Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

February 7, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Rebel Iraqi Shiite Cleric Visits Syria - Robert F. Worth (New York Times)
    On Monday, the rebel Iraqi Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr met in Damascus with President Bashar al-Assad, the official Syrian news agency, SANA, reported.
    Sadr told Assad that "our mutual enemies Israel, the United States, and Britain are trying to create a rift between our two countries."


New Hamas Video: Gaza Leads to Haifa - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    A new video on the official Hamas website shows the Israeli evacuation from Gaza while these words are sung:
    "The invaders fled. The army of the Jews has been defeated. The home and homeland is returning through blood. Not through negotiations, surrender, or promises."
    The words "not through negotiations" are sung over images of agreements signed by Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon with Palestinian leaders.
    The "homeland is returning" is sung over an image of the Israeli city of Haifa.


Gaza Shopkeeper Stocks Up on Danish Flags to Burn - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    When entrepreneur Ahmed Abu Dayya first heard that Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were being reprinted across Europe, he knew exactly what his customers in Gaza would want: flags to burn.
    He sells Danish and Norwegian flags for $11 a piece, as well as Israeli flags to be burnt at anti-Israel rallies.


60% of Palestinians Voted Against Hamas - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
    The results of the Palestinian election should be seen as a freak produced by a combination of peculiar electoral rules and political uncertainties.
    Hamas ended up with 74 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian National Assembly but won only 40% of the popular vote - which means that 60% voted against it.
    Thus, Hamas does not represent the majority on the ground.


British Troops May Face Al-Qaeda Fighters Sent from Iraq to Afghanistan - Tom Coghlan (Telegraph-UK)
    Al-Qaeda militants are moving from Iraq to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban, Afghani officials said Thursday.
    After the capture of several suspected foreign guerrillas, an Iraqi has admitted to being part of a group linked to al-Qaeda and dispatched from Iraq to fight Western forces in Afghanistan.
    "There is a big group coming from Iraq," said the Nimroz governor, Ghulam Dusthaqir Azad.
    "They're linked to al-Qaeda and fought against U.S. forces in Iraq. They have been ordered to come here."


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel to Cooperate with PA for Now - Steven Erlanger
    Israel will continue to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority so long as Hamas is not represented there, the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Monday. "As long as it doesn't contain a Hamas government, we will speak and cooperate" with the PA "with the intention of strengthening those who acknowledge the right of Israel to live without terror and within safe borders," Olmert said. (New York Times)
  • Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al at Damascus Mosque: The Nation of Islam Will Sit at the Throne of the World and the West Will Be Full of Remorse
    Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al's address at the Al-Murabit Mosque in Damascus on Feb. 3 was aired on Al-Jazeera TV: "We say to this West...you will be defeated in Palestine, and your defeat there has already begun....Israel will be defeated, and so will whoever supported or supports it....The nation of Muhammad is gaining victory in Palestine. The nation of Muhammad is gaining victory in Iraq, and it will be victorious in all Arab and Muslim lands....I say to the [European countries]: Hurry up and apologize to our nation, because if you do not, you will regret it." (MEMRI)
  • Iran the Great Unifier? The Arab World Is Wary - Michael Slackman
    Iran, the world's only Shiite Islamic government, is hoping to unite Arab Muslims, the vast majority of whom are Sunni, beneath an overarching banner of Islam to fight common enemies in Israel and the West. It is a difficult sell, though, after centuries of distrust between the two sects. Moreover, a wide gap separates the Arab and Persian cultures, and a general sense of distrust lingers among Arab leaders who saw post-revolutionary Iran try to instigate unrest within their own borders. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Deadly Hamas Terror Cell Caught in Hebron - Efrat Weiss
    Security services in January arrested members of a Hamas terror cell in Hebron responsible for a series of deadly shooting attacks in 2005 that killed six Israelis and injured eight more, it was revealed Monday. On June 24, 2005, the cell murdered Aviad Mantsur, 16, and Avichai Levy, 17, at the Beit Haggai junction. On October 26, Matat Rosenfeld-Adler, 21, Kineret Mendel, 23, and Oz Yisrael Ben-Meir were murdered at the Gush Etzion junction. On December 16, the terrorists killed Yossi Shok on route 60. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Hits Palestinian Rocket Cell - Yaakov Katz
    Hassan Asfour, the head of a Palestinian Kassam rocket cell, and Rami Hanouna, who was also involved in firing rockets into Israel, were killed Monday by Israeli aircraft over Gaza as they were on their way to launch more rockets. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Harass International Observers in Hebron
    Palestinians angry over the publication of cartoons of Mohammad have been harassing members of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) over the past few days. Danish TIPH members have left Hebron at the directive of their government, while Sweden has ordered its observers to reduce their operations. Several demonstrations were held opposite the TIPH office, where rocks and firebombs were thrown. Fatah members called on the international observers to leave Hebron. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Give Hamas Nothing for Free - Dennis Ross
    The Palestinians have now voted to remake the Palestinian Authority by electing Hamas, a group that rejects the very concept of peace with the Israelis - or even a negotiated divorce from the Israelis, which is what disengagement is really all about. Hamas will want to have it both ways: having relations with the greater world while preserving its fundamental doctrine of rejection of Israel and support for violence. Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, reject violence, and be obliged to stop all acts of terrorism. (Washington Post)
  • The Promise of Liberty - Fouad Ajami
    It wasn't a pretty choice that the Palestinians were presented with: the secular autocracy of plunder and pretense represented by Arafat's inheritors on the one side and the cruel utopia of the Hamas hard-liners on the other. This was where Palestinian history led. The Palestinians had never been given the gift of political truth. Zionism had built a whole new world west of the Jordan River, but Palestinian nationalism had insisted that all this could be undone.
        What exactly was the difference between the masked men of Hamas and the masked men of Fatah's Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade? Two convicted terrorists, Marwan Barghouti and Abu Ali Yatta, headed the Fatah list. And all in all, the Palestinian electorate voted for 14 members of parliament now in prison. The Palestinians claimed that they were ready for a great compromise with Israel, yet voted for men and women steeped in historical denial. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hamas's Fatah Problem - Barry Rubin
    How is Hamas going to displace Fatah without setting off a civil war? Every PA government ministry, the media, and the PA-controlled monopolies are full of people who are there to collect salaries in exchange for supporting Fatah. The PA is an internationally funded welfare state (Palestinians pay no general taxes) based on government employment. Generally, those receiving a salary do nothing much to earn it. Thus money is funneled into political patronage rather than economic development. If Hamas pushes out tens of thousands of Fatah, or at least nationalist, employees and replaces them with an equal number of Hamas, or at least Islamist, ones, those who are laid off will pick up guns and start shooting. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Drawing a Line under Hypocrisy - Tom Gross
    Non-Muslims might have more sympathy with Muslims who find the Danish cartoons of Mohammad offensive, if it weren't for the astonishing double standards and hypocrisy of the Muslim world when it comes to accepting and applauding truly vicious slanders against Jews, and to a lesser extent Christians. The cartoons published in Denmark are mild when compared to cartoons routinely produced about Jews in the countries where some of the worst anti-Danish protests are now being staged.
        When it comes to newspaper cartoons, Muslim countries are world leaders in stirring up hate, without a peep of protest elsewhere, let alone the torching of buildings, threats to behead European tourists, and the burning of the Danish flag (which incidentally bears a Christian symbol, the cross). At the same time, whereas editors from both the Guardian and Independent in London have appeared on the BBC saying they wouldn't dream of publishing cartoons that Muslims find offensive, these papers have not hesitated to publish cartoons offensive to Jews (Arab blood being smeared on the Western Wall in the Guardian, the flesh of Palestinian babies being eaten by Ariel Sharon in the Independent. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Cartoon Debate - Christopher Hitchens
    Many people have pointed out that the Arab and Muslim press is replete with anti-Jewish caricature, often of the most lurid and hateful kind. These foul items mostly appear in countries where the state decides what is published or broadcast.
        Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet - who was only another male mammal - is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. (Slate)
  • Observations:

    Inside the Hamas Strategy - Ehud Yaari (New Republic)

    • Hamas is offering Israel an open-ended armistice in exchange for a well-armed and independent Palestinian state; a prolonged cessation of hostilities, but no peace treaty and no resolution of the conflict's underlying issues. They will keep their terrorist weaponry on safety, without giving it up.
    • Hamas is presenting this political vision in order to smooth its way to hegemony. Hamas wants to provide the Europeans and the U.S. with the illusion of progress toward peace so that they will continue giving aid to the Palestinian Authority.
    • At least for the near future, Hamas will not confront Fatah, choosing instead to co-opt its rival and gradually erode its power. In the meantime, Fatah retains some power.
    • If Israel deludes itself into thinking that Hamas is about to undergo a purifying metamorphosis, it will wake up to discover that Islamic fundamentalists are running the PA - without even pretending to accept Israel's right to exist.
    • Hamas is forging a long-term strategy, building up its future capabilities instead of cashing in immediately on its election gains. Using Abbas rather than pushing him aside. Joining up with the security apparatuses rather than purging them. Hamas needs time to digest its prey.
    • Israel should freeze its economic agreements, border procedures, and all other dealings with the PA. A diplomatic siege and an active boycott should be developed, coupled with persistence in counterterrorism operations.


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