Editor’s Note: Aaron Klein will host a live call-in show this Sunday on 77-WABC in New York from 7- 9 p.m. E.S.T.
J Street, the controversial left-wing lobbying group, will be hosted by a Jewish organization at the University of Pennsylvania as part of an initiative to make the group known in local venues across the U.S.
J Street’s inaugural university event Feb. 4 will be broadcast live from the university to 24 U.S. college campuses.
J Street brands itself as pro-Israel. But the group supports talks with Hamas, a terrorist group whose charter seeks the destruction of Israel, opposes sanctions against Iran, and is harshly critical of Israel’s anti-terror military offensives.
Next week, J Street is renting space from the Hillel Jewish student organization at the University of Pennsylvania. J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami will broadcast a speech during the event, which will be simultaneously broadcast at other U.S. universities and at local sites throughout the country, including synagogues and Jewish community centers.
J Street’s event at Penn will include speeches from a host of characters with controversial views on Israel, including:
* Rebecca Alpert, chair of the Department of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. In a sermon on the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur, Alpert compared Israel’s anti-terror activities in the Gaza Strip to genocide in Darfur. Alpert also announced she personally undertook a month-long fast for the Gaza population as part of a protest movement that calls for Israel to talk with Hamas and lift a blockade in Gaza.
* Elliot Ratzman, a visiting professor of religion at Swarthmore University. In an article in the student-run magazine American Foreign Policy, Ratzman accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing.” He particularly took issue with Israel’s demolishing of Palestinian homes. He did not mention that the demolished homes were mostly built illegally on Jewish-owned land.
* Arthur Waskow, an author and far-left political activist who is highly critical of Israeli policies in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In a recent posting on the website of the leftist Shalom Center, Waskow strongly defended a UN report penned by South African judge Richard Goldstone that claimed both Hamas and Israel were guilty of war crimes.
What’s Going On Behind The Scenes?
Are the Israeli and U.S. governments misleading the public about the status of talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state?
Israelis and Palestinians have political reasons for minimizing any breakthroughs in confidential talks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains a government coalition with nationalist parties that may bolt if they become aware of negotiations aimed at relinquishing strategic territory. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could lose face if he is seen talking to Israel before the Jewish state gives in to his demand to halt all Jewish construction in eastern sections of Jerusalem in line with a similar 10-month freeze imposed by Netanyahu in the West Bank.
While both governments, along with the U.S., have been minimizing the prospects of negotiations, this column has learned from multiple Middle East security and diplomatic officials over the past few weeks that Israel and the PA are negotiating indirectly via the U.S., Jordan and Egypt to outline a future Palestinian state that would encompass much of the West Bank.
To point out the advanced levels of the current talks, a PA official told WND that a recent visit by Obama’s national security adviser, Jim Jones, centered around security arrangements for the borders of a future Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Saudia Arabia Financed
Pakistan’s Nuclear Program
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project was partially financed by Saudi Arabia, with the two countries sharing nuclear technology, a senior Egyptian security official told this column.
“The Saudis are confident they have a nuclear option via Pakistan,” said the security official. “The Pakistani nukes are also Saudi nukes.”
The official said an agreement between the two countries was secretly inked seven years ago, although at the time such a pact was strongly denied by both Saudi and Pakistani officials.
Pakistan in the late 1990s became the seventh country to successfully develop and test nuclear weapons. The Pakistani arsenal is estimated at between 35 and 95 warheads, according to the U.S. Navy Center for Contemporary Conflict.
Vatican Points Finger At The Wrong Party
A Vatican document released last week blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel’s “occupying” of lands for driving Christians out of Israel and making life difficult for those who remain.
However, Christians here who fled their homes in Palestinian-controlled territory largely blamed Muslim intimidation for their plight in interviews with this reporter.
Bethlehem’s Christian population started to drastically decline in 1995, the very year the Palestinian Authority took over the city in line with the U.S.-backed Oslo Accords. Suddenly, after the Palestinians gained control of the territory, reports of Christian intimidation by Muslims began to surface.
Christian leaders and residents said they face an atmosphere of regular hostility. They said Palestinian armed groups stir tension by holding militant demonstrations and marches in the streets. They spoke of instances in which Christian shopkeepers’ stores were ransacked and Christian homes attacked.
Some Christian leaders said one of the most significant problems facing Christians in Bethlehem is the rampant confiscation of land by Muslim gangs.
“There are many cases in which Christians have their land stolen by the [Muslim] mafia,” Samir Qumsiyeh, a Bethlehem Christian leader and owner of the Beit Sahour-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station, told this column in a recent in-person interview in Bethlehem.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the book “The Late Great State of Israel.” Follow Klein on Twitter under the name “AaronKleinWND.”