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
IDF Goes on Alert in North - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
- November 3, 2005
Issue of the Week:
After the Disengagement: How Are the Jews of Gaza Faring?
Muslims March over Cartoons of the Prophet - Kate Connolly (Telegraph-UK)
Nobel Prize Winner Robert Aumann: He's Got Game - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Air Defenders Train with Israeli Counterparts (Army News Service/Defense Talk)
Lebanese Christian Militia Boasts of Role in Sabra Massacre - Inigo Gilmore (Guardian-UK)
Intel to Start Producing Israeli-Designed Chip - Avi Krawitz (Jerusalem Post)
Beersheba, Israel's Chess Capital, Hosts World Championships - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The street rampage of angry youths continued to expand across immigrant-dominated suburbs of Paris Thursday, with gangs attacking commuter trains, elementary schools, and businesses in an eighth night of violence. A large percentage of the area's population is Muslim. Rock-throwing gangs attacked two trains linking Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport, dragging out a conductor and smashing windows. Other attackers torched a car dealership, supermarket, and gymnasium in violence in at least nine communities. Rioters burned a French TV truck in Le Blanc-Mesnil and pelted a police station in Hauts-de-Seine with gasoline bombs, AFP reported. (Washington Post)
See also Paris-Area Riots Gain Dangerous Momentum - Jamey Keaten (AP/Washington Post)
Kalkilya, where the radical Islamic group Hamas won every seat on the city council five months ago, is emerging as a test case of Hamas's foray into electoral politics. Hamas, which advocates Israel's destruction and is regarded by Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist group, is fielding candidates in the Palestinian local and parliamentary elections. In Kalkilya, its rule has already set off a fair amount of grumbling that the group is trying to impose a strict Islamist morality. But Hamas has also brought a new measure of modernity to this town of 45,000 people. It has introduced computerized bookkeeping and competitive bidding on city contracts, and has begun to investigate past corruption. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
An IDF soldier sustained light wounds Thursday after a mortar shell fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in an army base in Nahal Oz in southern Israel. Despite an earlier announcement of an intra-Palestinian deal to end Gaza-based attacks, rocket and mortar barrages continue intermittently, while terrorists are taking efforts to boost their rocket range. Earlier this week, a passerby spotted Kassam rocket remnants south of the city of Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
Senior Hamas officials recently asked Egypt and Jordan to allow the organization's headquarters to relocate to its territory. The queries were made due to Hamas' assessment that Syria, where both Hamas and Islamic Jihad headquarters are located, may force both organizations to leave in an effort to divert growing international pressure. Both Egypt and Jordan apparently refused. Hamas' political leadership has been headquartered in Damascus for years; the offices also house operations officers who deliver instructions and money to Hamas operatives in the territories. (Ha'aretz)
Approximately 15,000 people participated in a pro-Israel demonstration in Rome Thursday following Iranian President Ahmadinejad's statement that Israel "should be wiped off the map." About 2,000 people gathered opposite the Iran consulate in Milan for a similar rally. Italy's Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini decided not to attend. (Ynet News)
See also Iranian Students Rally Against Italy on Its Pro-Israel Stance (People's Daily-China)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Iranian Threat
Those European leaders who suggest that Israel get used to the idea of life in the shadow of an Iranian nuclear bomb - and who offer as an example Western Europe, which faced the threat of Soviet nuclear arms - should take into account that the Soviet Union never threatened to wipe any country off the map. Iran finances Hizballah and supplies it with thousands of rockets that threaten northern Israel, and it also bankrolls Islamic Jihad and urges Palestinians to carry out attacks against Israel. In addition, Tehran is making an intensified espionage effort to identify targets in Israel.
Israel has good levers for applying pressure on Iran, which can be very bothersome - for example, by aiding Kurds and the mujahideen in its territory who oppose the regime. Similarly, the Iranians suspect that the British are operating in the Khuzistan region in southern Iran, a region with a predominantly Arab population. The struggle against Iranian nuclear arms development needs to focus not only on intelligence gathering, which is quite good, but also on additional ways, with the goal to foil such development. Although there is great doubt over whether a military option should be pursued, especially by a small state like Israel, that does not mean the country should give up on building appropriate forces. (Ha'aretz)
No doubt the world would be a better place without a nuclear-capable Iran, and everything possible must be done to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons, but reality has to be faced. Given Israel's own assets, in the event of a nuclear strike, Iran's destruction is assured. Iran has no anti-missile defenses and it will be reduced to rubble.
There are several other things the Iranians have to take into account. Accuracy is never absolute and a millimeter's error at time of launching in Iran could mean that the Temple Mount is nuked, not Tel Aviv. And in any attack, as many Arabs would be killed as Jews, the entire region's water would be poisoned, gone would be the dream of any independent Palestinian state surviving on the scorched earth of Palestine. In an inversion of logic, Islam and the Palestinians have become part of Israel's shield. Jerusalem is probably the safest place on earth from an Iranian nuclear attack. (Jerusalem Report)
So Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth. It's official policy according to the president of that well known democracy, Iran. It proves that whatever Israel does right is ultimately wrong. Pull out of Gaza, at astonishing personal cost to their own electorate, and somehow it works against them. They cannot protect themselves, surrounded as they are on all sides by warrior states, without being labeled the aggressors.
[Member of Parliament] Clare Short has decided to tell us that American support for Israel is the biggest single factor in global violence in the world today. Well, that clears up any worries we might have had about the causes of violence in Darfur in western Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, Chechnya, Rwanda, Northern Ireland...shall I go on? Is there a conspiracy theory to follow, Clare? The causes of global violence are global extremism, of any creed, in any guise. (Guardian-UK)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad got an extension this week for his outdated, tired tricks, primarily for one reason: Washington has still not decided to get rid of him. If Assad suspects Washington has decided to leave him in power because of the chaos in Iraq, he will do everything in his power to fan the flames of that violence.
The U.S. must understand that the Middle East will never know stability as long as the Syrian regime remains in place. Not in Iraq, not in Lebanon, not with regard to the Palestinians, not in Jordan, and not even among Arab Israelis. Syria's intelligence arm is involved in all these. There is no chance to deal with Iraq without also dealing with Syria.
In a world defined by democracy, human rights, and a war on terror, it is inconceivable that a dictatorship that harbors the world's most murderous terror groups - Sunni groups in Iraq, Shi'ite groups in Lebanon, and Palestinian groups - can remain in place. As it was in Iraq, the Baathist regime in Damascus is the problem, not the solution. (Ynet News)
Syria is in much deeper trouble than it seems to acknowledge. Assad and the Syrian government are being squeezed into a diplomatic corner, isolated and pressured politically, and are having their sovereignty slowly whittled away. UN Security Council Resolution 1636 was adopted unanimously, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that requires mandatory compliance and authorizes enforcement measures.
The unanimous nature of the resolution must be seen in light of another important development: The U.S. has started to scale back its unilateral military approach and instead is selectively using a much more multilateral approach, anchored in working with the Europeans and through the Security Council. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
The Palestinians decided that an armed struggle was the only way to achieve freedom. Those same people who chose the armed struggle used the same techniques against their own people. Instead of building their country they turned against each other and fought for power. They believed that violence was the solution to everything. The time of the armed struggle has gone; now it is time for negotiations. The Palestinian silent majority must take a stand before it is too late. Now we have nobody to blame but ourselves. It's about time the radicals stop controlling our lives and future. The writer, a Palestinian Jerusalemite, works for the Academy for Educational Development. (AMIN)
The budget that the Palestinian Authority currently has at its disposal is barely sufficient to keep it in existence - i.e., to cover the salaries of government employees including teachers. So how does one begin to build a state without a strong central government acting, first and foremost, in the interests of its people? The answer is an almost magical word: Donors! You hear that word bandied about everywhere you go - "The donors require this," "The donors won't allow this."
The government, the large NGO sector, and the private sector all sway to the tune of the donors' whistle, adopting and discarding buzzwords at a dizzying rate, becoming fluent in a foreign language: "Peace," "democracy," "reform," "strategic planning," "women," and "human rights." All three sectors are in fierce competition for funds, resulting in a well-paid NGO elite and government officials whose salaries don't even constitute a living wage. (Jordan Times)
The multiple ongoing attacks on Israel and the Jews in the new century combine into a system, as if controlled by an invisible hand, that is very similar to a postmodern "total war." This complex whole is of a radically different nature than the war of the Nazis against the Jews in the previous century. The main perpetrators among the enemies of Israel and the Jews come from the Arab and Muslim world. The anti-Jewish hatred is transmitted through conduits such as semantics, the Internet, and the media. The main motifs used against Israel and the Jews are mutations of the ancient one that was strongly present in the Christian world, in which the Jews represent absolute evil. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
For years Arab stations would not dare interview Israelis, but times are changing. Nine years ago, when Al Jazeera began broadcasting, it sought to present all sides to a news story, even those that might - and in Israel's case did - annoy people. Other stations, such as Al Arabiya, Abu Dhabi, and the Saudi-owned MBC, followed. The Foreign Ministry and the army spokesman's office assigned Arabic speakers to appear. Israelis are eager to appear on Arab TV stations. The broadcasts help Israel get its message to millions of Arabs in a way no other media, or official, can. Through Al Jazeera, for example, they can reach more Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip than through all the other TV stations put together. (UPI)
"Don't they just shoot children?" Questions like that one, asked by people who believe that Israeli soldiers fire indiscriminately upon Palestinian children, prompted Stephanie Gutmann to write The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy. "I still find people who say 'it must be true because I saw it on CNN.' If people think that's the absolute truth, there's still a place to remind them that news is manufactured by people," Gutmann said. Israel is a magnet of sorts, where journalists can live comfortably and yet cover a war zone. "It's one of the few places in the world where you can leave Jerusalem in your car, get quotes for the day in a combat zone, and be home in time for dinner."
Jerusalem has as many, if not more, journalists as London. The fact that almost all journalists covering the region are based in Israel and not in the Palestinian areas adds to the problem, as it leaves the Israelis exposed to a kind of scrutiny that the Palestinians largely avoid. "Anyone covered that closely is not going to look good," she said. Also, most journalists covering the conflict do not speak Arabic and rely on "fixers" in the Palestinian areas, who are appointed by the Palestinian Authority. (Jewish News Weekly of Northern California)
Unlike other fare on Palestinian TV, "Seriously Joking," a television soap opera produced by Bethlehem TV, focuses on everyday life. "The people in the soap are not dressed in traditional clothing and talking all the time about Palestine and the nation," says executive producer Raed Othman. "It's about ordinary people." The show looks at social issues including early marriage and young people falling in and out of love. It addresses such subjects as high unemployment, the impact of nepotism and corruption, and the decision to emigrate in search of a better life. The U.S. Agency for International Development supported production of the series with a $170,000 grant. (USA Today)
Rabin's Legacy: In His Own Words (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's last address to the Knesset, 5 October 1995
Thursday, October 5, 1995, was one of the stormiest days ever experienced in the plenum of the Knesset. The hysteria which culminated in the Rabin assassination pushed to the sidelines the contents of his most important speech on the Arab-Israeli peace process. It was the last one he ever delivered in the Knesset. Some say it was the speech of his life [see "Rabin's Legacy," above]. Eitan Haber, who was the director of Rabin's bureau and his speechwriter, can recall only one occasion when Rabin referred to the map of the final-status agreement between the Palestinians and Israel. Rabin said on that occasion that the Palestinians would receive 50% - at the most, 60 to 70% - of the West Bank. Haber is absolutely convinced that Rabin was not prepared to hear of territorial concessions on a scale of 94 to 96% of the West Bank, as was proposed in the Clinton parameters, which Prime Minister Ehud Barak presented to the Israeli cabinet for approval in late 2000. (Ha'aretz)
As world leaders gather in Israel to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, Israelis are asking to what extent the killer's bullet changed the course of Israeli-Palestinian history. The legacy Rabin left is not simple. He was always defense-minded, a man with limited faith in the goodwill of Israel's neighbors and a conviction that only a militarily strong Israel can survive in the Middle East. For Rabin, the main strategic goal was to secure Israel's survival in a tough neighborhood. Peace was a means to that end, not an end in itself.
In 1993, Rabin cautiously embraced the Oslo peace process with the Palestinians in the hope that it would lead to Israel's acceptance in the region, but he insisted that it be reversible: If the process threatened Israel's security instead of advancing it, he insisted, Israel would be able to revert to the pre-Oslo status quo. (JTA)
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