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April 22, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Might Not Try Pro-Israel Lobbyists - R. Jeffrey Smith, Walter Pincus and Jerry Markon (Washington Post)
    The U.S. government may abandon legal efforts against two former lobbyists for the pro-Israel advocacy group AIPAC who were charged in 2005 under a World War I-era espionage law with conspiring to give national defense information to journalists and Israeli Embassy officials, officials said Tuesday.
    With the trial set to begin June 2, the Justice Department is reviewing whether to proceed as planned or withdraw the indictments after a series of adverse court rulings, according to law enforcement sources and lawyers close to the case.

Hamas Smuggling New Arsenal into Gaza - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas has smuggled a new arsenal into Gaza that would upset the balance of power, Israel believes.
    Militants currently have 160 tunnels beneath the Sinai border that they are using to smuggle longer range rockets, anti-tank missiles and perhaps even anti-aircraft missiles, security sources say. Some of the tunnels are large enough to let small all-terrain vehicles pass.
    With the help of Hizbullah, Hamas has drawn up a new strategy of engagement with the IDF based on anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.
    In addition, Iranian technology has been used to increase the range of Kassam rockets Hamas is producing in Gaza to more than 20 km.
    Israeli officials believe Egypt has not managed to reduce the flow of arms into Gaza.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Ahmadinejad Led "International Community to Rally Around Israel" - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    All Ahmadinejad did "was push the international community to rally around Israel," Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of Al-Sharq al-Awsat Arabic newspaper, wrote Tuesday.

Britain to Review All Arms Exports to Israel (AP/Washington Post)
    Britain says it will review all weapons exports to Israel amid pressure from British lawmakers who had demanded that the government ensure UK weapons parts were not used against Palestinians during the recent war with Hamas in Gaza.
    Foreign Secretary David Miliband says Britain supplies less than 1% of Israel's military imports.

Donated Funds Flowing into Gaza - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Donated funds have been flowing into Gaza in recent days, with thousands of Palestinians receiving compensation for damage caused to their homes during the recent Gaza military operation.
    Many Gazans whose homes have not been damaged have still managed to benefit. One local resident said, "People have received money by claiming that they also suffered damage, and all this has increased the circle of compensated families, with each of them getting thousands of shekels on average."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Condemns Iranian Leader's Comments about Israel
    President Obama said Tuesday that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent characterization of the Israeli government as "racist" was part of a disappointing pattern that threatens to undermine the prospect of warmer relations between Washington and Tehran. "This is the kind of rhetoric that we've come to expect from President Ahmadinejad....Many of the statements that [he has] made, particularly those directed at Israel, [are] appalling and objectionable." Obama nevertheless promised to continue to pursue "tough, direct diplomacy" with the Iranian regime. "We will continue to pursue the possibility of improved relations and a resolution to some of the critical issues in which there have been differences, particularly around the nuclear issue."  (CNN)
        See also Video: Obama Comment on Iranian Leader's Remarks (CNN)
        See also Ahmadinejad Welcomed Home After Durban 2 Speech
    Iran's President Ahmadinejad has returned home to what has officially been described as a sensational welcome, following his speech at a UN anti-racism conference. One pro-government paper said the president had shot the last bullet into the brain of the West. (BBC News)
        See also Ahmadinejad Dropped Holocaust Denial from Speech - Bradley S. Klapper
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad dropped language describing the Holocaust as "ambiguous and dubious" from his speech after meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before his speech. Some delegates, including those from the Vatican, stayed in the room because they said he stopped short of denying the Holocaust. (AP)
  • Obama: U.S. to Encourage Israeli-Palestinian Confidence-Building Measures
    President Obama discussed the Israeli-Palestinian issue Tuesday: "I agree that we can't talk forever; that at some point, steps have to be taken so that people can see progress on the ground. And that will be something that we will expect to take place in the coming months and we will help hopefully to drive a process where each side is willing to build confidence. I am a strong supporter of a two-state solution. I have articulated that publicly and I will articulate that privately."
        "What we can do is create the conditions and the atmosphere and provide the help and assistance that facilitates an agreement. Ultimately they've got to make the decision that it is not in the interests of either the Palestinian people or the Israelis to perpetuate the kind of conflict that we've seen for decades now, in which generations of Palestinian and Israeli children are growing up insecure, in an atmosphere of hate." (White House)
        See also Obama Invites Mideast Leaders for Talks on "Comprehensive Peace"
    White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced Tuesday: "Following on a successful meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, the President has invited other key partners in the effort to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East to the White House in the coming weeks. We are actively working to finalize dates for the visits of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority." (White House)
  • Israel Puts Iran Issue Ahead of Palestinians - Howard Schneider and Glenn Kessler
    The new Israeli government will not move ahead on the core issues of peace talks with the Palestinians until it sees progress in U.S. efforts to stop Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon and limit Tehran's rising influence in the region, according to top government officials familiar with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's developing policy on the issue. "It's a crucial condition if we want to move forward," said Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon. "If we want to have a real political process with the Palestinians, then you can't have the Iranians undermining and sabotaging."
        Israeli analysts and Netanyahu's advisers say that while his focus on Iran may limit the likelihood of any near-term progress toward Palestinian statehood, it opens the door for a broader and more profound step forward if Obama and the Arab states agree with his view of Iran. Netanyahu's approach "completely recalibrates expectations and understandings about where we really are," said Dan Diker, a senior foreign policy analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a think tank that is close to the Netanyahu administration. "We can only address the region in the context of an ascendant Iran that is close to nuclear weapons and is destabilizing nearly every country in the Middle East." (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Thanks Geneva Boycotters - Roni Sofer
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter of gratitude to the states that boycotted the UN anti-racism conference in Geneva this week. He also praised the countries whose representatives walked out during Iranian President Ahmadinejad's speech. The states that boycotted the conference, in addition to Israel, are the U.S., Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The states whose representatives walked out during Ahmadinejad's speech are Austria, Ireland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Hungary, Greece, Luxemburg, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia, Slovakia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Czech Republic, France, Cyprus, Romania, and Sweden. (Ynet News)
        See also Text of Israel's Letter of Thanks (Prime Minister's Office)
  • PA Court Accuses Palestinian of Treason for Selling Land to Jews - Ali Waked
    A Hebron resident suspected of selling land to Israelis was put on trial in a special Palestinian tribunal on Tuesday. The prosecution demanded that he be convicted of treason. PA sources said that if the man were convicted of treason, he would most likely be sentenced to death. Senior Fatah member Hatem Abdel Kader, who serves as Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's advisor on Jerusalem affairs, said Monday that the PA was working firmly to combat the sale of land to Israelis, adding that those who are found guilty of selling land to Jews should be executed. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Invitation to Appease: Will the Obama Administration Talk to Iran While It Persecutes Americans and Libels Israel? - Editorial
    Last week, the Iranian regime convicted American journalist Roxana Saberi of espionage - a blatantly bogus charge. On Monday, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who was last seen inaugurating a new facility for Iran's nuclear program, appeared at the UN conference on racism in Geneva to say the U.S. and other Western countries had "resorted to military aggression" in order to create Israel "on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and the ambiguous and dubious question of the Holocaust."
        Thus has Iran answered President Obama's offer of dialogue and the decision by his administration to join talks on Tehran's nuclear program. What Iran is doing is inviting Mr. Obama to humiliate his new administration by launching talks with the regime even while it is conspicuously expanding its nuclear program, campaigning to delegitimize and destroy Israel and imprisoning innocent Americans.
        Mr. Obama has always said that talks with Iran must be conducted under the right circumstances and in a way that advances U.S. interests. The administration won't meet that test if it allows negotiations to become a means of vindicating Mr. Ahmadinejad's radical agenda. It should postpone any contact until after the Iranian election in June - and it should look for clear signs that Iran is acting in good faith before talks begin. (Washington Post)
  • UN's Sham Anti-Racism Conference - Editorial
    Well, that didn't take long. In the first session of the UN anti-racism conference in Geneva, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech in which he called Israel a "totally racist government." This prompted dozens of delegates to walk out in protest, making a deserved mockery of the UN proceedings - and vindicating President Barack Obama's decision to steer America clear of this clownish colloquy. The offended diplomats would have saved themselves some steps had they followed Obama and other Western leaders by not dignifying this circus with their presence.
        Interestingly, the Dutch foreign minister explained that her nation was boycotting this year's anti-racism conference not only over the Israel issue but also because Muslim nations are fighting free speech and freedom of religion - two hallmarks of human rights and liberal democracy - by trying to have the UN declare criticism of Islam tantamount to racism. (Dallas Morning News)
        See also The UN's Anti-Antiracism Conference - Gerald M. Steinberg (Wall Street Journal Europe)
        See also Zionism and Racism, Again: Durban II - Ruth Wedgwood (World Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Focus Should Be on Avoiding the Next Holocaust - Walter Reich (Baltimore Sun)

    • President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote address at Thursday's Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. As an individual and as president he should speak not only about the past but also about the future.
    • Suddenly, Holocaust remembrance is also about the future. It's about the threatened murder by Iran of nearly 6 million Israeli Jews. And, even worse, it's about the potential murder of many millions more. The meaning of "never again" has never been as clear or as urgent.
    • In 1939, Adolf Hitler issued his "prophecy" that the Jews would be exterminated. And now, Mr. Ahmadinejad, even as he races to build nuclear weapons, denies that the Holocaust ever happened and threatens the elimination of Israel.
    • Too much is at stake - not only for Israel and its Jews but also for America and the world. A nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel could kill many times 6 million, both Israelis and Iranians. And before any exchange - even if Iran only uses its nuclear weapons for blackmail - other nuclear powers, frightened by Iran, will emerge in the region. The world created by a nuclear Iran could never be controlled.
    • Mr. Obama should explain why talking to Iran is necessary. But he should also explain, as the nuclear clock ticks on, what he'd say - and what he'd do if, after a reasonable effort, it becomes apparent that Iran is only using the talks as a tactical maneuver to buy the little time still needed to build nuclear weapons.

      The writer, a former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, is the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs, Ethics and Human Behavior at George Washington University and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

          See also Live Webcast: Watch President Obama Speak on Holocaust Remembrance Day - Thursday, April 23, 11 a.m. Eastern time (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

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