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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

February 3, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

"We Will Kill Danish, Norwegian, and French Citizens" - Palestinian Terrorist Groups Threaten to Destroy European Consulates and Murder Diplomats - Jonathan D. Halevi (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    The Palestinian campaign against Europe in the "Cartoon Affair" is escalating.
    On Thursday, scores of armed Palestinians closed down EU headquarters in Gaza.
    Anti-European feeling among the Palestinian public rose as rumors spread throughout the territories warning of an intention to burn the Koran at a demonstration in Denmark this Saturday.
    Palestinian terror organizations warned that if the Koran was burned, they would attack Europeans in the territories, destroy their consulates and offices, and murder their diplomatic staff.
    Support for the anti-European campaign is also coming from official Palestinian authorities.
    The Ministry for Religious Affairs, whose leaders identify with Hamas, has instructed all imams to discuss the attacks on Muhammad in their Friday sermons in the mosques.
    Mass demonstrations against Europe are expected Friday after mosque prayers.
    See also Foreign Aid Workers, Journalists Leaving Gaza After Threats (AP/Khaleej Times-Dubai)
    See also Muslim Activists in Jerusalem Target Danes - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    In eastern Jerusalem, Muslim activists distributed thousands of posters calling on residents to boycott Danish products, and painted the Danish flag on streets and sidewalks so that people could walk or drive over it.
    See also German Kidnapped, Released in West Bank Over Prophet Cartoons - Ali Waked (Ynet News); Muslims in Indonesia Attack Danish Embassy (Reuters/Yahoo)


Israel HighWay
- February 2, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Palestinian Elections - for Better or for Worse?

IDF Foils Suicide Bombing Planned for Central Israel - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Defense Forces troops on Friday thwarted a terror attack planned for central Israel when they arrested two Palestinians attempting to smuggle explosive belts out of the West Bank city of Nablus.
    The Palestinians said they had been planning to bring the explosives belts to someone on the other side of a checkpoint on the northern end of Nablus, who was planning to detonate them inside Israel.


Military Policewoman at West Bank Checkpoint Nabs Palestinians Smuggling 12 Pipe Bombs - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Cpl. Shani, 20, a military policewoman at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus, prevented two Palestinians from smuggling 12 pipe bombs on Thursday.
    The two revealed to security officials that they had intended to hand over the bombs to a Palestinian waiting on the other side of the checkpoint.


Egyptian Cruise Ship With 1,300 on Board Disappears (AP/Bloomberg)
    An Egyptian cruise ship with 1,300 people on board disappeared in the Red Sea after setting sail from Saudi Arabia.
    The ship didn't arrive in Safaga, southern Egypt, and lifeboats were seen in the area where the vessel disappeared.


PA Salaries to be Delayed (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian Authority will delay paying the January salaries of 137,000 government employees for at least two weeks because of a severe post-election budget crunch, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday.


U.S. Poll: Work with Hamas Only if It Renounces Israel's Destruction and Disarms (Wall Street Journal)
    An OpinionJournal online poll on Feb. 3 asked: How should the U.S. treat the Hamas-led Palestinian government?
    The U.S. should work with any democratically elected Middle East government - 6.5%; work with Hamas only if it renounces Israel's destruction and disarms - 58.5%; don't work with Hamas under any circumstances - 35.0%.


Women of Gaza Fear New Religious Regime - Donald Macintyre (Independent-UK)
    Naila Ayesh, a secular married woman who frequently goes about Gaza in Western clothes, has already noticed a subtle change since Hamas's election victory last Wednesday.
    "You will hear even kids saying to you, 'your head isn't covered now but it will be. You can drive now but you won't be able to later.'"
    Ayesh runs the Women's Affairs Center, a brave oasis of progressive feminism in fiercely conservative Gaza.
    Ayesh notes that Mariam Farhat, the "Mother of Martyrs" whose election video showed her helping her own 17-year-old son to prepare explosives which killed him and five Israelis, said in an interview that her first parliamentary campaign would be for a law requiring all Palestinian women to wear the hejab.
    See also I Will Urge My Last Three Sons to be Martyrs, Vows Newly Elected Hamas Palestinian Legislator - Harry de Quetteville (Telegraph-UK)


Syria Witnesses Religious Awakening (Middle East Online-UK)
    Nearly 25 years after a Muslim Brotherhood uprising was crushed, Syria is witnessing the return of Islam inspired by political triumphs such as that of Hamas.
    A growing number of young Syrians have been attending mosques, and more and more women are wearing the veil on the streets.
    "Almost 30% of Syrian men are taking part in Friday prayers in the 9,000 mosques of Syria," said Islamist MP Mohammed Habash who heads the Islamic Studies Center in Damascus.
    "Since their defeat in Hama, the Islamists have adopted a strategy of infiltrating society from below, thanks to Saudi financial aid," said Rami, a university student in Damascus.
    "Saudi Arabia has financed the construction of hundreds of mosques, especially in Christian and Druze regions."
    After having failed to overthrow the Baathist secular regime with the Hama revolt, the Muslim Brotherhood is looking to the ballot box as the path of power like in the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan.


In Turkish Movie, Americans Kill Innocents - Benjamin Harvey (AP/AOL)
    In the most expensive Turkish movie ever made, American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother.
    They kill dozens of innocent people with random machine gun fire and drag those left alive to Abu Ghraib prison - where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs, which he sells to rich people in New York, London, and Tel Aviv.
    "Valley of the Wolves Iraq" - set to open in Turkey on Friday - opens with a true story:
    On July 4, 2003, in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq, U.S. Army troops raided a Turkish special forces office, threw hoods over the heads of 11 Turkish officers, and held them in custody for more than two days.
    The movie, which reportedly cost $10 million, is the latest in a new genre of popular culture that demonizes the U.S.
    It comes on the heels of a novel called Metal Storm about a war between Turkey and the U.S., which has been a bestseller for months.


Police Officers See Why Israeli Bomb Squad One of Best - Bill Douthat (Palm Beach Post)
    After spending a week studying Israel's anti-terror defenses, officers from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and the Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Coral Springs police departments saw firsthand why the country's bomb squad is considered one of the world's best.


Assessing the American Jewish Institutional Response to Global Anti-Semitism - Steven Windmueller (Jewish Political Studies Review)
    The new, global anti-Semitism presents a unique challenge because of its emphasis on public campaigns to delegitimize Israel, the Jewish people, and Judaism.
    Initiatives by American Jewish organizations in the European sphere have sometimes prompted criticism, particularly by French Jewish activists who allege presumptuous attitudes that put their own community in a difficult situation.
    While the patterns of American Jewish involvement on this issue resemble those observable in their activities within the United States, these frictions partly reflect the larger political tensions between the U.S. and its European allies.


Dunn & Bradstreet: Market Value of Israel's Top 100 Grows to $100 Billion - Avi Krawitz (Jerusalem Post)
    The combined value of Israel's top 100 companies grew 20% to $100 billion in the first nine months of 2005, research company Dunn & Bradstreet said Monday.


Boys Discover Second Temple Burial Cave - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    In a scene out of "Indiana Jones," three Israeli boys aged 11-13 stumbled upon an intact ancient Second Temple burial cave in the Beit Shemesh area filled with skeletons and ossuaries, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced Monday.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Atomic Agency Expected to Report Iran to Security Council - John Ward Anderson
    The 35-member board of the UN atomic agency began debate Thursday on a resolution to report Iran to the UN Security Council for nuclear treaty violations, with signs that a solid majority would back the measure on Friday. During closed-door meetings, only Syria and Cuba said they would vote against reporting Iran, while Venezuela indicated it also might oppose the measure.
        Diplomats said sentiment in favor of reporting Iran had gained broader backing because of an agreement reached Monday between the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, who all supported a resolution that calls for reporting Iran to the council but deferring any action until at least March 6, when the head of the IAEA is to deliver a status report on Iran's nuclear program. That grace period will offer Iran "a window of opportunity" during which it can change tactics and stop uranium enrichment activities, said IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Threatens Full-Scale Enrichment Work - George Jahn
    Iran threatened to retaliate Thursday in the face of almost certain referral to the UN Security Council for its nuclear activities. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, warned IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei that referral would leave Iran no choice but "to suspend all the voluntary measures and extra cooperation" with the IAEA. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Iran "Confident and Ready to Hit Back at U.S." - Alec Russell and Anton La Guardia
    Iran's clerical regime is supremely confident, has a firm grip on power, and is ready to retaliate against attacks by America or Israel with missiles or by activating terrorist allies, the U.S. national intelligence director, John Negroponte, told the Senate's intelligence committee. "Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East. And Teheran views its ballistic missiles as an integral part of its strategy to deter and, if necessary, retaliate against forces in the region, including United States forces."
        Negroponte cited Teheran's "generous public spending" funded by record oil revenues as one factor working in favor of the clerical regime's continued hold on power. He also noted that the Iranian-backed Hizballah group in Lebanon "has a worldwide support network and is capable of attacks against U.S. interests if it feels its Iranian patron is threatened." (Telegraph-UK)
  • BBC Shows Danish Paper's Cartoons Linking Muhammad to Terrorism
    The British Broadcasting Corp. Thursday showed cartoons linking Islam's prophet Muhammad to terrorism, saying it wanted to help viewers understand the controversy prompted by the original publication of the images in Denmark. (Bloomberg)
        See also Jordanian Weekly Stops Cartoon Publication
    The Amman-based al-Shihan weekly - which on Thursday published three of the controversial Danish cartoons while inviting Muslims to reflect "intelligently" on the issue - has withdrawn all copies of the newspaper. Al-Qaeda has announced it intends to carry out "a bloody attack" against Denmark in retaliation for the cartoons, according to a statement sent by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades to the pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi on Wednesday. (AKI-Italy)
        View the Muhammad Cartoon Gallery
    View the cartoons published in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten. (Human Events)
  • Rumsfeld: Terrorists Have "Global Reach" - Lolita C. Baldor
    Despite progress in fighting terrorism, the threat today may be greater than ever before because the weapons available are far more dangerous, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday. ''The enemy - while weakened and under great pressure - is still capable of global reach, still possesses the determination to kill more Americans, and is still trying to do so with increasingly powerful weapons," he said. ''Because they lurk in shadows, without visible armies, and are willing to wait long periods between attacks, there is a tendency to underestimate the threat they pose." He said there are no fewer than 18 organizations, loosely connected with al-Qaeda, conducting terrorist attacks. Rumsfeld's speech at the National Press Club also touched on the idea that Americans must be braced for a long war on terror. (AP/Boston Globe)
  • Mubarak: Hamas Must Recognize Israel
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview published on Friday in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, "If Hamas wants to set up a government, then Hamas must recognize Israel....Nothing will work if it does not recognize Israel." (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Hamas Says Abbas Cannot Block Islamist Government
    Reacting to Egyptian statements, Hamas spokesman Mohammed Nazzal said Thursday, "It is not the time to impose conditions on Hamas, which was given a clear mandate by the Palestinian people and all parties should respect the will of our people." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: Hamas Must Disavow Terrorism or Lose Aid - Herb Keinon
    Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Israel's message to both Egypt and Jordan regarding Hamas's victory was similar to the one being conveyed to the rest of the world: to pressure Hamas to disarm, disavow terrorism, and recognize Israel's right to exist, or else the PA will face international isolation and an end to massive international aid. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Peres: Stop Payments to Hamas-Ruled PA - Ben Lynfield
    Shimon Peres, one of Israel's elder statesmen, Thursday issued a scathing attack on Hamas. Speaking in Vienna, Peres said Hamas leaders saw themselves as "messengers of heaven" and would not compromise in any talks. He said Israel would only deal with Hamas if it agreed to renounce violence and recognize Israel. He added that the EU and U.S. should stop payments to the PA if Hamas takes over the cabinet, which is expected during the coming weeks. (Scotsman-UK)
  • Hamas Involved in Rocket Fire at Israel Since PA Elections - Amos Harel
    Hamas was involved in launching Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel after the organization's victory in the PA elections, according to intelligence received by the defense establishment. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Thursday that the rockets were fired together with Fatah and Islamic Jihad. He said Israel would strike any Palestinian who deals with terror, regardless of affiliation. Intelligence officers warned of attempts to kidnap soldiers and civilians, not only on Lebanon's border but in the territories as well. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Palestinian Democracy - Western Perspectives

  • Palestine Without Illusions - Charles Krauthammer
    The Palestinian people have spoken. According to their apologists, sure, Hamas wants to destroy Israel, wage permanent war, and send suicide bombers into discotheques to drive nails into the skulls of young Israelis, but what the Palestinians were really voting for was efficient garbage collection. It is time to stop infantilizing the Palestinians. As Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said in a news conference four days after the election, "The Palestinian people have chosen Hamas with its known stances.'' By a landslide, the Palestinian people have chosen these known stances: rejectionism, Islamism, terrorism, rank anti-Semitism, and the destruction of Israel in a romance of blood, death, and revolution. Garbage collection on Wednesdays.
        After 60 years, the Palestinian people continue to reject the right of a Jewish state to exist side-by-side with them. Fatah - secular, worldly, and wise - learned to lie to the West and pretend otherwise. Hamas - less sophisticated, more literal, and more bound by religious obligation to expel the Jews - is simply more honest. This election was truth in advertising. The world must advise the Palestinian people that if their national will is to embrace Hamas - its methods and its madness - then their national will is simply too murderous and, yes, too depraved for the world to countenance, let alone subsidize. (Washington Post)
  • Hamas and Al-Qaeda: The Terror Trail - Dore Gold
    In February 2003, an IDF unit in Gaza went into the Dar al-Arqam school, created by the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Among the texts found for teaching the next generation of Palestinians were the writings of famous Saudi Wahhabi religious authorities, among them Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Fahd, the author of a religious ruling justifying the use of weapons of mass destruction against infidels (i.e., Christians and Jews). There was also Sheikh Sulaiman bin Nasser al-Ulwan, whose name was featured in a famous bin Laden video clip from December 2001, when the al-Qaeda leader re-enacted with his hands the 9/11 attack of hijacked aircraft slamming into the World Trade Center. At the end of the clip, a Saudi messenger tells bin Laden that he is delivering a "beautiful fatwa" from Sheikh al-Ulwan. Now this radical Wahhabi's ideas were penetrating the minds of Palestinians as well.
        The ideological compatibility of Hamas with jihadi movements elsewhere raises the question of whether a new Hamas state in the Middle East could become a new center for global terrorism. Bin Laden sent emissaries to Hamas in September 2000 and January 2001; Israel arrested three Hamas militants in 2003 after they had returned from an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda Operations chief Abu Zubaydah first entered the world of terrorism through his membership in Hamas. And according to a 2004 FBI affidavit, al-Qaeda recruited Hamas members to conduct surveillance against potential targets in the U.S.
        The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud al-Zahar, expressed his confidence that Israel's disengagement from Gaza - for which Hamas took direct credit - would lift the morale of the Arab and Islamic world and affect the battle for Afghanistan and Iraq. "We are part of the great world plan whose name is the world Islamic movement." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Keep Up the Pressure on Hamas - David Makovsky
    Hamas seems to expect that the international community will provide it with diplomatic support and hundreds of millions of dollars in aid without requiring any change in its commitment to Israel's destruction. But a free election does not mean a free ride. A soft international stance on Hamas would break faith with Palestinian moderates, who repeatedly lectured radicals that a refusal to recognize Israel's existence would guarantee the Palestinians pariah status. If there is no pressure for Hamas to make tough decisions, the moderates will be severely marginalized.
        A decision by the Quartet to halt aid to Hamas won't drive Hamas closer into the arms of Iran because it's already there. Tehran may try to counter any Palestinian budget shortfalls because it views Hamas' victory as a regional windfall for Islamism and anti-Israel activity. (Baltimore Sun)
  • What Fatah Sowed, Hamas Reaped - Barry Rubin
    It will be very hard for Fatah to make a comeback for years. The movement is now deprived of the power and money that attracted many of its adherents and helped provide the degree of unity and prestige Fatah did enjoy.
        Despite desperate attempts to dredge up some reason to believe Hamas will become more moderate - by citing PR-oriented statements made in English and ignoring everything Hamas says to its own people in Arabic - this is not going to happen. Hamas's world view is virtually identical to that of bin Laden and Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Why should Hamas change its historic policy which, its leaders think, has brought them such popular acceptance and success? Israel is ready to accept a Palestinian state, but Palestinians are not ready to accept an Israeli state. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamastan - Melanie Phillips
    What is the reaction in Britain to the creation of Hamastan in the West Bank and Gaza? They look at Northern Ireland and say, well, the IRA turned into Sinn Fein and now they are part of a peaceful and democratic government. But the Islamist terror represented by Hamas is of a completely different order from Irish republican terror. The bottom line was that if Britain had given in to its demand for a united Ireland, it would not have been the end of Britain.
        The IRA did not want to eradicate the British, murder all Britons, and impose a Catholic tyranny. The Islamists want to eradicate Israel, murder all Jews, and impose an Islamist theocracy on the land. That is a non-negotiable position. It is not susceptible to moderation. The Hamas agenda is not a political agenda as understood by the West, which separates church and state. The Hamas agenda is pure, undiluted religious fanaticism. (melaniephillips.com)
  • Confronting Terrorism Is the Quickest Route to Peace - Daniel Finkelstein
    While Hamas remained outside the political process altogether and Abbas was the public face of the Palestinians, it was possible to pretend that there could be peace, some sort of negotiated settlement, without first defeating terrorism. The idea was that a land deal would bring an end to violence. This is, and always has been, an illusion. The truth is the exact opposite - an end to violence will bring a land deal. With the ascent of Hamas to office, at last the funders of the Palestinian Authority and the diplomatic community may see that the quickest route to peace lies in confronting terrorism, rather than appeasing it. Everything else has failed. It's all we have left. (Times-UK)
  • Experts View Hamas' Victory
        Dennis Ross: Hamas is going to have to make choices because they're going to need the outside world if they're going to deliver for the Palestinians. No one should make it easier for them and let them off the hook. International organizations and governments that want to get aid to the Palestinians shouldn't deal with Hamas without exacting a commitment to peace. The Hamas win will cement Israel's belief that there isn't a partner; the unilateral impulse will remain the driving force in Israeli politics.
        Richard Haass: Hamas did not campaign on the question of Israel. They won because they stood for change, and they weren't associated with corruption. My sense is we'd have several years of sorting out on the Palestinian side.
        Daniel Pipes: The Hamas victory will have the largest impact not in relations with Israel, where its goals and those of its predecessor Fatah resemble each other, but within the Palestinian Authority. Hamas will run a very different show from the anarchic, corrupt, sloppy dictatorship bequeathed by Arafat. Expect to see a far stricter, more religious, more disciplined order, with Fatah members, including Mahmoud Abbas, sidelined and probably repressed. Hamas represents the first Arab Islamist terrorist group to be legitimated through the ballot box. Comparable groups in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco will watch and be encouraged, should there be any show of acceptance of Hamas by the U.S. and other governments. (TIME)
  • Why Hamas Can Fail - Claude Salhani
    Is a successful Hamas really in the interest of anyone other than Hamas? From the Israeli perspective, it is highly illogical for the Jewish state to look at a successful Hamas administration positively. Hamas has repeatedly said it would accept a truce, but not peace, with Israel. From Fatah's perspective, a successful Hamas would hurt that Palestinian movement even more. The best Fatah can hope for is for Hamas to stumble and fail, while it tries to reorganize and regroup.
        From the Arab perspective, a smoothly run Hamas operation in the PA is likely to frighten a number of Arab governments where Islamist groups have recently been making steady headway, including Egypt, where the banned Muslim Brotherhood made considerable gains in the recent elections. In Syria, notwithstanding Damascus' unfaltering support for the Palestinian Islamist movement - Hamas' military wing is based in the Syrian capital - the Syrian regime is quite wary of any progress made by Syria's Muslim Brotherhood, which is gaining popularity faster than any other political group in the country. Jordan, too, has been struggling with its own brand of Islamists over the years. (UPI)
  • Abbas Should Go - Editorial
    Rather than attempt "cohabitation" with a hostile parliament, it would be far better if Mahmoud Abbas, despite his five-year democratic mandate, were to resign. That would remove from Israeli and Western minds any illusion that Abbas was a valid interlocutor. He has been deservedly beached by a momentous electoral decision. The sooner he is put out of his political misery, the better. (Telegraph-UK)

    Palestinian Democracy - Arab Perspectives

  • Hamas - From Rhetoric to Reality - Saleh al-Na'mani
    Dr. Yehya Moussa, Secretary General of the al-Khalas Islamic Party, affiliated to Hamas, explained Hamas's participation in the Palestinian legislative elections this time. "Circumstances have changed....After the [Israeli] settlements were evacuated across the Gaza Strip, one can no longer say that the Palestinian territories are still completely under occupation under the stipulations of Oslo. Concurrently, one cannot claim that they have been totally liberated." Hamas opted to take part in the election because "The talks with Israel have been practically at a standstill for seven years. The economic conditions have deteriorated badly. Financial and administrative corruption is rife in all organs of the Palestinian Authority and its executive, to an unprecedented degree....The security situation is dire and Palestinian citizens no longer feel safe and secure." (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • The Imprint of Regime Change - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Ayman Natsheh, an engineer at the al-Bireh Municipality, explained, "Most people here voted for Hamas because they wanted regime change, and not because they support suicide attacks or the destruction of Israel." Many Palestinians said they could not understand why the rest of the world was surprised by the Hamas victory. For years, Palestinians have been complaining about bad governance and the embezzlement of international aid by their leaders. The departure of Arafat from the scene provided a golden opportunity for Hamas and other opposition groups to finally raise their voices to demand real regime change and an end to corruption. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Can't Compromise - Ray Hanania
    Those who claim that Hamas will renounce violence, embrace peace based on compromise, and recognize Israel are basically arguing that Hamas engaged in years of suicide bombings against Israel simply to wrest government power from the rival Fatah organization. Unlike secular governments, Hamas is an Islamic terrorist group driven by faith and is not capable of adjusting by embracing compromise. On Jan. 25, Hamas destroyed the secular Palestinian leadership. Its next target is Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Understanding the Outcome of Palestinian Elections - Khalil Shikaki
    No public opinion surveys expected Hamas to win a majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. While Hamas only received 45% of the popular vote, the nature of the electoral system magnified the existing fragmentation of Hamas' opposition. The unfulfilled expectations that followed the election of Mahmoud Abbas last year increased support for Hamas by 40% in a single year.
        According to exit polls, 3/4 of all Palestinians, including more than 60% of Hamas supporters, are willing to support reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis based on a two-state solution, but the peace process was the least important issue for the voters. The two most important issues were corruption and the inability of the PA to enforce law and order. The third and fourth priorities were economic prosperity and the peace process. Only 15% viewed the peace process as a top priority. Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip was perceived by more than 80% of Palestinians as a victory for armed resistance.
        This was a tactical victory for Hamas, not a strategic one; voters want political solutions, not political Islam. Survey research during the last decade demonstrates strong public support for liberal democracy among Palestinians. Indeed, most view Israel's democracy more positively than any other in the world, followed by America's. The writer is director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. (AMIN)

    Other Issues

  • An Intolerable Threat: What a World with an Iranian Nuclear Weapon Would Look Like - Editorial
    The referral of Iran by the Governing Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the UN Security Council includes no call to action, which Russia and China object to in any event. While the threat of Tehran's decision to resume enriching uranium is very real, the seriousness is mostly pretend. For now, the weight of elite opinion seems to be on the side of acquiescence. And the Iranians know it.
        Iranian President Ahmadinejad has publicly mused that the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map," and former President Rafsanjani has said that "the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam." Why should we assume they don't mean this? The complacent tell us not to worry because no state would dare use a nuke because that would only guarantee its own destruction. But what if you're a cleric who likes that trade-off?
        A bomb would give Iran far more leverage to press its influence abroad since it will believe it is immune to retaliation. A nuclear Iran could wield a predominating influence in OPEC. It could disrupt maritime traffic in the Persian Gulf and force the U.S. Navy out of its narrow, shallow waters. It could menace Europe, and eventually the U.S. homeland, as its ballistic missile capabilities develop. It could arm Palestinian terrorists with sophisticated weapons, turning Gaza into a risk not just for Israel but the entire Mediterranean basin. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Just Don't Provoke Them - Henryk M. Broder
    Just last week, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw explained how, in the dispute with Iran over nuclear power, the West is hoping for negotiations that would avoid "humiliating" Iran and allow it to maintain its "national dignity." Future historians will be amazed at the naivete of the Europeans who see no parallels to the 1930s appeasement of the Nazis and insist on believing they have to help Iran maintain its dignity, even at the cost of nuclear disaster.
        For over 50 years, the Palestinians have lived in a virtual reality, nourished by the hope of "return" and the re-establishment of the status quo before "Zionist colonization." They have lost the will to resolve the conflict politically. The suffering must continue; otherwise, all the sacrifices would have been in vain. It is too much to expect the Palestinians to free themselves from this historical trap.
        Hamas is continuing the armed struggle while at the same time demanding that the U.S. and the EU finance that struggle. After all, that is exactly what the U.S. and the EU have been doing for a long time, though via the PA, which was not even capable of neutralizing the terror commandos of the al-Aksa Brigades connected with the "moderate" Fatah. So the Americans and the Europeans will continue to call for a political solution to the conflict and they will continue to pay, no matter who governs in Ramallah. Otherwise the terrorists might get mad. The writer is a columnist for Der Spiegel. (Wall Street Journal, 3Feb06)
  • The Wages of Unilateralism - Moshe Arens
    Some have proudly announced that we are going to take our destiny into our own hands, that we are not going to wait for partners for peace, that we are going to unilaterally determine Israel's borders, and that the Palestinians can stew in their juices behind the fences we are rushing to complete. But permanent borders that would put an end to a conflict cannot be established unilaterally. Tunnels are dug under fences, and Kassam rockets and mortar shells fly over them. Every area from which Israel withdraws unilaterally becomes a breeding ground for terrorism against Israel. Just look at what happened in northern Gaza, where Kassam rocket launching sites were allowed to move into areas formally occupied by the settlements of Elei Sinai, Nissanit, and Dugit, thus moving them into range of Ashkelon, one of Israel's larger cities. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Weakness in Backing Strongmen - Max Boot
    Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections offers more evidence for the failure of the cynical approach that the U.S. pursued before Bush came into office - using supposedly benign dictators to repress Islamic extremists. That, after all, was the rationale behind the Oslo process: Israel and the U.S. would support Arafat in the hope that he would deliver peace and crack down on the crazies.
        Palestine, like Iran, may have to pass through a period of Islamist misrule before it arrives at something better, as Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be doing under relatively moderate religious parties. That's unfortunate, but what's the alternative? There aren't many well-intentioned strongmen who will overhaul Islamic societies along Western lines and pave the way for democracy, as Kemal Ataturk did in post-Ottoman Turkey.
        Most of the dictators we wind up supporting or tolerating - not only Arafat but also Hosni Mubarak, Bashar Assad, Pervez Musharraf, the Saudi royals, and, once upon a time, Saddam Hussein - have a symbiotic relationship with Islamic extremists. The radicals serve the dictators' purpose: They scare the West into endorsing an illiberal status quo. (Los Angeles Times)
  • When the Right to Vote Is Imposed on a Culture of Intolerance - Gerard Baker
    The victory of Hamas last week, coming on top of advances by Islamists in Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt, has posed the question: can you lay the basic institutions of political openness, such as the right to vote, on top of societies twisted into their current abysmal state by a history of repression and a culture of intolerance? Or do you have to reform the cultural and social base first in order to get favorable democratic outcomes?
        We know by now that elections are a necessary but certainly not sufficient condition for producing free, stable societies. If you were to let a classroom of seven-year-olds vote on how they should be allowed to run their lives, they would end school and legislate for compulsory chocolate and ice cream. If you give the vote to a few million Palestinians in their current state, they will vote for the equivalent of chocolate and ice cream. They will endorse the annihilation of Israel, the mass murder of Americans, and a holy war against infidels everywhere.
        Our job in the West is to make clear by ostracizing the lunatics of Hamas and Tehran that there is no future for them and the people they purport to lead in their hateful and distorted ideology. Giving the vote to people who have been acculturated to an ideology of intolerance and hatred will not, on its own, usher in a new era of peace and stability. The risk is it will do the opposite. (Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Price of Ignoring Palestinians' Needs - Natan Sharansky (International Herald Tribune)

    • Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections is the logical outcome of a "peace process" more than a decade long that completely ignored what was happening within Palestinian society.
    • Rather than seriously link the peace process to the building of a free society among the Palestinians, the democratic world, including Israel, turned a blind eye as Palestinian civil society was hollowed out, its streets taken over by armed thugs, and its youth indoctrinated to glorify suicide bombers and despise Israel and America, Jews and Christians.
    • International legitimacy, Israeli concessions, and billions of dollars in aid were used to strengthen Arafat and Abbas' Palestinian Authority - the "moderates" who had ostensibly renounced violence and accepted Israel's existence - and marginalize extremist groups like Hamas.
    • This failed approach to peacemaking amounted to nothing more than supporting a corrupt dictatorship. The world believed that seriously pressing Palestinian leaders to enact real reform would only weaken the PA internally and strengthen Hamas. The truth is precisely the opposite. By failing to insist that the PA dedicate itself to improving the lives of Palestinians, the U.S., Israel, the EU, and other players in the peace process made themselves contemptible in the eyes of Palestinians who saw their lives only getting worse.
    • To the outside world, the Palestinians have now chosen the party of terror over the party of peace. But in the eyes of most Palestinians, the differences between Hamas and the "moderate" Fatah were not primarily in their views toward Israel. The real difference for the Palestinians was that a Fatah-run PA was rightly seen as a corrupt organization that had done and would continue to do nothing to improve Palestinian lives, whereas Hamas was untainted by corruption and appreciated for providing real social services. With the vote being a choice between corrupt terrorists dedicated only to themselves and honest terrorists who are also dedicated to others, is it any surprise that Hamas won by a landslide?
    • Now that the PA's corrupt dictatorship has collapsed and a terror organization riding a wave of resentment with the status quo is assuming power, the free world has an opportunity to restore moral clarity to the peace process. The world must base their support for this new regime on two ironclad conditions. First, Hamas must explicitly abandon the goal of destroying Israel and renounce terrorism. Second, it must dedicate itself toward building a free society for the Palestinians.
    • If the new Palestinian regime does not abide by these conditions, the free world, including Israel, must actively confront it and withhold legitimacy, money, and concessions. But we must also seek ways to support any Palestinian individuals and organizations that do abide by these conditions. There are countless Palestinians who want a better future, and we must seek every way to work with them.


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