Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Islamist Gang "Plotted to Bomb Biggest Nightclub in London" - Nicola Woolcock (Times-UK)
- May 25, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Protecting the Unity of Jerusalem
Islamic Jihad Member Killed in Lebanon Car Bomb (Reuters/ Washington Post)
Iranians Pledge to Become Suicide Bombers - Brian Murphy (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Zarqawi Backers Lay Down Sharia Rules - Sharon Behn (Washington Times)
Hospital Shootout in Gaza Power Struggle - Stephen Farrell (Times-UK)
Palestinians Testing Gaza Fence Security - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
Teaching Johnny About Islam (Investors.com)
European NGOs Against Israel - Interview with
Gerald Steinberg (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Tucson Doctors Explore Disaster Medicine in Israel - Phyllis Braun (Arizona Jewish Post)
Trash Treatment Plant Makes Clean Energy - Leah Krauss (UPI)
Jamaica, Israel Partner in New Transshipment Center - Julian Richardson (Jamaica Observer)
Israeli Archaeologists Find Underground Tunnels (AP/Albuquerque Tribune)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he would call a referendum on a proposal for a Palestinian state that would recognize Israel, if the governing Hamas party failed to accept the plan within ten days. Abbas seems to be gambling that he can force his Fatah party and Hamas to agree on a broad framework for dealing with Israel, which Hamas now refuses to recognize. But he runs the risk of provoking a political showdown. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, described Abbas' announcement as an internal Palestinian matter. In the past Israel has strongly rejected two of the plan's provisions: returning to pre-1967 borders and giving Palestinian refugees the right to return to lands they left in 1948. (New York Times)
Syria has jailed writers, activists, and intellectuals over the past week in the largest crackdown on internal dissent since 2001. The crackdown is aimed mostly at signatories of a declaration demanding that Syria improve relations with Lebanon. "The government wants to forbid any kind of dissent or opposition so when the results of the international investigation [into last year's assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister] come out, the regime will have complete control of the country," says Yassin Haj-Saleh, an opposition figure who also signed the declaration but has not yet been arrested. With international pressure now focused on Iran and on Hamas, some believe the arrests are a sign that the Syrian government has weathered the storm. (Christian Science Monitor)
Thousands of Israelis waving national flags marched through the streets of Jerusalem Thursday, celebrating the 39th anniversary of the reunification of the city during the Six-Day War in 1967. The message of Jerusalem Day is that the city is Jewish. "Jerusalem was born Jewish," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at a ceremony on a Six-Day War battlefield, and today, more than ever, it is Jewish, complete, and united. (Voice of America News)
See also Prime Minister's Speech at Jerusalem Day Ceremony (Prime Minister's Office)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel has agreed to the transfer of a limited amount of weapons and ammunition to the PA's presidential guard in light of growing threats to Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' life. Senior defense sources said Thursday that the arms will be delivered by either Egypt or Jordan. (Ha'aretz)
Undercover IDF soldiers entered Ramallah Wednesday to arrest Mahmoud Shubaki, head of the Islamic Jihad in Kalkilya, who had moved to Ramallah at the beginning of the year to establish a terror network. Shubaki did not resist arrest. However IDF forces in the city were attacked by Palestinians. The IDF said five armed Palestinians shot at them and the soldiers returned fire killing four men, all in their 20s. IDF sources said, "Clearly we would have preferred for the operation to go smoothly, without Palestinian casualties. But innocent people or children were not hit. The soldiers were shot at and returned fire." (Ha'aretz)
See also UK Foreign Office Condemns IDF Operation in Ramallah - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians detonated a roadside bomb against an IDF patrol along the Gaza security fence Thursday evening near Kerem Shalom. No soldiers were hurt. (Jerusalem Post)
A gunfight between Palestinian security forces and the newly established Hamas militia Thursday left one police officer dead and four others wounded in the latest outbreak of internal Palestinian fighting. (AP/Ynet News)
See also Hamas Militia Ordered Off Gaza Streets - Nidal al-Mughrabi
The Hamas-led Palestinian government ordered its militia off Gaza's streets on Friday in the wake of clashes with Mahmoud Abbas' rival Fatah movement. Youssef al-Zahar, a leader of the Hamas force, said the interior minister had ordered the pullback. "We have received orders to withdraw from the streets and to concentrate in certain locations to be ready to rush to the scene when needed to confront chaos," Zahar said. (Reuters/Washington Post)
See also Balance of Forces in Gaza - Amos Harel
In Gaza, while most of the Palestinian public backs Hamas, the advantage of weaponry goes to Fatah, which has tens of thousands of armed men at its disposal. In the West Bank, an Israeli security official says, the news about establishment of the Hamas government is barely a rumor. Hamas has not been able to enforce its authority on the military forces there and its ministers do not dare tour neighborhoods that are considered Fatah strongholds. Israel's office for coordination of activities in the territories describes the economic situation in Gaza as a severe recession, but not hunger. Goods are still available on the shelves and there is a six-week stock of flour. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Differing Perspectives on Israeli Prime Minister's Visit to Washington
Though they paid lip service to continued Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in effect inaugurated an entirely different process at their White House meeting Tuesday - one in which Israel will parley with the U.S. about the new borders it intends to draw for itself. Despite his promise to pursue talks with Mahmoud Abbas, Olmert has made clear that he doesn't believe Israel will be able to work with the Palestinian Authority anytime soon.
Olmert has now won Bush's de facto consent to pursue a unilateral "realignment," in which Israel would draw a border of its own choosing in the West Bank, dismantle some of the settlements that lie beyond it, and thereby "guarantee Israel's security as a Jewish state with the borders it desires." But as Olmert acknowledged, there is one crucial condition: Israel cannot successfully impose its plan on the Palestinians unless it has "the comprehensive support of the United States and the international community." (Washington Post)
As usual, it was in Olmert's private talks with Bush, Rice, Hadley, and Rumsfeld that the important understandings were reached - or not reached. Hints point to a cooperative atmosphere but also a healthy administration skepticism about Olmert's still-preliminary proposal to draw Israel's final borders unilaterally. Olmert cannot come to Washington to negotiate a final-status agreement. The road map that Bush continues to commend to Israel as the unaltered basis of U.S. policy requires Israel to negotiate its permanent borders only with Palestinians, not with Americans. (Boston Globe)
Bush hailed Olmert's "bold ideas," but those around Olmert were a little disappointed that the American embrace of "realignment" was so tepid and conditional. Bush insisted first on a sincere effort to restart serious negotiations toward peace with Mahmoud Abbas, and of course Olmert said that was what he wanted, too. The U.S. wants to boost Abbas and is therefore insisting that Olmert treat him with respect, as a negotiating partner, rather than treat him with the indifference and contempt shown by the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. At the same time, senior American officials have few expectations that Abbas can deliver. (New York Times)
The Americans made it clear that they will not recognize the borders that Israel sets for itself without Palestinian approval. In exchange, Olmert softened his statements. The "permanent borders" he promised to shape have been turned into "defense borders." The settlement blocs will be annexed to Israel only as part of the final-status agreement. (Ha'aretz)
In their dealings with the Palestinians, the U.S. and Israel are engaged in a charade. The reality is that the road map has been in tatters since it was first agreed upon in 2003. In the face of unremitting hostility by Hamas to the existence of a Jewish state, Israel's prime minister has said he will attempt to negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas. But Abbas is a busted flush, unable to deliver anything. (Telegraph-UK)
Not long ago Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, and apart from applause it has not yet received anything in return. Did the move justify the expectations? Martin Indyk and Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy wrote: No American president can seriously consider rejecting an Israeli proposal for withdrawal and evacuation of settlements. This will ensure Israel applause, but not much more than that.
It is not American money that will take Israel out of there, nor a vague promise of ending the demands - which in any case would be a promise written in the sand in an unstable region. Israel will evacuate settlements of its own accord, taking into consideration the costs and the benefits. Or it will decide not to. This is a sign of a mature state, with the ability to decide alone and take responsibility for its actions - even if Uncle Sam is not available at the moment to nod his head and approve. (Ha'aretz)
Abbas' shock proposal to hold a referendum on creating a Palestinian state is a desperate gamble to save his weakened position. Declaring statehood in this manner would be popular with Palestinians, and opinion polls suggest that the plan would win 80% support. If Hamas was forced to honor that decision by popular mandate, it would de facto recognize Israel's right to exist. It would also endorse a "two-state solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict and probably open the way to lifting the U.S.-led financial embargo against the Palestinian Authority.
If rival Palestinian movements can build a unity government, recognize Israel's existence, and restore credibility to Abbas' leadership, the whole political landscape in the region will change. That is a big "if." "This is a high-risk strategy for Abbas," said a Western diplomat. "If it fails, that's it for him." (Times-UK)
A new Palestinian state, carved out of Gaza and the West Bank and governed by Palestinian Arab jihadists, would be a recipe for disaster. Indeed, drawing up a two-state solution now would be tantamount to opening the gates to barbarians. A hastened pullout would unleash a wave of Islamic fundamentalist terror on Israel as well as Arab lands, without resolving anything for Palestinian Arabs. Palestinian Arabs are far from ready to run anything - let alone a country in the tinderbox that is the Middle East.
A few days ago, Egypt asserted that the perpetrators of the most recent deadly bombings of tourist resorts in the Red Sea were trained, equipped, and "weaponized" ideologically as well as physically by Muslim Palestinian jihadists in Gaza and the West Bank. The last thing anyone wants to do is give such folks a green light to widen the scope of their operations. No responsible party can give such people an area of operation under the name of Palestine.
Should anyone allow this, Israel will be the last to suffer from it. With superb intelligence and technology, it will take care of itself. The question should instead be about the Arabs who live in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and beyond. Most of them are governed by failed regimes, teetering on the brink of collapse with jihadists nipping at their heels and corruption eating their entrails. Giving Muslim fundamentalists a base in Palestine from which to operate and finish off these dying regimes would be unconscionable.
A two-state Palestinian-Israeli solution may be possible one day. But not today. The Palestinian Arabs, who just elected a radical, mindless, bloody Islamic fundamentalist regime, Hamas, as their first freely elected government, have not demonstrated they deserve further indulgence. (New York Sun)
Hamas is a terrorist organization that promised to wipe Israel from the map. When a suicide bomb exploded in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago, Hamas applauded. Hamas is standing firm in its hatred: It will not recognize Israel, renounce violence, or hew to previous agreements. No one argues with sending medicine to the Palestinians. But Western governments must be careful that the trickle doesn't become a surge of money that would spill into salaries for security forces.
The elected representatives of the Palestinians can feed their hatred of Israel and stand proud in their celebration of violence and their refusal to negotiate. If so, they can watch their people sink further into poverty and desperation. Unfortunately, Hamas seems only too willing to exploit the suffering of its people for political purposes. (Chicago Tribune)
In the early days of Lebanon's Civil War, Palestinian leaders in Beirut famously argued that "the road to Jerusalem passes through Jounieh," implying that it was necessary for the Palestinians to trample and destroy Lebanese Christian militias before they could create a Palestinian state. The irony that Jounieh is a Christian town to the north of Beirut - in the opposite direction as Palestine - was as lost on as many Palestinian leaders then as it is now. A Palestinian state cannot be created through the elimination of any other entity. If the Palestinians fail to rally behind a single, peaceful agenda, they will be closing off the only path - diplomacy - that will lead to the creation of a viable Palestinian state. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
All of a sudden, revolutionary Iran has offered direct talks with the United States. It is not rare to see a regime such as Iran's - despotic, internally weak, feeling the world closing in - attempt so transparent a ploy to relieve pressure on itself. Concerted sanctions by America, Europe, and other economic powers could have devastating effects on Iran and its shaky clerical dictatorship, which is why the mullahs launched this recent initiative. The very fact that Iran is desperately trying to change the venue and shift the burden onto the U.S. shows how close the mullahs believe we are to achieving major international pressure on them. Pushing Washington to abandon the multilateral process and enter negotiations alone would short-circuit the process that, after years of dithering, is about to yield its first fruits: sanctions that Tehran fears. (Washington Post)
See also It's Time to Engage with Iran - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
Syria continues to occupy the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Lebanese who visited the Bekaa several weeks ago said they saw Syrian military forces on Lebanese territory. Last week, the Lebanese Army clashed with members of Fatah Uprising, a Palestinian rejectionist group based in Damascus. After the fighting began, Palestinians based in Syria sent 50 fighters, as well as trucks, jeeps, and an anti-aircraft gun, across the border to aid the Fatah group in combating the Lebanese Army. Syria, in short, is subverting Lebanon by proxy. (Washington Times)
Another academic boycott of Israel is being organized in Britain. The organizers are not a majority but clearly rather a small minority. However, there are no initiatives for boycotts against other countries: not against Iran, which is denying the Holocaust and threatening to destroy Israel; not against Sudan, which is committing genocide in Darfur; not against Saudi Arabia, where people are executed for religious infractions; and not against China, which is carrying out oppression in Tibet and Shenzhen. Nor is the hated United States being boycotted.
When I was on sabbatical at Oxford University in 2003-2005, I was astonished to see how many professors and students identified Zionism with racism, imperialism, and colonialism. In these circles there is no understanding at all of the Jewish history of pogroms, persecution, and deportations, or of the meaning of the Holocaust. They do not know, and they do not want to know, that we have historical roots in this country, that our language is non-European, that half of the Jews in Israel did not come from Europe, that those who did come from Europe were considered alien and shunned "Semites" there, and that the Zionists had no colonialist mother country. The writer is a professor of political science at the Open University. (Ha'aretz)
See also Stop the British Academic Boycott of Israel - Colin Shindler
The writer lectures in Israeli Studies at the University of London. (Jerusalem Post)
"Israel's right to exist is today the international criterion for distinguishing between the terrorist camp and the camp of life," says Magdi Allam, the Egyptian-Italian journalist and writer who is now visiting Israel. "On one side, there is the Hamas government, Iran, fundamentalist Islam and even parts of the extreme left and right in Europe." On the other side, he says, are Western countries and "supporters of the right to live." The West, he believes, does not understand that it is under attack, and is trying to conduct a dialogue with the Muslims attacking it. Allam, 54, immigrated to Italy some 30 years ago and is today the deputy editor of Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest newspaper. (Ha'aretz)
Whenever Donna Rosenthal, on a tour of the U.S. to talk about her book The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land, arrives at a TV studio, she carries a cassette to provide viewers with a new experience of Israel, pictures of an Ethiopian-born Israeli serving as a pilot, or high-tech Israeli industrial plants. Whenever she speaks about Israel's Arab population, she shows a copy of an Arab-language lifestyle magazine with photos of beautiful, young Arab-Israeli women.
At one Ivy League university, a student was surprised to learn that it was not Israelis who carry out suicide attacks; at a rabbinical school, not one was aware that Muslims and Christians serve in the IDF; in Silicon Valley, a group of students was amazed to hear that Israel has a flourishing hi-tech industry; and everywhere, audiences expressed little or no understanding of Israel's ethnic and racial diversity.
The stereotypical way in which outsiders view Israel was evident during the designing of the book's jacket, the first draft of which portrayed a haredi man holding a shofar and a Muslim wearing a keffiyeh. It took some persuading on Rosenthal's part to replace the archaic images with young, Western-looking girls, a teenager chewing bubble gum, and a woman soldier. (Jerusalem Post)
At a time when the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza are teetering on the brink of a collapse, Israeli growth - with a 6.6% GDP rise in the first quarter of 2006 - has returned to the torrid pace set before the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising. It's also a recognition of a growing separation between the Israeli and Palestinian economies. Per-capita income - a measure of the standard of living - is 17 times higher in Israel than among its neighbors from the West Bank and Gaza. Now the possibility of full economic disengagement looms. (Christian Science Monitor)
See also Israeli Business Sector Shines Despite Dangers - Abraham Rabinovich
Sever Plotzker, economics editor of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, noted that Israel's business-sector GDP growth rate of 10.6% outpaced even China's, as did the industrial sector's 27% annualized growth. (Washington Times)
Rita Katz, who was born in Iraq and speaks fluent Arabic, spends hours each day monitoring the password-protected online chat rooms in which Islamic terrorists discuss politics and trade tips: how to disperse botulinum toxin or transfer funds, which suicide vests work best. Katz, who is the head of the Search for International Terrorist Entities, or SITE Institute, and her researchers mine online sources for intelligence. She has worked with prosecutors on more than a dozen terrorism investigations, and many American officers in Iraq rely on Katz's e-mails to brief their troops on the designs for explosives that are passed around terrorist websites. (New Yorker)
Today's terrorists have access to computers, the Internet, and cyberspace's myriad technological benefits in conducting communications and warfare. Gabriel Weimann's groundbreaking book, Terror on the Internet, published by the U.S. Institute of Peace, points to the exponential growth in such use since 1998, when less than half of the world's 30 active terrorist organizations had established a presence on the Net, compared to today when the 40 active groups have more than 4,300 websites serving them and their supporters. (Washington Times)
66 years ago, Hiram Bingham IV, a blue-blood American diplomat in France, defied U.S. policy by helping Jews escape the Nazis in the early years of World War II. Bingham's actions cost him his Foreign Service career but won him the undying gratitude of the more than 2,000 refugees he helped save by issuing them travel visas and false passports, and even at times sheltering them in his home. The Yale-educated son of a former U.S. senator, Bingham died in 1988 at age 84. His own children did not learn the extent of his wartime deeds until 1996, when a son found a cache of old journals and correspondence stashed in a hidden closet in the family's Connecticut home. The U.S. Postal Service issues a stamp next Wednesday in his honor. (Washington Post)
The Islamist Threat to Jordan - Nibras Kazimi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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