Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
Rally for Captured Israeli Soldier on Monday (Conference of Presidents)
- July 6, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Israel's Military Operation in Gaza
Hamas Works to Fire Rockets Deeper into Israel - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
Muhammed Deif Presents: Hamas' Military Academy - Roee Nachmias (Ynet News)
U.S. Army Sparks Fashion Craze in Militant Gaza - Charles Levinson (AFP/Yahoo)
Top Hamas Official Murdered in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
"Work Accident" Kills Two Hamas Terrorists (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
Palestinian Girl Killed in Clan Clash in Gaza (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
Israeli Arab Named Envoy to Greece - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Indonesian Business Delegation Visits Israel (People's Daily-China)
Israel Presses for Oil From Shale - Neal Sandler (Business Week/MSNBC)
The Psychology of Populations under Chronic Siege - Ken Levin (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
France, North America Lead Immigration to Israel (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Hamas-led Palestinian government told its security forces Thursday to fight Israeli troops moving into Gaza. Palestinian Interior Minister Saeed Siyyam told security forces to rise up and "confront this incursion." But it was unclear how many would heed his call. Most of those forces in Gaza are loyal to the Fatah party and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, not to Hamas or Siyyam. Abbas was not involved in the order to security forces to join the fray, said Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat.
"The purpose of Israel's limited incursion into the northern Gaza Strip is to halt the barrage of rockets and missiles that have been hitting Israeli population centers and Israeli cities and terrorizing the population," said Mark Regev, an Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman. "We will be there to reduce the threat. We have no intention of re-occupying Gaza, but it is our obligation to safeguard the lives of our citizens." (CNN)
On Thursday in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, a half-dozen Hamas gunmen, working quickly with an Israeli drone buzzing overhead, removed a half-dozen mines from duffel bags and placed them along the street, pushing piles of trash over them. Another fighter unspooled detonator wire, running it into the orchards after attaching it to the mines. He then poured sand over the wire to hide it. An elderly woman appeared in the street, shouting at the gunmen to stop their preparations. She was pushed aside. More and more gunmen appeared, some drawing rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from bags.
A cheer of "God is greatest" arose from a pack of children who had assembled to throw stones at the tanks. At al-Shifa Hospital, Wissam al-Sheik Khalil, 16, recovered from a bullet wound to his hip. He said Hamas gunmen forced him to carry an explosive charge across a street watched by Israeli soldiers. (Washington Post)
The shift is subtle but unmistakable. European governments - long accused of being pro-Arab - have toned down criticism of Israel, left in shock by the rise to power of Islamic Hamas which they consider a terrorist outfit. The election of Hamas has pulled the rug from under the EU's $626.5-million-a-year aid package to the Palestinians.
"The election of Hamas has...ended the almost automatic solidarity with the Palestinians," said Mark Leonard, a foreign policy analyst at London's Centre for European Reform. "They have disappointed Europeans by their divisions, their lack of organization, the spectacle of violence in Gaza" between various Palestinian factions, said Dominique Moisi of the French Institute for International Relations. "By refusing to recognize Israel's right to exist, Hamas has weakened the Palestinians' position considerably." (AP/Yahoo)
Acting on behalf of Arab nations, Qatar circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution Thursday demanding that Israel end its offensive in the Gaza Strip and release the Palestinian officials it has arrested. The draft faced immediate opposition from the U.S. and France, which called it unbalanced in its criticism of Israel. France's ambassador said he would offer changes, but U.S. Ambassador John Bolton suggested that Washington opposed the resolution entirely. Israel launched the offensive last week in response to the capture of an Israeli soldier. The document makes no mention of the kidnapping or of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. (AP/Washington Post)
Late last year, a freighter from North Korea docked at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf to deliver more than a dozen intermediate-range ballistic missiles, senior U.S. and Asian officials say. It was the first of at least two shipments of one of the newest missiles in the North Korean arsenal, U.S. officials say. The arms were adapted from a Soviet-era weapon, known in the West as the SS-N-6 and originally designed to launch nuclear warheads from submarines.
"There's a certain solidarity developing between these two members of the axis of evil," says Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert at the Congressional Research Service in Washington. The latest addition to Iran's missile force is a particular concern to Israel. Iran already has missiles that can reach Israel, but many analysts regard them as relatively inaccurate and unreliable. Israel's head of military intelligence asserted in April that Iran had received missiles from North Korea. (Wall Street Journal, 6Jul06)
See also The Global Range of Iran's Ballistic Missile Program - Uzi Rubin (ICA/JCPA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Gaza Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Israel's operation in northern Gaza "is aimed at creating the understanding among terror organizations that firing Kassams is not worthwhile." "The number of terrorists killed in such an operation and the general atmosphere - electricity blackouts, damaging routes...is what may eventually bring about an understanding on their part that firing at Israel is not worthwhile; that this is not an equation that they should be part of." "Eventually a critical mass is created which leads the Palestinians to stop and rethink - this is what we are trying to create." "Already now we have identified a great surprise among the Palestinians in terms of our response - they are in shock. They did not expect a series of such long operations over time."
"Gaza in the past ten months was also with an open pipe to Philadelphi [the Egyptian border], where numerous weapons have passed. The place is totally breached," Kochavi added. (Ynet News)
Palestinian sources in Gaza reported Friday that a gunman was killed and four were wounded from a missile fired by an Israel Air Force aircraft at the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya. On Thursday, five gunmen were killed and three others injured in an Air Force attack in northern Gaza. A Palestinian gunman was also killed in an IAF strike in Jabalya. (Ynet News)
See also Palestinians Flee Rocket Launching Area - Ali Waked
Palestinian sources reported that many residents from the town of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza have left their homes. The town is almost desolated, apart from gunmen in its alleys who are exchanging fire with IDF soldiers. (Ynet News)
Rockets fired by Palestinians Friday morning hit a factory near the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, causing damage and wounding one worker. Another rocket landed in Kibbutz Saad. The rest fell in Sderot where three residents were wounded by shrapnel. One rocket fell next to a bus stop half a minute before a bus arrived. (Ynet News)
A Kassam rocket landed Friday morning at the gas station in Kibbutz Gevim near Sderot, causing damage. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Kassam that landed in Ashkelon is not an escalation of violence. It is yet another rocket fired at Israel. Ashkelon is in the same boat as Sderot, which has been a target of Kassams for a whole year now. Israel lies within reach of all the weapons in the Arab world, but these countries are not firing at us. The very fact that population centers in Israel are under constant attack is a casus belli. No country in the world would stand for such a thing. Gaza must be dealt with on a trouble-spot basis, without a stopwatch in hand. We must go in and out as needed, and do whatever clean-ups need to be done. The point is not to go in there and stay.
Israel must insist that the PA take responsibility and crack down on this strange octopus-like creature that has a foreign arm and a domestic arm, a military arm and a prisoner arm, with Khaled Mashaal waving his baton over all of them and orchestrating from Damascus. Israel has no interest in making an innocent population suffer, but it must use force, properly and wisely meted out, to protect its citizens. (Ha'aretz)
PA Chair Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to terror and wants diplomatic negotiations, but he operates as a tortured intellectual and a commentator, rather than as an authoritative leader. The Hamas government, which at first showed promising signs of organization and discipline, has behaved like him and shrugged its shoulders during the kidnapping crisis. The events in Gaza have once again demonstrated that the essential condition for a quiet border is a responsible finger on the trigger on the other side. The conclusion we must come to is that until the appearance of a factor that will take control of security and weapons on the West Bank - Israel will not be able to withdraw from there. Negotiations with Abbas are not sufficient, nor is an agreement with him. (Ha'aretz)
Israel has often exchanged prisoners and negotiated with terrorists to gain the release of its soldiers and citizens. This time, however, some observers see a shift toward the hard-line stance of the U.S. and other countries that refuse to negotiate over captives. "Most Israelis saw the consequences of those bad deals," says Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli brigadier general who is an analyst at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv. "At the moment, it looks as if Israel is going to stand fast with its position that it's not going to give in to extortion."
"This is a very important moment in which we should be tough enough to make it very clear that Israel is not going to release anyone," says Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli intelligence officer who is an analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "Otherwise, you and I will not be in a position to walk free on the streets of Tel Aviv." (USA Today)
Israel's military strike at Gaza following the kidnapping of 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit is exactly right. Even more so with last week's news that Palestinian terrorists killed a young Jewish settler seized from the West Bank at the weekend. Last week's assault on a military post inside Israeli territory by members of three terror organizations including Hamas was a bridge too far. No one but the terrorists is responsible for the consequences for Palestinian civilians of their senseless and provocative act. (The Australian)
The terrorist groups that kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit demand that Israel release terrorists as "prisoners of war" in exchange for him. The distinction between military and civilian targets is a foundation stone of international humanitarian law. "War crimes" are acts that are not permissible even during a state of war and regardless of whether a state is otherwise legitimately exercising its right of self-defense. It is precisely this distinction that terrorists do not recognize and rampantly violate. Shalit was a military target, but this does not whitewash the status of the terrorists Hamas seeks to release from Israeli jails.
According to recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, there is no right or obligation to treat captured terrorists as prisoners of war. Moreover, even prisoners of war are not normally exchanged except in the context of a peace agreement. Israel's government is right, therefore, to have ruled out the release of convicted terrorists in Israeli jails. (Jerusalem Post)
While it's just so touching that Hamas, Fatah, and various other delinquents have turned their attention from shooting each other in the streets to presenting a unified front against their Zionist aggressors, it's even more heartening to see the terrorist coalition get stared down by a column of tanks. Because enough is enough. Palestinians using a hostage to try to extort outrageous demands from Israel has the effect of Israel taking the means necessary to get their man back.
I hate to break it to all those - within the UN and without - envisioning the Palestinian struggle to be a great stand for humanity, but the aggression is pretty one-sided. Israel does not sit around fantasizing about turning the Middle East and beyond into a Jewish theocracy. Young Israelis aren't strapping bombs to their midsections and blowing up restaurants, buses, and other gathering places for Palestinians. Israeli kids aren't given textbooks that deny the existence of Palestinian territories and aren't brainwashed about the glory of martyrdom. (National Review)
Gaza: Arab Perspectives
The Palestinians must be aware by now that they can no longer count on Arab help, economically, politically, or militarily. Arab nations have had enough of this endless tragedy. They've had enough of the slogans and rhetoric that gets us nowhere. Arab governments have run out of options. PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh isn't even asking the international community to intervene. He's aware that it was his movement that turned down the international community's pleas to recognize Israel.
The Palestinians have no hope of winning U.S. sympathy or Europe's support. And they have lost Arab backing, both on the official and non-official levels. Arab nations are simply too disappointed to react. In a region that is drowning in conflicts, from Iraq to Lebanon and from Sudan to Iran, the Palestinian problem is becoming just one of many. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
In his weekly column in Asharq al-Awsat, journalist Abed al-Rahman Rashad, CEO of the Arab news agency Al-Arabiya, wrote: "Hamas doesn't accept any opinion that is not its own opinion. It publicly rejected the united Arab stance and announced it would continue what it called the 'only method' (the armed struggle against Israel), despite the fact it knew that most Arab countries supported calm and opposed minor operations that complicate the situation and cause enormous damage, as we see today....No one has the right to ask for help from the Arab governments, as it was not they that advised this method of conduct....The ones who have become entangled and have tangled up the Palestinians in this battle carry joint responsibility, and they must prove the logic behind their actions. Did Israel lose, and how? Did the soldier's capture free even one single prisoner? And, was the result worth all the damage it caused?" (Ynet News)
Writing in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa on June 27 on "The Crime at the Kerem Shalom Crossing," Saudi columnist Yusuf Nasir Al-Suweidan said: "The tunnel dug by the terrorists from the Gaza Strip to the Kerem Shalom crossing took them outside the Palestinian border, and they used it to penetrate into Israel - an independent, sovereign, UN member state. There they perpetrated the crime of murdering two Israelis, kidnapping a third, and wounding others, with all the dangerous consequences that [such a] despicable attack has caused and will cause to the Palestinian side."
"The military, political, and economic balance of power, along with every other parameter, will always favor Israel to a considerable degree, so that the very notion of equilibrium between the two sides in the conflict is a wild fantasy....At present, what [the Palestinian masses] need most is food, medicines, clothing, and other essentials - not explosive belts, car bombs, and the slogan, 'Congratulations, oh Martyr, the black-eyed virgin awaits you.'" (MEMRI)
Why do the Palestinians continue to fire, now that Israel has left Gaza? Every rocket fired at Israel is a self-inflicted goal against the Palestinians. With every rocket, we lose international support. Palestinian national interests demand that the factions stop shooting into Israel immediately. The writer is editor of the Israeli Arab newspaper Kul al-Arab. (Ynet News)
The credibility of the flagship of UN "reform," the newly created Human Rights Council, sunk during its first session, which ended on June 30. When the Council replaced the discredited Commission on Human Rights, serial human-rights abusers were elected members right from the start. The Council decided that the program for the first session should begin with the "human rights situation in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine." The Council placed criticism of Israel permanently on the agenda of all future sessions when it gave the special investigator on Israel what amounted to a permanent mandate. On its final day, the Council passed just one resolution condemning human-rights violations by any member and directed it at Israel.
When it was all over, the Council decided to hold its first special (emergency) session within a few days - on Israel. A decision by the old Commission to hold a special session required a majority vote; at the Council, only one-third of the 47 members are required. The 17 Islamic members alone satisfy the new requirement. (National Review)
See also Canada Rejects UN Council's Censure of Israel
Canada voted against a UN Human Rights Council resolution Thursday that condemns Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip and dispatches a fact-finding team to the region. Terry Cormier, Canada's representative on the council, said, "This draft resolution...fails to acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority has a responsibility to prevent the constant firing of rockets into Israel, to resolve the present hostage-taking crisis, and to prevent the recurrence of such criminal acts." (CBC News-Canada)
Leaders of the United Church of Canada's Toronto section have blundered into the Middle East mess by calling for a one-sided boycott of Israeli companies. Singling out Israeli policy for special censure while failing to similarly censure Israel-hostile Mideast regimes such as Iran and Syria, and brutal ones elsewhere, suggests a moral tilt that is out of step with the views of fair-minded Canadians. Palestinians are suffering, but some of their plight is self-inflicted. The election of the terrorist Hamas party, which refuses to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, has been a tragic setback. (Toronto Star)
Former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler last week called for Israel to "take back the narrative" in the Middle East conflict. Speaking in Israel, Cotler said the conflict was not about borders, but about the refusal of the Hamas-led Palestinians and most Arab states to accept a Jewish state in the Middle East. Cotler said the "escalating, virulent, global and even lethal new anti-Jewishness" denied Israel the right to live as an equal member of the family of nations. Cotler quoted a survey which found that 80% of British Muslims believed that Jews were a legitimate target. (Jerusalem Post)
Sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon have been palpable for some time and are on the increase. Sunni fundamentalism is on the rise, especially in the north, in places like Tripoli and Akkar, where it appears that al-Qaeda is taking root. Likewise, the Lebanese government's recent decision to legalize the Sunni fundamentalist pro-caliphate organization Hizb ut-Tahrir is also a source of concern for Lebanese Shiites. It appears that the Sunnis in Lebanon - consciously or otherwise - are preparing for an eventual conflict with Lebanese Shiites. As a minority among a sea of Sunnis, a perceived need for protection may be part of the calculations in why Hizballah opposes disarmament. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
"Enough now with this turning the other cheek! It's our duty to protect ourselves." Thus spoke Monsignor Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Vatican's supreme court, referring to Muslims. "The West has had relations with the Arab countries for half a century...and has not been able to get the slightest concession on human rights." The Catholic Church is undergoing a dramatic shift from a decades-old policy to protect Catholics living under Muslim rule. The old methods of quiet diplomacy and muted appeasement have clearly failed.
The estimated 40 million Christians in Dar al-Islam, notes the Barnabas Fund's Patrick Sookhdeo, increasingly find themselves an embattled minority facing economic decline, dwindling rights, and physical jeopardy. Most of them, he says, are despised and distrusted second-class citizens, facing discrimination in education, jobs, and the courts. These harsh circumstances are causing Christians to flee their ancestral lands for the West's more hospitable environment. Consequently, Christian populations of the Muslim world are in a free-fall. Two small but evocative instances of this pattern: for the first time in nearly two millennia, Nazareth and Bethlehem no longer have Christian majorities. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society - Justus Reid Weiner (JCPA)
An Egyptian cab driver told filmmaker Marc Levin that no Jews had died on 9/11, and that Israel warned all Jews working at the World Trade Center to stay home that day. Levin listens in disbelief at Ground Zero as an activist repeats the 9/11 fallacy to him before launching into the standard-issue rant about how Jews control New York. Pointing out that Mayor Bloomberg's predecessor was Rudy Giuliani, the man doesn't miss a beat before saying, "You said it. Jew-liani." Levin is an excellent guide into this world of neo-Nazis and Muslim extremists where The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion - a fake concocted a century ago by czarist agents that purported to be a Jewish world domination blueprint - is assumed to be 100% true. As Levin shows, people have been debunking the Protocols since the 1920s, and nothing seems to stop it. As recently as 2003, a big-budget Egyptian miniseries adaptation was a huge hit across the Middle East. (filmcritic.com)
In response to Barry Rubin's column "A Review that Speaks Volumes" (Daily Alert, 30Jun06): "I would like to note that I wrote a review of a book - Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad by Matthew Levitt - not a political confession. In the review I criticized Mr. Levitt for failing to explore Palestinian attitudes, presumptions and beliefs, which seemed to me an important flaw in the book marketed to explain Hamas. Identifying some of those attitudes, presumptions and beliefs does not make me their proponent. I invite readers of Mr. Rubin's column to read Mr. Levitt's book and my review of it." (Jerusalem Post, 28Jun06)
The Israel Enigma - Victor Davis Hanson (RealClearPolitics)
To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to: