Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Palestinian Rocket Lands Near Ashkelon Power Station - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians Kidnap Egyptian Military Attache in Gaza - Ali Waked (Ynet News-Hebrew)
Syrian Ex-VP, Muslim Brotherhood Join against Assad - Nadim Ladki (Reuters)
International Observers Leave Hebron After Riot - Joshua Brilliant (UPI)
Swedish Soldiers Attacked in Afghanistan over Cartoons (The Local-Sweden)
Militant Islam's Energy - Mark Steyn (Chicago Sun-Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary of State Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Livni met Wednesday in Washington and urged the emerging Palestinian government led by Hamas to recognize Israel and renounce violence. Israel is trying to hold together an international consensus that a Hamas-led government is unacceptable, fully aware that, as the shock of the election result wears off, there will be pressure to work with the Palestinian government and provide assistance to the Palestinian people.
The election victory of Hamas in effect turned back the clock of Middle East diplomacy by two decades, as the U.S. once again tries to cajole Palestinian leaders to recognize Israel's right to exist. According to an Israeli official, Livni told Rice that the window of opportunity that opened after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was "slammed shut."
Israel this week paid a monthly installment of about $50 million in taxes and customs duties owed to the PA, but Livni said the payments would end as soon as Hamas entered the government. If the new government does not recognize previous agreements between Palestinians and Israelis, then Israel will not be required to fulfill this one, she said. (Washington Post)
U.S. Secretary of State Rice has accused Iran and Syria of fuelling anti-Western sentiment, in a row over cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad. "I don't have any doubt that...Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes. And the world ought to call them on it," she said. (BBC News)
See also Iran's Khamenei Says Israel Behind Danish Cartoons
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated on Tuesday that the publication of the cartoons was a ''conspiracy by Zionists who were angry because of the victory of Hamas.'' (Al Bawaba-Jordan)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Two Palestinian terrorists opened fire and hurled grenades at the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel Thursday. IDF soldiers killed the terrorists in the ensuing gun battle. No soldiers were hurt. The attack was carried out by Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees. Israeli officials raised questions regarding the conduct of the Palestinian police, whom the terrorists passed en route to the crossing. (Ynet News)
See also PA Had Advance Word of Gaza Crossing Attack - Amos Harel
PA security forces knew in advance that militants in Gaza were planning an attack at the Erez crossing into Israel, Israeli defense officials said Thursday. (Ha'aretz)
Some elements of the Fatah military wing have recently resumed terror activities following Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections. Col. Yuval Bezek, commander of the Samaria Brigade, said this week, "Since Fatah lost in the elections, people who belong to the organization have returned to terror attacks in full force."
The head of the Military Intelligence research department, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday that the increase in attempts at carrying out terror attacks reflects a desire on the part of Islamic Jihad and the Fatah military wing "to challenge Hamas" and return to the forefront of terrorism targeting Israel. In Gaza, Al-Aqsa Brigades members have recently shown increasing involvement in firing Kassam rockets, along with Islamic Jihad. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
There is clearly no choice but to respond more forcefully to the launching of Kassam rockets on targets considered strategic in the Ashkelon area, or on Negev communities like Sderot, whether by firing on populated areas, by inserting military forces into the northern Gaza Strip, or by cutting off the electricity. (Ha'aretz)
While Iran holds the world's second-largest reserves of oil and gas and is the fourth-largest oil producer, it is in fact a net importer of refined oil products, including gasoline. Thus, sanctions that prevented Iran from importing gasoline could bring its economy to a grinding halt. Perhaps more important, the subsequent shortages would disproportionately affect President Ahmadinejad's political base, the urban underclass and lower-middle class, as well as the military.
Russia has far more to fear from Iran's nuclear program in the long term than does the U.S. or Europe. Iran's support of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism across the Middle East and Central Asia is a direct challenge to Russian interests in territories that are still considered by Moscow to be within its sphere of influence. (Washington Post)
There may be perfectly valid reasons to oppose an attack on Iran's nuclear sites, but let's not pretend that such an attack has no chance of success. In fact, the odds are rather good. The claim that to stop Iran's program all of its nuclear sites must be destroyed is simply wrong. It is enough to demolish a few critical installations in a single night to delay its program for years - and perhaps longer because it would become harder for Iran to buy the materials it bought when its efforts were still secret. Some of these installations may be thickly protected against air attack, but it seems that their architecture has not kept up with the performance of the latest penetration bombs.
Destroyed items cannot be easily replaced by domestic production. More than 35% of Iran's gasoline must now be imported because the capacity of its foreign-built refineries cannot be expanded without components currently under U.S. embargo, and which the locals cannot copy. Aircraft regularly fall out of the sky because Iranians are unable to reverse-engineer spare parts. The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Wall Street Journal, 8Feb06)
It seems that the Islamicists believe that they cannot simply disagree vehemently with those who offend them. They seem incapable of simply opposing. Killing - or threatening to kill - seems to be a reflex with enough of them to make militant Islam a danger. Yes, the Danes assert, minorities have rights. But majorities do also, and among them is the right to survive with their culture and norms not being under siege. The Europeans still have an attachment to their liberties, including their press liberties. The countries of Europe will not take instructions on how to run a civil politics or how to preserve their culture from those whose habits have not yet caught up with the Magna Carta or the Declaration of the Rights of Man. (New Republic)
This week the Guardian published a two-part report about Israel and apartheid. I spent most of my life in South Africa, working as a journalist who specialized in exposing apartheid. Nearly three years ago I underwent an operation in a Jerusalem hospital. The surgeon was Jewish, the anaesthetist was Arab. The doctors and nurses who looked after me were Jews and Arabs. I lay in bed for a month and watched as they gave the same skilled care to other patients - half of whom were Arabs and half of whom were Jewish - all sharing the same wards, operating theaters, and bathrooms. After that experience I have difficulty understanding anyone who equates Israel with apartheid South Africa. What I saw in the Hadassah Mt. Scopus hospital was inconceivable in South Africa. The writer was deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg. (Guardian-UK)
A Manifesto for Murder - Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (Los Angeles Times)
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