Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 21, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: 56% of Palestinians Still Support Suicide Bombing (Jerusalem Media & Communication Center)
    A poll of Palestinians conducted Feb. 8-12 asked: Do you support or oppose suicide bombings against Israeli civilians?
    Support - 56%, Oppose - 41%.
    Which Palestinian political or religious faction do you trust most?
    Hamas - 39%, Fatah - 31%.

Hamas, Jihad Money Laundering Route Busted - Tani Goldstein (Ynet News)
    The Israel Customs Authority seized 31 containers at Ashdod Port on Sunday after receiving pinpoint intelligence that they were destined to Gaza businessmen who fund terror organizations.
    According to the Shin Bet, the seized goods, worth millions of dollars, were destined to Gaza brothers Hamis and Fayez Abu Aker, who own a company that launders money to fund Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas to Bar Jericho Casino Reopening - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas is planning to prevent the casino in Jericho from ever opening again, sources close to Hamas said.
    Oasis Casino, opened in 1998 and owned by Casinos Austria, was shut at the beginning of the violence in October 2000.
    One source said he did not rule out the possibility that the casino would be turned into a mosque.

West Bank Robbers Impersonate Israeli Soldiers (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Two masked gunmen dressed in full Israeli military gear and speaking heavily-accented Hebrew robbed the house of Zaher Hamouz, the fourth victim in Nablus in the past week.
    His wife, Hind al-Masri, said she became suspicious when one of the men began reading an Arabic newspaper lying around the house.
    "I said 'How to do you know to read Arabic but not speak?"'
    "Then he aimed his gun at me and said, 'shut up.' That's when I knew they weren't Israelis - I knew they were thieves."

China Watches as Ties Grow between Taiwan and Israel (DPA/Taipei Times)
    Taiwan and Israel are developing close trade and high-tech ties under the watchful eyes of China.
    Since exchanging trade offices in 1993, Taiwan and Israel have doubled trade from $500 million in 1997 to $1 billion last year, with a strong emphasis on high-tech imports and exports.
    Israel is wary of violating its "one China" policy and hurting its diplomatic ties with China, launched in 1992.
    Israeli exports to Taiwan last year totaled $558 million, compared with $615 million to China and $600 million to India.

Useful Reference:

Photo Gallery: Training the "Karakal" Battalion (Israel Defense Forces)
    The "Karakal" Battalion is made up of male and female combat soldiers.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iranian Leader Praises Hamas, Calls for Aid - Scott Wilson
    Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Muslim nations Monday to fund the Palestinian government after Hamas takes control. "The only way to succeed is to continue resistance," Khamenei told Khaled Mashaal, leader of Hamas' political wing, during his visit to Tehran. (Washington Post)
        See also Hamas: Iranian Ayatollah to Have Major Role in Palestine
    After meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said, "The Ayatollah's regime will have an extensive role in Palestine." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Woman MP Backs Suicide Bombings - Chris McGreal
    Ask Huda Naeem how she intends to use her influence as a newly elected MP for Hamas and she ticks off a list of wrongs done to women in the name of religion: forced marriage, honor killings, low pay, and girls being kept out of school. "As a woman and an MP, there are areas I want to concentrate on, but that does not mean we have forgotten our struggle for our homeland, and preparing our children to die when the homeland calls for it." Naeem says there is nothing illegitimate about suicide bombers. Would she encourage her own 16-year-old son to die killing Israelis? "Yes, as soon as his homeland calls for it. I am preparing him to be a shaheed (martyr)," she said. (Guardian-UK)
  • Three Years' Jail for British Holocaust Denier Irving - Allan Hall
    British historian David Irving was jailed for three years by an Austrian court Monday, despite finally admitting the reality of the Nazi Holocaust and the existence of gas chambers after a career spent denying both. He was arrested in Austria last November when he arrived to give a lecture, on a warrant issued in 1989 under Austrian laws that make Holocaust denial a crime. (Scotsman-UK)
        See also Denial of the Holocaust and Immoral Equivalence - Interview with Deborah Lipstadt
    In 2000, David Irving sued historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel - and lost. (JCPA)
        See also Poland to Bar Iranian Team from Auschwitz
    Polish Foreign Minister Stefan Mellar said his country should stop Iran from investigating the scale of the Holocaust, while the manager of the Auschwitz museum said Friday that deniers of the Holocaust profane the memory of its victims and will not be admitted. (VOA News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Uncovers Large Bomb Factory in Nablus
    An IDF force found a large bomb factory in the casbah of the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday, containing dozens of kilograms of materials used in the production of explosives, Army Radio reported. (Ha'aretz)
  • From Mahmoud Abbas to Mahmoud Hamas - Jonathan Adiri
    The inauguration of the new Palestinian parliament signifies the official entrance of the Palestinian political system into the era of Hamastan. Attempts to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas as if there were no Hamas are a hopeless undertaking. The Palestinian political system forces the PA chairman to be aligned with the legislative council. Hamas will be able to forcefully veto any move it disagrees with. Thus any policy of strengthening Abbas ignores the fact that the center of gravity resides with Hamas, and Abbas will be no more than a middleman. Mahmoud Abbas has become Mahmoud Hamas. The writer is an analyst at the Re'ut Institute for Policy Planning. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • When Fear Cows the Media - Jeff Jacoby
    The Phoenix, Boston's leading ''alternative" newspaper, isn't publishing the Mohammed drawings, and in a brutally candid editorial it explained why. ''Our primary reason," the editors confessed, is ''fear of retaliation from...bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do....Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and...could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy. As we feel forced, literally, to bend to maniacal pressure, this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year-publishing history." The vast majority of U.S. media outlets have shied away from reproducing the drawings, but to my knowledge only the Phoenix has been honest enough to admit that it is capitulating to fear.
        Give the rampagers and book-burners a veto over artistic and editorial decisions, and you end up not with heightened sensitivity and cultural respect, but with more rampages and more books burned. You betray ideals that generations of Americans have died to defend. And worse than that: You betray as well the dissidents and reformers within the Islamic world. What they want to see from America is not appeasement and apologies and a dread of giving offense. They want to see us face down the fanatics, be unintimidated by bullies. They want to know that in the global struggle against Islamist extremism, we won't let them down. (Boston Globe)
  • Iraq's Jordanian Jihadis - Nir Rosen
    Jordan, long thought of as the quiet country of the Middle East, produced the man thought to be spearheading the deadliest aspects of the Iraqi insurgency - and who brought the fight back to Jordan in three hotel bombings last December: Ahmed Fadeel Nazal al-Khalayleh, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after his hometown of Zarqa, an hour's drive north of Amman.
        What seems clear is that radical Islamism has not been vanquished by the U.S. military and that American policy in Iraq has had the unintended consequence of strengthening it. I drove to Irbid, hoping to learn more about what motivates young men to join the jihad in Iraq. My taxi driver recounted how his own cousin had suddenly picked up and left for Iraq in March 2003. Many young men from his own town of Zarqa, he said, including some who were not even religious, had poured over the border to fight the Americans.
        Where will this quiet but constant low-grade jihadi mobilization lead? If the American invasion of Iraq called forth a jihadi response, American withdrawal might likewise lead many men to put their rifles away and go back to selling cars, nuts, and mobile phones. At the same time, the withdrawal of the far enemy may leave jihadis with the feeling that they should return to battling the near enemies: their own governments. (New York Times)
  • What Does the Hamas Victory Mean for Jordan - Omar Karmi
    Hamas, while originally founded in the Gaza Strip as an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, has maintained very close ties to Jordan's Islamists, and for a long time Hamas' leadership in exile was based in Amman. Traditionally, the Hashemites, unique among ruling regimes in the region, maintained close relations with Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood. King Abdullah, however, has taken a more confrontational approach. In 1999, only six months into his reign, commercial offices in Amman registered under the names of Hamas leaders were shut down, Hamas activists were detained, and arrest warrants were issued against five Hamas leaders. Mashaal and his colleagues were arrested and deported.
        A successful Hamas will increase the popularity of Jordan's Islamists and render it more difficult to curb their influence. A failed Hamas potentially poses an even more serious problem, particularly if the PA collapses or a civil war breaks out. (Daily Star-Lebanon/Bitterlemons-International)
  • Observations:

    The Security Implications of a Hamas-Led Palestinian Authority
    - Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Yaalon (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • It is not sufficient to say that Hamas' victory was simply a Palestinian popular response to Fatah corruption; it must be viewed, more accurately, as a victory for radical Islamism, as perceived by radical Islamists globally. Hamas' electoral victory provides encouragement to terrorists and rogue regimes, and inspiration to Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in pro-Western regimes, including Egypt and Jordan.
    • Hamas' victory will improve cooperation among the Hamas-led PA, Hamas terror apparatuses, Palestinian terrorist organizations, Iran, and al-Qaeda, a dangerous alliance which will grow with or without Western financial backing of the Hamas-led government.
    • Hizballah has moved operational headquarters from Beirut to Gaza, while operating terror cells in the West Bank and Gaza; its ability to operate will only increase once Hamas officially takes power.
    • Hamas will permit al-Qaeda elements to increasingly penetrate the PA, where they are currently recruiting frustrated Fatah activists and former Hamas terrorists opposed to the period of calm.
    • Hamas will pursue - by production or imports - longer-range, more lethal, and more accurate rockets, capable of hitting Ashkelon and more northern coastal cities. Hamas will further attempt to import hand-held air defense missiles and antitank missiles.
    • The main security issue to be settled between Hamas and Abbas is responsibility for the PA's various security apparatuses. Abbas is certainly not the horse to bet on in this dispute.
    • Hamas will likely maintain the murabitoun (approximately 3,000 armed militiamen) and the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (its terror apparatus), much like the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, to be deployed at its discretion. At the same time, Hamas will likely allow other proxies, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah terror activists, to operate under its directives.
    • The international community must unite behind a diplomatic siege and an active boycott of the PA. Israel should freeze its economic agreements with the PA on border procedures and further intensify its military counterterrorism activities, especially in Gaza.

      The writer served as Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces until June 2005.

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