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 24, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Security Officials: Al-Qaeda to Strike This Year - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
    IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky said Wednesday that global Jihad forces maintain regular bases in Lebanon and Jordan. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
    Officials speak of an emerging al-Qaeda network in the Gaza Strip as well.
    Security officials also estimate that highly militant elements in Fatah and Hamas, disappointed by the relative diplomatic moderation of their organizations, may find their way to the global Jihad umbrella.


Israel HighWay
- February 23, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Winter Sports in Israel

Former Shin Bet Chief: Hamas PM Haniyeh a Legitimate Target - Tzadok Yehezkeli (Ynet News)
    Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter said Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' choice for Palestinian prime minister, "should praise God twice a day that he is alive."
    "Israel gave up more than one targeted interception operation against him for fear that innocent civilians would lose their lives."
    "This man was part of Hamas' murder machine," Dichter says.
    Haniyeh, third on the IDF's list after Sheikh Yassin and Rantisi, was saved by an Egyptian-brokered truce, to which Hamas agreed.
    "I see no situation in which Haniyeh enjoys immunity just because he is the prime minister. In my eyes he was and remains a terrorist, whatever he does."
    "If there is a terror attack and Israel decides to reply...Haniyeh will be a legitimate target because Hamas cannot carry out an attack without the leadership's consent," Dichter says.


450 Rockets Fired at Israel Since Disengagement - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    In the six months prior to disengagement, over 1,000 Kassam rockets and mortar shells were fired by Palestinians at Gaza settlements.
    Since the disengagement, over 450 rockets have been fired at Israel, with a third falling in Palestinian areas, said an IDF officer.
    "Since pulling out of Gaza, 58 terrorists have been killed, 28 while attempting to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza, or place bombs near the security fence," he said.


Survey: Israel a Top-5 Loved Nation by U.S. Citizens (Jerusalem Post)
    According to a U.S. poll conducted on Thursday, Israel was considered one of the five most loved nations in the world by U.S. citizens.
    68% of American citizens completely support Israel, while 23% do not.
    Following the Hamas victory in the PA elections, only 11% of Americans supported the Palestinian Authority.


Israel Needs to Strengthen the Zionist Narrative - Tal Yamin-Walbovitz (Maariv-Hebrew)
    "Many see the occupation as the obstacle to peace instead of recognizing that it was the Palestinian side that initiated the fighting," former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon said Tuesday.
    "Israel needs to be strengthening the Zionist narrative and not the Palestinian narrative."


How Will Hamas Rule? - Simon Robinson (TIME)
    Some experts say a Hamas-led government may try to wean itself off Western aid by slashing the PA's bloated budget.
    "Reform could generate substantial savings," says Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
    "Palestinian Authority expenses are ridiculously high for the quality of the services delivered."


Fake Israeli Passports Big Hit with Iranians, Turks - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    In the past few weeks, more than ten Iranian nationals were caught carrying forged Israeli passports, Yediot Ahronot reported Wednesday, citing reports from Israeli embassies in Japan, Thailand, and India.
    In the last several months, Pakistani and Turkish citizens were also caught with fake Israeli passports.
    Israeli passports are in great demand because they allow people to enter Asian countries without a visa.


Spain Buys Israeli Arms (AFP/Australia News)
    Spain will buy 2,600 surface-to-surface missiles and 260 missile launchers from the Israeli arms firm Rafael, an official Spanish source said Tuesday in a deal worth 250 million euros.
    Rafael had faced competition from a U.S. consortium of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and Europe's MBDA, El Mundo reported.


Enzyme Computer Could Live Inside You - Will Knight (New Scientist)
    A molecular computer that uses enzymes to perform calculations has been built by researchers in Israel.
    Itamar Willner, who constructed it with colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, believes enzyme-powered computers could eventually be implanted into the human body and used to, for example, tailor the release of drugs to a specific person's metabolism.
    "This is basically a computer that could be integrated with the human body," he said.
    "We feel you could implant an enzyme computer into the body and use it to calculate an entire metabolic pathway."


Ohio Farmers to Tap into Israel's Agricultural Know-How - James Hannah (AP/Akron Beacon Journal)
    Arid soils, limited water, and cramped spaces have turned Israeli farmers into experts at making crops bloom in the desert.
    29 Ohio farmers are traveling to Israel for 10 days to use that expertise to improve productivity.
    Only about 20% of the land in Israel can be farmed and half of that has to be irrigated, but Israel produces most of its own food, and even exports it.


Canada's Indigenous Groups Seek Ties with Israel - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
    The Assembly of First Nations, which represents all the indigenous nations of Canada, wants to establish a diplomatic mission in Israel.
    An AFN delegation that included several chiefs of various nations met on Wednesday with Israeli President Moshe Katsav to tell him how much they have been inspired by Israel in their quest to reclaim their own national identities, cultures, and territories.


Requests Swamp Israel Trip Program (JTA)
    Birthright Israel has received many more applications for its upcoming trips than it has spaces available.
    14,000 young Jews applied for 8,000 spots in the program's spring/summer trips this year in just the first 12 hours of registration on Feb. 8.
    The upcoming trip will include the program's 100,000th participant.


Useful Reference:

Major Anti-Semitic Motifs in Arab Cartoons - Joel Kotek (JCPA)


How the Nixon Administration Reacted to the Munich Massacre - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
    White House transcripts: Nixon, Rogers, Kissinger, and Haig discuss the Palestinian terror attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics.


Israeli Think-Tanks - Erik Schechter (Jerusalem Post)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Shiite-Sunni Violence Kills Over 100 in Iraq Following Bombing of Shrine - Jonathan Finer and Bassam Sebti
    Clashes across Iraq Thursday killed more than 100 people, including several Sunni Arab clerics, and left dozens of Sunni mosques in ruins, a day after bombers destroyed a revered Shiite shrine. 47 people, including Sunnis and Shiites, were forced from their vehicles by gunmen who shot them dead near Baqubah, north of Baghdad. (Washington Post)
  • In Beirut, Rice Snubs Lebanese President - Glenn Kessler
    Secretary of State Rice snubbed the pro-Syrian president of Lebanon in an unannounced visit there Thursday, deliberately not meeting with him while touching base with key officials seeking to pull Lebanon out of the shadow of three decades of domination by Damascus. (Washington Post)
  • Gang Leader Held in Ivory Coast After Murder of Kidnapped Jew in Paris - Kim Willsher
    Youssef Fofana, 25, the suspected leader of a gang accused of abducting, torturing, and killing Ilan Halimi, 23, a Jewish man in Paris, was captured by police in the Ivory Coast in west Africa Thursday. French Prime Minister de Villepin called for Fofana's speedy repatriation. (Guardian-UK)
  • Nigeria Counts 100 Deaths Over Danish Cartoons - Lydia Polgreen
    The violence in Nigeria began with attacks on Christians in the northern part of the country last week by Muslims infuriated over the cartoons, reigniting old ethnic and political tensions between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south. In response, rioters killed scores of people, mostly Muslims, after burning their homes, businesses, and mosques. Many political analysts say the cartoons were simply a pretext to act on very old grievances. (New York Times)
  • A Menacing Islamist Pincer Maneuver Against Israel - Ike Seamans
    Since it now rules the Palestinian Authority, Hamas is in a prime position to replicate the Hizballah model with enthusiastic assistance from munificent Syrian and Iranian paymasters. This would complete a menacing Islamist pincer maneuver. ''Israel faces converging threats,'' warns Dore Gold, Israel's former UN ambassador. "Hamas; Hizballah; al-Qaeda in Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and Sinai; and the Iranian nuclear program. Israel must make certain they don't connect.'' (Miami Herald)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Aiding Rocket Fire at Israel - Ze'ev Schiff
    Hamas activists may not be actively launching Kassam rockets at Israel from Gaza, but they are providing assistance to militants from other groups who are carrying out such attacks. Most of the rocket fire is being carried out by Islamic Jihad, Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Popular Resistance Committees. Hamas has been in control of the northern branch of the PRC over the past few months and has provided direct assistance to the PRC. For some time, Hamas has been trying to smuggle in Russian Grad rockets, which have a 24-kilometer range and would be able to reach the Ashkelon power station and other strategic targets within Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Operating in Nablus Against Iran-Funded Terror Cells - Amos Harel
    The declaration of calm in the territories in January 2005 involved two senior partners: Hamas, which forced members to abstain from terror attacks, and the Palestinian Authority, which bought off the heads of Fatah gangs with salaries and perks that removed them from the terror cycle. But since the elections, senior PA security personnel have lost the incentive to act, and left the arena open to Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus. Fed by Iranian money, Jihad headquarters is transferring greater sums into the territories to operate as many cells as possible in order to carry out attacks against Israel.
        Local Fatah leaders, some of whom have lost routine financial support from the PA security forces, are returning to terror, given the financial incentive, and this is particularly true in Nablus, which had been dominated by Fatah military organizations over the past two years. In the month since the PA elections, the IDF has seized four explosive belts that Fatah and Jihad members were trying to smuggle into Israel. IDF troops moved into the Balata and Casbah neighborhoods of Nablus in the West Bank on Sunday. Some central wanted figures were arrested and three wanted Fatah men were killed Thursday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Three Wanted Fatah Tanzim Operatives Killed in Nablus (IDF Spokesman/IMRA)
        See also Two IDF Soldiers Wounded in Nablus Fighting
    During an IDF arrest operation in Nablus Thursday, an IDF soldier was moderately wounded, and a second soldier was lightly wounded when Palestinian gunmen opened fire and threw hand grenades at the force. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also "They Will Never Catch Me" - Emilio Morenatti
    One of those killed Thursday was identified as Mohammed Shtawi, a top Al Aqsa Brigades fugitive. On Wednesday, Shtawi told an AP reporter that earlier in the day soldiers surrounded his hideout for five hours, but he and several friends slipped away. "They will never catch me," he said at the time. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Hamas Won't Talk With Israel - Arnon Regular
    The head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, on Thursday told the A-Shams radio station based in Nazareth, "We are coming into power with an open mind, and are ready to talk to anyone in the world, including the United States. Only with Israel we won't talk." (Ha'aretz)
  • Gaza Gunmen Storm Government Offices in Rafah and Khan Yunis
    On Wednesday, 20 gunmen from the "Al-Yasir Brigades," affiliated with Fatah, stormed the Rafah Governorate building in protest to the appointment of Zuhdi El-Qedra as the new governor of Rafah. El-Qedra is from Khan Yunis and the gunmen demanded that the new governor should be from Rafah.
        On Tuesday, another armed group from the "Amr Abu Sitta Battalions" affiliated with Fatah stormed the Khan Yunis municipality building and a garage run by the municipality. Ten gunmen from the same group ransacked the office of the mayor and threatened him and other staff members. The gunmen cut off telephone lines, turned over furniture, and hurled a computer to the floor. At the municipal garage they took all the keys for the 120 vehicles there, which included sewage trucks, drinking water trucks, and hearses, after the municipality refused to provide the group with a bulldozer. (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Hamas

  • Hamas Triumphant: A Special Report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy - Robert Satloff (pdf - 1.3M)
        From Washington to Hamas: Change or Fail - Dennis Ross
    Washington must be clear, and it must be vigilant. No half-measures or vague formulations should be acceptable: The United States will deal with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority it leads only if it unconditionally recognizes Israel's right to exist, rejects violence, ends all acts of terror, and agrees to disarm and dismantle its armed infrastructure. Otherwise, Washington should do all it can to isolate Hamas and ensure the failure of its government.
        A Primer on Hamas: Origins, Tactics, Strategy, and Response - Robert Satloff
    Hamas was founded in 1987 in order to pursue the destruction of Israel and to shield the Muslim Brotherhood from accountability for its violence. Hamas is in no hurry, and it may make a show of tactical flexibility meant to suggest moderation. But even though Hamas may talk truce, it will not make peace with Israel.
        Understanding the Hamas Agenda - Mohammed Yaghi
    Hamas has never wavered from its single goal of replacing Israel with an Islamist Palestinian state. For tactical and theological reasons, it may offer a conditional, temporary armed truce with Israel, but it will not recognize Israel nor cease to regard itself as a movement at war with a foreign invader.
        Regional Security Implications of the Hamas Electoral Victory - Michael Eisenstadt
    The Hamas victory could have long-term implications for the domestic balance of power in Jordan and Egypt, efforts by al-Qaeda and its affiliates to establish bases in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, the simmering confrontation between Syria and the West, and Iran's role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
        Pressing the Palestinian Authority Financially: Not as Easy as It Looks - Patrick Clawson
    The PA's dependence on international financial assistance may offer a much smaller lever on a Hamas-led government than is apparent. Internal fiscal reforms, continuing Arab support, the possible infusion of Iranian cash, and political difficulties facing Israel and Western nations seeking to reduce aid could significantly constrain the effectiveness of efforts to pressure Hamas. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • The Democracy Game - David Remnick
    When the first intifada began in 1987, Islamic leaders were mostly concerned with spreading the faith, but when the rocks started flying, Sheikh Yassin, who would become the leader and the spiritual head of Hamas, recognized that a lot of his young men were getting involved. Yassin and his circle did not want to be left out, so Hamas was formed, and it became a player in the intifada. And then it became an immensely more important player in the second intifada, at the turn of the century. Hamas brought the weapon of suicide bombing into the game in the mid-nineties.
        What everybody is discovering is that to call elections "democracy" and to leave it at that is simplistic and even potentially dangerous. Even President Bush's guru on these issues, Natan Sharansky, who wrote a book that was very influential on Bush's thinking, said to me, when I was in Jerusalem last week, that the only way for this all to work is to create the conditions of democracy, and elections are only a part of that - and they're not necessarily the first part. (New Yorker)

    Iran

  • A Loose Cannon in Tehran - Ze'ev Schiff
    Experts on Iran are saying that Ahmadinejad's crude declarations have been aimed at distracting public opinion at home from the economic troubles there. Official sources in Turkey say Ahmadinejad feels the revolution that began with Ayatollah Khomeini is sinking. The young generation, suffering from deep unemployment, is moving away from revolutionary values and looking outward. Ahmadinejad has decided, therefore, that a confrontation with the West will lead to the solidarity of the Iranian people and a return to the roots of the revolution.
        In conversations with Iranians I have heard another explanation, suggesting Ahmadinejad is trying to create for himself the status of a major leader in the Muslim world. His declarations are aimed, first and foremost, at the Muslim world. The Iranians have concluded that the Arab public, even in countries that have made peace with Israel, is for the most part hostile to Israel, and Ahmadinejad is popular among this public. From Israel's perspective, Ahmadinejad's motives makes no difference. What is crucial is such a person is liable to have his finger on the trigger of nuclear weaponry in a religious, fanatic country. This regime makes declarations that have not been heard since Hitler's era. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran's Gift: New Unity in the West - Jim Hoagland
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad seems to believe that intimidating Britain, France, and Germany provides a surer path to nuclear weapons, hegemony over Iraq, and the destruction of Israel than did the softer-shoe approach of his ayatollah predecessors. European governments are responding with a firmness and resolve that might not have been predictable even a few months ago. Europeans are awakening to the possibility of a return to an era of global bipolar conflict that directly involves them.
        Ahmadinejad had already emerged for U.S. policymakers as the new face of the enemy in "the long war" against Islamic extremism. The real story of the new transatlantic togetherness has been the spreading public concern in Europe about Islamic extremism, at home and abroad. Europe's tendency to see Israel as the source of all Middle East evil must adjust, however reluctantly, to the political demise of the PLO and of a certain romantic vision of Palestinian nationalism at the hands of Hamas, an Islamic organization that rejects peace negotiations and a two-state solution. (Washington Post)
  • Tehran Plays Host to Al-Qaeda - Dan Darling
    "Iran continues to host senior al-Qaeda leaders who are wanted for murdering Americans and other victims in the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings....Some al-Qaeda members and those from like-minded extremist groups continue to use Iran as a safe haven and as a hub to facilitate their operations," said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns on November 30. Iran has long maintained ties to al-Qaeda and has assisted the group in refining its terrorist capabilities. During the years of Taliban rule, Tehran allowed al-Qaeda members, including some future 9/11 hijackers, to transit its territory en route to and from Afghanistan. To this day, much of the surviving al-Qaeda leadership is based in Iran, enjoying the protection of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. Tehran has been supporting terrorist groups ever since the mullahs came to power in 1979. (Weekly Standard)

    Islam

  • Egypt Donning the Veil - Akiva Eldar
    Religion is slowly seeping into every avenue of Egyptian society. It does not escape the highest echelons of the political, military, and diplomatic establishments. The wife of Egyptian Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, one of the most powerful men in Egypt, does not leave the house without a veil concealing her face. The Muslim movement is making strides, cunningly, pleasantly, patiently. In Egypt, the Islamic cartoon affair passed with barely any rioting.
        Ayelet Yehiav, responsible for the Egypt desk of the diplomatic research branch of Israel's Foreign Ministry, explains that like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas aspires to create an Islamic state in Palestine. Neither of the two movements is in a rush, and they are both prepared to make compromises. Yehiav says that the purge of the secular opposition, through the good offices of Hosni Mubarak, made the Muslim Brotherhood the sole alternative to Mubarak's regime. They are attracting the middle class that in the West furnishes the foundations for building a democracy. "For the Islamic groups, democracy is nothing more than a channel for establishing themselves within the ruling administration, so that they will be able to annul it when they feel sure of their hold," says Yehiav. (Ha'aretz)
  • Syria Witnesses Islamist Revival - Kim Ghattas
    Religion is making a comeback in Syria, where people feel the state's socialist and pan-Arab ideologies have failed for the last four decades. "We have a phenomenon of radicalization taking place in schools and university," said Salam Kawakibi, a political analyst in Aleppo. "The danger is the influence of Salafism and Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, because all the Syrians who work there, come back with new practices which they impose on their families," he said. "After the clashes of 1980, the state tried to create an official Islam. They encouraged the building of mosques and the creation of religious schools. They think it is a way to control society." Syria's staunchly secular Baath party encouraged people to go to the mosque in order to keep them away from politics.
        "Initially they thought they were getting rid of the extremist elements in Syrian society by sending them to die in Iraq," said Marwan Qabalan, a Syrian political analyst. "It was a clever strategy - you want to undertake jihad, go do it somewhere else." "These people, who have been trained in Iraq, are now coming back to Syria and could use their tactics against a new enemy - possibly the state," he said. While the Syrian government thinks it can maintain control over the increasing religious trend, many analysts now believe the Islamists could outsmart the state. (BBC News)
  • Religious Pride Is Fine, But Prejudice Is No Joke - Tom Hyland
    A Danish newspaper publishes cartoons of dubious merit and taste purporting to portray the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, an act of blasphemy under Islamic faith. The cartoons sink with barely a trace, until four months later, after a concerted campaign by clerics to draw attention to the offense, riots erupt across the Islamic world. In retaliation, an Iranian newspaper runs a cartoon contest of its own, but the target is not the Danish perpetrators of the original offence, but the Jews. Of course.
        Muslims in the West, like members of any religion, have a right to tolerance for their customs and beliefs, so long as they accord with the law and wider community standards. But they can't expect elements of their faith won't sometimes be subjected to the satire that other religions suffer in Western secular societies. Offensive? Humiliating? Particularly hurtful in a climate of Islamophobia? All of that. But that's the way it is. Just ask the Jews.
        If you can deny the reality of the Holocaust (an attempt to erase Jewry from the human map of Europe), you can then erase Israel off the political map of the Middle East. Ahmadinejad's outbursts are an extension of an entrenched prejudice across the Middle East, which in seeking to deny Israel's legitimacy questions the humanity of Jewish people. An Internet search will find scores of cartoons from the Middle East press depicting Jews as subhuman. No satire here, no legitimate political comment about the real grievances of Palestinians, just blatant racism.
        All of this comes as Iran is apparently seeking to develop nuclear weapons - just what you need if you want to wipe an opponent off the face of the earth. Now that's no joke. (Sunday Age-Australia)

    Other Issues

  • Funding NGOs in Territories? Charity Money Often Used for Politics - Rafael D. Frankel
    After calls to cease funding the Palestinian Authority in the wake of its takeover by Hamas, foreign governments and philanthropic organizations are considering increasing their funding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which operate throughout the Palestinian territories. However, in addition to providing humanitarian relief, critics charge that NGO money is often used for political activity, much of it anti-Israel in nature.
        NGOs are using their funds, either directly or indirectly, for political activities that often breach the mandate of their humanitarian work, said Bar-Ilan University Professor Gerald Steinberg, the founder of NGO Monitor, which tracks the activities of NGOs operating in Israel and the territories. Some have used funds to campaign for divestment from Israel and the branding of Israel as an apartheid state. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Big Lie Comes to Georgetown - Joel Mowbray
    The two-day Palestine Solidarity Movement conference at Georgetown University received substantial advance press coverage for the organizing group's ties to terrorism. While the bulk of the 200 or so mostly college students in attendance were idealists searching for their own Vietnam, the organizers were knowing manipulators crafting a narrative designed to satisfy that quest. The storyline was quite clear: Israel is evil, and Palestinians are pure. Israel is labeled the new South Africa, which is directly tied to the conference's primary theme: the movement to divest from Israel. Largely ignored were the recent Hamas victory and the campaign of suicide bombings perpetrated by brainwashed Palestinian youths.
        To perpetuate the story line of Israel as aggressor and Palestinians as victims, the PSM conference constructed an alternate reality, weaving together half-truths and outright fiction to justify "solidarity" with a society that condones and supports the intentional mass murder of innocent civilians. Most of these young do-gooders do not support terrorism, but they also don't despise it anywhere near as much as genuinely peaceloving people should.
        All the talk about 1948 - the year the Jewish state was founded - belies the common perception that Palestinian activists simply want a state side-by-side with Israel. The PSM conference organizers don't just want Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza; they want Israel out of Israel. (Washington Times)
  • European Politics: Double Standards Toward Israel - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    European political actions continue to cause Israel many problems, as seen in its voting record in the United Nations and in frequent condemnations from Brussels. The EU has also provided financing for a variety of activities directed against Israel. The mood created by the political leaders of European countries toward Israel often permeates their societies. This discriminatory attitude is enhanced by the media, NGOs, and some churches. These factors together have helped build an anti-Israel atmosphere in large parts of European society. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Because They Hate - Brigitte Gabriel
    I was ten years old when my home exploded around me, burying me under the rubble. I learned the meaning of the word "infidel," as the perpetrators shouted "Allah Akbar!" I lived for seven years in pitch darkness, freezing cold, drinking stale water, and eating grass to live. At the age of 13 I dressed in my burial clothes going to bed at night, waiting to be slaughtered. By the age of 20, I had buried most of my friends - killed by Muslims. We were Arab Christians living in Lebanon. (FrontPageMagazine)

    Weekend Features

  • A Home for Broken Soldiers - Erik Schechter
    In July 2002, a raid on a hidden explosives lab in the West Bank city of Kalkilya turned into a bloody stalemate, and a company commander, Capt. Shlomi Cohen, was dying on the third floor of a building, his troops unable to reach him. Ro'i Yablochnik rounded up eight soldiers for a rescue mission. But as they climbed to the second floor, a grenade rolled down the stairwell and exploded. "The shrapnel hit me in the face," he says. While a medic was working on him, he saw a shadowy figure in a doorway. Yablochnik and his medic shot the Palestinian gunman, but "the terrorist shot me in the left shoulder," he says.
        For thousands of wounded soldiers like Yablochnik, help in making it down the road to recovery comes from the IDF Disabled Veterans Association, that provides soldiers with the tools they need to put their lives back together. The group runs three Beit Halohem rehabilitation centers in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem and is currently building a new one in Beersheba. The Beit Halohem center in Tel Aviv has all the requisite physical therapy units, but there are no morose, elderly patients in gowns being led around by nurses. Rather, the rehab center seems more like an upscale social club than anything else.
        By bringing together so many wounded vets, the association provides an environment where no one stands out as a curiosity. The children of the handicapped see there is no shame in having a father who might be missing an arm, while someone who has not yet started a family is reassured that his life is not over. "Someone who has lost both legs can see someone else in the same situation and see that he has a wife, a family," says Yablochnik. Two years after his injuries, Yablochnik returned to his old infantry unit as the battalion's operations officer. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Nation Built on Sand - Max Hastings
    Long before Hitler was even heard of, Jews who suffered persecution at the hands of oppressors, above all, the victims of Russian and Polish pogroms, dreamt of finding a place where they might live freely. The State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948. That night, the armies of Israel's Arab neighbors launched an assault by land and air, designed to crush the Jewish state at birth. Their attempt failed, after months of savage fighting. Israel was left holding barely defensible frontiers under Arab guns, having secured only a portion of Jerusalem, and with its foes irreconcilably committed to its destruction. Whatever view one takes of modern Israel, it remains extraordinary what was built there, upon rock and sand. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • War Is Not Natural - Dalai Lama
    The 14th Dalai Lama visited in Israel last week: The holy region in which you - Israelis and Palestinians - live suffers from a decades-long conflict, a struggle so bitter that even I heard about it, as a small child in far-away Tibet. The only realistic way to reduce the suffering and the conflict is to jointly study the problems and the needs, and then try to reach joint conclusions that will address your joint interests and provide benefit to both sides. There is no other way but to develop dialogue based on mutual faith and friendship. This is the only way there is a chance this conflict will ever be solved. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    After the Hamas Victory - Anat Kurz (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies)

    • Israel has posed three preconditions for any dialogue with Hamas: dismantling the terrorist infrastructure, accepting all previously contracted agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and repudiating those parts of the Hamas covenant denying Israel's right to exist. Until these conditions are met, Israel is prepared to boycott the Palestinian Authority.
    • Hamas' first priority now is to institutionalize its rule. That, and not a desire to implement the first stage of the road map in order to lay the groundwork for talks with Israel, is what explains its continued commitment to the tahdi'a (calm).
    • Moreover, any deviation from the principles that have guided the movement since its founding might undermine its internal cohesiveness; Hamas could hardly undertake such a shift without inviting internal schisms and fragmentation.
    • Hamas' rise to power changes little in the substance of Israel's relations with the PA as they have evolved over the past few years. Although the road map has not been officially buried, it has for years lacked any operational significance.
    • Long before Hamas came to power, Israel concluded that there was no viable Palestinian partner, and it is therefore highly doubtful whether a Fatah victory in the elections would have resulted in a reality different enough to justify the revival of substantive negotiations. In other words, non-negotiation with a Fatah-led PA will now be succeeded by non-negotiation with a Hamas-led PA.


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