Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
IDF Must Prepare for Jihad Attack on Eilat - Meir Ohayon (Ynet News)
Venezuelan Jews Fear Chavez/Iran Ties - Jose Orozco (Jerusalem Post)
Iranian Faces of Dissent - Margaret Coker (Toronto Star)
Sunni Tribes in Anbar Unite Against Iraqi Insurgents - Khalid al-Ansary and Ali Adeeb (New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
An Iraqi militant group led by al-Qaeda has threatened to massacre Christians in response to remarks about Islam by Pope Benedict XVI. An Internet statement by the Mujahideen Shura Council, an umbrella group led by Iraq's branch of al-Qaeda, threatened reprisals against "worshippers of the cross" for the pope's remarks. "We shall break the cross and spill the wine....(You will have no choice but) Islam or death," said the statement, citing a saying of the Prophet Mohammed promising Muslims that they would "conquer Rome...as they conquered Constantinople. We tell the worshipper of the cross that you and the West will be defeated, as is the case in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya. God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen." (Times-UK)
See also Gazans Warn Pope to Accept Islam - Khaled Abu Toameh
Muslim religious leaders in Gaza on Sunday warned Pope Benedict XVI that he must "accept" Islam if he wanted to live in peace. Two more churches in the West Bank were targeted on Sunday, bringing to seven the number of churches that have been attacked over the past three days. In Tulkarm, arsonists set fire to the only Orthodox church in the area, causing heavy damage to the 150-year-old structure. (Jerusalem Post)
See also below Observations: Enough Apologies - Anne Applebaum (Washington Post); Benedict the Brave - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
If Iran is going to worry about the prospect of sanctions, it should be those that the U.S. is drawing up on its own. There are hints that the U.S. may enforce its current sanctions laws against foreign companies dealing with Iran far more aggressively than it has done yet - and Congress may tighten the laws further. That could hurt Iran and companies dealing with it more than anything the UN laboriously does.
Henry Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, used weekend meetings between finance ministers from the Group of Seven leading economies to call for help in choking off funds to Iranian companies that the U.S. suspects of trading in weapons or nuclear components. He said that he had been shocked by intelligence suggesting that more than 30 front companies could be involved in a suspected network and that they may have duped Western banks into helping inadvertently. (Times-UK)
Jewish leaders in New York are spurning a request from the Council on Foreign Relations to meet with the president of Iran. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he declined the council's invitation. "Ahmadinejad has proven that dialogue serves no useful purpose except to give him legitimacy and recognition. How can you have a dialogue with someone who says he is guided by the hidden imam who died in the ninth century?" he said. (New York Sun)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
U.S. Secretary of State Rice told Israeli Foreign Minister Livni in New York Monday that Washington is not linking Israeli progress on the Palestinian track with forming an international coalition against Iran. According to officials in Livni's office, Rice - not Livni - raised the issue, and she did it in the presence of Philip Zelikow, one of her top advisers, who seemed to indicate linkage last week in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Jerusalem Post)
President George W. Bush is planning to tell Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday in New York that the U.S. will not recognize any PA government which will not officially recognize the State of Israel, honor past agreements, and renounce violence and terrorism. On Monday, Secretary of State Rice promised Israeli Foreign Minister Livni that the U.S. will raise the issue of the Israeli kidnapped soldiers' release in every meeting held this week in the framework of the UN General Assembly. (Ynet News)
See also Poll: Most Palestinians Think Hamas Should Not Recognize Israel
66% of Palestinians think Hamas should not recognize Israel, said a poll conducted last week by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. The poll also found that Hamas' popularity has fallen from 47% in March to 38% currently. (DPA/Ha'aretz)
Israel's public standing in both the U.S. and Europe has improved following the war in Lebanon, says pollster Stan Greenberg. According to a poll Greenberg conducted in the U.S. in September, 53% said they considered themselves supporters or strong supporters of Israel, while only 5% said they were supporters or strong supporters of the Palestinians. Regarding the war in Lebanon and the IDF's campaign in Gaza, 74% of the American public believes Israel was motivated in these actions by a desire to protect itself. Greenberg also said that while Europeans were not necessarily identifying more with Israel, they were identifying far less with the Palestinians.
Amir Gissin, director of public affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said people in the West had stopped seeing the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the root of all Middle East instability. Greenberg noted that 60% of the French public, and 64% of its "elites," now believe the heart of the problem in the Middle East is the conflict between moderates and extremists, with Israel on the side of the moderates. (Jerusalem Post)
Bodyguards for Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh opened fire outside the Gaza City parliament building Monday, trying to clear the way for him through a group of protesting PA employees demanding unpaid wages. As Haniyeh was blocked by the protesters, his bodyguards began firing shots in the air and beating the demonstrators. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah is showing clear signs of "dejection, melancholy and depression," according to the editors of the Lebanese daily al-Safir, who are counted among his most steadfast supporters. Nasrallah is worried about not being able to continue the armed resistance in the new framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. He understands that in south Lebanon his people will no longer be able to set up open military camps. In addition, they have lost numerous positions close to the border with Israel.
There are already signs that Hizballah has started moving its military equipment from the south toward the Lebanese Bekaa Valley. In other words, Nasrallah understands that the south has ceased to be "Hizballahstan." There is growing evidence of disaffection with Hizballah, and reservations on the part of some of the Shiite middle class, and among the local village leaderships, about the disaster visited upon them by Nasrallah's belligerent adventurism. (Jerusalem Report/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
I just returned from a week touring Beirut and southern Lebanon, and from visiting northern Israel. In Beirut, the destruction was efficient and impressive. The destruction in Israel, on the other hand, was random and scattered. When Hizballah rockets were fired on Israel, landing meant success. So here is the truth: Israel did not do anything close to what it was capable of doing. Hizballah did all it could.
Lebanon is shocked, not just by the destruction wrought but by the powerlessness of the owners of the country. The Lebanese government exaggerates what happened because it cannot bear to say that most of what was destroyed was Hizballah's assets, assets that resided and flourished inside their own country under their own noses with their consent. Hizballah meanwhile touts its own "divine victory," bloodied and dislodged from its territory. The Hizballah military, because it is largely invisible, is neither accurately assessed nor really held accountable for the war crimes it committed. (Washington Post)
Enough Apologies - Anne Applebaum (Washington Post)
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