Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 11, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Tracks Iranian Missile Tests - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran's missile show last month - during which it claimed to test-fire nine new, advanced ballistic missiles - was detected and closely followed by Israel.

Slain Syrian General Supplied Missiles to Hizbullah - Uzi Mahnaimi (Sunday Times-UK)
    A key aide to Syrian President Assad, Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Suleiman, 49, who was assassinated last week, had been supplying Hizbullah with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, according to Middle Eastern sources.

Report: 1,000 Palestinians to Be Allowed "to Return"  (Maan News-PA)
    One thousand exiled Palestinians will be allowed to reunite with their families in the West Bank and Gaza after Israel agrees to issue permits, Hussein Ash-Sheikh, head of the PA civil affairs department, said Saturday.
    Reunification permits were to be issued to a thousand Palestinians living without permits in Palestinian areas, as well as Palestinians living abroad.
    Israel agreed to issue the permits during a meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert last Wednesday.

Iran Swimmer Avoids Israeli in Beijing Olympics (AFP)
    Mohammad Alirezaei, an Iranian swimmer, pulled out of the Olympic Games men's 100m breaststroke heats on Saturday, just minutes before he was due to compete against other swimmers that included Israel's Tom Beeri.
    During the 2004 Athens Olympics, Iran's judo world champion Arash Miresmaeili refused to compete against Ehud Vaks of Israel.
    See also Iranian Swimmer Withdrew Due to Illness (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    The International Olympic Committee has accepted the explanation of an Iranian swimmer who pulled out of an event that included an Israeli competitor, who cited illness as the reason.

Comic-Book Idols Rally to Aid Holocaust Artist - George Gene Gustines (New York Times)
    Three of the elder statesmen of comic books - Neal Adams, Joe Kubert and Stan Lee - have joined forces to tell the tale of Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, who survived two years at the Auschwitz concentration camp by painting watercolor portraits for the infamous Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele.
    Some of the artwork also survived, but it is in the possession of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland.
    Now 85 and living in California, Mrs. Babbitt wants the artwork back, but the museum has steadfastly refused to return it.
    Now Mrs. Babbitt's story has been captured in a six-page comic-book story illustrated by Adams (who worked on Batman); inked partly by Kubert (whose comics career stretches back to the 1940s); and featuring an introduction by Lee (co-creator of the Fantastic Four and many other Marvel heroes).
    Read the Illustrated Story (New York Times)

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

  • 200 Jews Evacuated from South Ossetian Border; 2/3 of Georgian Jews Now in Israel - Michael Jankelowitz
    Since the outbreak of hostilities in Georgia, the Jewish Agency for Israel has assisted some 200 Jews living near the town Gori, on the South Ossetian border, to evacuate to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, where most of the rest of the country's 12,000 Jews reside. Since 1989, 23,287 individuals have immigrated to Israel from Georgia. In 2007 there were 324 new immigrants compared with 260 immigrants in 2006. (Jewish Agency for Israel/IMRA)
  • Syria Blocks New Visit by IAEA - George Jahn
    Diplomats say Syria has blocked a request for a follow-up visit to one in June by International Atomic Energy Agency experts investigating allegations that Damascus has a secret nuclear program. The diplomats also say that Washington is opposing a Syrian push for a seat on the 35-nation IAEA board. The board normally makes decisions by consensus and a seat held by Damascus could thus hamper any investigation into its alleged nuclear activities. Lack of IAEA access could cripple chances of establishing whether Damascus hid a North-Korean built nuclear program, including a nearly completed plutonium-producing reactor bombed last year by Israel. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Hamas Summer Camp Prepares Youth for Battle Against Israel
    Youths leaped through fiery hoops as gunfire echoed in a graduation ceremony for a Hamas summer camp aimed at preparing the youngsters for battle against Israel. About 200 teens dressed in the uniforms of the Hamas military wing showed off their new skills Sunday. The goal of the Hamas camp was to train the youth in military tactics and impart militant Islamic ideology. Some of the drills were the same as those seen at graduation ceremonies for Palestinian police and security forces. "There's no doubt that the stability and calm has created a good atmosphere that has allowed us to make more summer camps, and oversee the youths," said Ismail Ridwan. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Tiptoes Around Georgian-Russian Conflict - Herb Keinon
    Although Israeli companies have sold arms to Tbilisi and trained units of the Georgian army, there is not a significant Israeli component to the Georgian-Russian flare-up. Both the Georgians and the Russians know that the estimated $300-500 million in weapons and training that Israel has sold to Georgia over the last decade is not what has equipped the Georgians for a war with Russia. Numerous other countries, including the U.S., France and Ukraine, have sold arms and allowed ex-officers to help train the military there.
        Although for historic, emotional and sentimental reasons, the Israeli tendency is to back the pro-Western, pro-American Georgians - the David in this fight - Israel has a real strategic interest in not infuriating the Russians. Moscow is a major supplier of arms to Syria and Iran, and Israel would like to keep Russia from selling arms to those two countries that could tilt the region's strategic balance. If Moscow took the gloves off, they could sell much more dangerous weapons systems to our neighbors, such as land-to-land missiles. It should be noted that the much-discussed sale to Iran of the S-300 multi-target anti-aircraft-missile system, one of the most advanced in the world, has not yet gone through. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Foreign Ministry Seeks to Lower Israel's Profile in Georgia-Russia Conflict - Barak Ravid and Amos Harel
    Israel is hoping to maintain a low profile with regard to the war in Georgia, government officials told Ha'aretz. One source noted that Russia has been irked by Israeli-Georgian weapons deals for some time, and Georgia is frustrated by Israel's decision to halt arms exports. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Closes Some Smuggling Tunnels to Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Egypt has recently sealed dozens of tunnels used to smuggle goods and weapons from Sinai to Gaza. According to Palestinian sources, Egyptian security forces have destroyed at least 40 active tunnels in the past few weeks. According to some accounts, the Egyptians pumped poisonous fumes through some of the tunnels to flush out smugglers from other tunnels connected to the ones discovered. However, Palestinian sources maintain that, despite the crackdown, smuggling has hardly diminished in volume. (Ha'aretz)
  • Another Truce Violation: Palestinian Rocket Strikes Israel - Yonat Atlas
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed in Israel Saturday evening. The "Color Red" rocket alert sirens sounded throughout Sderot and the other Israeli communities near Gaza. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Chinese, Russian Stall Tactics on Iran - Joshua Gleis
    Talks with Iran have reached another impasse as the Islamic regime rejected yet another package of incentives to end its nuclear enrichment program. One would think that the international community would be doing everything in its power to press Iran into accepting a compromise. Yet two countries - China and Russia - are not only undermining the effort, but are actually profiting from the rest of the world's sanctions. As European businesses pull their investments out of Iran, in line with current EU sanctions, the Chinese and Russians have been happily stepping in to fill those lucrative vacancies. In essence, they are reaping the benefits of other governments' efforts to stave off the disaster that a nuclear Iran would be.
        China and Russia may be enticed into supporting stronger sanctions against Iran if the U.S. and other parties in the negotiations can demonstrate the greater economic benefits available to them all once a deal with Tehran is reached. It is imperative that the Chinese and Russians understand they have much more to gain from an end to the conflict with Iran than they do from a complete meltdown. The writer is an international security associate at the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School and a visiting scholar at Columbia University. (Boston Globe)
  • Scholarships for Terror - Editorial
    Back in May, Secretary of State Rice publicly raked Israeli officials over the coals after they refused to let seven Palestinians who'd won U.S.-sponsored Fulbright scholarships leave Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel insisted the seven had ties to Hamas terrorists and were security risks. Under heavy pressure from Washington, Israel agreed to give exit visas to four of the Palestinians, but remained adamant about the other three, all of whom were either students or teaching assistants at the Islamic University of Gaza - a notorious Hamas stronghold. Now State has taken a closer look, notified all three that "information has come to light that you may be inadmissible to the United States" - and revoked their visas.
        The last thing U.S. taxpayers need to be wasting their money on is prestigious scholarships for terrorists-in-training to come to America. And next time, Rice might want to give Israel a bit more credit when it comes to ferreting out security risks before she issues public broadsides. (New York Post)
  • Hizbullah's Global Reach - Jonathan D. Halevy and Ashley Perry
    Hizbullah is an integral part of the Islamic revolution regime in Tehran. The ruling Iranian religious authority gave Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah the title of Lebanese "representative," making him an essential part of the Iranian revolution. Hizbullah receives millions of dollars a year from Iran to finance its operations.
        Hizbullah's mission reaches far beyond Lebanon and is in line with the Iranian leadership's 50-year plan made public at the end of the 1990s. The plan is to export the Islamic revolution to neighboring countries and beyond through preaching, encouraging Shiite emigration, purchasing real estate, forming political organizations, infiltrating the local political establishments, and taking over the various parliaments and focal points of political power.
        Iranian-Hizbullah footprints can be found in various African and South American countries. In Nigeria, Hizbullah operates within the expatriate Lebanese Shiite population, whose leader is Sheikh Zakzaky. In Venezuela and other South American countries Hizbullah has been waging a long-term campaign to convert the native Indians to Shiite Islam. On June 29, the Kuwaiti daily al-Siasa reported that Hizbullah was training young men from Venezuela in its military camps in south Lebanon to prepare them to attack American targets. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Israel Does Not Have Apartheid - Warren Goldstein (Sunday Times of Johannesburg-South Africa)

    • It is wrong to describe Israeli policies towards Palestinian Arabs as a form of apartheid. These accusations defame the Jewish state, and also diminish the victims of the real apartheid who suffered for centuries under arrogant, heartless colonialism, and then for decades under the brutal apartheid policies of racial superiority, oppression and separation inflicted by the National Party. If everything is apartheid, then nothing is apartheid.
    • In Israel, all citizens - Jew and Arab alike - are equal before the law. Israel has none of the apartheid legislative machinery devised to discriminate against and separate people. It has no Population Registration Act, no Group Areas Act, no Mixed Marriages and Immorality Act, no Separate Representation of Voters Act, no Separate Amenities Act, no pass laws or any of the other myriad apartheid laws.
    • Israel is a vibrant liberal democracy, which accords full political, civil and other human rights to all its peoples, including its one million-plus Arab citizens, many of whom hold positions of authority throughout the Jewish state, including that of cabinet minister, member of parliament, and judge at every level of the judiciary. All citizens vote on the same voters' roll in regular, multiparty elections, and there are Arab parties and Arab members of other parties in Israel's parliament. Arab Israelis can express themselves and act freely as members of a transparent and open democratic society where criticism of the government in a free press is the norm.
    • In 1967, as a result of a defensive war thrust upon it, Israel captured the territories known today as the West Bank and Gaza. Since then, the status of these territories and their occupants has been unclear. It is incorrect legally, factually and even morally to speak of an occupation that implies there was once a Palestinian entity in these territories, and that this is now occupied by Israeli forces. Before 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza part of Egypt. It is more accurate to speak of disputed territories. For decades Israel has tried to negotiate with various parties to permanently resolve the future of the disputed territories, but is still in search of a genuine peace partner to represent Palestinian Arabs.
    • There has never been a Palestinian state in all of history. By contrast, Israel is the third Jewish state, the first dating back 3,280 years. Israel has strong claims to the land herself, because the West Bank was a part of Biblical Israel in which the Jews have always lived. Israel is a tiny country, less than one quarter of 1 percent of the size of all Arab lands, and has faced numerous and ongoing attempts by the surrounding Arab countries to destroy it. After nearly 2,000 years of exile, persecutions and genocides, the Jewish people are surely entitled to a tiny strip of barren country to call their own.
    • If there is an analogy to the South African situation, it is that Israel is like the ANC, which was forced into the armed struggle because it had no partner for peace. As soon as the National Party came around to wanting to genuinely negotiate, the situation was resolved. Our South African experience has taught us that you cannot make peace unless both parties to the conflict wish to resolve it. When the Arab world is ready to make peace, Israel will be there immediately.

      The writer is Chief Rabbi of South Africa.

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