Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Canadian UN Soldier Killed in Lebanon Complained His Position Shielded Hizballah - (CBC/IMRA)
Poll: 83% Say Israel's Military Actions Justified in Lebanon - Lydia Saad (Gallup Poll)
Iranian Volunteers Set Off for Lebanon - Brian Murphy (AP/Washington Post)
Canadian-Israeli Bedouin Professor Arrested for Spying (Jerusalem Post)
Hizballah in Tyre - Moshe Elad (Ynet News)
Human Rights Watch's Distorted Application of International Law to Lebanon War - Avi Bell (NGO Monitor)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
International talks on Lebanon in Rome Wednesday failed to agree on an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hizballah, but called for a new multinational force in south Lebanon. The U.S. opposed a cease-fire except as part of a broader arrangement that can endure for years. "We are all agreed that we want most urgently to end the violence on a basis that this time will be sustainable," said U.S. Secretary of State Rice. A large international force - with most estimates beginning at about 10,000 troops - will take significant time to organize, said Terje Roed-Larsen, a UN special envoy for Lebanon. (Washington Post)
See also U.S. Officials Hint It Could Take Weeks for Lebanon Peace Deal - Cam Simpson
Although the U.S. intends to push for a multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Secretary of State Rice still has not worked out key aspects of an American proposal to end the fighting, aides said Tuesday. The American "package is not put together yet," said Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the clearest signal from Rice's team so far that it could take weeks, if not longer, to broker a deal. (Chicago Tribune)
Eliezer Asulin lives alone in the remains of his home in Safed, half-destroyed by a direct hit from a Hizballah rocket fired from Lebanon. "Every day we play Russian roulette even before we wake up," says Asulin. "I have sent my family south. Most of the town has left." In the mainly Christian Arab village of Gush Halav, 4 km from the border, many blame Hizballah. "I am an Arab and proud to be one. But make no mistake, I would like Nasrallah to be assassinated for what he has done to all of us," said Bashir Zubran, 24. (Reuters)
See also Besieged Residents of Northern Israel Hunker Down - Ken Ellingwood
For the last two weeks, Ludwilla Kuperstock, a 67-year-old grandmother, and her husband have spent their days and nights underground, sharing a three-room bomb shelter with other residents of the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona. As more families have left the shelter for safer territory farther south, all that remains is a hardy group of Russian emigres bent on outlasting the barrages of Hizballah-fired Katyusha rockets that have picked up in recent days. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Residents Evacuate Northern Israel En Masse - Adam Pines
At least 250,000 Israelis have now evacuated from northern Israel and sought shelter farther south, Israeli government officials estimate. Residents in central cities like Tel Aviv and Netanya have opened their homes and taken in scores of their internally displaced compatriots. Televisions programs dedicate whole segments to finding northerners places to stay. Many northerners are sleeping on mattresses on the cramped living room floors of friends, relatives, and colleagues in the south. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri warned Thursday that his network would not sit idly over the ongoing Israeli attacks against Lebanese Hizballah and the Gaza Strip, while calling on Muslims to fight against Israel and the U.S. "Oh Muslims everywhere, I call on you to fight and become martyrs in the war against the Zionists and the Crusaders," he said in a video statement aired by al-Jazeera television. (Xinhua-China)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Nine IDF soldiers died Wednesday and 27 others were injured in fighting in southern Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
See also Wounded Soldiers Describe Bint Jbail Battle - Nir Hasson and Tomer Levi
Wounded soldiers who took part in heavy combat Wednesday on the outskirts of the Hizballah stronghold of Bint Jbail described the enemy ambush. "There was heavy fire from rocket launchers, missiles, and rocket-propelled grenades," said Sgt. Tzachi Duda. Sgt. Ohed Shalom said the soldiers did all in their power to prevent Hizballah gunmen from reaching their comrades' bodies, and described how "they carried soldiers on stretchers while simultaneously shooting at terrorists." One of the most troublesome positions was the towering mosque in the village from which terrorists fired at the soldiers. (Ha'aretz)
See also Stories of the Fallen Soldiers
Assaf came from Australia to serve in the army. Idan was killed two months before his discharge. Shimon Dahan was miraculously saved in Beit Hanoun, but lost his life in Lebanon. Shimon Adega refused to tell his family of his service in Lebanon. The settlement of Eli mourns two of its sons: Roee and Amichai. (Ynet News)
At least 130 Hizballah rockets were fired at Israel on Wednesday, striking Tiberias, Safed, Rosh Pina, Kiryat Shmona, and thirty other locations in the country's north. 55 Israelis were wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets Thursday morning at the Israeli town of Sderot. One rocket landed near a high school. (Ynet News)
In a major military offensive against a Hamas stronghold, IDF forces operating in northern Gaza on Wednesday killed sixteen Palestinian gunmen from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees. Seven civilians were also killed. Lt.-Col. Guy Biton said the Sajjaiya neighborhood was brimming with terrorists who fired antitank missiles and other weapons at the troops from inside civilian houses. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's crises with Hizballah and Hamas are not the crux of the Middle East conflict, President Moshe Katsav told a solidarity mission comprising some 50 members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday. Katsav placed much of the blame for the chaos in the Middle East on the Iranian authorities, who he declared have "brought disaster on the Iranian people." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hizballah and what this terrorist organization symbolizes must be destroyed at any price. This is the only option that Israel has. We cannot afford a situation of strategic parity between Israel and Hizballah. If Hizballah does not experience defeat in this war, this will spell the end of Israeli deterrence against its enemies. If Israel's deterrence is shaken as a result of failure in battle, the hard-won peace with Jordan and Egypt will also be undermined.
Israel's deterrence is what lies behind the willingness of moderate Arabs to make peace with it. Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, will be strengthened and it is doubtful whether any Palestinians will be willing to reach agreements with Israel. This struggle will also determine Iran's position in the Middle East and its role among the Arab states. Some Arab states recognize this and do not wish Hizballah to emerge victorious. Their stance does not stem from love of Israel, but from concerns for their own future. (Ha'aretz)
Top Fatah officials in the territories who watched Arab television reports on the fighting in south Lebanon are aware that military achievements by Hizballah bolster support for Hamas among Palestinians. "Stopping the fighting now would be interpreted as an Israeli defeat, which would immediately affect events here, especially in the Gaza Strip," said a Fatah-Tanzim militia leader. "Islamic Jihad and Hamas will feel as if the victory were theirs, as will the Palestinian public - which equates Hizballah with Hamas. The moderate Palestinian camp will face collapse if Hizballah has the upper hand when this war is over."
On the other hand, the images from the Shiite quarter in Beirut and from other places in Lebanon have sent the Palestinians and Hamas a message about what could happen in the West Bank and Gaza should Israel take action against them. (Ha'aretz)
Yossi Beilin, one of Israel's most prominent peace activists, says, "People like myself led the movement to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000, and when we were asked what would happen if they continued to use violence against us and shoot at us from Lebanon, we said that when we leave Lebanon according to a UN agreement, then we will have a free hand to use against those who act against us....It is clear-cut that there was no Israeli provocation."
Two weeks into the war, Israelis have shown extraordinary unanimity in backing the military campaign to inflict a punishing and perhaps lethal blow to Hizballah, despite a rain of rockets into northern Israel. The current campaign "is an old-fashioned war where we are right, and we were attacked for no reason whatsoever. This is probably the most justified war in our history," said Ari Shavit, a columnist for Ha'aretz. (Washington Post)
The notion that war is an appropriate response to attack is recognized in the UN Charter. And so Israel is now at war with Hamas and Hizballah. I believe that the acceptable level of retaliation primarily hinges, not on the relative degree of damage, but on the intent of the parties involved. In our own criminal justice system, intent is often an important element. Those responsible for the current attacks on Israel have the stated aim of its destruction. On the other hand, Israel has shown many times that it has no intention of destroying any of its Muslim neighbors. Its goal is simply to be allowed to live in peace. At present, death and martyrdom are major themes in radical Muslim rhetoric. How does a nation fight against an enemy so motivated which hides among a supposedly innocent civilian population?
The answer: by means of war. Casualties in this conflict are disheartening, but not extreme by the standard of any previous regional conflict. They would be reduced to zero if Hizballah and Hamas released their hostages and ceased their actions directed at the destruction of Israel. The writer is a former California deputy attorney general. (Washington Times)
During his trip to Washington earlier this week, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki again failed to condemn Hizballah and instead focused exclusively on the "destruction that happened to the Lebanese people as a result of the military air and ground attacks." Maliki - who is competent, tough, and genuinely committed to a democratic Iraq - is responding to pressure from radical Shiites in his own country. Moqtada al-Sadr and his Sadrists, the Sadriyyun, are as powerful and destructive as ever, forcing the prime minister's hand on Israel and other issues. Sadr's militia, the Mehdi army, has been responsible for a considerable share of Iraq's sectarian strife, not to mention the deaths of American soldiers in 2003 and 2004. His power is derived from a combination of family lineage, violent intimidation of rival clerics, and agitation on behalf of Iraq's Shiite underclass.
Both the Sadriyyun and Hizballah are funded by Tehran, and both represent the same ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic demographic within their respective countries. And much like Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah in southern Lebanon, Moqtada al-Sadr has tried to establish a state within a state inside Iraq. Both Nasrallah and Sadr have dual-tracked political strategies: While they seek to establish their own autonomous governing structures, they also influence the national political process by electing allies to the parliament and bargaining for appointments to ministerial posts. While 12 Hizballah loyalists now sit in Lebanon's parliament (as well as two ministers), over 30 self-identified Sadrists are members of Iraq's 275-seat National Assembly. The writer was based in Baghdad as an adviser to the Bush administration from April 2003 to June 2004. (Wall Street Journal, 27Jul06)
Is the Sunni-Shiite divide in the Middle East now deeper than the antagonism between Israel and the Arabs? Arab denunciations of Hizballah suggest that the Muslim sectarian divide, already evident in the daily violence in Iraq, is deepening and intensifying across the Middle East. The region's Sunni Arabs perceive Israel and the West as being only one threat, the other comprising the so-called "Shiite crescent" - the arc of land extending from Lebanon to Iran through Syria and Iraq that is inhabited by the allegedly heretical Shiites.
As the Shiite arc rises in the east of the Arab Muslim world, the U.S. is attempting to strengthen its protection of the Sunni arc - Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia - in the region's west. Israel, the once implacable enemy of the Arab cause, now seems to be slotted into this defensive structure. But such a defensive posture is bound to be unstable, as ordinary Arab citizens see Hizballah as a heroic model of resistance. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Why Israel's Reaction is Right - Matthias Kuntzel (Der Spiegel-Germany)
To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to: