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May 8, 2009

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PAGE 18A Pope From page 1A Christians with an attempt to improve interfaith relations with both Muslims and Jews. It includes stops in Jeru- salem. Bethlehem and Naza- reth. There wilt be open-air Masses and meetings with Muslim and Jewish religious leaders. The pope will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the al-Aida Palestinian refugee camp near Bethle- hem. He will hold meeings Conflict with Israeli President Shi- mon Peres and Prime Min- ister Benjamin Netanyahu. as well as with Palestinian Authority President Mah- moud Abbas. Official Vatican policy is to maintain an equilibrium of sorts in its relations with Israel and the Arab world. "Its diplomacy Is different from that of other states because it is'always aware of the Christian populations." Palmieri-Billig said. [n Jerusalem. Oded Ben- Hur. a former Israeli ambas- sador to the Vatican said the pope would be welcomed as a friend of Israel. The visit, he told report- ers, is proof that "relations between Israel and the Holy See are strong and solid." Ben-Hur said Benedict "has never missed an opportunity to reiterate his commitment to dialogue and to relations with Israel." The two states formalized full diplomatic relations in 1994. But years of fitful negotiations have failed to resolve several lingering is- sues. including fiscal status and tax issues regarding Church property in Israel and visa restrictions on Arab Christian priests. Meanwhile. Arab and Mus- lim sentiment ahead of the visitappears to be mixed. One possible problem could be the pope's last day in the region, May 15. which coincides with the day Palestinians com- memorateas the Nakba the "catastrophe" of Israel's birth in May 1948. "The pope's Palestinian hosts will certainly 'instru- mentalize' this." Avineri said. Already the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Fouad Twal. HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 8, 2009 said Bnedict's visit to the al-Aida refugee camp would symbolize the Palestinians' "right of return" to the holy land, according to a report on Israel's Ynet news. Israeli media reports also said that officials were concerned that security and other infra- structure for the visit were not yet in place in the West Bank. Pamphlets in some Arab towns have called for protests against the pope because of remarks he made in 2006 that were construed as in- sulting Islam. At the time. the remarks sparked protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as elsewhere in the Arab world. In Nazareth near the Church of the Annunciation. which the pope is to visit. radical Muslims have hung a banner apparently aimed at Benedict that quotes a passage from the Koran: "Those who harm God and His Messen- ger-God has cursed them in this world and in the hereafter. and has prepared for them a humiliating punishment." "Everyone is crossing their fingers" that things go well. Avineri said. From page 1A by building large Coalitions for joint action. After years of what the Obama admin- ist:ation views as George W. Bush's failed unilateralism. President Obama intends to return to a more multilateral- ist approach. Obama believes that a large U.S.-led Middle East coalition both could help secure U.S. preeminence in the region and provide important support for dealing with Iran. Backing by much of the Arab world would lend greater weight to U.S. peace overtures toward Iran and, even more so, to tougher sanctions or the use of force should the attempt at dialogue fail. Just as during the first Gulf War in 1991 President George H.W. Bush urged Israel not to upset his anti-Saddam Hus- sein coalition by retaliating against Iraqi Scud missile at- tacks. Obama is urging Israel not to undermine his coalition- building efforts by bombing Iran's nuclear facilities. Indeed, Obamavants Israel to give his coalition-building a boost by making good-will gestOres toward the Palestin- ians such as lifting roadblocks and removing illegal outposts in the West Bank. as well as holding serious peace talks based on the two-state model. Any preemptive Israeli action against Iranwould undermine the new, more stable regional order Obama is trying to build. The early signs are that the Obama administration views the Middle East as a set of interconnected problems it needs to address. Thus. just as progress on the Palestinian track would make Iran easier to handle, progress with Iran would facilitate peacemaking with the Palestinians by neu- tralizing the main potential spoiler. Should dialogue with Iran bog down, Netanyahu might be ready for a deal underwhich Israel makes major moves againstWest Bank settlements ifObama promises to do what- ever is necessary, including the use of force, to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The European Union's use of the linkage weapon has been far less sophisticated than Washington's. EU officials simply warn that if Israel does not embrace the two-state model, work begun in 2008 on a planned upgrade of Israel's relations with Europe will be, frozen. During a late April visit to Jerusalem. Robert Rydberg, director general of the Foreign Ministry of Sweden, which assumes the union's rotating presidency in July, delivered the message in no uncertain terms. Although other European officials have been saying much the same thing for weeks, some key European players oppose the linkage ploy. After a meeting lastweek with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, the current EU president, declared that "the peace process cannot and should not be linked to rela- tions between theEU and Israel." Netanyahu intends to com- plete his foreign policy review within the next few weeks before his crucial first meeting as prime ministerwith Obama, in Washington on May 18. Given international pres- sure, Netanyahu is likely to tell Obama that he accepts the two-state model, but with two major provisos: that Israel be recognized by the Palestin- ians as the state of the Jewish people, and that the Pales- tinian state's sovereignty be limited to ensure Israel's basic security needs. For Netanyahu, recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people is crucial for a number of reasons. Itwould enshrine in PalestinianAuthority policy the Jews' right to the Holy Land. It would remove the legal and moral basis for Palestinians to continue attacking the State of Israel, And it-would put an end to Palestinian demands for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel proper. But on April 27, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?!' Abbas asked in a speech in Ramallah. "You can call yourselves as you like. but I don't accept it and I say so publicly." Abbas also said he will not resume peace talks until Israel enforces a complete settlement freeze and that ;Netanyahu must commit to the notion of a Palestinian state, not the "economic peace" the Israeli leader has been promoting. "If you do not want the two- state solution, then what do you accept?" Ab'bas said. Abbas also drew his red line on the final borders of the two states. "We want a state on the 1967 borders, not a centimeter more. not a centimeter less," he said. Israel's Foreign Ministry responded to Abbas' remarks inastatement releasedApril27. "The recognition of Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people is an essential and necessary step in the his- toric process of reconciliation between. Israel and the Pales- tinians." the statement read. "The more the Palestinians as- imilate this fundamental and substantive fact, the sooner the peace between the two nations will progress toward fruition." Netanyahu is expected to put three major requests to Obama in mid-May: That the United States undertake to prevent Irangoingnuclear, that it recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people and that it back the notion of limited sov- ereignty for the Palestinians. At the start of the policy re- view in early April, Netanyahu seemed to make Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people a condition for resuming talks. Now, however, he says there are no preconditions, but that such recognition and acceptance by the Palestiniarks of limited sovereigntywillbe mperative if future talks are to be successful. The Americans useem ready to accept the idea of Israel as the Jewish state. Special U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell, on his visit to Jerusalem deliberately referl as such. The Am traditionally haw the idea of limited for the Palestinial example, that it allowed to mainta conclude treaties powers hostile to I: trol its air and electl space, and that its 1 points would be m contraband weap nost recent 1 mid-April, d to Israel 'xicans also supported sovereignty [ state--for ould not be in an army, vith foreign xael or con- 'o-magnetic porder entry anitored for nry. Given the Obama adminis- tration's proactive; interlinked problem-solving approach, Israel and the Palestinians soon will be under strong pressure to re-engage. When they do, the degree to which Netanyahu is able to enlistAmerican support for his vision of the Israeli-Pal- estinian solutionwill be crucial in shaping the final outcome. AIPAC From page 1A reporter or lobbyist or anyone to listen to a source without running to tell the reds. Rosen and Weissman had been awaiting trial ever since an FBI raid in August 2004 on AIPAC offices resulted in charges that they had obtained and relayed information relat- ing to Iran's threat against Israel. In the past three years, the government's case suffered numerous setbacks in various pre-trial court rulings. In a statement last Friday, Dana Boente, the acting U. S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said that "Given the diminished likeli- hood the government will prevail at trial under the ad- ditional intent requirements Tobin imposed by the court and the inevitable disclosure of clas- sifted information that would occur at any trial in this mat- ter, we have asked the court to dismiss the indictment." Weiss,Weissman's attorney, said last Friday's move by the government to drop the case represented a "great victory for the First Amendment and for the pro-Israel communil." But Boente made it clear that while Rosen and Weiss- man are free, the government likes the tool it unearthed in an obscure section o(the 1917 Espionage Act--the ability to charge civilians with dealing - in classified information--and it's going to keep it. The 1917 statute criminal- izes information that "could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." The problem for the gov- ernment came in a pre-trial ruling in August. 2006, When trial judge T. S. Ellis III inter- preted that line to mean that prosecutors had to show that U. S. interests were harmed, and not just that Rosen and Weissman relayed secrets to a foreign power: Israel. Relaying secrets to friends of the United States, Ellis suggested, was not in and of itself criminal. For a crime to be committed, he said, the ac- cused must have sought both benefit to another nation as well as harm to the United States. Boente said that rulingwent too far. "The district court poten- tially imposed an additional burden on the prosecution not mandated by statute," he complained. The core of the indictment against Weissman and.Rosen was that as part of an FBI sting operation, they were told--falsely, it turns out--that Iranian agents were plotting to kill Israelis and Americans in northern Iraq. They alleg- edly relayed the information to Israeli diplomats, mediaand colleagues. "Relaying information to a friendly pc)weft' describes the essence of what AIPAC and a roster of other Jewish groups do--and what any number of ethnic lobbies do. With his 2006 ruling, Ellis enshrined thatas legal, so long as it doesn't harm the United States. That might prove a relief to the pro-Israel community, but also raises questions for AIPAC on the eve of its annual policy conference about why it was so quickto throw Rosen andWeiss- man to the prosecutorialwolves. AIPAC fired the two seven months after the charges were announced, saying their practices didn't comportwith AIPAC standards withoutever elaborating what they were. With the notable exceptions of Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, prominent organizations and communal leaders took years to weigh in--if they did at all. How does such behavior square with AIPAC's care- fully cultivated reputation for standing tall and tough? Allowing Ellis' decision to stand also upholq of the statute th free-speech advo, Rosen and Weis: first charged in 20 that anyone who information that the United States face 10 years behix or she doesn't imm the authorities Is the part t alarmed :ates when ;man were )5: The idea even hears :ould harm is liable to id bars if he ediatelycaU Boente's statement last Friday suggested that the government may rely on that statute in the future when it comes to pmsecuons. In movie parlance, that leaves a hole big enough for a sequel. From page 5A later, it appeared as if the 79-year-old Specter would still have an easy path to re- election in 2010 for a sixth term. Toomey had already announced that he would not challenge Specter again. But in January, Specter voted for President Obama's stimulus bill, enraging conservatives and motivating Toomey to change his plans and switch from a race for the Pennsyl- vania statehouse to a Senate run. Given the fact that neither Bush nor Santorum would be willing or able to bail him out this time.'it was obvi- ous that Specter was heading to defeat. Determined to save his seat at all costs, he jumped to the Democrats claiming that the Republicans had forced him out. But the demise of liberal Republicanism happened de- cades ago, not this past win- ter. Nelson Rockefeller-style GOP liberals disappeared a generation earlier as both of the two major parties became less ideologically diverse. If Aden Specter was comfort- able as a Republican running with right-wingers such as Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, it is difficult if not impossible to argue that his switch had much to do with any distaste on his part for cultural conservatives or Republican intolerance for independent minds. Rather it was the noxious personality of Specter and his indefatigable egotism that eventually earned him so many enemies in his home state party that nothing, not even the need to preserve a 40th senate seat for the Re- publicans, could ameliorate the open hostility that he provoked. Though in the age of Obama the Republican tent is currently far smaller than it used to be, there is plenty of room in it for fiscal con- servatives and foreign policy hawks who don't share the socially conservative views of Palin and others. Had Specter carved out a niche for himself on either of those topics, his views on abortion would never have brought him to the point where he had to jump from the GOP before he was pushed. Jews remain incorrigibly liberal and more loyal to the Democrats than every sec- tor of the population except African-Americans. The as- cendancy of social conserva- tives in the Republican Party has ensured that this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future even if this puts the Jews in the position of rejecting their closest allies on the question of security for the State of israel. But this has little to do with Specter's apostasy. It may be that Jewish Republicans feel the senator's defection puts a period on their hopes for a greater share of the Jewish vote. But that is more of a statement about their bad judgment in hitching their star to his shaky wagon than the supposed intolerance of a conservative-dominated party that desires purity over diversity. The strange jurney of Aden Specter from Demo- crat to Republican and back again to the Democrats is a story of one man's unbridled ambition and political expe- diency, not the tale of a party held hostage by the right. Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Com- mentary magazine. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@comment.arymaga- and blogs at Con- tentions, which can be read at www.commentarymaga- This column is reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week.