Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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And the Wall Came Tumbling Down - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
- March 16, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Israeli Election Countdown
Palestinians View Jericho Operation - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
See also Hamas: PA Should Not Be the Hostage of Signed Agreements (Ma'an News-PA)
Bird Flu Hits Israel (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians Killed, Injured Misusing Weapons in Gaza (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
Book Review: The Fallaci Code - Brendan Bernhard (LA Weekly)
Israelis Choose Black Hebrew for Eurovision Song Contest - Nathan Burstein (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Wins First Place at Tourism Fair (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's Life-Science Industry Saving Lives - Andrew Romano (Newsweek)
Japan and Israel Strengthen Ties Through Sumo (Mainichi Daily News-Japan)
IDF Seizes Assassins of Israeli Minister (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
Women in Green - National Women's Day in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran and the U.S. agreed Thursday to hold direct talks on how to halt sectarian violence and restore calm in Iraq, offering the first face-to-face conversation between the sides after months of confrontation over Iran's nuclear program. (New York Times)
The international "Quartet" of mediators on the Middle East reaffirmed in talks in Brussels on Thursday their call on Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel, and commit to seeking peace. (Reuters)
Hamas will finalize its cabinet on Saturday, Salah al-Bardaweel, a spokesman for the Islamic militant group, said Friday. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a top Hamas leader in Gaza, would be appointed foreign minister, while Hamas leader Saeed Seyam would become interior minister, giving him control over three Palestinian security agencies, Hamas sources said. (Reuters/ABC News)
Tony Blair, UK prime minister, Wednesday warned the Palestinians to tighten up security if they wanted continued British help towards establishing a permanent sovereign homeland. He told the House of Commons, "This country has been immensely generous with help given to people in the Palestinian Authority area." The British prime minister added that although the UK government respected the mandate Hamas had secured in January's elections, further political and financial help for the PA would only continue if Hamas renounced violence, negotiated peacefully, and recognized the State of Israel. (Financial Times-UK)
Foreign nationals who work in the West Bank are remaining out of sight until local outrage against Westerners subsides, after Israel's seizure of a group of high-profile Palestinian militants from a jail in Jericho. The precautionary measures are a sign that the assaults, common in the Gaza Strip, have become a concern in cities such as Ramallah, which has a sizable presence of foreigners. Ramallah rioters broke into the building of the British Council and assaulted the local headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank. "In Ramallah, we've never had things like this. This was kind of an alarm signal," said Thomas Birringer, the local representative to the PA from Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation. (Washington Times)
Exiled Syrian opposition leaders including former vice president Abdel-Halim Khaddam and the head of the Muslim Brotherhood said on Friday they were forming a united front to replace President Bashar al-Assad with democracy. "The Syrian people are fed up with the current situation and we expect that a lot of new circumstances will lead to the uprising of the Syrian people," said Khaddam. (Reuters)
See also Shabby Inheritance in Syria - Nibras Kazimi
Syria under Bashar Assad seems caught in a time warp. On one hand, the Syrian citizen is allowed to receive a whole spectrum of information. Arabic and Lebanese dailies that run stories critical of the Syrian regime are sold on the streets unimpeded. Satellite TV has been available here for a decade. But at the same time, almost every shop bears the pictures of Papa Assad and his son, and almost every area of free wall space is painted with Ba'athist slogans. Wandering across large portions of Syria, the bitter aftertaste one is left with is that this country is in a very shabby state.
The Syrian regime seems brittle, and does not seem to inspire a base that would defend it. This is good news for the handful of local democrats pushing back at the regime to gauge the limitations of freedom, but also for shadowy jihadists, who may be preparing for a blitz of terror. The current regime will not sustain a challenge from either, and it is now a question of who rises to the challenge first. (New York Sun)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
State prosecutor Eran Shendar on Thursday said Israel would be capable of trying four of the six suspects in the assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi in October 2001. "Israel has a clear interest to try the murderers of an Israeli minister in an Israeli court in the State of Israel," he said. Two of the six will definitely face trial in Israel since they were imprisoned by the PA without undergoing legal proceedings: Ahmed Saadat, leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror organization, and Fuad Shubaki, financier of the "Karine A" illegal weapons shipment. It was further established that Israel possesses the jurisdiction necessary to try Ze'evi's murderers even though they have already been convicted and sentenced by a PA court. (Ha'aretz)
Israel will not cut off water, gas, or electricity to the PA after Hamas forms a government because it does not want to create a severe humanitarian crisis, diplomatic sources confirmed Thursday. Defense officials said that Israel would also continue to allow the flow of medicine, agricultural goods, and other supplies into Gaza and the West Bank. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Where to Draw the Line - Ze'ev Schiff
The National Security Council was asked to present a range of possibilities for the injection of money into the PA following the establishment of a Hamas government. The council divided the possibilities according to the source of the money, the goal of the donation, and the purpose to which the money will be directed. If, for example, Japan should donate funds to Palestinian schools and addresses the money to the education minister in a Hamas government, Israel would not approve the donation - both because the recipient is a minister of Hamas, and because education - in contrast to water and energy, for example - is considered problematic by Israel. Palestinian schools, and certainly those run by Hamas, preach hatred of Israel and of Jews, and praise suicide bombers. (Ha'aretz)
According to IDF sources, there has been a distinct deterioration in the security situation in the West Bank due to the growing involvement of Fatah members - including some who serve in the PA security services - in attacks on Israelis. A senior General Staff officer said Thursday that Fatah and Hamas had recently switched roles. Fatah is now vying with Islamic Jihad as the leading perpetrator of attacks in recent weeks.
IDF sources said the main reason for Fatah's growing involvement in attacks was its operatives' fear that the new Hamas-led government would not be able to continue paying the approximately 70,000 members of the PA security services, most of whom are Fatah personnel. Perpetrating attacks against Israel enables these operatives to be paid instead by either Islamic Jihad's headquarters in Damascus or Hizballah in Beirut. "We're on a path toward confrontation with the Palestinians," the senior officer concluded. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections has altered the Middle East. It is comparable to the revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran and brought the mullahs of Shia Islam to power. The Hamas victory is not just a little local difficulty. Hamas is the Palestinian part of the Muslim Brotherhood and the first to win an election. Its victory has enormous resonance for radical Islam everywhere.
The "peace process" is effectively dead. The diplomatic assumptions of 40 years - a peace treaty after a negotiated territorial compromise between Israel and Palestine, or "land for peace" - are blown apart. Ariel Sharon tried to redefine the bargain as an independent Palestinian state in return for dismantling all armed "terrorist" groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. That was a commitment undertaken in the "road map" by Yasser Arafat and reconfirmed by Mahmoud Abbas. But Hamas won't dismantle itself.
A long, hostile quiet may be possible. Israelis and Palestinians may pursue parallel unilateralisms. But serious negotiations on a peace settlement? Very unlikely. The world wants Hamas to be a "partner," but Hamas has other ideas. It rejects the old framework. It sees recognition of Israel as impossible. Israel can now argue that it really has "no partner." (International Herald Tribune)
Of the three Islamist threats facing America today - al-Qaeda, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood - the first two have chosen the path of confrontation to promote their goals, whereas the third has chosen the path of political participation. This choice was prompted in large part by the global War on Terrorism, which made Hamas (as part of the mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood) realize that in the post-9/11 world, terrorist organizations have no future, while political participation could still allow them to achieve some of their major goals.
Political participation requires adaptation to political constraints. Only after Hamas' victory were conditions formulated for recognizing future Hamas political participation: renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel, and respecting prior agreements. These conditions are ineffectual: They can be met on a limited tactical and temporary basis. If the West reconciles itself to the Hamas victory, the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to repeat that success in Egypt and Jordan.
U.S. demands should be directed not only towards Hamas, but, first and foremost, towards its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. Political recognition should be granted only when the following conditions are met by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and included in their official political platforms: 1) Endorsement of politics to the exclusion of violence and the use of force. 2) Endorsement of the full package of democratic values including equality of all before the law and constitutional freedoms embodied in internationally-accepted conventions. (MEMRI)
In the spring of 2002, two million people participated in mass demonstrations in every Arab capital in favor of Hamas' homicide bombing tactics. In January 2006, more than 440,000 Palestinian voters gave a clear affirmation to the aspirations of at least four generations of Middle Eastern Arab Muslims who have been saturated from birth on the liberation theology of Jihad. Hamas stands at the epicenter of the Jihadist theological universe, and it is directly engaged in the apocalyptic battle that all Jihadist groups yearn for.
Abu Huzaifa, a senior commander of Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, told the Palestinian newspaper Dunya Al-Watan on March 4 that thousands of Palestinians have been trained to fight the West and Israel, adding that the army would "be used in the Holy War against non-Muslims." He said "Palestinian cadets were taught firearms training, rappelling buildings and outposts, launching Kassam short-range rockets, and infiltrating Israeli bases."
As Arafat once declared: "What they are saying is that [Jerusalem] is their capital. No, it is not their capital. It is our capital." The sober truth is that the ascent of Hamas really isn't about a local election in the Middle East - it is about the future of the West and Israel, and the final status of Jerusalem. (FrontPageMagazine)
The Jericho Operation
Israel's success at apprehending PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat sent a threefold message to the Palestinians. First, said Head of Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, it showed that "the blood of an Israeli minister will not be forfeited and the perpetrators will be hunted down." Second, the Jericho operation served as a declaration to Hamas that Israel would not be prevented from operating inside PA-controlled cities. Finally, according to officials, it served as a warning to Hamas leaders that if - after forming a government - they engaged in terror activity, they would not be immune to targeted interceptions or Jericho-like operations. (Jerusalem Post)
Many Hamas leaders lean toward canceling the agreements the previous Palestinian government made with Israel. From the outset they viewed these agreements as traitorous against Islam. From this perspective, the operation in Jericho has broad diplomatic implications. It made a clear statement that the world stands by Israel, or at least won't stand in Israel's way when it uses military force to respond to violations of agreements. Reports in the international media about the operation were restrained and balanced. Western governments reacted with understanding, even with sympathy. (Ynet News)
Ahmadinejad invoked Holocaust denial with a specific purpose in mind: to undermine Israel's moral and historic right to exist as a sovereign Jewish nation in its historic homeland. In this regard, he made two points: either the Holocaust never took place, in which case Israel has no moral right at all to exist; or the Holocaust did take place, in which case it is the Germans and the Austrians who should, in penance, host a Jewish state, and not the Muslim world, which did not contribute to the Holocaust. Implicit in these arguments, which are popular in the Arab and Muslim worlds, is the assumption that Israel was created solely, or principally, because of the Holocaust.
In 1922, long before the Holocaust, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 was endorsed by the League of Nations, which appointed Britain the mandatory power and charged it with creating a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people. The early Zionist pioneers had Jewish nationalism in mind, not pogroms. And the international institutions that created Israel recognized the Jews as a people with legitimate national and historic rights, regardless of the Holocaust.
Given the dynamic nature of the Zionist movement during the pre-Holocaust years, I believe the momentum would have led to the creation of a state even had there been no Holocaust. Without in any way denigrating the centrality of the Holocaust in modern Jewish history, we should reply to the Holocaust-deniers by insisting on a more balanced narrative regarding Israel's formidable legal, national, and moral roots. The writer is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. (Forward)
The main thrust of Iranian diplomacy has been to play for time and even now there is a risk that UN Security Council-centered diplomatic activities focused on reinstituting a full suspension of enrichment-related activity in Iran will come at the cost of postponing any other action aimed at forcing Iran to abandon its military nuclear program. Any "compromise" that permits Iran to carry out any uranium enrichment research activities, even minimal, would facilitate larger-scale development at a later stage, eventually culminating in the production of military-grade enriched uranium. Moreover, Iran may have a parallel concealed enrichment operation.
Iran can get all the peaceful nuclear energy it says it needs without indigenous enrichment, and much more cheaply, at that. The only remaining illusion is that Iran is not unequivocally bent on achieving a military nuclear capability, and only a far more determined and unified international response will prevent it from succeeding. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)
The administration is sticking to its hard line against sending a cent to Hamas. And Congress is poised to enact aid restrictions that may act as a break on any State Department impulse to weaken on the issue. But the U.S. and EU will be diverting a lot of the money that supported the PA kleptocracy to humanitarian aid. That way, it is reasoned, innocent Palestinians won't be forced to suffer from the crimes of their new masters. The only problem is that the humanitarian group that will receive the lion's share of the aid is one of the most thoroughly politicized and terrorist-infiltrated organizations in the world: the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Unlike virtually every other refugee aid group, UNRWA's primary mission has never been to help the Palestinians deal with the reality of the post-1948 world. Resettling the Palestinians wasn't the point. UNRWA exists to keep the Palestinians alive exactly where they are, so they can serve as justification for continued conflict with Israel.
UNRWA's employees are uniformly Palestinian, and many are members of Palestinian terror factions such as Fatah and Hamas. In the recent Palestinian election, a number of UNRWA workers were Hamas parliamentary candidates.
The only reason the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees are still in these camps is because UNRWA and the UN have let the Arab world get away with keeping them there, rather than forcing them to recognize that the State of Israel is not going to disappear.
Americans have no excuse for continuing to be complicit in this deception. Thirty percent of the agency's $400 million budget comes courtesy of American taxpayers. If the pain and grief that UNRWA helps inflict on the region is to be stopped, both the White House and Congress must stop buying into the myth of UNRWA's lies. (Philadelphia Jewish Exponent)
Had the February 22 attack on Saudi Arabia's largest oil complex at Abqaiq been successful, oil prices would have likely broken all records and might have caused a worldwide economic crisis. The two car bombers who attempted to breech the Abqaiq security perimeter were senior al-Qaeda members, giving credence to the Saudi government's claim that it has largely succeeded in breaking the back of the organization and that only a handful of veteran activists are functioning.
Riyadh is expected to have $220 billion in financial reserves and a budgetary surplus of over $30 billion in 2006. The kingdom's per capita income, which declined from $21,000 in the early 1980s to about $6,000 by the end of the 1990s, increased to $13,000 in 2005. Properly managed, Saudi Arabia's economy is likely to continue to prosper and help the House of Saud overcome the frequently forecast collapse of its regime. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
I am delighted to see a group of cross-party MPs taking the time to examine anti-Semitism in Britain. Traditional anti-Semitism still exists, with fascist leaflets as crude as in the 1930s distributed on the streets of the UK. Attacks on Jews continue. What other community has to spend over £5m annually defending itself because its places of worship, schools, and community buildings have been seen as legitimate targets? When I commissioned this inquiry, one MP commented with surprise: "I didn't realize you were Jewish." Neither did I. Anti-Semitism is like all other racism: unacceptable without qualification. The writer, a Labour MP, is chair of the all-party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism. (Guardian-UK)
Israel and Jews were almost inevitably drawn into the Mohammed cartoon controversy between Muslims and the West, yet another manifestation of the hard core of anti-Semitism that portrays Jews as responsible for all evil in the world. Western media contrasted Muslims' sensitivity about the cartoons with the stream of far more offensive anti-Semitic cartoons published in Muslim media.
In the Mohammed cartoon controversy, the Western world faces fundamental questions involving the nature of Western identity; the internal solidarity of the Western world; the extent to which Western societies can be intimidated; how to confront Muslim violence; whether a Western Islam can evolve; and to what extent some Muslims living in the West are a fifth column for a violent non-Western culture. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Target Aid to Help Hamas Fail - Michael Herzog (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
IDF Brig.-Gen. Michael Herzog, a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute, testified on March 8, 2006, before the House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia.
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