Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
July 7 London Suicide Bomber Appears on Videotape - Yara Bayoumy
(Reuters/ Washington Post)
See also Video: Al-Qaeda Behind London Blasts - Sally Buzbee (AP/Yahoo)
See also Experts Finally Given the Missing Link to Outside Group - Philip Johnston (Telegraph-UK)
Military Intelligence Views Post-Disengagement Developments - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
Alleged LA Terror Plot Seen as Homegrown - Greg Krikorian and David Rosenzweig (Los Angeles Times)
Post-Arafat Syndrome - Khaled Amayreh (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Canadian Police Board Rejects Complaint on Chief's Trip to Israel - Morgan Campbell (Toronto Star)
Israel to Sell UAVs to Turkey - Avi Krawitz (Jerusalem Post)
Mysterious Temple Mount Artifact Evokes "Da Vinci Code" - Amiram Barkat (Ha'aretz)
Israeli Hotel Industry Rebounds
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
A Lebanese prosecutor on Thursday charged four former security officials, once feared as Syria's proxies in Lebanon, with the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a Feb. 14 bombing. Mustafa Hamdan, commander of Lebanon's Republican Guard; Jamil al-Sayyed, Lebanon's former head of general security; Ali Hajj, former chief of the Lebanese police; and Raymond Azar, a former military intelligence chief, "took some part in the planning of the assassination," Detlev Mehlis, a former prosecutor in Germany's attorney general's office who leads a UN team investigating the bombing, said Thursday. (New York Times)
See also U.S. to Put New Pressure on Syria - Robin Wright
The Bush administration plans to launch a new effort at the UN this month to tighten the squeeze on Syria and to help Lebanon rebuild politically, according to senior U.S. officials. The goal is to "juxtapose" greater pressure on Syria with international help for Lebanon as it works to regain sovereignty, particularly because the Syrians have not pulled out all of their intelligence agents, said a senior administration official. "If I were in Bashar Assad's shoes, I'd look again about coming to New York. It's not going to be the spotlight he expected," a senior administration official said. If Damascus is found to be involved in the car bombing that killed Hariri, who led a campaign against Syria's domination of Lebanon before his death, then the Syrians "are in trouble," warned the official. (Washington Post)
Egypt's strongest opposition movement won't appear on the ballot next week. Yet the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood - the country's largest Islamic group - is on clear display behind the scenes. The Brotherhood, in an Aug. 21 statement, urged its supporters to cast ballots but declined to support a particular side. The group did hint that followers should not vote for Mubarak. (AP/Washington Post)
An interview with Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Zahar:
Q: Some Israeli officials warn that after the withdrawal, Gaza will become "Hamastan."
Zahar: It should be Hamastan. Why not?
Q: How long do you think this current truce will last?
Zahar: Until the end of 2005.
Q: Could you ever see Hamas involved in a peace plan that would allow two states side by side, Israel and Palestine?
Zahar: Nobody on the Israeli side, from the extreme right to the extreme left, will withdraw from Jerusalem. At the same time, believe me, nobody on the Palestinian side, in the Arab and Muslim world, will accept keeping Jerusalem under occupation. [The Palestinians] lost everything [after Oslo]. We are not the PLO. We are not going to repeat a failed [process]. (Newsweek)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Maj.-Gen. Yisrael Ziv, head of the Operations Division in the Israel Defense Forces General Staff, and his Egyptian counterpart, Gen. Mohammed Fahrani, signed an agreement Thursday for the deployment of 750 Egyptian border policemen along the Philadelphi route between Egypt and Gaza. The Egyptians will begin deployment on Sept. 15, and the last of the IDF soldiers will withdraw from outposts along the route some two weeks later, thus completing the IDF's pullout from the Gaza Strip. Israel has demanded that the PA not destroy the steel and concrete wall it built facing Rafah.
Israel is reluctant to give up control over people and goods flowing into Gaza, fearing militants could try to smuggle in weapons. Egypt and the Palestinians have proposed deploying foreign inspectors at Rafah to prevent smuggling, but Israel has rejected the idea. Instead, Israel has proposed moving the Rafah crossing to a three-way meeting point between Egypt, Gaza, and Israel - which would allow the continued presence of Israeli inspectors. Israel is due to start constructing a new border-crossing terminal at Kerem Shalom on the Israel-Egypt-Gaza border next week, despite opposition from Egypt and the PA. (AP/Ha'aretz)
Pakistan plans to send a delegation to Israel following talks between their foreign ministers, but it still does not recognize the Jewish state, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said Thursday. "We will not recognize Israel until it resolves the Palestinian issue," Musharraf said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinians Angered by Israel-Pakistan Talks - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
See also Behind Musharraf's Dramatic Step - Yossi Melman
Pakistani President Musharraf's decision to establish open ties with Israel, as reflected in the meeting Thursday in Istanbul between Foreign Minister Shalom and his Pakistani counterpart, required considerable courage. Israel and the Jews are widely hated in Pakistan. There are two reasons for this decision. First, Pakistan believes that Israel and the Jews can open doors for it in the U.S. government. But the more important reason relates to India, Pakistan's traditional foe. Over the past decade, Israel has formed a strategic alliance with India that has generated cooperation in the intelligence and nuclear fields and expanded trade, and in particular has made India into a leading market for Israeli defense exports. Musharraf therefore concluded that a dramatic step was necessary to try to reshape this alliance into something less disturbing to Pakistan. (Ha'aretz)
See also Musharraf: Saudi King, Abbas Supported Meeting - Saleem Shahid (Dawn-Pakistan)
See also Indian Reaction: Pak Shakes Hands with Israel, India Twiddles Thumbs - C Raja Mohan (Indian Express)
The last private home left standing in Neve Dekalim was destroyed on Thursday, ending the Gush Katif home demolition operation. At the same time, the IDF's rabbinate completed its transfer of 48 graves from Gush Katif. The army has already withdrawn 95% of its military equipment from Gaza, and will complete the process in coming days. In total, some 2,530 homes were demolished in Gush Katif, and 270 residences were bulldozed in northern Samaria. (Ynet News)
Lawi Abu-Jama'a, one of two security guards who sustained serious injuries in the suicide bombing at the Beersheva central bus station Sunday, will no longer be able to see from his left eye, yet the images he remembers will be etched in his memory forever. "We ran after the suicide bomber," Abu-Jama'a said Thursday from his hospital bed. "I knew he had explosives in his bag. I grabbed his right hand. Pavel grabbed his left hand, but he managed to shake Pavel off and detonated the bomb." Abu-Jama'a, 27, from a Bedouin community in the Negev, lies side-by-side in Soroka Hospital's plastic surgery ward with fellow security guard Pavel Srotzkin, 22. "I know we saved many people. It's our job, that is what we have been taught to do," said Abu-Jama'a. (Ynet News)
In Gaza, Khaled, 10, a student at the Jabalya UNRWA school, peered up at tapestries depicting fantastical victories: a burning Israeli Knesset and a giant-sized gunman stomping on settlers' homes, with haredi men fleeing in the foreground. Within sight of a professionally designed billboard depicting a new arsenal of sophisticated antitank missiles, little Khaled said he was disgusted by the PA's weakness. "Hamas is stronger than the Authority," he said. "I spit on Abu Mazen" [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas]. "Everybody in Gaza knows that it was not Abbas's tahadiya (state of calm) that sent Israel packing, but 'the resistance,'" Khaled tells the grownups interviewing him. "Through such warfare, all of 'Palestine' will be freed."
Across Gaza, an especially telling, and common, banner reads: "Four years of fighting is better than 10 years of negotiations," referring to the Oslo negotiations in the 1990s. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
If handing over the main tasks of governance to the Palestinian Authority means that the Geneva Convention no longer applies to those tasks, then Israel could - as it says it will - continue providing services and letting in aid, but treat that as a mutual agreement instead of an obligation. International law never imagined anywhere like Gaza - a place neither fully occupied nor completely sovereign. Neutral observers are largely undecided. The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose remit to work in the territories depends on whether they count as occupied, says that Gaza's status will depend on "evolving facts on the ground." There have been a few studies by legal scholars, the upshot of which is the same. Daniel Taub, a lawyer at Israel's foreign ministry, takes the line: "To the extent that there are responsibilities we haven't yet transferred, we have to be accountable for these, just as the Palestinian side has to be accountable for the responsibilities it's received." (Economist-UK)
See also Legal Acrobatics: The Palestinian Claim that Gaza is Still Occupied Even After Israel Withdraws - Dore Gold (ICA/JCPA)
President George W. Bush has developed a no-lose secret weapon that he hopes to deploy by the end of his administration: a Palestinian state with provisional borders. If it works, the administration will rightly gain credit for a major breakthrough; if it doesn't, the administration will blame the Palestinians for missing yet another opportunity. In the administration's strategy, Gaza is by no means the end of the story. A Palestinian state with provisional borders would be comprised of Gaza and significant areas of the West Bank from which Israel will be prepared to withdraw, deferring issues such as Jerusalem and refugees for future negotiations.
The appointment of Lt.-Gen. William Ward and James Wolfensohn as special U.S. envoys for Palestinian security and economic matters highlights the importance to the White House of building institutions for such an interim state, rather than focusing primarily on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And of course Sharon's own view on territory, which would preclude anything close to the June 1967 lines, will impose a simple reality: A state with provisional borders is all the Palestinians will get, at least for now. (International Herald Tribune)
With 750 elite Egyptian border guard forces (accompanied by choppers and speedboats) deployed along the Egyptian side of the Philadelphi route on the Gaza-Egypt border, has the peace agreement with Egypt been breached by weakening the military clause guaranteeing the demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula? We must recall that Israel was the one to decide of its own initiative to disengage from Gaza, a decision that surprised the Egyptians; it was not a deliberate Egyptian-initiated move.
Egypt had indeed undertaken several steps toward building banned fortifications in the Sinai in the first years after the peace deal was signed. However, it appears this trend was halted once the multinational monitoring force (MFO) established to oversee the Sinai's demilitarization went into action. The force, which mostly comprises American soldiers, performs its task with efficiency. Egypt would therefore not be able to bring more forces into the Sinai beyond what was agreed upon in the latest deal unless it removes the multinational force, as Egyptian President Nasser did prior to the 1967 war.
Egypt has an interest in keeping the Gaza Strip quiet and preventing the movement of hostile, radical elements in the area. Egypt was badly burned by terror attacks organized in Taba, Ras a-Satan, and Sharm el-Sheikh right under the noses of the country's security services, renowned for their efficiency and strictness. The writer, a career diplomat for 38 years, was Israel's ambassador to Romania, Egypt, and Sweden. (Ynet News)
Israel's disengagement transcends the simple act of redeploying from the Gaza Strip and four northern Samarian settlements. There is a larger withdrawal taking place, which is not geographical. This is the withdrawal of Israeli policy from the idea of rapprochement between the Jewish state of Israel and Middle Eastern politics as currently constituted, represented in its local version by Palestinian nationalism and its Islamist opponents.
The peace process of the 1990s represented the high-water mark of Israeli attempts to engage with the Palestinians, and through them with the dominant political language of the region. That experiment, as is known, was not successful. Regional politics, in its Palestinian variant, was ultimately responsible for the failure. A familiar combination of grand myth-making, militarist fantasies of revenge, and an abject disinterest in developing real and tangible instruments of government and administration left the process doomed.
Israel developed and coordinated its unilateral redeployment with its U.S. ally, rather than its Palestinian neighbor. And it has, at least since the election of Ariel Sharon in 2001, answered insurgency not with frantic new political initiatives, but with determined counterinsurgency. The writer is a research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, Inter-Disciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Ha'aretz)
To assume that democracy will make the Middle East look more like the West is to assume that, given the power to choose, Arabs will choose more liberal, secular, peaceful societies than they have now. But there is little evidence to suggest this is true. It seems probable that in many Arab countries Islamist parties hostile to the West's interests would sweep the board.
In some places this has already happened. Hizballah, for example, a group regarded as a terrorist organization by the West, has 14 seats in the Lebanese parliament won through completely legitimate democratic means. It even has a minister in the Lebanese cabinet. In May, Hamas made its democratic debut in municipal elections - and did very well. Since then it has enthusiastically stepped up calls for inclusion in the Palestinian democratic process.
Some hold that if new leaders come to power democratically, even militant ones, they will soon be moderated by the responsibilities of office. But there is another school of thought. A democratic Saudi Arabia may opt no longer to sell its oil to the West. A democratic Egypt may start to develop nuclear weapons. A democratic Jordan may start a new war with Israel. (BBC News)
Last April, the Iraq Islamic Party, the largest political grouping of the Arab Sunni minority, abandoned its policy of boycotting the political process. The party's decision brought a murderous response from the largely non-Iraqi terror groups led by Abu-Mussab al-Zarqawi and other pseudo-religious gangsters. Yet even though the Zarqawi gang murdered a deputy leader of the party and two other Sunni representatives to the constitutional talks, every one of the Sunni political groups has joined the process. The most immediate effect of the "Sunni switch" can be seen in the long lines of people registering to vote in Arab Sunni-majority provinces. Despite the murderous efforts of al-Qaeda cheered on by Saddam nostalgics in the West, more and more Iraqis are beginning to understand that they can do with ballots far more than they ever could with bullets. (New York Post)
Completion of the Gaza withdrawal shifts the spotlight onto the Palestinian Authority, which must now show that it can govern Gaza. That means providing both jobs and security to Palestinian residents and ensuring that the newly regained territory is not used as a staging ground for attacks on Israel. The government's failure to prevent terrorists from using Gaza as a haven will undermine any hopes for progress toward peace.
Japan has provided some $767 million in aid to the Palestinians since 1993, making Japan the third-largest donor after the U.S. and EU. Japan has pledged an additional $100 million and should ensure that its money is well spent. There will be no hope for Gazans if their government cannot impose law and order on the territory. Absent peace, no one will risk investing in Gaza; without investment there will be no economy. (Japan Times)
In 1948, when Israelis established the State of Israel, all they had was a small piece of land, in a desert, no oil, surrounded by hostile Arabs. Instead of being stuck in a jail in a desert, the Israelis decided to create a nation. If the Palestinians choose to find themselves in the world's largest jail, then so they will. But if they regard this pullout by the Israelis as a great opportunity to show the world what they can do with this piece of land, then great things can happen.
In our own back yard, Disney started with 27,000 acres of cattle land, orange groves and swamp, and look what was accomplished in 37 years. Disney created its kingdom because not only did the company have the land and the money, it also had the vision. The Palestinian people now have Gaza, and money is available from the U.S., the EU, and the Arab world. Can the Palestinian people focus on building their state rather than dwelling on the past? The future of Gaza is in the hands of the Palestinian people. The writer formerly served as legal counsel for Walt Disney World. (Orlando Sentinel)
Alei Katif, the primary vendor of Gush Katif's insect-free agricultural produce for nearly 16 years, is looking forward with optimism, despite losing more than half of its growers and supply of produce with Israel's evacuation of the Gaza Strip. Roughly 60% of Alei Katif's total produce came from Gush Katif, while the remaining 40% came from growers in the western Negev. Since the disengagement, the volume of produce shipped declined by "much more than half. There is a big shortage in produce," said Amir Dror, marketing and sales manager. "We hope that they will all come back to agriculture," Dror said of the dispersed evacuees. "Within five to six months we will be able to provide the amount of produce that we were producing before," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Leaders of the Iraqi Jewish community from around the world are to meet in London on Sept. 18-19 to plan a strategy to demand compensation for lost assets, potentially in the billions of dollars, from the Iraqi government. Iraqi-born Mordechai Ben-Porat, chairman of Israel's Center for the Heritage of Babylonian Jewry, organized the first meeting. "The Jews left behind hospitals, schools, cemeteries, shopping markets," said Ben-Porat, who had been a leader of the Zionist underground movement in Iraq from its inception in 1942 until he immigrated to Israel in 1945. The Iraqi Jewish community was among the largest in the Arab world, numbering some 140,000, but most of the community left Iraq between 1950 and 1952, after the creation of the State of Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
An alliance between Islamic radicals and neo-Nazis seems unlikely on its face; after all, neo-Nazis view most Muslims as racially inferior, while Islamic extremists believe that neo-Nazis are just another flavor of infidel. However, many white-supremacist groups have expressed solidarity with Islamic terrorists recently, and in turn some white supremacists and far-right Holocaust deniers have found newfound supporters among the Islamists. This developing alliance is not without historical precedent. Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, famously supported Adolf Hitler during World War II, broadcasting radio propaganda on Germany's behalf and even forming Bosnian Muslim divisions of the Waffen SS. (Weekly Standard)
In April 2002, the Guardian published an open letter calling for an EU moratorium on funding for grants and research contracts for Israeli universities. Since then, Britain has become the world's center of agitation against Israeli academia. The Association of University Teachers (AUT) boycott of Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities, which initially was approved and subsequently rejected in spring 2005, has been a belated wakeup call for Israeli academia and for UK Jewry. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Another Round in the War - Yehoshua Porath
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