Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
IDF: Over 700 Rockets, Mortars Fired at Israel from Lebanon - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Hizballah Targets Israeli Civilians - Anthony Shadid and Scott Wilson (Washington Post)
- July 13, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Israel Under Attack
Israelis Take Cover as Rockets Rain Down on North - Inigo Gilmore and Rory McCarthy (Guardian-UK)
Israeli Cities on the Firing Line - Hagai Einav (Ynet News)
Opening of Second Front Leaves Israelis Both Fearful and Defiant - Ken Ellingwood and Tami Zer (Los Angeles Times)
Reuters Cameraman Wounded by Hizballah Rocket in Israel (Reuters)
Israelis Take Cover From Militant Rockets - Delphine Matthieussent (AP/Washington Post)
U.S. Ship Leaves Haifa Port Amid Conflict (Stars and Stripes)
Saudis Criticize Hizballah Action (Saudi Press Agency-Saudi Arabia)
Female Fighter Pilot Hits Target in Gaza - Yossi Yehoshua (Ynet News)
China's Islamic Frontier - Robert T. McLean (FrontPageMagazine)
The Politics of "Transmigration":
Why Jewish Refugees had to Leave Switzerland
from 1944 to 1954 - Simon Erlanger (Jewish Political Studies Review)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Two rockets have struck the Israeli city of Haifa, hours after a threat by the militant Lebanese group Hizballah. The Israeli ambassador in Washington, Daniel Ayalon, described the Haifa incident as a "major escalation" of the crisis. (BBC News)
See also Two Israelis Killed, 120 Hurt in Rocket Attacks - Amos Harel
Two people were killed - one in Nahariya and one in Safed - and another 120 were wounded on Thursday when Hizballah terrorists fired rockets across northern Israel. (Ha'aretz)
See also Two Million Israelis Under Missile Threat - Ahiya Raved (Ynet News)
See also Hizballah Rocket Fire Continuing on Northern Israel - Hagai Einav
Hizballah Katyusha barrages landed Friday afternoon in Safed, Nahariya, Hatzor, Kiryat Shmona, Carmiel, Matat, Sasa, Pekin, and Beit Jan. One rocket hit a house in Safed, injuring 12 people. (Ynet News)
Israeli officials said there would be a long campaign to restore the country's security, both along its southern border with Gaza and its northern one with Lebanon. Defense Minister Amir Peretz said, "If the government of Lebanon fails to deploy its forces, as is expected of a sovereign government, we shall not allow Hizballah forces to remain any further on the borders of the State of Israel." (New York Times)
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday, "It is extremely important that Israel exercise restraint in its acts of self-defense" in Lebanon, and demanded that Syria press Hizballah to stop attacking Israel. Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Daniel Ayalon, said: "I think they (Hizballah) misinterpreted our restraint for the last six years....If we do not want to see further escalation, deterioration, violence, this is the time to stop Hizballah and what we are doing is the most effective (way) to stop them."
National security adviser Stephen Hadley said he and Rice had received assurances Israel's focus was on Hizballah, not the Lebanese government. He added that Israeli officials said "the actions they are going to take are going to deal with Hizballah and will be done in such a way as to try and minimize collateral and civilian casualties, recognizing this is difficult because Hizballah has put targets in civilian areas." (Reuters)
See also EU Criticizes Israel for "Disproportionate" Force in Lebanon - Paul Ames
The European Union on Thursday criticized Israel for using "disproportionate" force in its attacks on Lebanon following the cross-border raid by Hizballah who captured two Israeli soldiers. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Canada Says Israeli Incursion in Lebanon Self-Defense - Randall Palmer
"Israel has a right to defend itself," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday, endorsing Israel's incursion into Lebanon and strikes on Gaza. "I think Israel's response under the circumstances has been measured," he said when asked if the attacks on Lebanon and Gaza were disproportionate. (Reuters)
The radical Shiite movement Hizballah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, hold an effective veto in Lebanese politics. Yet its force of arms has begun to endanger Hizballah's long-term standing in a country where critics accuse it of dragging Lebanon into an unwinnable conflict the government neither chose nor wants to fight. In the wake of Syria's withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon in 2005, the disarmament of Hizballah has emerged as one of the foremost issues in Lebanese politics. Since the fighting with Israel started Wednesday, calls for Hizballah to relinquish its weapons have gathered urgency. In meetings Thursday, Lebanese officials began to lay the groundwork for an extension of government control to southern Lebanon. (Washington Post)
See also Hizballah Holding Lebanon Hostage - Michael Slackman
A few months ago, representatives of every Lebanese political faction gathered to discuss the issues that divided them - including how and when to disarm the Hizballah militia. "It is strange that one man representing a faction of the Shia, [Hizballah leader] Hassan Nasrallah, is holding the whole Lebanese population hostage," said Elie Fawaz, a Lebanese political analyst. (New York Times)
See also Lebanese MPs Criticize Hizballah, Syria (Jerusalem Post)
The U.S. has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have demanded a halt to Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Ten members voted in favor of the Arab-backed resolution, four abstained, and U.S. Ambassador John Bolton cast the lone "no" vote, calling the measure unbalanced. Israel's UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman praised the U.S. for its "bold stand." (VOA News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israeli planes struck a Hizballah stronghold in a southern suburb of Beirut early Friday. Lebanon police reported that IAF aircraft attacked a base of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, Ahmed Jibril's organization, in the Bekaa Valley, only 2 km from the Syrian border. Earlier, Israeli planes struck the main highway linking Beirut to the Syrian capital Damascus, a Lebanese security source said. (Ynet News)
"We have concrete evidence that Hizballah plans to transfer the kidnapped soldiers to Iran. As a result, Israel views Hamas, Hizballah, Syria, and Iran as the main players in the axis of terror and hate that endangers not only Israel, but the entire world," AFP quoted Deputy Director General of the Foreign Ministry Gideon Meir as saying. The two soldiers were identified Thursday as Ehud Goldwasser, 31, of Nahariya, and Eldad Regev, 26, of Kiryat Motzkin. (Ha'aretz)
The Israel Air Force focused its attacks in Lebanon on Thursday against long-range Iranian Fajr 3 and 4 missiles, and succeeded in hitting some that were hidden in camouflaged bunkers. The missiles have a range that can reach Haifa and possibly Hadera. Iranian advisers had been involved in the construction of these bunkers and the use of the rockets. Hizballah militants were sent to Iran to train with the Fajr missiles. (Ha'aretz)
See also Hizballah Rockets Can Reach as Far as Beersheba (Ha'aretz)
Five Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in the Sderot area on Friday morning. Two rockets landed in a residential area, a third landed in an industrial zone, while two landed outside the city. Eight people were suffering from shock and several buildings were damaged. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues from Gaza - Shmulik Haddad
Palestinian terrorists on Thursday fired nine Kassam rockets towards Ashkelon and Sderot. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza
Under no circumstances should Israel return to the situation that existed before the fighting. That is to say, Hizballah must not be allowed to return close to the northern Israeli locales, and Hamas, or any other Palestinian organization, must not be allowed to continue to bombard Sderot and other locales, and harm soldiers within Israeli territory. The aim of the operations Israel is conducting is not only to free the captives or to punish, but also to prevent future kidnappings and bombardments. The fighting on both fronts was initiated by two Islamic terror organizations, Hamas and Hizballah. Their aggressive activity was facilitated by Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
The status quo must be altered because the danger is not only to locales in the Galilee, but also to large cities in the center of the country. The turning point will be preventing Hizballah's return near the border with Israel and destroying its rocket system, with which Iranian advisers are active. The Lebanese government is refusing to exercise its sovereignty in southern Lebanon, and it is the Lebanese government that is responsible for this area becoming a no-man's land.
On the Gaza front, under no circumstances should Israel agree to continued firing of Kassam rockets on Israeli locales. A return to the previous situation will be considered a defeat, and the day is not far off when areas in the Sharon region [greater Tel Aviv] will be bombarded from territories in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
For the first time since the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Israel is facing hostilities on two fronts. If Israel yields to international appeals for restraint and allow tensions to subside, it would accelerate a process in which Syrian- and Iranian-backed terrorist groups in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon can keep the country in a state of perpetual military mobilization, paralyzing it economically and deepening its diplomatic isolation. To deny the terrorists this victory, indeed to survive, Israel must take bold action to fundamentally alter the security situation on its northern and southern borders.
Paradoxically, Israel has been attacked from the two territories from which it unilaterally withdrew with the approval of much of the international community. But Israelis have learned that unprovoked violence against them raises little outcry in the world and that failure to react to isolated acts of terror invites unremitting terror.
Israel cannot hope for quiet along its borders as long as Hamas leaders continue to direct terror with impunity from Damascus and as long as Hizballah receives orders from Syria and Iran. By eliminating the terrorist leaderships in Gaza and southern Lebanon and deterring Syria and Iran from prodding their proxies to war, Israel can restore a reasonable level of security to its citizens. Such measures will also be implicitly welcomed by Israel's Jordanian and Egyptian neighbors, who are similarly threatened by these same terrorist groups. (Washington Post)
However much the Hizballah leadership might claim to be a legitimate, democratically elected political party, the reality is that it is, and always has been, a proxy of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who finance, train, and equip the militia as a means of maintaining a permanent security challenge to Israel's northern border. In the past, captured Israeli soldiers and airmen have been transported via Syria to Iran for safekeeping while Hizballah undertakes the tortuous negotiating process. By forcibly closing the main exit routes, the Israelis are trying to ensure the soldiers remain in Lebanon.
The Beirut authorities have only themselves to blame for allowing Hizballah to maintain a permanent armed presence in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese have singularly failed to rein in Hizballah. As a consequence, Hizballah has been allowed to develop a state within a state, with its own well-equipped private army - all of it funded by the Iranians. Certainly the Israelis are well within their rights to hold Beirut accountable for Hizballah's provocative presence on their northern border, which has effectively become Iran's front line. (Telegraph-UK)
See also Israel's "Front Line with Iran" - Con Coughlin
High in the mountains that delineate Israel's northern border with Lebanon, Israeli troops have spent the past year engaged in a deadly game of cat and mouse with Iranian-backed fighters from Hizballah. On a visit to the area earlier this year, it was clear that at key sectors along the 60-mile border the Israeli defensive positions were less than 50 yards from their Hizballah foes. The Israeli soldiers serving on the front line were under no illusions about Hizballah's deadly intent. "There's nothing they'd like more than to kidnap an Israeli soldier," said the senior Israeli army officer with me. "It's just the kind of publicity stunt they crave. Every time we go out on patrol we know we might run into a Hizballah ambush."
Hizballah has built a network of sophisticated control towers and monitoring stations along the length of the border with Israel, paid for by Iran. Israeli officers have reported frequent sightings of Iranian military officials inspecting the new facilities and advising local Hizballah commanders. Hizballah was originally established in the 1980s by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Israeli commanders regard the northern border as their "front line" with Iran. (Telegraph-UK)
For four decades we have been told that the cause of the anger, violence, and terror against Israel is its occupation of the territories seized in the Six-Day War. The problem with this claim was that before Israel came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza, every Arab state had rejected Israel's right to exist and declared Israel's pre-1967 borders - now deemed sacred - to be nothing more than the armistice lines suspending, and not ending, the 1948-49 war to exterminate Israel.
Just last September, Israel evacuated Gaza completely. Gaza became the first independent Palestinian territory in history. Yet the Gazans continued the war. They turned Gaza into a base for launching rocket attacks against Israel and for digging tunnels under the border to conduct attacks.
Hizballah, which has representation in the Lebanese parliament and in the cabinet, launched an attack into Israel on Wednesday that resulted in the deaths of eight soldiers and the taking of two others as hostages. What's the grievance here? Israel withdrew from Lebanon completely in 2000, as verified by the UN. The issue is, and has always been, Israel's existence. That is what is at stake. (Washington Post)
Using Israeli soldiers as hostages, the Iranian, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, and Syrian jihadists are enveloping the region, opening a two-front war with Israel, delivering Lebanon into Hizballah's grip, checkmating vital American interests, and bringing Iraq to the brink of civil war. Though it is hard to believe, to many Arabs Israel has emerged as a white knight that may save the day. Hobbled by fifth columns of Muslim fundamentalists within, the Arabs themselves cannot take on Syria or Iran. Neither, it seems, will the politically correct Europeans. The right address for Israel's wrath was and remains Damascus. (New York Sun)
Israel is fighting two Iranian proxies on two fronts. And it is from the Syrian capital that Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, has been laying down Palestinian Arab negotiating conditions. Each one of these players - Hamas inside Gaza and in Damascus, Hizballah in Lebanon, and the Assad dictatorship in Syria - are chess pieces on the Iranian board. (New York Sun)
What we are seeing in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and Lebanon is an effort by Islamist parties to use elections to pursue their long-term aim of Islamizing the Arab-Muslim world. This is not a conflict about Palestinian or Lebanese prisoners in Israel. This is a power struggle within Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq over who will call the shots in their newly elected "democratic" governments and whether they will be real democracies.
The tiny militant wing of Hamas today is pulling all the strings of Palestinian politics, the Iranian-backed Hizballah Shiite Islamic party is doing the same in Lebanon, even though it is a small minority in the cabinet, and so, too, are the Iranian-backed Shiite parties and militias in Iraq. As a result, the post-9/11 democracy experiment in the Arab-Muslim world is being hijacked. The flowers of democracy that were planted in Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories are being crushed by the boots of Syrian-backed Islamist militias who are desperate to keep real democracy from taking hold and Iranian-backed Islamist militias desperate to keep modernism from taking hold. The whole democracy experiment in the Arab-Muslim world is at stake here, and right now it's going up in smoke. (New York Times, 14Jul06)
This week Hizballah transgressed three political lines. The first was its expansion of military operations outside the Shebaa Farms area. A second line was its evident coordination of strategy with Hamas; this went well beyond its stated aim of simply defending Lebanon. Third, by unilaterally taking Lebanon into a conflict with Israel, Hizballah sought to stage a coup d'etat against the anti-Syrian parliamentary and government majority, which opposes the militant group's adventurism.
Iran has long bankrolled Hizballah, but Syria is the nexus of regional instability, giving shelter to several of the most intransigent Palestinian militants, transferring arms to Hizballah, and undermining Lebanon's frail sovereignty. Unless something is done to stop Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, from exporting instability to buttress his despotic regime, little will change. Once the Israelis end their offensive, Hizballah will regroup and continue to hold Lebanon hostage through its militia, arguably the most effective force in the country, and Hamas leaders in Damascus will continue derailing any negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The popular mood in Beirut is one of extreme anger that the group has provoked a conflict Lebanon cannot win. (New York Times)
See also The Price of Taking a Bullet for Palestine - Michael Young
Hizballah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on Wednesday signaled growing coordination between Hizballah and its comrades in the militant Palestinian groups, particularly Hamas. Whether Hizballah can persuade Lebanese Shiites to again become Palestinian cannon fodder remains to be seen.
Syria is at the heart of a network of destabilizing developments in the Middle East. The Syrian regime hosts Hamas' Khaled Mashaal, arms Hizballah, ferries combatants into Iraq, irks the Jordanians, and tries to undercut Lebanese sovereignty. For Assad, exporting instability is compulsory in order to impose domestic quietude. An illegitimate regime like his needs outside volatility to justify repression at home and to generate political polarization that displaces popular Syrian frustration elsewhere. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
What's going on in the Middle East is war, and it now runs from Gaza into Israel, through Lebanon and thence to Iraq via Syria. There are different instruments, ranging from Hamas in Gaza to Hizballah in Syria and Lebanon and on to the multifaceted "insurgency" in Iraq. But there is a common prime mover, and that is the Iranian mullahcracy, the revolutionary Islamic fascist state that declared war on us 27 years ago and has yet to be held accountable. For those who doubt the Iranian hand, remind yourself that Hizballah is a wholly owned subsidiary of the mullahcracy (with Syria providing some supplies, and free run of the territory).
Iran has been at war with us all along, because that's what the world's leading terror state does. The scariest thing about this moment is that the Iranians have convinced themselves that they are winning, and we are powerless to reverse the tide. We cannot escape the mullahs. We must either defeat them or submit to their terrible vision. (National Review/AEI)
Some have branded this latest conflict a continuation of Israel's War of Independence. On both the Lebanese and Gaza fronts, Israel's enemies can make no legitimate claim to be pursuing a territorial dispute: as of last summer, Israel relinquished its hold on Gaza; in Lebanon, it pulled back to the UN-certified international border six years ago. In both cases, Israel's assailants are pursuing a territorial ambition - to unseat Israel from its own sovereign lands. Woe betide a nation under attack inside its sovereign borders if it does not decisively prevail. (Jerusalem Post)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says "all sides must act with restraint." But Israel's current problems result in part from an excess of restraint in responding to previous Hamas and Hizballah provocations. Now Israel is confronted with a war on two fronts with proxy terrorists armed and financed by Syria and Iran. Israel can and will handle the immediate military threats on its two borders. But ultimately there will be no resolution in Lebanon and Gaza until the regimes in Syria and Iran believe they will pay a price for the wars they are waging through their proxies. The Middle East stands on the cusp of its worst crisis in a generation, and this is no time for formulaic statements calling for "restraint from both sides." (Wall Street Journal)
The opening of a second front to Israel's north stems from unfinished international business in Lebanon. In September 2004, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 called on foreign forces to withdraw and militias to disband. The Syrians completed the pull-out of their troops in April last year but Hizballah, with its thousands of fighters and Katyusha rockets, remains the most formidable military presence in the country. Sponsored by Damascus and Teheran, it makes a mockery of Lebanese sovereignty. That one party in the government coalition should have an armed wing operating with foreign support in defiance of central authority is intolerable. The UN, or a coalition of the willing among its members, should deploy troops in southern Lebanon to disarm the militiamen. Hizballah's defiance of 1559 should be the focus of both the Security Council and of the team that Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General, is sending to the region. (Telegraph-UK)
Israel withdrew from Gaza a year ago; the soldiers who were killed and the one kidnapped were on Israeli soil. Similarly, Hizballah guerrillas crossed the border to capture two more soldiers. The coordination of these attacks isn't an accident. Hizballah, in thrall to Iran, has reportedly helped finance and train Hamas terrorists. It's likely that exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus is the mastermind behind these coordinated attacks. Just after the first attack, one of his top aides said: "I believe the resistance [fighters] should not be content with taking one Israeli soldier as prisoner....They should develop this kind of operation and seek to capture more soldiers."
All those who hoped that Hamas or Hizballah would abandon terror when they gained political power must confront the fact that power has only emboldened their impulse to terrorism. This is terror as statecraft, terror by a ruling political party in one instance, and by a leading political party in the other. Hamas had a chance to govern peacefully. It had a chance to build a state in Gaza, to stop terrorists from lobbing shells into Israel. It chose to cheer a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv and help kidnap a soldier for ransom. For Hamas and Hizballah, the masquerade is over. (Chicago Tribune)
What has been clarified by this round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, first and foremost, the character of Israel's adversaries. They are Islamist terrorists, and proud to be so. More ominously, they are Islamist terrorists come to power. Hamas is no longer only a movement; it is now also a government. Hizballah, of course, is not a government, but it is a part of a government. It is not incorrect to say that, over the last 30 years, Lebanon has exchanged a PLO mini-state within its borders for a Hizballah mini-state within its borders.
There is also a larger strategic dimension to the Hamas-Hizballah offensive. These provocations stink of Assad and Ahmadinejad. The Hamas action in Gaza appears to have been ordered by Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader who resides in Damascus. Nor can anything of significance take place in Lebanon without the sanction of Damascus. (New Republic)
Anyone whose memory or knowledge of history extends back beyond 1967 already knew the occupation argument was phony. If it weren't, Palestinian terror groups would have been attacking Egyptians and Jordanians between 1948 and 1967. Yasser Arafat would have created the Palestine Liberation Organization after the Six-Day War, not in 1964. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict, like the broader Arab-Israeli conflict, is and always has been about the complete rejection of Israel within any borders. There's nothing new about a two-state solution - the UN came up with one in 1947. But Arab extremists who dreamed of driving Jews into the sea violently rejected that compromise. (San Antonio Express-News)
Hamas and their followers will never enjoy the right to live a normal life if they deny to Israel the same right. How can Hamas defy the international community but then beg for charitable aid from the same nations? How can Hamas claim the right to govern as a legitimate authority when the organization's leaders have failed to exercise any control over their own military wing and other raging militants? How can they demand an end to the Israeli occupation when they use territories evacuated by the Israelis as staging grounds for relentless attacks against Israel? The writer is professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU and Middle East project director at the World Policy Institute in New York. (Ynet News)
One test of a country's pride and integrity is how far it's prepared to go to protect its citizens. If Israel loses this one, and if Cpl. Shalit is killed without maximum Israeli response, then it will happen again. Israel must make the kidnappers and those who support them pay a horrible price. In this case, one citizen symbolizes all Israelis. (Toronto Sun)
International Community Must Condemn Attacks and Support Israel's Self-Defense - Harold Tanner and Malcolm Hoenlein (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)
To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to: