Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Iran Has Missiles to Carry Nuclear Warheads - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
- April 6, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Why Cut Assistance to the Hamas Government?
Palestinian Sues PA in U.S. Court, Says Tortured for Helping Israel (AP/Newsday)
Hamas' Counterpart in India - Animesh Roul
(Terrorism Monitor-Jamestown Foundation)
Anti-Israel Bias at Colleges Scrutinized - Mary Beth Marklein (USA Today)
UK Weighs Greater Control of Fundamentalist Wahhabi Schools - Sadaf Meehan
Israel Leads World in Engineers - Navit Zomer (Ynet News)
Execs: McAfee Came to Israel to Buy (UPI)
Rhode Island Church Helps Muslim Girl Treated in Israeli Hospital - Paul Davis (Providence Journal)
Lost Cousins Reunite After 66 Years - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
After an exhaustive review, the U.S. plans to terminate assistance for building projects in Palestinian territories and redirect much of its annual aid toward basic humanitarian needs such as education, health, and food, as well as increased assistance for democracy promotion, Bush administration officials said Thursday. The UN Relief and Works Agency is set to receive about a 30% increase in aid.
The shift in aid priorities was set in motion after the election victory by the radical Islamic organization Hamas in January. Shortly after Hamas won, the U.S. and other key bankrollers of the PA said they would end assistance as soon as Hamas took control of the cabinet, unless the organization recognized the right of Israel to exist. Adding to the pressure on Hamas, U.S. officials appear increasingly confident that Arab governments that have traditionally backed the PA, such as Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya, and the UAE, will begin to limit their support in the wake of the Hamas victory. (Washington Post)
See also House Committee Passes PA Ban Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives' International Relations Committee on Thursday approved a bill banning aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority. (JTA)
See also below Observations: Unconditional Aid Destroys Economic Growth and Infantilizes Its Recipients - Irwin M. Stelzer (Weekly Standard)
President Bush said Thursday: "I'm also a president who believed that the Palestinians needed to have elections. There's an interesting debate in Washington, is do you wait for the conditions to be perfect before elections, that the institutions be in place before there are elections, or do you have elections as a step toward a civil society and a democratic society? As you know, I've taken the latter rather than the former, and encouraged the Palestinian elections."
"Our posture at this point in time is to say to the Palestinians, Hamas, get rid of it; get rid of that platform. It's not a peaceful platform. It's a war-like platform. We want there to be two states side-by-side in peace. We've also said, we'll help the people, but not the government. You know, somebody said, well, you support elections. I said, yes, I do. I don't necessarily have to like who wins. But I do think it was a necessary part of the evolution of the state to have the Palestinian people be able to say, we're sick of it. We're sick of the status quo. We want something differently. We want a government that's honest, and we want a government that listens to our demands. I thought it was a positive development. And now, I would strongly urge the Hamas government to change their tune and their rhetoric about Israel and advocate the peace and work toward a civil society that will yield to lasting peace." (White House)
See also Palestinian PM Refuses to Recognize Israel - Steven Gutkin (AP/Washington Post)
It's not often the U.S., Israel, and the Gulf Arab states worry about the same thing. But right now, they are all focused on Iran. The country's spiraling militarism - trumpeted this week in missile tests and military maneuvers - plus its influence in Iraq and its controversial president, appear to be making some Arab states more nervous that there could be future menace in Tehran's ways. Many Arab countries backed Saddam Hussein in Iraq's 1980s war against Iran. They also have worried for decades that Iran's Shiite-majority Islamic theocracy could spill over onto into their largely Sunni countries, all of which have Shiite minorities.
Arab Gulf countries have offered quiet support for moves against Iran's nuclear program, which many fear is aimed at creating weapons, said Dubai-based political analyst Abdul Khaleq Abdulla. In addition, top intelligence officers from several Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have been meeting in hopes of forging a coordinated effort to block Iran's interference in Iraq, several Arab diplomats said this week.
The Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassah said Wednesday that Iran's military swagger resembled that of Gamal Abdul Nasser's Egypt and Saddam's Iraq just before they provoked punishing attacks by the West. "A future war will destroy everything Iran has achieved in a matter of days, if not hours, as happened in the case of Saddam," wrote Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, director of Al-Arabiya TV, in Monday's Asharq al-Awsat. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
On average, Palestinians in Gaza fire 20 to 25 rockets at Israel every week, but 40 rockets have been fired since Sunday. Security officials said there has been a rise in Kassam rocket attacks in 2006. Officials also said terror groups are ever more motivated to dispatch suicide bombers to Israel and shoot at Israeli cars traveling in the West Bank. Officials linked the rise to unprecedented sums of money transferred from Lebanon, Syria, and Iran to Palestinian terror groups.
Abu Ahmad, a commander of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in northern Gaza, said: "We open fire from anywhere, at any time we choose, out of houses, groves, vehicles....There is no chance that the resistance will stop or the rocket launching will stop. The only changes we're considering regarding the Kassam rocket launchings relate to their precision and distance. The rockets caused the disengagement and no one will stop them." (Ynet News)
See also IDF and Kassam Rockets: Zero Tolerance - Amos Harel
The first arena of conflict between Israel and the new Hamas government has been determined in the wake of ongoing Kassam rocket fire on the Negev - the Gaza Strip. Israel will intentionally escalate its responses; targets are closely scrutinized before approval. Israel says that since Gaza is under total Palestinian control, the PA is responsible for terror that emanates from it. The policy is therefore one of zero tolerance. (Ha'aretz)
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday appointed Gen. Rashid Abu Shabak, the commander of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank and Gaza, to the newly-created post of director-general of internal security, in a move aimed at preventing the Hamas cabinet from taking control of the PA security forces. "Abu Shabak will now be in charge of the security forces," said a top Abbas aide. "Hamas is responsible for directing the traffic and recruiting firemen."
On Wednesday, Abbas issued another "presidential decree" placing the border crossings under his direct control. Last month Abbas, in another "presidential decree," placed the PA electronic and print media under his exclusive control. "Abbas and Fatah are actually engaged in the process of hijacking the Palestinian Authority despite the fact that we lost the election," said a former Fatah legislator. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Hamas Rejects Abbas Security Plan
The Palestinian prime minister has rejected a decision by PA Chairman Abbas to assume security control over the Gaza Strip's border crossings. Ismail Haniyeh said on Thursday: "The government does not accept the creation of parallel bodies that may take away its authority. This is an elected government, not an appointed one. Brother Abu Mazen (Abbas) confirmed to me more than once that he will not touch the authority of the current government." (Aljazeera.net)
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told the European Parliament Wednesday that Hamas' political program "is unfortunately unacceptable to the international community." Solana said PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has not given a clear indication "that the Hamas government is prepared to respect the principles established by the European Union: eschewing the use of violence as a means of settling the conflict, recognizing the State of Israel, and observing the agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel."
Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said that Israel "welcomed" Solana's statement that Hamas had clearly not met the benchmarks established by the international community. "Until it does so," Regev said, "Hamas will not be considered a legitimate political interlocutor." Regarding Solana's call for Israel to transfer revenue payments to the PA, Regev asked, "Can anyone guarantee that money that is transferred today to the Hamas-controlled treasury will not come back to haunt us in the future in the form of suicide bombings?" (Jerusalem Post)
Fearing a harsh Israeli response, Syrian military forces stationed along the border with the Golan Heights are under orders to prevent al-Qaeda and global Jihad cells from launching anti-Israel attacks from Syrian soil, a senior IDF officer said Thursday. While Israel's northern border with Syria was quiet, IDF units were on constant high alert, with the main potential threat coming from global Jihad cells in Syria, the officer said.
"The Syrian troops prevent the terror groups from even getting close to the border and do not allow them to launch attacks from within Syria," the officer said. "Just like Assad, [Hizballah leader] Nasrallah also doesn't want al-Qaeda operating in southern Lebanon," the officer said. However, Assad was transferring weaponry to Hizballah as well as funds to Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the officer. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hamas and the Palestinians
Israeli intelligence assessments of the November 9, 2005, Amman suicide attacks suggest jihadist groups are working to acquire operational footholds close to Israel's borders. Jordanian assessments oppose any Gaza-style Israeli unilateral disengagement from the West Bank for fear that warlords, jihadists, and armed militias would fill the resulting security vacuum. Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups could find fertile ground in the West Bank to strike at both the Hashemite kingdom and the Jewish state.
West Bankers see prosperous East Bank Palestinian families well-integrated into the Jordanian system, owning majority stakes in Jordan's banking, industrial, commerce, and agricultural sectors. The current situation creates a stark choice for moderate West Bank Palestinians: either link up with Islamist and anarchic Gaza, or tie the West Bank's future to a relatively affluent and stable Jordan that has a good working relationship with neighboring Israel. (Middle East Quarterly)
Tactically, at this stage, the most important thing for Hamas is buying time. The movement needs quiet in order to get organized, to strengthen itself, to nurture its rare, first victory, in the wake of which a Sunni Muslim regime has been established. Yet it will maintain quiet only for a limited period. In the meantime, extremist elements, like the Iranians, will filter into the Palestinian territories.
One possibility is that the government of Israel will make a massive disengagement-convergence move. Hamas will see this as Israel running away again. The Palestinians, and not only Hamas, will refuse to see the line of the new "convergence" as an agreed-upon border. It is clear that the new line that will be drawn will also be a new basis for the continuation of the war against Israel, as happened in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
A recent article in the Guardian by the new Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, was perfectly tailored for a liberal Western readership, presenting his movement, Hamas, as advocates for peace. One should judge Hamas, however, by more than articles intended for Western eyes. Hamas' own charter declares that "Israel will...continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it," while Khaled Mashaal, Hamas' most senior leader, promised Israelis after the Palestinian elections: "God willing, before they die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day."
The "moderate" Hamas rhetoric differs from the more extreme kind only in the method by which Israel is to be removed from the map. Hamas rejects negotiation, concessions, unilateral withdrawals, and recognition of Israel. It seems the Palestinians are sticking to their tried and tested "policy" of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The writer is Israel's ambassador in London. (Guardian-UK)
The mindset of most outsiders, including international negotiators in the Quartet, is still framed by the Oslo accords of the early 1990s. The so-called road map to a two-state solution is rooted in the idea that the peace process that began then can be revived. Talk to Israelis or Palestinians in such terms and the response falls somewhere along a spectrum from pity to contempt. Whatever lip-service may still be paid to Oslo, both sides will tell you that the approach was long ago overtaken by events. The moment for grand bargains in American log cabins has passed. (Financial Times-UK)
The Harvard/Chicago Paper on the Israel Lobby
What would motivate two recognized academics to issue a compilation of previously made assertions that they must know will be used by overt anti-Semites to argue that Jews have too much influence, that will give an academic imprimatur to crass bigotry, and that will place all Jews in government and the media under suspicion of disloyalty to America?
Imagine if two professors compiled as many negative statements, based on shoddy research and questionable sources, about African-Americans causing all the problems in America, and presented that compilation as evidence that African-Americans behave in a manner contrary to the best interest of the United States. No matter how many footnotes there were, who would fail to recognize such a project as destructive? I challenge Mearsheimer and Walt to look me in the eye and tell me that because I am a proud Jew and a critical supporter of Israel, I am disloyal to my country. (Kennedy School of Government-Harvard University)
When the Israeli prime minister visits Washington in the coming months he will have a chance to see first-hand just how worried Israel's friends there are. The latest storm is a study released by Harvard professor Stephen Walt and the University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer. Their central claim is that the high level of coordination between Israel and the United States does not serve U.S. interests, and in practice stems from agitation by the country's "Zionist lobby."
The truth is that the web of U.S.-Israel relations rests on joint interests and values, and that those ties have been built and developed - as is customary between countries - by governmental personalities on both sides. The architects of those ties - again, as is customary - have been U.S. presidents on one side, and Israeli prime ministers on the other, just as the "special relationship" between Britain and the U.S has been guided by ties between Roosevelt and Churchill, Kennedy and MacMillan, Thatcher and Reagan and Bush Sr., Tony Blair and Clinton and Bush Jr. Prof. Arad is the Founding Head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Ynet News)
The central issue raised by "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" is: Whose voice is legitimate, and who speaks with treasonous intent? Once you subtract the Daughters of the American Revolution and the descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the rest of America is hyphenated in one way or another. If I was a Ukrainian-American, am I automatically suspect because I plead for an American policy that would resist Russian pressure against Kiev?
Democracy is about "We the People." In the American case, "We" are no longer white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The secret of this oldest democracy is the universalism that has preempted European-style religious and ideological bloodshed. In America, everybody has a share, and it's all voting stock. The writer is publisher-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit. (New Republic)
A consensus of Americans across party-lines and religious affiliation identify with Israel not because they do the bidding of the Elders of Zion, but because they see it as a democratic state in a sea of Arab tyranny with its roots in a common Judeo-Christian civilization. No one has to bribe or hornswoggle ordinary Americans to back Israel. Whether they base their support on the Bible or on sympathy with a fellow democracy afflicted by terrorists, the American love affair with the Jewish state has withstood the assaults of a biased media (another point Mearsheimer and Walt get completely wrong) and demagogic attacks from the extreme left and right.
Though the U.S. is Israel's only real ally, it is far from obsequious in its dealings with Jerusalem. For decades, Washington has placed constant pressure on Israel to make concessions for the sake of an ephemeral peace process. Unlike our European "allies," Israel has not required America to deploy massive armies in its defense. The writer is executive editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. (Jerusalem Post)
A controversial, at times vicious, article in the London Review of Books argues that the Israeli lobby in Washington has somehow forced the U.S. government to favor Israel's interests over its own. Unfortunately the article is riddled with factual errors and comes off more as a polemic than a reasoned argument. The authors are shockingly naive in their understanding of American ethnic politics or, for that matter, how policy is made in Washington. They are also blind to the implications of their charges of dual loyalty of American Jews who have served in government or think tanks or worked for the media. In that, there is the noxious odor of anti-Semitism, intended or not.
After the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel accepted the UN plan for an exchange of that land in return for peace. The Arab response was the famous three no's: no negotiations, no recognition, no peace. Every time there has been a real attempt to negotiate land for peace, Israel has responded positively, whether it be after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat went to Jerusalem in 1977 or the Oslo Accords of 1992.
The authors contend the neo-conservative Israeli lobby forced the Bush administration into invading Iraq to help Israel. This borders on silly. The decision was made by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, none of them part of the neo-conservative, pro-Israel cabal that the authors say pushed the nation to war. (Newsday)
See also Wartime Witch Hunt: Blaming Israel for the Iraq War - Dore Gold (JCPA)
In Iraq, Arab Sunnis constitute only 20% of the population. They tormented and exploited their Shia neighbors for many generations. Now, because they are threatened with loss of their power, they attack their fellow-citizens, driving them out of mixed communities. Why should the Iraqi Sunnis now be the object of so much American and coalition solicitude?
Putting the interest of the Sunnis before all else means more Wahhabi terror and more separation, as well as continued obstacles to economic reform and further social disintegration. It also means the reinforcement of extremist ideology in Saudi Arabia, and greater instability in Jordan, as well as heightened anxieties over Iran. Appeasing the radical Sunnis will not quiet them; rather, it will encourage them to further defiance. Who stands behind the imposition of such policies? The Saudi kingdom acts throughout the Sunni Muslim world, protecting those with whom it feels a pseudo-religious affinity. (TCS Daily)
It is understandable that Rachel Corrie's friends and family want to keep her memory alive. But whether Corrie's message deserves to be propagated and celebrated by audiences in theater productions such as "My Name is Rachel Corrie" and "Daughter Courage" is a different story. Corrie was an idealist; but her idealism ended up channeled through the radical International Solidarity Movement, an organization that not only puts at risk the lives of Israeli civilians but also the lives of its members. ISM tells its young followers that Palestinians have the right to armed attacks against Israelis, while at the same time making clear that Israel has no right to protect its citizens.
The group's narrative obscures the fact that Palestinian terrorism began even before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, that Israel acquired those territories in a war precipitated by neighboring countries openly threatening to destroy the Jewish state, and that Israel repeatedly offered to turn over land to the Palestinians. Hamas, whose charter makes clear that the group's violence against Israeli civilians is rooted in racist ideology and is aimed at destroying Israel, is invisible in the Middle East portrayed by ISM. ISM's simplistic views are more geared toward building hatred against Israel than toward forwarding peace, human rights, or justice. The writer is a senior research analyst with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
As someone who has been involved in Israeli-Palestinian dialogue for many years, I believe that I had some feel for the audience of over 1,000 Malaysians that I was to address as part of a panel on religious dialogue. As both a religious Jew and a faculty member of Bar-Ilan University, which is a Jewish religious university, I wore a kippa (Jewish religious skullcap) at the conference. The chairman introduced me as from Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and part of the audience applauded.
Why does this approach to dialogue - a cultural religious approach - seem to offer possibilities where other forms of dialogue and peace-building might not? On a basic level, one aspect is that of commonalty - no two religions are more similar in structure and practice than Judaism and Islam. This connects to the literature in social psychology and relationship-building of finding commonalities between groups in conflict. The writer is an Associate of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
There is a radical difference in basic culture between the EU and Israel. The EU is a new, unprecedented type of entity unless one goes back to the Roman or Holy Roman Empire. It eludes the ideas of nationalism, cultural uniqueness, and separate states. This results from two devastating wars that ruined Europe's culture. European governments focus on their citizens' welfare while neglecting security risks.
Europe is busy with current issues and therefore cannot devote adequate attention to the long-term future. Israel, on the other hand, is a country based on an ideology. It is faced by multiple enemies, many of which wish - or at least dream - to eliminate it. Israel is situated between Europe and the Islamic world. The former is currently peaceful, though starting to face up to the new external terrorism. The latter is in turbulent transformation with much violence. Yehezkel Dror is professor of political science (emeritus) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who held senior advisory positions in the offices of Israel's prime minister and defense minister. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Former police spokesman Gil Kleiman recalls with clarity the day he realized he'd witnessed one too many suicide bombings. "I just started crying in my office," he says. "I picked up the phone to call the police psychologist, but I could not speak in a coherent sentence." It was exactly one week after the suicide bombing at the Stage nightclub in Tel Aviv in February 2005, the 47th suicide bombing Kleiman had witnessed in less than four years as Israel Police liaison for the foreign media. "I've seen hundreds of dead bodies," says New York native Kleiman, 48, who moved to Israel in the early 1980s.
Now retired from the force, Kleiman spends some of his spare time volunteering at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, trying to reach others who are in similar need of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome counseling. He continues: "The inner circle of bomb technicians and forensic experts - those who have to take off their shoes after a bombing before they enter their house - are the ones who need the most help." (Jerusalem Post)
Unconditional Aid Destroys Economic Growth and Infantilizes Its Recipients - Irwin M. Stelzer (Weekly Standard)
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