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
Israel Successfully Tests Arrow Anti-Missile System - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
- December 1, 2005
Issue of the Week:
Archaeological Digs in Israel
Gaza: Newly Formed al-Qaeda Cell (ADNKI-Italy)
Kurdish Oil Deal Shocks Iraq's Political Leaders - Borzou Daragahi
(Los Angeles Times)
Muslims Come to Israel's Defense at Asian Parley - Ran Ezer (Forward)
Voices of the Syrian Opposition - Nir Boms (National Review)
14 Terror Suspects Detained in Belgium - Raf Casert (AP/Washington Post)
Terrorist Cells Find Foothold in Balkans:
Arrests Point to Attacks Within Europe - Rade Maroevic and Daniel Williams (Washington Post)
Kill a Jew - Go to Heaven: The Perception of the Jew in Palestinian Society - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Economist: Israel Growing Faster Than Expected - Zeev Klein (Globes)
Ethiopian Israelis Commemorate Sigd Holy Day in Jerusalem (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Prime Minister Sharon said on Thursday Israel intended to keep control of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, signaling its insistence on retaining settlements there under any future peace deal. Sharon called the Jordan Valley part of the Jewish state's "security zone." (Reuters/ABC News)
See also Sharon: No More Unilateral Pullouts
Prime Minister Sharon ruled out any more unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank Thursday. "I have no intention of carrying out an initiative such as the one we have taken" in Gaza, he said. (AFP/Yahoo)
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the UN General Assembly demonstrated its irrelevance Thursday by adopting six resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including non-binding calls for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Golan Heights. The General Assembly passed resolutions very similar to measures introduced annually by Arab nations for at least 30 years. The U.S. was joined by no more than seven other nations in rejecting the resolutions, which won up to 160 votes.
"These resolutions are purely symbolic," Bolton told reporters at the UN. "It is one reason why many people say the UN is not really useful in solving actual problems. We have been making enormous progress toward solutions in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that progress has benefited from UN participation, but it does not benefit from needless repetition of meaningless resolutions in the General Assembly."
Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said, "It is very disappointing that the very positive changes in the region, such as Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, seem to have absolutely no effect on this ongoing tedious ritual....It shows that as far as the Palestinians are concerned, there is no present or future, only the past happening over and over again." (Bloomberg)
See also Ottawa to Reject Anti-Israel Resolutions at the UN - Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail-Canada)
Iran's hardline leaders appear more determined than ever to resist Western pressure over their disputed nuclear drive, raising the question of what any new talks with the EU could actually achieve. Britain, France, and Germany are still hoping to convince Iran to limit work on the nuclear fuel cycle as an "objective guarantee" the process will not be diverted to make weapons, but their offer of trade and other incentives has already been rejected. "We have sent a message to the Westerners that we will resist to the end in order to master civil nuclear technology and will not give up our rights," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said this week. (AFP/Yahoo)
Lebanese Prime Minister Saniora will urge UN Secretary-General Annan to seek Security Council approval for a six-month extension to a UN investigation into the assassination of a former prime minister, Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said Thursday. The investigating commission, whose mandate is set to expire Dec. 15, said in its interim report last month that Syria must have known about the plot to kill Hariri and may have been involved. The Mehlis commission is expected to question five senior Syrian officials in Vienna next week. (AP/Washington Post)
U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday, "On November 23, the Department of Justice obtained a conviction here in New York of Uzair Paracha, who was charged with providing material support to al-Qaeda. Paracha was part of an operation to help an al-Qaeda operative obtain documents to re-enter the United States to commit what Paracha believed was a planned chemical attack on the U.S."
"Earlier this year, a jury in the Eastern District of New York convicted two Yemeni citizens, Mohammed Ali Hasan Al-Moayad and Mohsen Zayed. Al-Moayad was the imam of a large mosque and Zayed was his assistant. Together they collected money through the al-Farook mosque in Brooklyn and distributed it to al-Qaeda and Hamas in order to help train, equip, and arm jihad terrorists....On the most basic level, these cases - and others - highlight both the extent of our success and the reality of the continuing threat." (U.S. Newswire)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel has complained to the U.S. that the PA is evading its obligations under the agreement that allowed the reopening last week of the Gaza-Egyptian border, Israel Radio reported on Friday. Palestinian security sources admitted that 10 to 15 high-ranking, wanted militants had returned to Gaza through the Rafah crossing in the seven days since the border was reopened and came under Palestinian control. The militants are senior members of Izzadin al-Qassam, the armed wing of the radical Islamic Hamas movement, which has carried out scores of suicide bombings against Israel, the radio said. (DPA/Khaleej Times-Dubai)
See also Palestine's Big Test - Claude Salhani
The Palestinian Authority took its first step toward nationhood last week, when it assumed control of the Gaza Strip's Rafah border crossing with Egypt, nearly three months after Israel closed it. The reopening of Rafah is the result of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's intervention during her visit to the region earlier this month. For Israel, the border reopening is bad news because of fears Islamist militants will take advantage of it. Israeli security officials were concerned the Palestinian border reopening would give a free hand to Islamist militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. (Washington Times)
See also Rice Envoy to Monitor Rafah Deal as Militants Cross into Gaza - Aluf Benn
Secretary of State Rice is sending State Department counselor Philip D. Zelikow to Israel to monitor the implementation of the Rafah border crossing agreement she brokered last month and to expedite parts of the agreement that have not yet been executed. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians opened fire at IDF troops near the Karni goods crossing in northern Gaza on Thursday. In the West Bank, shots were fired at soldiers south of Nablus. Security forces blew up a 30-kg bomb found next to the Gaza security fence, south of the Sufa crossing. Since the pullout from Gaza, security forces have uncovered and blown up 20 bombs along the fence around Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinians Caught at Checkpoint with Pipe Bombs
Two Palestinians were arrested by IDF reservists manning the Bekaot checkpoint east of Nablus who found two pipe bombs in the trunk of their car. (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Jews are strong supporters of Israel but usually tend to refrain from defending Israel publicly, according to a poll of 800 American Jews conducted by Frank Luntz for The Israel Project, a pro-Israel public advocacy group. 82% said they support Israel, with most characterizing themselves as strong supporters. Backing for Israel is stronger among older Jews, among those who belong to the Conservative movement, and among those who attended Jewish day schools and visited Israel. Only 29% said they talk about Israel frequently, while 61% almost never do so. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Gaza today is ruled not by the Palestinian Authority but by competing warlords, armed gangs, security chiefs, and terrorist organizations. There is no independent judiciary or rule of law. Educational and social institutions have collapsed. Unemployment is as high as 50%. Three months after Israel's withdrawal, there are few signs of renewed economic activity. If elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council are held in January as scheduled, Hamas is widely expected to take half the seats in Gaza, putting it in a position to dominate politics there. If Hamas comes to rule over a failed, terrorist state in Gaza, Israelis will simply close the border crossings and rely on the border fence and military deterrence to protect themselves.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Jim Wolfensohn, the Middle East envoy for the quartet, remain focused on turning the Gaza disengagement into a springboard for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. But their admirable efforts are hobbled by the weakness of the PA and the lack of interest from Israelis looking out for their security first. Fostering negotiations will grow only more challenging when January elections bring Hamas into the Palestinian political mainstream with its terrorist abilities intact.
Some Gazans suggest that the time has come to create their own independent state in the part of Palestine that has now been liberated. American interests might be better served by mustering international support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza first. Egypt is already quietly adopting the role of custodian in Gaza, putting Egyptian colonels in control of Palestinian border brigades. Wolfensohn could focus his considerable energies on helping Gazans reorient their trade through Egyptian ports, across a border that is no longer controlled by Israel.
Only when Egyptians and Jordanians put their own separate interests first was peace forged between those countries and Israel. Perhaps the time has come for Gazans to do the same. The writer is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. (New York Times)
The more than four-year-long intifada, which left more than 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead, is over. And better than that, defeated. There's no great Palestinian constituency for starting another one. In Israel, tourism is back, the economy has recovered to pre-intifada levels, and the coffee shops and malls are full again.
Without any fanfare whatsoever, the Palestinians' first-ever state has just been born. They have political independence for 1.3 million of their people, sovereignty over all of Gaza and, for the first time, a border to the outside world (the Rafah crossing to Egypt) that they control. The Gaza Palestinians have just received exactly what they wished for: self-government and an absence of any Jews. As a result, however, they are now faced with the distinctly unromantic task of creating their new state. It's not that many Gazans would not like to continue the romance of revolutionary terrorism and jihad. But they no longer have the means. Rockets launched into Israeli towns are met by retaliatory Israeli artillery barrages that make the rocketeers rather unpopular at home. (Washington Post)
Four Western "peace activists" from Christian Peacemaker Teams were kidnapped in western Baghdad on Nov. 26 by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade. What is the possible logic of the abductors? The statement that accompanied the video that charged the men with "working undercover as Christian peace activists" provides some clues. First, for Islamists and other Iraqis, an organization with "Christian" in the title must be missionary in purpose and presumably targeting Muslims for conversion, something they find unacceptable. Second, the notion that Westerners, and Americans especially, are more sympathetic to the Islamists than to the U.S. government just does not register. Iraqis more readily see such people as spies. Put another way, how could the "Swords of Righteousness Brigade" understand the "Christian Peacemaker Teams"? Their names alone point to a nearly unbridgeable divide. (danielpipes.org)
Israel must prepare itself for the American withdrawal from Iraq. If it takes place without the U.S. achieving its main goals in Iraq, an American withdrawal will certainly influence the strategic situation throughout the region. An unsuccessful American withdrawal from Iraq will certainly cause Iran to step up its involvement there, strengthen Hizballah, and further encourage terror against Israel. Al-Qaeda will feel more confident in its attacks on pro-Western regimes like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Palestinian extremists will draw encouragement. (Ha'aretz)
Last weekend Palestinians took charge of their first border crossing point. The Palestinian Authority must prove that it is capable of administering its borders. The most pressing task is preventing militants from using Palestinian territory to attack Israel, but preventing the smuggling of goods is just as important. Government revenue depends on secure borders as taxes are levied on the flow of goods. Criminal organizations live on the profits from contraband goods. The ability to police its borders will not only help bring peace, but will reassure investors that the PA can protect their investments. Without security and stability, there will be no investment, and without investment, there will be no growth and no hope. (Japan Times)
Growing numbers of terrorist groups have come to rely on the tactics - and profits - of organized criminal activity to finance their operations. "Transnational crime is converging with the terrorist world," says Robert Charles, the State Department's former point man on narcotics. "The world is seeing the birth of a new hybrid of organized-crime-terrorist organizations," says Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Terrorist organizations are trafficking in narcotics, counterfeit goods, and illegal aliens. The terrorist gang behind the train bombings in Madrid last year financed itself almost entirely with money earned from drugs.
Federal investigators have uncovered repeated scams in the U.S. involving supporters of Hamas and Hizballah, and have traced tens of thousands of dollars back to those groups in the Middle East. The list of crimes includes credit card fraud, identity theft, even the theft and resale of infant formula. Some, involving cigarette smuggling and counterfeit products, have earned their organizers millions of dollars. (U.S. News)
Natan Sharansky noted recently that Israel had again and again aided Christians - at their own request - against Islamic violence and injustice, most notably when the Church of the Nativity was occupied by jihadists in 2002. Yet international Christian leaders, he said, have not responded with similar gestures toward Israel. This is unfortunate in the extreme both for Israel and for Palestinian Christians: those Christians are going to be in for a rude surprise when the Islamic state so many of them are abetting actually takes power, and they find life more difficult for them than it was in Israel. Christians in the Middle East are in a virtually impossible position (which is why they are streaming out of the area). If they support the Islamic agenda, they are signing their own return to the second-class status of the dhimma, as mandated by the traditional Islamic law that jihadists are bent on restoring. If they support Israel, they risk being targeted by the jihadists, who surround them on all sides. (FrontPageMagazine)
See also Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society - Justus Reid Weiner (JCPA)
As imperfect and incomplete as the primaries have been, the first round of voting validates the popularity of Fatah's younger generation, which has been struggling for years to wrest control of the movement from the "old guard" that dominates its governing institutions. Fatah held primaries in 5 of 16 electoral districts (Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and Tubas), all in the West Bank, representing 30% of the Palestinian voting population. In Jenin and Nablus, leaders of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades finished atop the polling. Only four sitting legislators won their primaries; at least seven failed.
A "committee of the wise" headed by Mahmoud Abbas will determine the final Fatah lists of candidates and will be able to substitute names, effectively giving Abbas and the old guard a veto over who will represent Fatah in the general elections. Thus the primaries will be only as influential as the "committee of the wise" allows them to be. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Palestinian sources from Fatah said the Fatah Central Committee agreed Wednesday to deal with the primary results as an "opinion poll." Many of the names may change, said the sources. (Ma'an News Agency-Bethlehem)
Abbas has suspended the primaries of his ruling Fatah Party after it became clear that the polls were fraught with widespread and serious acts of forgery, falsification, and other fraudulent practices. The polling in Nablus witnessed "conspicuous acts of fraud," said Dalal Salama, a Palestinian Legislative Council member from Nablus. Salama pointed out that in many cases there was a marked difference between the number of ballots cast and the actual number of voters. Salama added that "hundreds of ballots" were later added to boost the chances of a specific candidate. Salama's remarks were corroborated by at least 30 losing Fatah candidates who disputed the fairness and transparency of the elections.
Fatah has yet to grasp the difference between a revolutionary organization with virtually no accountability to anybody and a political party that is directly responsible, accountable, and answerable to the masses. The ordinary Palestinian man and woman wonder how Fatah could be entrusted to organize national elections, with Hamas as the main rival, when it couldn't honestly conduct limited internal elections. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Palestinian gunmen armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers burst into the Gaza City compound housing the finance and interior ministries on Thursday to demand that ruling party primaries, suspended because of fraud and violence, be allowed to proceed. The protest by dozens of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militants came just three days after gunmen from the same group forced polling stations in Gaza to close. (Reuters)
See also Ballot Boxes Set on Fire in Palestinian Ballot - Atef Saad
Voting in a primary election for the ruling Fatah faction was halted in the West Bank Palestinian town of Salfit on Friday after ballot boxes were set on fire, election officials said. In Salfit, residents said gunmen were hovering in the vicinity of ballot stations, which also prompted the decision to suspend voting. (Reuters)
Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar believes she has found the palace of King David, the poet-warrior who the Bible says consolidated the ancient Jewish kingdom around the 10th century BCE and expanded its borders to encompass the Land of Israel. Some archaeologists believe Jerusalem was no more than a tiny hilltop village when it served as David's capital. The discovery of a palace or other large public building from David's time would strengthen the opposing view that he and his son, Solomon, presided over a civilization grander than the collection of rural clans some historians say made up the Jewish kingdom.
Whether David was a tribal chieftain or visionary monarch matters deeply to the Jewish historical narrative - the story of a single people, once ruled by kings, and later dispossessed of its homeland until the modern state of Israel was created nearly 2,000 years later following the horrors of the Holocaust. (Washington Post)
I met Ali five years ago in Dehaishe, a squalid corner of biblical Bethlehem. I had just arrived in the Middle East and I wanted to see the future, to talk to the young generation. Ali's older brother Mahmud had been shot dead planting a bomb. Over tea served with mint leaves, I asked Ali what kind of future he wanted for himself. "From a long time back my feelings towards Jews are feelings of hatred," he said. "What I want to do most is kill Jews. It's in my blood. Ever since I was a child I have dreamed of this."
Before leaving the Middle East, I went to find Ali, to see if he was dead or alive, and if he had got his wish. The teenager that I met is now a man, behind bars in an Israeli jail. His father Youssef says he was charged with sending out a suicide bomber who killed two Israelis and injured 37. As we speak, Youssef's four-year-old grandson Mahmud appears, named after the uncle who died fighting the Israelis. "I hope he will copy him," his grandfather says. (BBC News)
Los Angeles Police Det. Ralph Morten, 55, a member of the LAPD bomb squad, is among the nation's top experts on suicide bombings, a distinction he earned after being trained by Israeli police. Morten estimated that he has trained about 20,000 U.S. troops in how to survive suicide bombers and "improvised explosive devices," or IEDs, in Iraq. Lt. Col. Patrick Malay, director of the Special Operations Training Group for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, credited Morten's training for the low number of deaths from suicide bombers and IEDs suffered by his battalion in the fight for Fallouja.
Morten has made four trips to Israel since 2002, gathering information each time that helped him put together a first responders' guide for the LAPD and a training bulletin, and learning new tactics against suicide bombers. Morten said the LAPD training manual calls for officers to look for suspicious characters and the unexpected. He cites the bombing at a Jerusalem pizza place in 2002, where a Palestinian who looked like a European tourist with spiked hair and a guitar blew himself up, killing 15. He was accompanied by a woman who had flowers in her hair and survived the attack. "They only have to be right once. We have to be right every time," Morten said. (Los Angeles Times)
It's too quiet on the nation's campuses, San Francisco's Gary Tobin says. As the 800-person rallies of 2002 give way to seven disgruntled socialists shouting into a bullhorn to disinterested lunchtime crowds, it would be foolish to think the problem of anti-Israel behavior on campuses has been whipped, Tobin writes in The UnCivil University, a new publication of his Institute of Jewish & Community Research. The real problem is coming in the classrooms, where holding views strongly critical of Israel is not only politically correct but, increasingly, de rigueur. "We should not let higher education get hijacked like this," said Tobin. (JTA)
How Israel Deals with Ethics of War - Gary Rosenblatt (New York Jewish Week)
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