Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Report: Iran Building Fast Uranium Centrifuges - Craig S. Smith (New York Times)
- August 24, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Bombed Out, or How I Spent My Summer Vacation
The Red Cross Ambulance Incident: How the Media Legitimized an Anti-Israel Hoax
Fox Newsmen Held by Rogue Fatah Men - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Hizballah Night Vision Kit Sold to Lebanese Company by British Firm - Michael Evans (Times-UK)
Hizballah TV Soars in Ratings - (Jerusalem Post)
Christian TV Station Owner in Bethlehem Faces Threats (AsiaNews-Italy)
Will THEL Live Again? - Martin Sieff (UPI/Spacewar)
UK Think-Tank: Iran Now the Key Power in Iraq - Philippe Naughton (Times-UK)
U.S. Building New Special Operations Training Center in Jordan (Middle East Newsline)
New Ruling in AIPAC Case Raises Questions about "Foreign Agents" - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
OPEC: Russia Overtakes Saudi Arabia as World's Leading Oil Producer (MosNews-Russia)
As Rockets Rained Down, Israelis' E-mail Usage Spiked - Carol Rosenberg (McClatchy/Santa Barbara News-Press)
From Binationalism to Multiculturalism to the Open Society:
The Impact on Canadian Jews - Michael Brown (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Ancient Biblical Waterworks Found in Israel - Corinne Heller (Reuters)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The U.S. warned Syria on Thursday to abide by a UN arms embargo meant to stop Hizballah from resupplying after its month-long war with Israel. It dismissed Syrian objections to international peacekeepers as preposterous. "All countries must obey the arms embargo" under the UN Security Council resolution that set a cease-fire this month, said State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos. "It is a singular duty for Syria, as the one country apart from Israel that borders Lebanon, to do so."
Syria has indicated it might impose a punitive blockade of Lebanon and "close their borders for all traffic in the event that UN troops are deployed along the Lebanon-Syria border," Finland Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said after meeting his Syrian counterpart, Walid Moallem, in Helsinki. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Lebanon Could Answer a Syrian Blockade - Zvi Bar'el
If the Syrian president decides, as he did a year ago, to shut down the border crossings for goods and people traveling between Lebanon and Syria, such a move would deal a serious blow to Lebanese exports. However, this time, Lebanon would not hesitate to prevent the entry of hundreds of thousands of Syrian laborers into its territory, thereby returning the favor to Damascus and striking at Syria's economy. (Ha'aretz)
French President Jacques Chirac said Thursday that France would commit 2,000 troops to a new international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. Many European countries have expressed reluctance to take part in the operation out of fear that their soldiers would become enmeshed in shooting. So far, Italy is the only other European country to make a major commitment, offering to send as many as 3,000 troops and to command the force. (Washington Post)
Mohamad Chatah, senior adviser to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, says Lebanon must "guard closely" against other groups such as Sunni militants and Palestinians fighting against Israel if the tenuous truce with Hizballah collapses. Chatah said "unknown groups" fired at least two rockets and took part in a ground clash against Israeli forces over the past month. Ali Kanso, head of Lebanon's small, secular Syrian Social Nationalist Party, says 200 fighters loyal to his party battled Israeli troops in southern villages during the recent conflict. Al-Qaeda also has a presence: Eight months ago, Lebanon arrested 13 al-Qaeda-linked militants renting apartments and stashing weapons in and around Beirut. (USA Today)
See also Lebanese Army Moves Tentatively - Thanassis Cambanis
Along the desolate border at Kfar Kila in southern Lebanon, Hizballah fighters preside over checkpoints, their weapons just out of sight in nearby depots, and Israeli soldiers cluster on nearby hilltops. More than a thousand Lebanese soldiers - supposedly the linchpin of renewed government authority in the south - hunker down in remote outposts, sip tea on the porches of commandeered houses, and tentatively ask directions from Hizballah sympathizers. (Boston Globe)
The State Department is investigating whether Israel's use of American-made cluster bombs in southern Lebanon violated secret agreements with the U.S. that restrict when it can employ such weapons, two officials said. In addition, the State Department has held up a shipment of M-26 artillery rockets, a cluster weapon that Israel sought during the conflict, the officials said. Several current and former officials said that they doubted the investigation would lead to sanctions against Israel but that the decision to proceed with it might be intended to help the Bush administration ease criticism from Arab governments and commentators over its support of Israel's military operations. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel does not expect Hizballah to be disarmed, and instead is now concentrating on ensuring that an arms embargo called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1701 be implemented. Furthermore, if the arms embargo is not effective, Israel has made clear it will have to act to ensure that it is. Senior Israeli officials have made it clear in recent days during talks with foreign governments that Israel realizes a Hizballah presence south of the Litani River is unavoidable.
Israel is less concerned about grenades and rifles remaining in Hizballah's hands, and more about weaponry that gives it offensive capabilities. What Israel does expect is that the Lebanese Army and the international force that will deploy there ensure that Hizballah doesn't have offensive weaponry to attack Israel, and that if they do try to attack, there will be someone there to stop them. Israel would not lift its air and sea blockade of Lebanon until troops of the new multinational force were on the ground at crossing points in Lebanon to ensure that Iran and Syria do not resupply Hizballah. (Jerusalem Post)
The head of IDF Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday, "The Lebanese army has deployed alongside Hizballah in southern Lebanon, but is not replacing it.... Hizballah does not intend to leave southern Lebanon and to disarm itself. At most, it will be willing to stash away its arms."
"Syria and Hizballah were surprised by the determined stand made by the Israeli homefront during the course of the war," Yadlin said. "They expected Israel to sustain more casualties after they fired close to 4,000 missiles and expected greater chaos in Israeli society." Yadlin noted that with the exception of the long-range Iranian Zelzal missiles, most Katyushas fired by Hizballah at Israel were taken from the Syrian arsenal rather than from Iran. (Ha'aretz)
See also IDF: Syria Will Try to Reclaim Golan Heights - Attila Somfalvi
Yadlin also told committee that after the war with Hizballah, Syria will try to reclaim the Golan Heights through either diplomatic or military means. "Iran is using Syria as a giant weapons cache for Hizballah - through direct transfer or via payment to the Syrians, so that the arms are sent to Hizballah," Yadlin said. He added that the Syrian army has returned to a normal state of alert, after it was raised during fighting between the IDF and Hizballah in Lebanon. (Ynet News)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, if he ever became the supreme decision maker in his country, would "sacrifice half of Iran for the sake of eliminating Israel," Giora Eiland, Israel's former national security adviser, said Thursday. At present, the ultimate decision-maker in Iran was Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 67, but "if Ahmadinejad were to succeed him - and he has a reasonable chance of doing so - then we'd be in a highly dangerous situation." The Iranian president "has a religious conviction that Israel's demise is essential to the restoration of Muslim glory, that the Zionist thorn in the heart of the Islamic nations must be removed, and he will pay almost any price to right the perceived historic wrong. If he becomes the supreme leader and has a nuclear capability, that's a real threat." (Jerusalem Post)
There is growing consensus within the Israeli defense establishment that the U.S. will not attack Iran, and that Israel might be forced to act independently to stop the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear weapons, a high-ranking defense official said Thursday. According to sources within the defense establishment, the Bush administration does not have political support for launching a strike against Iran's nuclear sites. (Jerusalem Post)
Next month, a new element will be introduced into the discussions about the international community's attitude toward Iran, which is becoming a nuclear power. A group of Israelis, headed by former UN ambassador Dr. Dore Gold, recently completed the composition of a lawsuit to be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for incitement to genocide in violation of the 1948 UN Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. According to the convention, "direct and public incitement to committing genocide" is a criminal offense, with genocide defined as an activity "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group." "The time has come to go on the legal attack," says Gold.
"It is easy to imagine what would happen if Israel announced that it desired to destroy another country," says Meir Rosenne, former legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry and Israeli ambassador to France and the U.S. "Sanctions against it would be applied immediately. Were the threat only theoretical, we could live with it. But we are talking here about a country of about 70 million people, which is increasingly arming itself, and in addition is arming organizations that it sponsors, such as Hizballah, which are acting directly against Israel." (Ha'aretz)
Shortly before the August 14 cease-fire, St.-Sgt. (res.) Harel Siyani was wounded in both arms and his chest by shrapnel from an anti-tank rocket fired by Hizballah. Though currently he can't use either arm, Siyani was in a good mood. And despite his wounds, there seem to be no regrets and no doubt in his mind about where he'd rather be right now. "I love serving in the army," he says. "I hope to return as soon as I am better. I protected my land and my birthplace, and even with the injury, I'd do it all over again." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In the Wake of the Lebanon War
Politically, Hizballah had to declare victory: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hizballah's shield against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the knowledge of its government and people. The tactic worked for a day or two. However, even Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has made it clear that he would not allow Hizballah to continue as a state within the state. Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hizballah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.
Hizballah is also criticized from within the Lebanese Shiite community, which accounts for some 40 percent of the population. Sayyed Ali al-Amin, the grand old man of Lebanese Shiism, has broken years of silence to criticize Hizballah for provoking the war, and called for its disarmament. Money sent from Shiite immigrants in West Africa (where they dominate the diamond trade) and in the U.S. (especially Michigan) has helped create a prosperous middle class of Shiites more interested in the good life than martyrdom. This new Shiite bourgeoisie dreams of a place in the mainstream of Lebanese politics and hopes to use the community's demographic advantage as a springboard for national leadership.
In the 2004 municipal elections, Hizballah won some 40 percent of the votes in the Shiite areas. In last year's general election, Hizballah won only 12 of the 27 seats allocated to Shiites in the 128-seat National Assembly - despite making alliances with Christian and Druze parties and spending vast sums of Iranian money to buy votes. Hizballah's position is no more secure in the broader Arab world, where it is seen as an Iranian tool rather than as the vanguard of a new Nahdha (Awakening), as the Western media claim.
"Hizballah won the propaganda war because many in the West wanted it to win as a means of settling score with the United States," says Egyptian columnist Ali al-Ibrahim. "But the Arabs have become wise enough to know TV victory from real victory." (Wall Street Journal)
In a string of recent statements, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has signaled that he is determined to use the situation in Lebanon to push his longstanding claims to the Golan Heights. "Since the American invasion of Iraq, the U.S. decided to take Lebanon away from Syria. [But] Lebanon is the major card that Syria has to play in order to get back the Golan Heights, and Hizballah is the most important card in Syria's hand," says Joshua Landis, a historian of Syria and director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Landis says that from Assad's standpoint, abandoning Hizballah means abandoning his country's claims to the Golan Heights. (Christian Science Monitor)
When it comes to Israel and its enemies, Human Rights Watch cooks the books about facts, cheats on interviews, and releases predetermined conclusions that are driven more by their ideology than by evidence. In the recent war in Lebanon between Hizballah and Israel: "Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hizballah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack." Anyone who watched TV during the war saw with their own eyes direct evidence of rockets being launched from civilian areas, in addition to credible news reports of such launchings in the New York Times, New Yorker, and numerous other sources. Within the last month, virtually every component of the organized Jewish community has condemned Human Rights Watch for its bias. (New York Sun)
Islamic militancy grounded in hatred of Israel and America has become the Muslim world's most animating idea. Why? I don't believe it is because of the reasons usually cited - Israeli and American "outrages." Every Israeli land-for-peace gesture has been met with a return volley of suicide bombers and rockets. Palestinians have balked every time their longed-for nationhood has come within grasp. They have seemed to prefer the aggrieved dignity of their resentments to the challenges of nationhood. And Hizballah launched the current war from territory Israel had relinquished six years earlier. If this war makes anything clear, it is that Israel can do nothing to appease the Muslim animus against her. And now much of the West is in a similar position, living in a state of ever-heightening security against the constant threat of violence from Islamic extremists.
Islamic extremists don't hate the West because they are oppressed by it. They hate it precisely because the end of oppression and colonialism forced the Muslim world to compete with the West. Less oppression opened this world to the sense of defeat that turned into extremism. Islamic extremism is the saber-rattling of an inferiority complex. The writer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. (Wall Street Journal, 22Aug06)
A reader, sympathetic to Israel but troubled by its existence as a "Jewish state," asks: "Can you point me to any case where you would say '[Country A] has the right to exist as a [Race B] or [Religion C] state?'" Actually, many countries have an official religion, including liberal bastions such as Norway, Denmark, and Iceland (all Lutheran). By contrast, Judaism is not the official religion of Israel.
Israel's Law of Return is based on ethnic (not racial) heritage and grants anyone with a Jewish grandparent automatic citizenship. Several other countries recognize a "right of return" similar, but often broader, than Israel's. If one of your grandparents is an Irish citizen but none of your parents was born in Ireland, you may be entitled to become an Irish citizen, and similar laws apply in Armenia, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, and elsewhere. Israel has less of an explicit religious identity than many countries and Israel is hardly unique in basing immigration and citizenship policy at least partly on ethnic heritage. The writer is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law. (Wall Street Journal)
When missiles are blasted into Israel by Muslim/Arab terrorists living in their non-disputed Muslim/Arab territory, resulting in the murder of innocent Israelis/Jews, the world tells Israel to show restraint and refrain from retaliating with targeted responses against the origins of the rocket launches. Why? Because some Muslim/Arab civilians might inadvertently be killed. And when Muslim/Arab suicide-bombing murderers steal into Israel and blow to smithereens innocent Jewish/Israeli civilians in pizza parlors and discotheques, Israel is admonished to show restraint and refrain from targeting the planners, facilitators, and future perpetrators of suicide-murder actions. Why? Because some Muslim/Arab civilians might inadvertently be killed.
Bottom line: Israel is strongly warned to allow the ongoing murder of its citizens so as not to risk the possible death of an Arab/Muslim civilian. It is also true that if the fanatical Muslim/Arabs withhold fire, none will be killed; if the Jews withhold fire, innocent Jews will be murdered. The writer, a practicing rabbi, is the co-author of The Chosen Image: Television's Portrayals of Jewish Themes and Characters. (Ynet News)
U.S. airport security remains focused on intercepting bad things - guns, knives, explosives. Israelis understand that the best way to detect terrorists is to focus on intercepting bad people. To a much greater degree than in the U.S., security at El Al and Ben-Gurion depends on intelligence and intuition. Israeli airport security officials constantly monitor behavior. Profilers - that's what they're called - make a point of interviewing travelers, sometimes at length. Only when the profiler is satisfied that a passenger poses no risk is he or she allowed to proceed to the check-in counter. By that point, there is no need to make him remove his shoes, or to confiscate his bottle of water.
Because federal policy still bans ethnic or religious profiling, countless hours have been spent patting down elderly women in wheelchairs, toddlers with pacifiers, even former U.S. vice presidents, instead of concentrating on passengers with a greater likelihood of being terrorists. It is illogical and potentially suicidal not to take account of the fact that so far every suicide-terrorist plotting to take down an American plane has been a radical Muslim man. (Boston Globe)
See also Israeli Security Training for Heathrow Rail - Ben Webster
Staff on the Heathrow Express rail service in Britain have received special training in Israeli techniques for spotting terrorists by their body language. BAA, which operates the service, said that the results had been so successful that it was considering training all frontline staff at its seven airports, including 6,000 at security checkpoints. Heathrow Express staff have already used the methods, which include observing small movements of the lips, eyebrows and nose, to detect illegal immigrants and baggage thieves. The two-day training program was developed by Rafi Ron, former director of security at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. (Times-UK)
How can we stop the fighting in the Middle East if we are not trusted by one or both sides? For our peace efforts to be successful, we also need to build good relations with the two sides. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has a great opportunity to take the initiative in the Middle East, if he has the determination and courage to face opposition at home. The question is, amid strong support for Hizballah and strong anti-Israel sentiment here, does he dare to act against public opinion?
If the president is determined to go ahead with his Middle East initiative, then he needs to consider the possibility of building a certain degree of trust with Israel. There are a number of possibilities, including trade ties, which some other predominantly Muslim nations like Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan, have entered into. (Jakarta Post-Indonesia)
The social status of women in the Middle East is a serious impediment to all forms of development. The absence of free women is hampering the evolution of the region's societies. Arab society has not come to terms with the modern, literate, and independent woman. Unfortunately, women in much of the region have not come to terms with that change either, given that many are highly educated and skilled, yet revert to the behavior of their grandmothers. (San Antonio Express-News)
See also Driver Charged with Driving While Female
Police in Taif, Saudi Arabia, caught a woman violating the law by being behind the steering wheel of a moving car, Al-Jazirah newspaper reported Monday. The woman, an Arab foreigner married to a Saudi man, was immediately arrested. The husband was called to the police station to pick up his spouse. The cops instructed the husband to make sure his wife does not repeat such a terrible crime as driving a car, which, according to the defenders of the law, can lead to immoral behavior. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Time magazine, the BBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and thousands of other media outlets around the world reported that on the night of July 23, 2006, an Israeli aircraft fired missiles at and struck two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances performing rescue operations, causing huge explosions that injured everyone inside the vehicles. But there's one problem: It never happened.
The story first broke in a press release issued by the Red Cross. On July 24, Britain's ITV News ran a breathless report about the attack. However, the ITV report states that journalists did not see the ambulances themselves, and instead showed a four-minute video taken by a "local amateur cameraman."
After a spate of stories on the incident, including some (the New York Times) declaring that Israel targeted the cross on the roofs of the vehicles, by the beginning of August the media were charging that Israel was conducting a systematic campaign to strike Red Cross ambulances - a war crime. Dozens of reporters from prestigious publications had interviewed survivors. The wounded were shown in the hospital. There was video of the injured drivers arriving back at the Red Cross office.
But photos of the ambulance with "an Israeli missile hole" in the exact center of the Red Cross on the roof reveal, on closer inspection, that the hole looks unmistakably like a pre-existing circular hole in the roof, to which some feature - such as a ventilation cover - was attached, and then removed. There are small screw holes at regular intervals around the perimeter of the hole, and the metal around the edges is not bent inward, as one would expect from a missile puncturing through the roof. Other pictures of Lebanese Red Cross ambulances show a ventilation cover of the exact same diameter as the "missile" hole right in the center of the cross on the roof.
Analysis of photos also reveals that the damage to the ambulance could not have happened on July 23. The photos of the ambulance were taken within a week of the incident, but close-ups reveal the rust on the dented areas of the roof to be quite old, proving that the damage must have happened long before July 23. As for the claim that a missile penetrated the vehicle and caused a huge explosion, when there is an explosion inside a vehicle things get blown outward. Yet the windshield is caved inward. Furthermore, aside from some of the ceiling material hanging down, nothing on the inside of the ambulance looks damaged. The damage to the ambulance is completely unlike the damage that would have been caused by a missile strike.
Various videos and pictures show a man in a hospital who really does seem to have part of a leg missing. Might he simply have been a hospital patient whose injury was completely unconnected to the ambulance in question, but who was paraded before the cameras as a victim of an Israeli missile?
The driver of the Tyre ambulance, who was the original source for most of the story, was filmed staggering into the hospital, and then later lying in a bed with large bandages on his chin and right ear. All the media reports state that he was injured during the missile attack. Posing for a sympathetic Lebanese photographer a week later, his chin is not only miraculously healed, but shows no scar or discoloration of any kind. Did he put on bandages as a prop to fool the foreign journalists? The ambulance drivers, sympathetic to Hizballah, conceivably could have staged the entire incident. (zombietime.com)
See also Hizballah Photo of "Israeli Ship" Really 1998 Picture of Australian Ship (Herald Sun-Australia)
Every day, Hizballah welcomes visitors to Haret Hreik. Once home to Hizballah's headquarters and Beirut's most densely populated neighborhood, Haret Hreik is now a smoking swath of wreckage. For Hizballah, the ruins of this once-bustling neighborhood have become a tourist attraction - and an invaluable propaganda tool. As we marched through the rubble, a man would pop out of a destroyed building to shout with carefully rehearsed rage. All of these appearances were orchestrated by Hizballah for our benefit.
Ever since the war ended, Hizballah leaders have been cultivating hatred for a larger enemy: the United States. By focusing on the Great Satan, Hizballah can avoid the delicate subject of who, exactly, started this particular war - and promote itself instead as a defender of the Muslim world against U.S. aggression and the West generally. (New Republic)
See also The Critical Importance of Israeli Public Diplomacy in the War Against the Iran-Hizballah Axis of Terror - - Dr. Raanan Gissin (ICA/JCPA)
Al Jazeera has changed the journalistic and cultural values in the Arab world. On its news and current affairs programs harsh criticism of their regimes is heard from Egyptian, Jordanian, and even Moroccan and Saudi intellectuals. Al Jazeera is the Hyde Park of the Arab world. However, during the Lebanon War the channel enlisted on behalf of Hizballah. The claim that Hizballah fighters were concealing themselves in underground hideouts beneath the homes of civilians did not interest them. They broadcast shocking, vivid descriptions and chilling footage of the killing at Qana, the likes of which have not been shown in the West for years. Al Jazeera journalists wanted to provide a victory for Hizballah in the psychological war. (Ha'aretz)
See also Al-Jazeera's Tricky Balancing Act - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
Pierre Rehov's new film, "Suicide Killers," one of the most in-depth looks at suicide bombing committed to film, opens with unprecedented footage of a bomber preparing for his mission. The Gaza terrorist is still on the loose, waiting for an order. "It was like having access to a serial killer ready to kill his 20th victim," Rehov wrote. Lisa Magnas, the executive in charge of production for the film, said: "The bomber is under close security watch. His every move is known to Israeli security....There's no way he can cross the border into Israel without being known."
The film includes lengthy interviews with failed suicide bombers in Israeli prisons. "I went to many prisons, and that they let me come back often and spend a lot of time inside," Rehov said. "After you get checked by the Shin Bet, they let you easily inside the system. Israel is the most open democracy I ever had to deal with."
Rehov argues that the mindset of the suicide bomber "is the same...as that of a serial killer," driven not by political or ideological concerns but, the film posits, by sexual frustration that is bred by the reactionary gender politics of fundamentalist Islam. "The youngest ones regret not having become the heroes they were [dreaming of being]," Rehov explained. "They also must be very disappointed to continue to live in the same hell that they did in the past, a society composed only of males, where women are ghosts, dreams, or nightmares, depending on their point of view." "As you can see in the film, the entire jail prays five times a day. For all those guys, religion is the center of their life. They believe that Allah has refused their martyrdom." (New York Jewish Week)
The Two Meanings of Multilateralism - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post)
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