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October 29, 2009 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-10-29

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Prime Minister


Netanyahu Seeks
War Changes
Jerusalem/JTA —
Benjamin Netanyahu
ordered several gov-
ernment ministries to
look into floating an
international initiative
to change the rules of
war in light of global

The Israeli prime minister, at a meeting
of the Ministerial Committee on National
Security, also ordered the justice minister
to form a committee to deal with inter-
national legal proceedings against Israel
and Israeli officials in the wake of the
Goldstone Report.
Also, the committee declared 500 orga-
nizations to be terrorist organizations.
Most of the organizations direct their
activities toward various targets in the
West and not necessarily against Israel,
and nearly all are connected to al-Qaida,
Osama bin Laden or the Taliban.
"Our challenge is to delegitimize the
continuous attempt to delegitimize the
State of Israel:' Netanyahu said at the
meeting, according to a statement released
by the Government Press Office. "The
most important arena where we need to
act in this context is in the arena of public
opinion, which is crucial in the democratic
world. We must continue to debunk this
lie that is spreading with the help of the
Goldstone Report"
He added: "In Lebanon, in Gaza and in
other places, weapons are being piled up
around us with the sole aim of firing them
at the citizens of the State of Israel. I want
to make it clear to everyone: No one will
undermine our ability and right to defend
our children, our citizens and our com-
Though the meeting had been called to
discuss the implications of the Goldstone
Report, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
refused to address the idea of forming
a commission to look into its findings
regarding Palestinian civilian casualties,
according to reports.
The Goldstone Report was adopted last
week by the United Nations Human Rights
Council and sent on to the U.N. Security

Human Rights Rebuke
New York/JTA
The founder of Human
Rights Watch rebuked the organization for
being overly critical of Israel.
In an opinion piece published on Oct. 20
in the New York Times, Robert Bernstein
wrote that Human Rights Watch in recent
years has focused too much on alleged
Israeli violations while choosing to ignore
those in neighboring countries.

26 October 29 • 2009

Veteran Perspective

Israeli Gen. Baruch Levy,
right, appeared at the recent
National Jewish War Veterans
Convention in New Orleans
to discuss the current politi-
cal atmosphere in Israel and
relate his views on the chance
for peace in the Middle East.
JWV State Commander Jerry
Order, left, continues the dis-
cussion with the general after
the meeting.

"Human Rights Watch has lost critical
perspective on a conflict in which Israel
has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas
and Hezbollah, organizations that go after
Israeli citizens and use their own people
as human shields;' Bernstein wrote.
Bernstein, who stepped down from his
position as chairman in 1998 after head-
ing the group for 20 years, argued that
Israel had taken painstaking measures
to minimize civilian casualties during its
recent conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza
At the same time, he added, Hezbollah
and Hamas have used civilians as human
shields and launched repeated attacks
aimed directly at Israelis.
Bernstein warned that the failure by
Human Rights Watch to distinguish
between free and authoritarian societies
belies its credibility and diminishes its
power to effect change.

J Street Eyes More Influence
The leader of J Street
said his movement is "fighting for the
heart and soul of the American Jewish
community;' as the group's inaugural con-
ference opened in Washington.
"I trust the American Jewish commu-
nity is strong enough to handle wide-open
discourse J Street
Executive Director
Jeremy Ben-Ami told
more than 1,000 dele-
gates at the conference's
opening session. "The
Jewish community
here should reflect the
best of what it means
Jeremy Ben-
to be Jewish;' adding
that "tolerance and free
expression" are values that are praised in
Ben-Ami, who claimed that a major-
ity of American Jews agree with J Street's
policies, said a key goal of his organization
is to "change the traditional conversation
when it comes to Israel and broaden the
notion there is only one way" to be pro-

"No longer should this `pro' require an
`anti:" Ben-Ami said, who also said his
"movement" aims to define support for the
creation of a Palestinian state as a "core
pro-Israel position" and that they "want
action" and "want the conflict to end!'
The conference of the self-described
"pro-Israel, pro-peace" organization was
hit in the past two weeks by the with-
drawal of a dozen members of Congress
who had signed up to be part of the
group's 160-member host committee.
They dropped out after pressure from crit-
ics who have depicted the group as outside
the Jewish and pro-Israel mainstream
because of J Street's criticism of last
winter's Gaza war and opposition to addi-
tional Iran sanctions at the present time.
Ben-Ami thanked the members of
Congress that stuck with the group. "I
know the pressure they came under the
past few days:' he said. "The overwhelm-
ing number showed the political courage
and practical sense so sorely needed" to
achieve solutions in the Middle East.

Security Grant Funding
The U.S. Senate
approved an increase in funding for the
protection of religious organizations. The
conference report for 2010 passed on Oct.
20 includes $19 million in funding for a
grant program to improve security for
non-profits and religious institutions. The
funds allocated for the Nonprofit Security
Grant Program represent a $4 million
increase from present levels.
Jewish groups, including United Jewish
Communities and the Orthodox Union,
had lobbied for the funding increase
and are lauding its passage. The House
of Representatives approved the funding
increase; all that remains is for President
Obama to sign the bill.
"Since Sept. 1 lth, nonprofits gener-
ally, and Jewish communal institutions
specifically, have been the victim of an
alarming number of threats and attacks;'
said William Daroff, vice president for

public policy and director of UJC/The
Jewish Federations of North America's
Washington office. "The Nonprofit
Security Grant Program is a proven
resource that helps supplement the work
of local and federal law enforcement to
keep us safe

U.S. Sudan Policy
Washington/JTA The Obama adminis-
tration announced a new Sudan policy that
includes pressure on and incentives for the
Sudanese government.
"If the government of Sudan acts to
improve the situation on the ground and
to advance peace, there will be incentives;'
President Obama said in a statement on
Oct. 19. "If it does not, then there will be
increased pressure imposed by the United
States and the international community"
The new strategy comes amid recent
controversy over the policy. The U.S. envoy
to the region, J. Scott Gration, reportedly
favors greater engagement with Sudanese
leaders, while others in the administration,
especially U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations Susan Rice, argue for a policy that
is tougher on the Sudanese government.
Obama said the policy has three goals:
an end to the conflict, human rights abuses
and genocide in Darfur; the implementa-
tion of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace
Agreement between Sudan's north and
south; and to ensure that Sudan does not
provide a safe haven for terrorists.
Following a nearly six-year campaign
of systematic rape, expulsion and mur-
der against the citizens of Darfur by the
government-backed Janjaweed militia,
hundreds of thousands have died and more
than 2.5 million have fled their homes and
live in refugee camps in the region or in
the neighboring countries of Chad and the
Central African Republic.
The 20-year civil war between Muslims
in the northern portion of the country and
Christians in the south killed 2 million and
left 4 million homeless.
Israel has taken in about a thousand ref-
ugees from Darfur, but limits them to work-
ing in the north and south of the country.

Professional Killing?
The Israeli family mur-
dered in their Rishon LeZion home were
likely stabbed to death by a professional
killer, according to an autopsy. Israelis
reacted with horror over the weekend
to the murder of six members of the
Oshrenko family. Among the three genera-
tions of victims found stabbed to death
on Oct. 17 in their burning home were a
3-year-old girl and 4-month-old boy.
The autopsy also showed that the father

Roundup on page 28

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