Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Dutch Intelligence: No Distinction Between Hizballah's Political and Terrorist Branches (FAS Intelligence Resources)
- August 25, 2005
Issue of the Week:
Disengagement from Gaza
FBI Probing Alleged U.S. Islamic Leader (AP/Los Angeles Times)
Palestinians Believed Involved in Sinai Strikes (Middle East Newsline)
300 Palestinian Security Forces Move from Jericho to Jenin (AP/Ha'aretz)
Israeli Environmentalists Save Trees in Gaza Settlements (AP/Yahoo)
How Chechnya Became a Breeding Ground for Terror
- Lorenzo Vidino (Middle East Quarterly)
Made-in-Israel Paper Cups Found in Saudi Hospital - Samir Al-Saadi (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
War Games - Shahar Smooha (Ha'aretz)
Intel Israel Unveils Powerful Processor - Avi Krawitz (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The work of a UN team investigating the February car bomb assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, is being obstructed by Syria, Ambassador John Bolton said after a closed door briefing of the Security Council. Many Lebanese hold Syria responsible for the killing, but the council, responding to objections from Algeria and Russia, refrained from naming Syria in a statement. (New York Times)
Fear of more political assassinations, after the February killing of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, is crippling Lebanon's political life. Some senior politicians rarely leave their homes and others have increased security precautions after receiving threats. Saad Hariri, son and political heir of Hariri, is said to have been advised by security experts to spend time outside Lebanon. Nabih Berri, the pro-Syrian speaker of parliament, reportedly leaves his Beirut home only to go to parliament, with three decoy motorcades always leaving at the same time. "This is unusual - the first time in history that the majority wins and is unable to rule," said Walid Jumblatt, leader of Lebanon's Druze minority. (Financial Times-UK)
Two senior Egyptian police officers were killed Thursday at Halal mountain, 37 miles south of El Arish, by land mines possibly rigged to explode during a search for terror suspects linked to recent tourist resort bombings, security officials said. 4,000 Egyptian security personnel began a sweep Sunday of the northern Sinai for suspects linked to July's Sharm el-Sheik attacks and two October resort bombings. At least 650 people have been detained since Sunday. (AP/Boston Globe)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A Palestinian man attempted to cut the throat of a Border Police officer near the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday, lightly wounding him. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at the Negev town of Sderot Thursday, causing no casualties. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Two Shooting Attacks on IDF Posts - Margot Dudkevitch
In two separate incidents Thursday, shots were fired at an IDF post on the Karni-Netzarim road in northern Gaza, and at an IDF post near Har Bracha outside of Nablus in the West Bank. No injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
Families who could not bear to leave Gaza until the soldiers arrived at their doors last week, returned this week to ship their belongings out, allowing for one last breath of life for some of these communities. While cranes are levelling many of the smaller communities, others such as Neve Dekalim are filled with families or their friends and relatives who are wrapping dishes and taking photos off the walls. (Jerusalem Post)
After the Gaza Withdrawal
Close observers of the Palestinians will tell you to put your money on Hamas in the elections scheduled for January 25. And Hamas has been making its point of view abundantly clear. Do you recall the name Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas official whom an Israeli agent tried to kill in Amman in January 1997, to the outrage of nearly everyone? Now the effective head of Hamas, Mashaal told reporters in Beirut that the Israeli withdrawals marked the beginning of the end of the Zionist dream in Palestine. One of Mashaal's lieutenants, Mahmoud Zahar, impressed upon the pan-Arab daily Arshaq Al Awsat that "neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands."
In the Jerusalem Post, political commentator Saul Singer astutely observed that the Greater Israel movement may have been broken by - of all people - Ariel Sharon, but what almost nobody has noticed is that Greater Palestine is still alive. Its irredentist and jihadist idea suffuses each and every Palestinian crowd. "Palestinians," Singer wrote, "including Abbas, do not even have to call their goal 'Greater Palestine' because to them that is what the word 'Palestine' means. The Palestine of Palestinian maps, poetry, dreams, and legal claims includes all of Israel." There is no reason for great optimism. Gaza will be a relief to Israel. But partial relief: It does not change the stakes or even the odds. (New Republic)
The world has noted - though it will not credit, and will soon forget - those deeply moving scenes of the Israeli evacuation of Gaza: the discipline and self-control of the Israeli army; the cohesion of a society torn over policy but determined to follow the dictates of democracy; and the deep, abiding attachment of Israelis to every inch of soil they have reclaimed from sand and swamp.
In his policy-setting Rose Garden speech of June 2002, President Bush explicitly endorsed a Palestinian state and said that to achieve it, the next step was up to the Palestinians. Since then the only thing the Palestinians have done is to bury Yasser Arafat, an act of reverence but not exactly an initiative. In the interim, the Israelis have withdrawn from Gaza, destroyed four West Bank settlements to create geographic contiguity for Palestinian territory in the northern West Bank, and once again repeated their support of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian response has been Katyusha rockets into Sderot, promises of renewed terrorism, and chants for total victory.
The Arabs are a great people. They have 21 states stretching from the Atlantic to the frontier of Persia. They will soon have a 22nd state called Palestine. The only question is whether its establishment will be on the grave of the world's only Jewish state. What is at stake is whether the world, led by the U.S., will demand Arab acceptance of that single Jewish state, or whether the U.S. will continue to push Israel from one concession to another. (Washington Post)
Now comes the hard part. For all the angst and pathos of Israel's withdrawal from its settlements in the Gaza Strip, the job of making that territory stable and economically viable will be an even more difficult challenge. If Gaza turns into a squalid haven for terrorists and a launching pad for attacks against Israelis, it will be a disaster for any hope that a peace process can resume in the Mideast. The next important step is for the Palestinians to establish civil order there and not allow the terrorists to control the territory. The expectation that the peace process, in the form of the "road map," will automatically follow the withdrawal of Israeli forces is naive. The Israelis will first insist on proof that the militias in Gaza are disarming.
Arab governments in the area also must actually help the Palestinians get the Gaza economy off the ground, not just pay lip service to the goal. Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, has a special responsibility to prevent an illegal arms build-up there. A nation such as Saudi Arabia must also use its oil wealth to help dismantle the refugee camps that have been allowed to exist all these years as a propaganda tool against Israel. (Newsday)
Will Gaza bloom with jobs and opportunity, drawing tourists to the pearly Mediterranean beachfront, showing the world that the Palestinians can, indeed, run an efficient state? Or will it fester into "Hamastan," a mecca for terrorists and an emblem of another Palestinian failure to seize opportunity? Building a Palestinian state starts with Gaza. It also ends in Gaza, if the rockets keep falling in Israel and terrorists dictate the terms of Gaza's future. The Hamas path leads only one way: over the cliff. (Chicago Tribune)
Senior PA officials have widely termed the Israeli pullout from Gaza to be a "victory" and have suggested this was accomplished through violence. But, in fact, there is an inverse correlation between terror attacks and Israel's willingness to withdraw. Contrary to what Hamas and others believe, violence makes Israelis less accommodating rather than more. They calculate risk and reward. When there was quiet and a chance for peace, Israel elected Labor leaders such as Yitzhak Rabin in 1992 and Ehud Barak in 1999. When bombs went off, Israel elected Likud leaders Yitzhak Shamir in 1988, Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996, and Ariel Sharon in 2001 and 2003.
It's possible the Palestinians will learn the wrong lesson from Gaza and begin to use violence in the West Bank. But this strategy would be counterproductive, let alone morally wrong. (Baltimore Sun)
For the Palestinians, disengagement is a chance to win over the skeptics, in Israel and elsewhere, and show that they can actually run their own affairs in a responsible manner. The security aspects of disengagement are essential for its success. For Israel, the logical priority is to ensure that Gaza will not become hostile territory from which terrorists launch attacks on neighboring communities and the rest of Israel. To promote a return to political negotiations, the PA must move against those individuals and groups who continue to use violence. The writer is the policy coordinator for foreign affairs and security for the EU. (Ha'aretz)
Time after time, we witnessed the extraordinary sense of responsibility, to themselves and to the good of Israel, demonstrated by both sides in the forced evacuation of Gaza. There was shouting from the protesters, but rarely was a hand raised. Rabbis and other mediators kept the resistance within the boundaries of non-violent protests. In Tuesday's evacuations at Sa-Nur and Homesh, residents and their supporters certainly demonstrated their anguish at being removed but did not resort to violence against those of their countryfolk tasked to carry out the deed. (Jerusalem Post)
In Gush Katif I found consolation in the unique strength of the democracy in Israel. It was difficult to avoid thinking about the never ending suffering of the Jews all along the centuries when the soldiers had to drag from their synagogues many crying old men wrapped in their prayer shawls while they kept reading their prayer books. But consolation came to me in the amazingly sweet, understanding, and yet firm, professional, and morally clear attitude of the Israeli soldiers and policemen, who created a sincere, warm but uncompromising relationship with the very people they were removing. This will be forever an example for all the armies of the world. (New York Sun)
When a church came looking for someone to talk about Judaism to a Sunday School class in Columbia, Mo., as president of the University of Missouri's Hillel Center, I would be sent. One question always arose: What are the Jews exactly - race, religion, culture, nationality, ethnic group? "We are," I said, "a family." Heads nodded in recognition. Everybody had one of those.
I can't remember being quite so proud in quite this way of the family as I was this past week, when the news was full of images of Jews being forced out of their homes - this time by other Jews. The self-control of both settlers and soldiers required a kind of courage not even war may demand. It had taken 8,000 Israeli troops to capture Gaza in the Six-Day War, when Gamal Abdel Nasser was going to drive the Jews into the sea. It would take a force of 50,000 - trained, disciplined, and almost all unarmed - to remove the settlers. (Washington Times)
The past century is replete with tales of displacement and renewal, in a story that accompanies war all over the world. Unlike so many of the Palestinians, who go around with the keys of their former homes in their pockets, claiming a right of return to Jaffa, Acre, and Lod, others built new lives. That's what refugees do. If the Palestinians are ever to live in peace with Israel they will have to stop playing the old tapes and come to terms with reality. It is time for the Palestinians to move on.
During these past days we have witnessed the sight of thousands of traumatized Jewish settlers being removed from their homes. Israel has as much right to the settlement of Neve Dekalim as Britain has to the Falklands - perhaps more so. And yet, Israel is different. Where else would you see soldiers and police ousting their fellow citizens from their own homes and houses of worship in the quest for peace? These things don't happen in the real world, where power and force determine sovereignty.
Will the Palestinians be prepared to compromise, or will they continue to talk of a Palestine stretching from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, with Jerusalem as its capital? If the former, then the sacrifice paid by the Jewish settlers of Gush Katif will have been worthwhile. However, if the Palestinians, as in the past, "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," then most Israelis are likely to draw the conclusion that the price was not worth paying and that we must simply, like most nations in our world, carve out our own niche. The writer is director of the Rabbinic Court of the Israel Council of Progressive Rabbis. (Jerusalem Post)
Nobody seems to have asked, why can 1 million Arabs live in peace within Israel but 9,000 Jews can't live in peace in Palestine? I know the Palestinians consider Gaza occupied territory, even though it was taken from Egypt in 1967, not from Palestinians, and even though the UN calls it a disputed, not occupied, territory. I just do not understand why it is obvious and correct to most of the so-called civilized world that Arabs cannot live with Jews but Jews can live with Arabs.
If the only way to satisfy the moral grievances of the Palestinians is to destroy Israel, then they are not moral grievances at all but rather just history's newest version of anti-Semitic blood lust that must be defeated, not appeased. The writer is senior rabbi of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, NY. (Newsweek)
See also Citizens of Israel Severing Ties and Limbs - Jonathan Miller
Now the Palestinians will have to accept the responsibility for their governance. There will be no more excuses. Gaza will join Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries in becoming officially Judenrein, free of all Jews. The writer is rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham. (Birmingham [AL] News)
As I watch the removal of Jewish families from their homes in Gaza and listen to the world praising Israel for taking this step toward peace, I wonder why there is no criticism of the Palestinians and no outrage at the ethnic cleansing the world seems to condone and endorse. Why is it necessary and acceptable to remove such a tiny minority from Gaza? What is so special about Jews that it is the normal course of events to expel them from their homes simply because they are Jews? Would it have been such a hardship for a million and a half Palestinians to have about 9,000 Jewish neighbors?
What makes it acceptable for the Arabs to so threaten the existence of those few that the only way to protect them from violent attacks is to either maintain a military presence or move them away? Israel has a million Arab citizens and has expelled none of them. When Israel became a nation in 1948, the surrounding Arab countries expelled their Jews and sent them to live in the Jewish state, after confiscating most of their possessions. But Arabs in Israel were invited to stay and be Israeli citizens with full voting rights in the new democracy. Despite the attacks, economic difficulties, and cultural differences, the Jews in Israel worked hard to integrate their Arab citizens and afford them full rights. But still, the Arabs have no room for Jews. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Palestinians now have a golden opportunity. But they have had those before. Rule of law is the key difference between the Jewish state and the Arab Muslim world. We see a serious, democratic state enforcing legal decisions against its own population, decisions that are painful and which many are passionately against. I longingly await any Palestinian leader demonstrating like-minded behavior, or of showing the smallest shred of such capability. Or even of understanding the concept.
So before Israel gives more away and makes more concessions, they deserve evidence that the Gaza decision will represent improvement. This is already looking dubious. Should Gaza become nothing more than a base from which Hamas launches missiles into neighboring Israeli communities, it would be clear to even the most obtuse that dismantling settlements on the West Bank would simply be rewarding violence and that Israel should forget about peace and simply do what is best for its own safety. (Toronto Star)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Ever since it became clear that three of the four jihadis who bombed London on July 7 were born and bred in England, the British have been taking a hard look at their Muslim neighbors: Do they share the same values? And how many more would-be bombers are among them? If the U.S. is ever attacked by American jihadis, we will no doubt ask the same questions about our Muslim community.
Most Arab-Americans aren't Muslim, and most Muslim Americans aren't Arab. According to the 2000 census, there are 1.2 million Americans of Arab descent, of whom only 24% (according to a survey by the Arab American Institute) are Muslim. The rest are mainly Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant. They are also highly successful, with an above-average median household income and an intermarriage rate of over 75%, suggesting they are well on their way toward blending into the great American melting pot.
Thanks to a 2004 Zogby International survey, we know that about one-third of Muslim Americans are of South Asian descent; 26% are Arab, and another 20% are American blacks. The most credible study to date, by Tom Smith of the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, estimates total U.S. Muslim population at 1,886,000. The Zogby survey found that 59% of American Muslims have at least an undergraduate education, making them the most highly educated group in America. Muslim Americans are also the richest Muslim community in the world, with one in three earning more than $75,000 a year. 82% are registered to vote, half of them as Democrats. In these respects, Muslim Americans differ from Muslim communities in Britain and continental Europe, which tend to be poor and socially marginalized. (Wall Street Journal)
Reducing our dependence on oil would be the single greatest multiplier of American power in the world. Over the last three decades, Islamic extremism and violence have been funded from two countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, not coincidentally the world's first and second largest oil exporters. Both countries are now awash in money and, no matter what the controls, some of this cash is surely getting to unsavory groups and individuals.
Saudi Arabia will probably have a budget surplus of more than $26 billion this year because the price of oil is so much higher than anticipated. That means it can keep the old ways going, bribing the Wahhabi imams, funding the Army and National Guard, spending freely on patronage programs. (And that would still leave plenty to fund dozens of new palaces and yachts.) Ditto for other corrupt, quasi-feudal oil states.
Tehran has launched a breathtakingly ambitious foreign policy, moving determinedly on a nuclear path, and is also making a bid for influence in neighboring Iraq. This is nothing less than an attempt to replace the U.S. as the dominant power in the region. (Newsweek)
A small cadre dedicated to the triumph of the Palestinians at the price of the destruction of Israel is trying to influence the Middle East policies of the American Christian community. While Israel leaves Gaza, in a bold step to advance the peace process, the Presbyterian Church (USA) responds by threatening Israel with economic sanctions. While Israel builds a security barrier to keep Palestinian terrorists from maiming and killing innocent civilians, the World Council of Churches, Disciples of Christ, and the United Church of Christ demand that Israel "tear down the wall" - even though the fence has saved the lives of countless Israelis of all religious faiths. The writer is director of U.S. interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee. (Forward)
Israel's withdrawal from Gaza produced some of the most balanced and sympathetic press coverage ever of the Jewish state. Much of the coverage focused on the pain and poignancy of Jews uprooted by the government that once encouraged them to settle Gaza. Media experts say the coverage had to do mostly with the exceptional human dimensions of a story which contrasted with the traditional media image of a tough, aggressive Israel. The fact that so many reporters were in the region covering real people facing real traumas transformed coverage, said a former top official of a major Jewish group. "Reporters were spending time with real people." (New York Jewish Week)
Tribal Jews in northeast India said Tuesday they would press ahead with their plans to emigrate to Israel despite the closure of their intended settlement destination in the Gaza Strip. Israel's Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Amar, announced in Jerusalem in March that members of the 6,000-strong Bnei Menashe tribe in Mizoram and Manipur were descendants of ancient Israelites or one of the biblical 10 "Lost Tribes." "We were planning to go to Gaza. Now we do not know for sure where the Israeli government will put us up but we are determined to migrate," said Y. Ralte, a Mizoram youth who is part of the group preparing to leave for Israel next month. Around 800 tribal Jews from Mizoram and Manipur who emigrated to Israel in the past decade have been uprooted from their Gaza settlements. (AFP/Times of India)
Anti-Zionism has become the most dangerous and effective form of anti-Semitism in our time, through its systematic delegitimization, defamation, and demonization of Israel. The calls to dismantle the Jewish state increasingly rely on an anti-Semitic stereotypization of classic themes, such as the manipulative "Jewish lobby," the Jewish/Zionist "world conspiracy," and Jewish/Israeli "warmongers."
One major driving force of this anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism is the transformation of the Palestinian cause into a "holy war"; another source is anti-Americanism linked with fundamentalist Islamism. In the current context, classic conspiracy theories, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, are enjoying a spectacular revival. The common denominator of the new anti-Zionism has been the systematic effort to criminalize Israeli and Jewish behavior, so as to place it beyond the pale of civilized and acceptable conduct. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Legal Acrobatics: The Palestinian Claim that Gaza is Still "Occupied" Even After Israel Withdraws
- Dore Gold
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