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein," know to most Americans as the Jordanian Ambassador, and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation. But not one single Republican. And compare this to the broad bipartisan showing at AIPAC events. There's a reason AIPAC gets members of both parties to attend their conferences: 1) they don't invite speakers who blame Israel or America for 9/11; and 2) AIPAC is actually pro-Israel

Friday, August 28, 2009

Israel Update

Senator Edward Kennedy, a Great Friend of Israel
Sen. Edward Kennedy (1932-2009) was a lifelong supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship and a true friend of America's pro-Israel community. During his more than four decades in the Senate, Sen. Kennedy consistently supported U.S. security assistance to Israel. He led the fight against U.S. arms sales to Israel's enemies, spoke out forcefully against the Arab League boycott of Israel and fiercely criticized the United Nations' isolation of the Jewish state. He also urged his colleagues to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital and warned of the dangers of global terrorism. Sen. Kennedy was a champion of persecuted Soviet Jewry, advocating on behalf of refuseniks and demanding that the United States provide loan guarantees to Israel to absorb Jewish refugees. Sen. Kennedy's legacy of leadership on these issues and his lifelong support for one of America's closest allies are hallmarks of his historic career. He will be sorely missed.
Sarkozy Slams Iran, Threatens Stronger Sanctions
French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened on Wednesday to press for tougher sanctions on Iran if the Islamic Republic refuses to halt its illicit nuclear work, Reuters reported. "It is the same leaders in Iran who say that the nuclear program is peaceful and that the elections were honest. Who can believe them?" Sarkozy said. The French president's warnings echoed those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who earlier this week said world powers are discussing sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector. President Obama has given Iran until mid-September to take up his offer of engagement. Obama administration officials and leading Democrats and Republicans have called for heightened sanctions if Iran continues to rebuff the president's overtures. Learn more about Iran's quest for a nuclear weapons capability.
Ahmadinejad Nominee Wanted in Bombing of Jewish Center
The man nominated by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to serve as Iran's defense minister is wanted by Interpol in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, The New York Times reported. Ahmadinejad last week nominated Ahmad Vahidi to serve in his cabinet. Vahidi is one of five Iranian officials sought by Interpol on charges of "conceiving, planning, financing and executing" the 1994 attack, which killed 85 people and wounded about 300 others. Vahidi was also the head of the secret Quds Force, an arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States for aiding attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Hariri: Hizballah to be Part of Lebanese Government
As his bid to form a government entered its eighth week, Lebanese prime minister-designate Saad Hariri said on Wednesday that Hizballah will be part of the country's next cabinet "whether Israel likes it or not," Agence France Presse reported. "The national unity government will include the (ruling) March 14 alliance, and I also want to assure the Israeli enemy that Hizballah will be in this government whether it likes it or not because Lebanon's interests require all parties be involved in this cabinet," Hariri said. Earlier this month, Israel warned that the Lebanese government would be held responsible for any attack from Lebanese territory if Hizballah was part of the new government. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said that the terrorist army's weapons supply "dwarfs the inventory of many nation-states." Learn more about Hizballah.
PA Leader: Jews Have No History in Jerusalem
The Palestinian Authority's (PA) chief Islamic judge said Wednesday that there was no evidence that Jews had ever lived in Jerusalem or that the Temple had ever existed there, The Jerusalem Post reported. "Jerusalem is an Arab and Islamic city and it always has been so," Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi said. His declaration came in response to statements made earlier this week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that Jerusalem "is not a settlement," and that "the Jews built it 3,000 years ago." The PA has consistently denied the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. The city is home to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest sites. There are more than 800 mentions of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible, and literally thousands of references to the city throughout more than 2,000 years of rabbinic literature. Learn more about the Jewish people's historic connection to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.
Israeli Researchers Find New Way to Treat Heart Disease
In a major breakthrough in the treatment of heart disease, Israeli researchers have for the first time demonstrated the possibility of rejuvenating a heart that has suffered a heart attack, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported. The Israeli team, led by Dr. Tal Dvir, seeded cardiac cells from newborn rats with a growth agent, eventually growing heart muscle. That muscle was then implanted in a rat's abdomen, where it continued to grow and developed a network of blood vessels. After about a week, the new tissue was removed and used to patch the damaged heart of a rat that had suffered a heart attack. Not only did the implant survive—the first time such a procedure was successful—but it actually appeared to improve the damaged heart, preventing typical deterioration that occurs after a heart attack. Learn more about the breakthrough.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jewish vs. Muslim extremism by anonymous

I would like to point out that=
while extremism exists in virtually every religion, that the murderous e=
xtremism of Islamo-fascism is EXPONENTIALLY greater than anything that we=
experience in the Jewish community.

When, in certain Muslim populations, more kids want to be "Shahids" (mart=
yrs) than anything else; when the vast majority of Mosques worldwide are =
shepherded by "graduates" of radical Madrassas (including the U.S. where =
80% of the Imams are Madrassa trained); when a majority of Muslims worldw=
ide agree with suicide bombing under "some circumstances", we are dealing=
with a situation which is incomparable to anything that we find in the J=
ewish community. Jack, even using the 1% estimate of Muslim extremists is=
irresponsibly pollyanish. Your math makes Islamic murderers Batel B'Shis=
him. The real number may be 20%, 50% or more.

While there are some violent, murderous Jews out there, they are in the s=
mallest of minorities. They have no government supporting them, no univer=
sal support in synagogues worldwide, and no political clout (none of them=
are involved in negotiations with Arab States or the Palestinian authori=
ty - but Israel has to deal with Hamas as the "legitimately elected gover=
nment" of Gaza.

You're right that we should in no way fund or support the Jewish ex=
tremists. But we don't! (Whereas MAINSTREAM muslims support Muslim exremi=
sm through mainstream Muslim organizations - some of which are being inve=
stigated and charged here in the U.S.) You correctly point out that the J=
ewish extremism doesn't have the same support or clout as Muslim extremis=
m, but I fear that even creating the moral equivalency, which you do, cou=
ld lead people to fight both with equal force. The truth, however, is tha=
t Jewish extremists can be thwarted with the proverbial "fly swatter". Bu=
t the Muslim Extremists may only be contained with the deployment of Crui=
se Missiles (perhaps with nuclear warheads).

You are also right that the aspirations of the Islamists and Radical Jews=
are different. But the greater difference is that the Jewish extremists,=
when taken in proportion, can be likened to a cold sore (which you still=
want to get rid of) vs. a malignant tumor growing around one's heart. If=
a patient had both (a cold sore and an aggressive cancer), one would hav=
e to question the judgment of any doctor who spent too much time on the c=
old sore without fighting the cancer aggresively.

Finally, the Jewish Extremism is a relatively new phenomenon, perhaps a r=
esponse and result of Muslim extremism that goes unchecked. If Muslim ext=
remism were to go away, and if Arabs could actually countenance living in=
peace with a Jewish State, there would be no reason for Jewish Extremism=
to exist. On the other hand, if we ridded the world of every Jewish extr=
emist on the planet tomorrow, it might only embolden the Muslim extremist=
s who much prefer to confront a Jew with a Psalm than with a firearm.

focus on Israel

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
[David Bernstein, August 26, 2009 at 9:26am] Trackbacks

An Interesting Admission from HRW's Ken Roth:

In the past, whenever Human Rights Watch spokespeople have been asked about their seemingly obsessive and disproportionate focus on Israel, the response has been that HRW holds every country to exactly the same standards. HRW does not, they claim, disproportionately focus on Israel, and if it seems that Israel is receiving disproportionate attention, it's because Israel has been engaged in so many high-profile human rights violations.

But here's Ken Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, in Tablet, on why HRW has issued report after report on the Gaza war: "But if the question is, 'Why are we more concerned about the [Gaza] war rather than on other rights abuses?' Well, we've got to pick and choose-we've got finite resources."

So it turns out, HRW doesn't treat all countries equally, and does disproportionately focus on Israel. Which begs the obvious question: If HRW is picking and choosing based on limited resources, why pick and choose Israel? Not only are there, by any reasonable human rights standards, much worse regimes both locally in the Middle East and around the world, but unlike countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, and so on, Israel has its own domestic human rights groups that are perfectly legal and well-heard in public discourse. It hardly seems logical that Israel is the best choice for HRW's limited resources, unless its staff happens to be ideologically hostile to Israel apart from specific human rights concerns--which, as I've documented in several posts, linked below, it is!

Not irrelevantly, in the same article, HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson--who, remember, is a huge fan of anti-Israel activist, and frequent HRW critic Norman Finkelstein, whom she goes out of her way to appease--once again shows her contempt for her pro-Israel critics: "I'm not going to do something to appease people who have no interest in the truth, or who are only screaming about Israel."

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

daily alert Aug 19

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August 20, 2009


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Jordan Convicts Two of Plotting to Kill Israeli Businessman (AP-Ha'aretz)
Jordan's military court on Wednesday convicted Loay Shehadah, 38, and Mohammed Odatallah, 37, of plotting to kill an Israeli and sentenced them to 12 years in jail.
The men were looking to kill Jews in Jordan and in January had headed for a factory in Irbid owned by an Israeli businessman.


PA Academic: No Jewish Connection to Western Wall - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
Shamekh Alawneh, a lecturer in modern history at Al-Quds Open University, says the Jews invented their connection to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
"It has no historical roots," he told PA TV on Aug. 11.


African Refugee Gets Free Heart Operation in Israel - Dan Even (Ha'aretz)
Jamal Mohamed, 18, a Sudanese refugee, on Wednesday underwent a cardiac catheterization in Holon's Wolfson Medical Center financed by the Israeli-based project Save a Child's Heart.


A Vision for the Future of Jerusalem - Interview with Nir Barkat by Annie Lowrey (Foreign Policy)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat discussed his plans to revitalize the city:
"I worked with Professor Michael Porter, from Harvard Business School, in developing an economic model. Jerusalem has to play the role it did two or three thousand years ago, as a destination for pilgrims and tourists and people who want to taste the values and the experience and the culture and the religious and the historical competitive advantages we have."
"We have the best location in the world. The best brand in the world. Amazingly enough, if you compare where we are today to the potential of other cities - Rome has 40 million tourists a year, New York has 47 million tourists a year, Paris and London have over 40. Jerusalem has 2 million tourists. I set a goal of 10 million tourists [by] the next decade."


Saudi Women Can Drive, Just Let Them - Wajeha Al-Huwaider (Washington Post)
I am a native of Saudi Arabia, a 47-year-old divorced mother of two teenage sons, and an employee of Saudi Aramco.
At the border crossing from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, I refuse to present a document signed by my male "guardian," giving his permission for me to travel. I possess such a document, but I am tired of being humiliated solely because I am a woman.
The guardianship rules are only part of a bigger system of subjugating women. Even with the permission of a guardian, a woman may not drive a car.
Women in Saudi Arabia may not go out without an abaya, an ugly black cloak that we have to wear on top of our regular clothes. You can imagine how great that feels in 100-degree heat.
The writer is a co-founder of the Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.

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Khamenei, Ahmadinejad Laud Iran-Syria Unity During Assad Visit
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has called Iran-Syria unity the symbol of resistance in the region. "The result of this unity is evident in the Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq issues and also in the entire region," he said during a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran on Wednesday. Khamenei said the tide has turned in favor of the resistance. President Ahmadinejad said, "Today the world has realized that Western theories are not working anymore and that is why it needs the help and cooperation of Syria and Iran."
Assad congratulated Ahmadinejad on his victory in the June 12 presidential election, saying, "I have come here today to congratulate you and the Iranian nation. I believe what happened in Iran was an important event and a great lesson for foreign powers." (Tehran Times-Iran)
Momentum Slows for Israel's Security Barrier - Linda Gradstein and Howard Schneider
Cost overruns, court rulings and a decline in violence have led Israel to slow construction of the West Bank security barrier, and many analysts predict the project will not be completed. The last substantial work on the barrier was finished in 2007. While 40% of the barrier's 420-mile planned route remains unfinished, Israeli military officials and politicians credit the barrier with a decline in suicide bombings originating from the West Bank. The last one was 18 months ago. (Washington Post)
Australian Holocaust Denier Jailed for Three Months - Steven Lewis and Peter Wertheim
In a legal first, Australia's most notorious Holocaust denier, Fredrik Toben, has been jailed for three months following the failure of his appeal for contempt of court arising from breaches of Australia's anti-vilification laws. The sentence follows seven years of Toben repeatedly ignoring court orders requiring him to remove racist material from his Adelaide Institute website.
According to the Federal Court, Toben's website suggested the Holocaust did not occur, that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, that Jewish people who believed in the Holocaust were of limited intelligence and that they have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II to profit from what he described as "a Holocaust myth." (The Australian)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

U.S. Jews Blast Mubarak's "Shameful" Policy on Sudan - Cnaan Liphshiz
One hundred Jewish leaders and Holocaust scholars have harshly criticized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in a letter to the Egyptian embassy in Washington, for "giving the red carpet" on July 12 to his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for the mass killings in Darfur in western Sudan. "We hope to persuade President Mubarak that Bashir deserves to be isolated and arrested," said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington. (Ha'aretz)
Al-Qaeda-Style Islamism Comes to Gaza - Jonathan Spyer
Hamas' suppression of the Jund Ansar Allah group in Gaza last week highlights the growth of al-Qaeda-style Salafi Islamism among a segment of the Palestinian population. Jund Ansar Allah did not emerge suddenly, or in a vacuum, and its defeat does not mark the final word on this matter. A myriad of small, armed Salafi groupings exist in Gaza, part of a broader subculture estimated to command the loyalty of at least 50,000 people and probably many more.
The Taliban style of dress adopted by supporters of Salafism is becoming increasingly familiar in Gaza. Salafi activity is reportedly well-financed, with money coming in from the Gulf. As one source put it, "millions of petrodollars are flowing in every month." Most experts believe that the al-Qaeda network is present to only a very limited extent in Gaza. The al-Qaeda idea, however, is flourishing, with a large number of Salafi groups competing to be considered the "official franchise" of al-Qaeda in Gaza. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

Talking to the Enemy - Bret Stephens
It is the declared policy of the Obama administration that the U.S. should talk to enemies as well as friends. So why not talk to al-Qaeda? It's not as if al-Qaeda isn't willing to deal. "Whether America escalates or de-escalates this conflict, we will reply in kind," Osama bin Laden said in 2002. Bin Laden renewed his offer in 2006, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri made it again earlier this month. But aren't al-Qaeda's demands outrageous, and nonnegotiable to boot?
Iran is bargaining over a nuclear program that it has no right to possess. In America, we prosecute extortion rackets. We don't recognize, as an unalterable fact, the rights of local mafias to hold neighborhoods hostage. We do so because we know that to do otherwise is to import the law of the jungle into civil society. The world at large is not America, and we can't bust every extortion racket in it (though we can bust a few). But neither are we obliged, by self-interest or self-respect, to be played by every extortionist who comes our way, seeking the prestige of our company and the things we have to offer in exchange for being kept safe from harm. This is why we know better than to talk to al-Qaeda. This is why we should know better than to talk to the Irans and North Koreas of the world. (Wall Street Journal)
Is Obama Wasting His Time Trying to Court the Saudis? - Michael Crowley
In Obama's first seven months, the Saudi kingdom has stymied or stalled administration efforts on multiple fronts - from the peace process to Iraq to Guantanamo. The White House is scrambling to win cooperation and avoid affront, but, in the end, the problem may simply be that Obama needs the Saudis more than they need him. It's true that the Saudis fear Iran and welcome U.S. efforts to stop its nuclear program. But the Saudis are equally suspicious that Obama will cut a deal with Tehran that leaves Riyadh feeling more threatened than ever by Shia power.
At the same time, the industrialization of China and India means that the Saudis have plenty of other customers for their oil. And, if there's anything that motivates King Abdullah and his kin above all else, it is fear of an uprising by the Saudi "street." That means that the Saudis will always take care to champion - and demagogue - the Palestinian cause, making them difficult partners in pursuing Middle East peace. (New Republic)
Cracking Down on Iran's Illicit Trade - Michael Jacobson
Iran's aggressive search for U.S. technology, particularly for its military programs, is quite evident from the number of U.S. export control prosecutions over the past several years. One of the major problems is that few other countries take this issue as seriously as the U.S. Most countries, including some of Iran's major trading partners, do not devote significant resources to investigating or prosecuting export control violations. In Germany, for example, a public prosecutor has stated that his country has only uncovered "the tip of the iceberg" of the black market activity involving Iran's nuclear program. In fact, media reports suggest that certain goods leaving Germany are bound for Iran's defense industrial complex with little inspection at the border.
Success depends on better understanding how Iran is procuring illegal goods - with its various front companies and agents around the world - and mobilizing other countries to move forward on this front. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Why Is Palestinian Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State Important? - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

Prof. Shimon Shamir says: "It is not our concern if Egypt defines itself as Islamic, Arab, African or pharaonic. We recognize Egypt as a political entity." Based on this premise, Shamir makes the case that we are not to demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Yet the analogy is not valid.
Israel has never called into question the existence of the Egyptian political entity. On the other hand, the Palestinians, through their rejection of the UN Partition Plan, refused to recognize the Jewish state and embarked on a war to destroy it. This is, after all, the root of the conflict. Indeed, the Palestinian narrative is based on the rejection of the existence of a Jewish nation state in any part of the territory they call Palestine.
If you declared war against the Jewish state, does not the signing of a peace treaty with that state obligate you to accept it? This does not mean the Palestinians are asked to accept the Zionist narrative, but it is incumbent upon them to alter their narrative, which rules out the existence of a Jewish state.
This is exactly what Israel did at Camp David and Oslo. Under the terms of binding international agreements, Israel committed itself to recognizing "the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arab nation." Menachem Begin was the first to do this. This is not tantamount to relinquishing the Zionist narrative, it is a willingness to accept the legitimacy of a competing narrative and to seek a compromise. We only ask of the Palestinians that which we ourselves have done in the past.
The ferociously negative response of the Palestinians was an expression of a deep, internal ideological truth that to this day refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish people's right to self-determination.
Peace is made between enemies. The Palestinians fought the Jewish state, and if they truly and sincerely wish to forge peace, they must be willing to come to terms with the Jewish state, and to do so explicitly, without stuttering.
The writer, professor of political science at Hebrew University, is a former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Daily brief

Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 12, 2009
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In-Depth Issues:

70 Percent of Americans Say Israel Is an Ally (Rasmussen Reports)
In a new nationwide survey, 70% of Americans say Israel is an ally, while none of the Islamic countries comes close to the positive feelings most have toward Israel.
70% of Americans say Iran is an enemy of the U.S.
39% believe Egypt is an ally. 23% see Saudi Arabia as an ally, although 25% see it as an enemy.
81% believe Palestinian leaders must recognize Israel's right to exist as part of any Middle Eastern peace agreement.

Jews Leave Yemen for Israel (Yemen News Agency)
Three relatives of Moshe Yaish al-Nahari, the Jew killed last year in northern Yemen, have left the country for Israel.
Rabbi Yahya Yaish of Ridah in the Amran district said all Jews in the area are preparing to leave for Israel within the next days.
Harassment has increased against Jews in the Amran and Kharef districts, with some Jews killed and others kidnapped, he claimed.

Israelis Warned: Leave Sinai Immediately - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
The Counter-Terrorism Bureau in the Prime Minister's Office warned Israelis in Sinai to leave immediately.
An estimated 40,000 Israelis are currently there, most of them Israeli Arabs.
It also cautioned Israelis to refrain from traveling to Jordan, Morocco and Egypt.
Travel warnings for Israelis also include Colombia, the Kashmir region, Mindanao in the Philippines, and parts of southern Thailand.

United Church of Canada Drops Israel "Apartheid" Wording (CBC News)
Delegates at the United Church of Canada's national meeting have voted unanimously to reject controversial language used in material for a proposed divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.
The United Church is still considering the resolutions themselves, but delegates voted Tuesday to repudiate and regret background documents that raised the ire of Jewish organizations across the country.

IDF Court Jails Soldier Who Stole Palestinian's Credit Card - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News-Ha'aretz)
An Israel Defense Forces Military Court has sentenced a soldier who stole a Palestinian's credit card during the Gaza operation and withdrew $405 to seven and-a-half months in a military prison.
The defendant has compensated the Palestinian in full, with interest, and has apologized.
In addition to his prison sentence, the soldier was demoted from sergeant to private.

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* Fatah Party Election Brings in a New Generation - Isabel Kershner
Fatah elected a mostly new leadership committee, ushering in a younger generation, according to election results released Tuesday. The new leaders grew up locally, in contrast to the exile-dominated leadership they are replacing. But many are familiar names and their election is not expected to bring about significant changes in Fatah policies. (New York Times)
See also New Faces of an Unreformed, Hard-Line Fatah - Khaled Abu Toameh
Many of the newly-elected members of Fatah's Central Committee may be younger than their ousted predecessors, but that does not mean that they are more reform-minded, less corrupt, or more moderate. The assumption that Muhammad Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub, Marwan Barghouti and Tawfik Tirawi are more moderate than old-timers like Ahmed Qurei, Nabil Sha'ath and Hani al-Hassan is completely mistaken.
Fatah has said quite clearly that Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, including from all of the eastern part of Jerusalem, allow Palestinian refugees to return to their original homes inside Israel, dismantle all the settlements, including in Jerusalem neighborhoods, and evict all settlers living there and in the West Bank.
Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in Israeli prison, was the head of the Fatah list that lost to Hamas in the January 2006 parliamentary election. Dahlan, Rajoub and Tirawi are all former security commanders who served as Yasser Arafat's henchmen. They are anything but reformists and moderates, and are best remembered for building detention centers, prisons, big villas and a casino for the Palestinians. Their main task was to suppress and intimidate political opponents, human rights workers, journalists and anyone who dared to challenge Fatah's corruption-riddled regime, and to hunt down Palestinians suspected of "collaboration" with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
* U.S. Security Team to Visit Syria - Khaled Yacoub Oweis
A U.S. security delegation will visit Syria on Wednesday in a sign of growing cooperation between the two countries. The delegation will mainly discuss Syrian moves to curb infiltration into Iraq and insurgent networks Washington says are operating from Syria, diplomats said. "The Americans have presented the Syrians with names of main facilitators of insurgents they want captured," one diplomat said. (Reuters)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Israel, U.S. Discussing Settlement Compromise - Herb Keinon and Tovah Lazaroff
Jerusalem and Washington are currently discussing a compromise agreement over the settlement blocs in the West Bank where construction that has already begun can continue, diplomatic sources said Tuesday. The compromise would allow most of the 2,500 housing units currently under construction to continue to be built, but Israel would declare a temporary moratorium on new projects. Most of the units are in the large settlement blocs near the Green Line such as Ma'ale Adumim, Givat Ze'ev, Gush Etzion and Betar Illit.
However, a question has emerged regarding Ariel, which Israel defines as one of the large settlement blocs. Another issue that still needs to be worked out involves what building the U.S. will permit once the freeze ends. Israel is keen on returning to the understandings that it had with the U.S. under the Bush Administration, whereby construction would be permitted inside a settlement's current construction lines. (Jerusalem Post)
* Nasrallah's Frustration - Ron Ben-Yishai
The main reason for the current tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese front is growing frustration among Hizbullah's leadership as a result of its failure to advance any of its political or operational objectives. Hizbullah and the opposition bloc it leads wish to join the new Lebanese government with one-third of the ministers - thereby possessing veto power on government decisions.
However, Prime Minister Saad Hariri has not rushed to comply with this demand for a number of reasons: Hizbullah and the bloc it leads failed to win the election majority they expected. Hizbullah's status among the Lebanese public, including the Shiites, greatly weakened in the wake of the destruction prompted by Nasrallah's escapade that led to the Second Lebanon War. Hizbullah's bargaining power has also weakened greatly as a result of the instability of the Iranian regime. The explosion of a weapons depot in south Lebanon last month proved again that Hizbullah prefers its own military interests over the welfare and well-being of Lebanese citizens. (Ynet News)
* Israel Defense Ministry Refutes Claims of IDF Misconduct During Gaza Operation
A new report by the Israel Defense Ministry's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) refutes specific claims made by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) earlier this year on the IDF's conduct in Gaza. To the charge that Israel prevented wounded Palestinians from leaving Gaza for medical treatment, the Defense Ministry said that Palestinian health authorities had refused to cooperate with the CLA to coordinate the transfer of wounded to Israel "despite numerous requests by the CLA." While PHR said 16 Palestinian medical personnel were killed during the operation, a Hamas statement noted that 9 of the 16 were Hamas operatives and fighters. Pictures of some of them appeared on Hamas Web sites holding RPGs and Kalashnikov rifles.
While PHR claimed that the Palestinian health system "collapsed" during the operation, the Defense Ministry said, "During the operation, unprecedented amounts of medical supplies entered Gaza." A World Health Organization report noted that there was no shortage in medicine or medical supplies in Gaza and that hospitals were never more than 75% full. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* An Arab Call for Resettlement of Palestinian Refugees
Daoud al-Shiryan, Al-Hayat columnist and deputy secretary-general of Al-Arabiya TV, recently published several articles calling for resettlement of Palestinian refugees: "Objecting to resettlement is no different than objecting to peace. It is nothing but an unrealistic slogan." "Arabs who object to the resettlement plan contend that they are motivated by their zealous devotion to the Right of Return. But...this spurious devotion has evoked the opposite reaction: a Palestinian now hopes to emigrate to America, Europe, Canada, or Australia in order to escape the hell of the Palestinian refugee camps."
"[My] passion for resettlement is not a rejection of the Right of Return, but rather of the inhuman treatment of the Palestinians in the 'countries of the refugee camps.' Foremost among these countries is Lebanon, which bars the Palestinians from 72 professions, so as to prevent them from living in dignity." (MEMRI)
See also Putting First Things First - Solving the Arab Refugee Problem - Ruth King and Rael Jean Isaac (Family Security Matters)
* Foreigners Cannot Understand the Israelis' Vulnerability - David Grossman
Israeli author David Grossman said in an interview: "From the outside Israel looks like a bully-militant fist. Foreigners cannot really understand the vulnerability of people here and their lack of confidence in the fact that Israel will still exist in a few decades." "You must remember that for four years there was rocket shooting from the Gaza Strip. There was ongoing provocation. Israel had withdrawn its soldiers and settlers from Gaza. The Palestinians could have used this partial sovereignty in order to build up their land. Instead Hamas decided to bombard Israel."
"All my life I have tried to prevent the use of military power, but I also insist on Israel's right as a sovereign state to defend itself when attacked. It is strange that Israel is the only country that is immediately criticized when it retaliates after years of rocket terror." "I have received many offers to work abroad. Israel is the only place on earth where I am not a stranger. I regard it as a privilege to take part in the creating of this country. In the Mishna (a commentary on the Hebrew Bible) there is a phrase saying the one who has experienced a miracle does not necessarily recognize it as a miracle. I recognize the miracle: We Jews do have a state." (Der Spiegel-Germany)


Mideast Peace Starts with Respect - Ronald S. Lauder (Wall Street Journal)

* As the Obama administration outlines its own prospectus for a comprehensive settlement to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, it would do well to take note of some potential pitfalls.
* Rule No. 1: Respect the sovereignty of democratic allies. When free people in a democracy express their preferences, the United States should respect their opinions. The current administration should not try to impose ideas on allies like Israel.
* The administration would also do well to take heed of the Palestinian Authority's continued refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. A long-term settlement can only be forged on the basis of mutual recognition and respect. To deny the essence of the Zionist project - to rebuild the Jewish people's ancient homeland - is to call into question the seriousness of one's commitment to peace.
* The core historic reason for the conflict is the Arab world's longstanding rejection of Israel's existence. The two-state solution was accepted by Israel's pre-state leadership in 1947 when it agreed to the partition plan contained in UN General Assembly Resolution 181. The Arabs flatly rejected it.
* The recent rebuffs by Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of efforts by the Obama administration to promote a more conciliatory attitude to Israel offer a salient reminder that those who started this conflict may not yet be in a mood to end it, whatever their rhetoric to the contrary.
* No compromise can be made on Israel's right to exist inside secure borders unmolested by terrorist groups or threatened by belligerent states. An unambiguous strategy explaining precisely how Hamas and Hizbullah can be disarmed and how Iran can be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons is of central importance to any peace plan.

The writer is president of the World Jewish Congress.

Monday, August 10, 2009

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August 10, 2009
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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Cell Plotted to Kill Israel's Ambassador to Egypt (Ynet News)
A plot to assassinate Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen was uncovered, the Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reported on Saturday.
Operatives of the al-Zeitoun cell admitted to having plotted to kill the ambassador, bomb his home and the embassy in Cairo last year.
The suspects said they were in contact with members of the al-Qaeda organization.
The Egyptian state paper al-Ahram reported that the cell caught was the same cell that carried out an attack in a Cairo market last February, and that planned to bomb other religious and tourist sites in Egypt as well as the gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel.
Al-Ahram said the suspects said they trained in camps belonging to the "Palestinian Army of Islam in the Gaza Strip" and that they helped smuggle activists across the border to carry out their attacks.

66% of Israelis Back Continued Construction Anywhere in Jerusalem (Ynet News)
66% of the Israeli Jewish public supports continued building anywhere in Jerusalem, according to the July 2009 War and Peace Index poll published by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University.
46% said President Obama is pro-Palestinian, 31% believe that Obama is neutral, and 7% said he is pro-Israeli.
26% said they believed the U.S. president is likely to preserve Israel's interests in the long run, compared with 68% who believe he would not.

U.S. Policy Shift on Sudan Becomes More Vivid (Sudan Tribune)
U.S. special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration criticized the decade-long sanctions imposed by his country on Sudan. Speaking in Khartoum on July 21, he said they are undermining diplomatic efforts to resolve multiple conflicts in the country.
The Washington Post said that Obama's national security advisers have been locked in dispute over the right mix of rewards and penalties to persuade the Khartoum government to pursue peace in those regions.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, has been pressing for a tougher approach, citing Sudan's history of violating previous agreements. But Gration suggested that engagement is the way forward.
Gration said last month that Darfur is witnessing "remnants of genocide," drawing criticism from advocacy groups. "I am not saying the genocide is over. What I am saying though is that my focus is on recovery," he said.
See also Where Is the Muslim Anger over Darfur? - Ed Husain (Independent-UK)
The Khartoum regime, brought to power in a fundamentalist Islamist coup 20 years ago, has killed an estimated 400,000 of its fellow Muslim citizens.
Yet there is near silence about massive human rights abuses in Sudan. As Tareq Al-Hamed, editor of Asharq Alaswat, has asked, "Are the people of Darfur not Muslims as well?"

Useful Reference:

LIFE Magazine Photos of Israel - 1948 - Part 1
LIFE Magazine Photos of Israel - 1948 - Part 2
LIFE Magazine Photos of Israel - 1960 by Paul Schutzer
LIFE and Death - Photos of Israel - 1967 by Paul Schutzer - Ben Atlas (
Paul Schutzer was embedded with an Israeli armored column moving into Gaza in the 1967 war. His half-track took a direct hit. They found this film roll in the camera next to his body.

Key Links
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

* Clinton: U.S. Has No Illusions Iran Wants Talks over Nuclear Program - Steven R. Hurst
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday the U.S. has no illusions that Iran will accept overtures to return to negotiations about its nuclear program and will not wait much longer for Tehran to respond. "We are under no illusions. We were under no illusions before their elections that we can get the kind of engagement we are seeking," she told CNN. Clinton said the U.S. would re-evaluate its efforts to entice Iran back to the negotiating table in September. "We're not going to keep the window open forever," she said. (AP)
* Presidential Adviser Encouraged by Hizbullah's Evolution
John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Aug. 6: "Hizbullah started out as purely a terrorist organization back in the early '80s and has evolved significantly over time. And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hizbullah organization.... Quite frankly, I'm pleased to see that a lot of Hizbullah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion." (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
See also State Department: U.S. Policy Toward Hizbullah Has Not Changed
Deputy State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said on Aug. 7: "Hizbullah is a terrorist organization. U.S. policy toward Hizbullah has not changed. We do not make any distinction between the political and military wings." (State Department)
* Iranian Officials Call for Arrest of Opposition Leaders - Thomas Erdbrink
Revolutionary Guard generals, top politicians and senior clerics have called for the arrest and punishment of opposition leaders, including defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iranian state media reported Sunday, while the national police chief acknowledged that protesters had been mistreated while in custody. "In order to end this mayhem, they need to arrest, try and punish these political figures," Gen. Yadollah Javani, head of the political office of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Sunday. "These individuals should be prosecuted, punished and tried as traitors." He singled out Mousavi, defeated candidate Mehdi Karroubi and former president Mohammad Khatami. (Washington Post)
See also Iran Admits Election Demonstrators Were Tortured - Simon Tisdall (Guardian-UK)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Fatah: Jerusalem Is an "Integral Part of the Palestinian Homeland" - Khaled Abu Toameh
Fatah's sixth General Assembly on Saturday approved a resolution saying Jerusalem is an "integral part of the Palestinian homeland and political entity," the latest in a series of hard-line decisions adopted by the conference. Fatah defines Jerusalem as the "eternal capital of Palestine, the Arab world and the Islamic and Christian worlds." Fatah pledges to continue to make sacrifices "until Jerusalem returns to the Palestinians void of settlers and settlements." The conference also endorsed the Aksa Martyrs Brigades as Fatah's official armed wing, contradicting promises made by the Fatah leadership that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades have been dismantled. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Fatah Moves "to Remove, Defeat Occupation" - Khaled Abu Toameh
Fatah's sixth General Assembly on Sunday approved a political platform that emphasizes the Palestinians' right "to resist occupation in all forms." The conference also endorsed a resolution that defines Fatah as a "national liberation movement whose goal is to remove and defeat the occupation." In a statement, Fatah also stressed the Palestinian refugees' right to return to their original villages inside Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
* Netanyahu: "We Will Not Create New Evacuees"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday: "The unilateral evacuation from the Gaza Strip brought neither peace nor security. To my regret, the opposite occurred and we know that Gaza became a Hamas base under Iranian control from which thousands of missiles have been fired, including in the last campaign. In short, this did not bring peace....We will not repeat this mistake."
"We want multilateral agreements based on two basic components: One, the genuine recognition of the State of Israel and two - of course - security arrangements, the honoring and enforcement of which will be assured. Regarding the unilateral evacuation from Gaza, these two elements were lacking. We will see to it that if there is a turn towards peace by the more moderate Palestinians, we will insist on the following components: Recognition and genuine demilitarization will find expression in, and be integral parts of, the peace arrangements." (Prime Minister's Office)
* Reports of New Peace Plan Premature - Roee Nahmias
According to a Saturday report in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, speculations about a nearing Middle East peace summit are premature. U.S. sources are quoted as saying that three conditions must materialize if any further progress is to be made: Having Israel halt settlement expansion, seeing the PA advance security issues, and ensuring some overtures by Arab nations ahead of normalizing their relations with Israel. The sources said Obama's efforts are focused on "creating the proper regional atmosphere." (Ynet News)
* Palestinians in Gaza Fire Rocket, Mortars at Israel - Anshel Pfeffer
On Sunday, Gaza militants fired mortars at a border crossing just as Palestinian patients were being transferred to Israel for treatment. "It's a miracle nobody was hurt," said Palestinian Health Ministry official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain. Earlier Sunday, Palestinians fire a Kassam rocket into Israel. In response to Sunday's mortar and rocket attacks, Israel targeted a tunnel in Rafah suspected of being used to smuggle explosives into Gaza from Egypt. (Ha'aretz)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* The AIPAC Case and Prejudice - Gary Wasserman
The conspiracy case against two former AIPAC lobbyists came to an inglorious end in May when the government dropped all charges after 3 1/2 years of pre-trial maneuvers. The lobbyists were targets of a bizarre sting in which they were fed false information suggesting that the lives of U.S. and Israeli operatives in Iraq were at risk. The accusation was not that they brokered this information to some foreign enemy but that they offered it to everybody they could, hoping that it might save U.S. lives. In short, even if the two were guilty as charged, they look more like whistle-blowers than spies.
But the most curious element of the case is why it was ever brought. Why set up a sting unless you believe there's some underlying pattern of wrongdoing to be exposed? Larry Franklin, the former Pentagon analyst who leaked the bogus tip to the lobbyists, told the Washington Times last month that investigators "asked about every Jew I knew" in his office. Anti-Semitism was "part of this investigation and may have been an initial incitement of this investigation."
After years and millions of dollars spent investigating the nefarious "Israel Lobby," the case produced no stolen secrets, no money changing hands, no covert meetings, no high-level, dual-loyal officials, no harm to the national interest and no spies. The writer is a professor of government at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. (Washington Post)
* Are the Fundamental Assumptions of Oslo Still Valid? - Zaki Shalom
The rejection of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's far-reaching offer to Mahmoud Abbas, as well as previous offers by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David (July 2000) and the Clinton parameters, cast a heavy shadow of doubt over fundamental assumptions underlying the Oslo process. The rejection of the Barak and Olmert offers reflects what much of Israeli public opinion has long felt, namely, at critical moments the Palestinians find it difficult to make a decision in favor of a pragmatic compromise.
This contrasts sharply with the model of the Zionist movement which, in its desire to obtain any territory whatsoever for the persecuted Jewish people, was willing to accept almost any diplomatic plan, provided only that a sovereign Jewish state would be established in its framework. The Palestinian leadership has demonstrated a radically different approach and seemingly operates on the principle of all or nothing. This questions the sincerity of the drive to establish an independent Palestinian state as a concrete political plan. The writer is a Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies. (INSS-Tel Aviv University)


No Expansion vs. Freeze: Obama's Dilemma over Israeli Settlements - David Makovsky (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

* The Obama administration hopes that its efforts will promote peace talks, but so far, the president's approach has had the reverse effect. The U.S. has raised Arab expectations of a settlement freeze to a level that may be impossible to meet. In fact, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared that he will not negotiate with Israel without a full settlement freeze. Saudi Arabia's refusal to cooperate with Mitchell's peace gestures also creates speculation about whether other Arab states will keep their promises.
* The settlement impasse has also impacted the dynamic of the Obama-Netanyahu relationship. Netanyahu is known to have felt blindsided by Obama when, without advance warning, he raised the idea of a settlement freeze during their first meeting.
* The Obama administration has stated that it wants Israel to stop not only outward expansion - which could be seen as territorially encroaching on a future Palestinian state - but also construction within preexisting settlements, vertical or otherwise. So far, the Obama administration has not forwarded a public rationale for this stance, but privately, U.S. officials say that brokering a total freeze would be much easier than the difficult project of monitoring the expansion of each settlement.
* Netanyahu opposes the freeze idea as being impractical, since school classrooms, synagogues, and other similar buildings need to be built within existing settlements. He worries that the suggested moratorium lacks an exit strategy, which would leave Israel as the scapegoat if the moratorium unravels. Israelis see the prime minister's position on vertical growth within settlements as reasonable and Obama's statements as rigid.
* Israel asserts that it reached a verbal understanding with the U.S. in spring 2003, enabling Israel to accept the Quartet-endorsed Roadmap peace plan, support the creation of a Palestinian state, and ultimately even withdraw from Gaza. According to the Israelis, a delegation of U.S. officials, led by then deputy national security advisor Steve Hadley, flew to Israel on May 1, 2003, to meet with Ariel Sharon to hammer out settlement principles. The two sides agreed that Israel could build within settlements so long as it constructed no new ones, engaged in no more land expropriations, and provided no financial incentives to settlers to move to the West Bank. Whatever happened in 2003, Israel's perception of the episode will cause it to question the validity of any future verbal agreement with the U.S.
* It seems unlikely that the U.S. and Israel will reach a sustainable freeze on settlements, other than as a short-term symbolic gesture. Nonetheless, a more sustainable no-expansion agreement is attainable, one that deals with the central issue of territorial enlargement. A nonexpansion approach might have ended the current impasse months ago, and genuine peace negotiations could already be in process.

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