Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Hamas Exiles Want War, Not Unity - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
- September 21, 2006
Issue of the Week:
A Review of UN Actions over the Past Year
Oslo Synagogue Detainees Planned to Blow Up U.S., Israel Embassies - John Acher (Reuters)
Poll: Israelis Feel Less Secure - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
Failed Suicide Bomber Sentenced to Death in Jordan - Dina al-Wakeel (Reuters)
Iraqi Terrorists Using Kidnap Victims as Bombers - David Rising (AP/Washington Post)
Internet Use Increasing Fast in Arab Nations - Amir Mizroch (Jerusalem Post)
A Palestinian Soap Opera for Ramadan - Jennie Matthew (AFP/Middle East Times-Egypt)
Public Affairs Adviser Miri Eisin Takes on the World - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Women Soldiers Target Smugglers on Southern Border - Bryan Bender (Boston Globe)
UK Actress under Fire for Support of Israel - Alison Roberts (Scotsman)
Irish Attitudes Toward Israel - Interview with Rory Miller (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Nasdaq Loves Israel - Shirley Yom Tov (Ha'aretz)
Ohio's Farm Science Review to Feature Ag Technology from Israel (AgriMarketing)
Video: Israel Solidarity Rally in Front of UN (One Jerusalem)
Population of Israel: 6,990,700
New Year's Greetings from the Prime Minister of Israel (Prime Minister's Office)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
At a Thursday meeting of the UN Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Rice reasserted her government's demand for a "true Palestinian commitment" to the renunciation of terrorism, the recognition of Israel's right to exist, and previous obligations including the Quartet's Roadmap. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Rice raised the issue of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers during the Security Council meeting, calling for their immediate, unconditional release. (Ynet News)
See also Israel Gets "Sign of Life" from Captive Soldier
Israeli officials Wednesday said that a "sign of life" had been received from Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped in a cross-border raid by Palestinian militants from Gaza on June 25. (CNN)
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday that Egypt will continue research to develop peaceful nuclear technology. Developing a nuclear energy program was for the future of the country and the Egyptians, said Mubarak. (Xinhua-China)
See also U.S. Could Cooperate with Egypt on Nuclear Energy
The U.S. could cooperate with Egypt if it decides to develop nuclear energy, U.S. Ambassador to Cairo Francis Ricciardone said Thursday. "If Egypt, after detailed study on this subject, decides that nuclear power is a positive thing and important for Egypt, we can cooperate in this field. Why not?" Ricciardone told al-Mehwar television. "We have a program, the Global Nuclear Energy Program. We are ready to supply nuclear technology to friendly states which want to benefit from civilian, peaceful nuclear power," he said. (Reuters/Washington Post)
With Iran still resisting a freeze on its nuclear activities, the U.S. and five partners have decided to set yet another deadline. Under the plan, reached by Secretary of State Rice and her counterparts Tuesday, Iran will have until early October to agree to suspend its nuclear activities. The new deadline is the fourth in four months. The end of August was set as the deadline in a Security Council resolution. (Washington Post)
The President of Iran, mounting an improbable charm offensive in the U.S., answered a question Thursday at UN headquarters about his call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" by floating a plan to determine the future of the Holy Land by a referendum of all its inhabitants. (Times-UK)
UK Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells told the UK Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee that Hizballah's tactics in hiding weapons in civilian areas had gone to "new depths." The minister alleged that Hizballah had hidden caches of arms in schools and mosques, and rockets in apartment blocks in southern Lebanon. "Every time the Israelis responded...and smashed a building down, every picture of a burnt child and every picture of a building that had housed people [where] there was now pancake on the ground was propaganda for Hizballah. And if an organization like Hizballah is ruthless enough to exploit those tactics, then one wonder how it can ever be possible in the future to, if you like, win the justice on your side against such an enemy." (BBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel rejected Thursday an Arab League proposal to the UN Security Council to start peace negotiations with Arab countries based on returning to '67 borders and establishing a Palestinian state whose capital is in Jerusalem. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman said, "Any progress will start with the release of the kidnapped and the cessation of terror."
"No one wants peace more than us. We want to actualize the vision of two states according to the Road Map, but tragically we received terror. We are committed to talking with Palestinians interested in peace. However, we can't sweep the problems under the rug, and we must ensure that a Palestinian state won't be a terror base." (Ynet News)
On Thursday, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who met with PA Chairman Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, said Prime Minister Olmert would not meet with Abbas as long as Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and release an IDF soldier captured in Gaza. Peres said: "The meeting is waiting for Mr. Abbas achieving what he himself declared is a condition." The conditions were Palestinian government recognition of Israel and the peace agreements signed with Israel, as well as the release of an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza, he said.
Peres said Abbas was a "leader of peace" and a reliable man. But he added that Hamas "unfortunately is continuing to fire rockets throughout Israel which makes their participation in anything almost impossible." "Even this morning they fired them," he said. (Ha'aretz)
Hamas will not join a Palestinian unity government if recognition of Israel is a condition, an aide to Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh said Friday. The comment appeared to contradict PA Chairman Abbas' statement to the UN on Thursday that the planned Hamas-Fatah government would recognize Israel. Haniyeh's political adviser Ahmed Yousef said, "there won't be a national unity government if Hamas is asked to recognize Israel." (Ha'aretz)
See also Meeting with the Fledgling Diplomats of Hamas - Joshua Mitnick
Ahmed Yousef got his doctorate in political science from Missouri's Columbia State University. Now a political aide to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, he described Hamas as in a bumpy, halting transition from fundamentalist religious militants into a political movement that has belatedly recognized the need to compromise.
Listening to Yousef explain Hamas' "evolution" raises questions about whether Hamas is ready to part with its old ideology. Take the recognition of Israel. On that point - one of three conditions set by the international community for renewing aid - Hamas still isn't ready to compromise. "We still have a lot of reservations with the recognition of Israel's right to exist," Yousef said. Asked whether Hamas could ever agree to a permanent settlement with Israel at the conclusion of negotiations, Yousef said that the Islamic militants prefer a long-term truce and would leave a resolution to "future generations." (New York Observer)
Palestinian gunmen fired two Kassam rockets from the northern Gaza Strip at Israel Thursday afternoon. One of the rockets landed in the Sapir College in Shaar Hanegev. An eyewitness at the college said: "We heard a very strong explosion and then discovered that the rocket landed inside the building. The rocket hit the roof of the building and caused damage to its upper part. Luckily, there were very few people in the place."
Another rocket landed in an open area in the northern part of Sderot. Avi Farhan, a former Elei Sinai resident who moved to Sderot, said, "This morning we were once again woken up by the Kassam fire and the Red Color warning system. Our children and grandchildren wake up to a Russian roulette before leaving for school. We are being fired at from the areas where we used to live - Dugit, Elei Sinai, and Nisanit." (Ynet News)
Dozens of Hizballah members demonstrated Thursday near the electronic fence on Israel's northern border, carrying flags and throwing rocks at the Israeli side of the border. UN troops were mobilized to the area, but the demonstrators left before they arrived. A senior IDF source said "clauses in the UN decision are supposed to prevent any movement of Hizballah members near the border." (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The debate over who won and who lost in the summer war between Israel and Hizballah obscures the deeper significance of the war as the beginning of the third stage in the conflict over Israel. In the first stage, from Israel's creation in 1948 through 1973, rejection of Israel dressed itself as pan-Arab nationalism. But Egypt then opted out of the Arab collective by reaching a separate peace with Israel in 1979, and the Arab-Israeli conflict came to an end. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict took its place. But the Palestinian struggle also stalled as the PLO grew sclerotic, inefficient, and corrupt. Its transformation into the ramshackle Palestinian Authority only amplified its weaknesses. The death of Arafat in 2004 effectively marked the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the third and present stage, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been superseded by the Israeli-Islamist conflict. The Islamist component to the "resistance" against Israel had traditionally played a supporting role. It was Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamist revolution in Iran, who rejected the view that Israel had become a fait accompli and thereby entitled a place in the region. He believed that Islam had the power to call forth the sacrifice and discipline needed to deny legitimacy to Israel and ultimately defeat it. By establishing Hizballah as an armed vanguard in Lebanon, Khomeini sought to open a new Islamist front against Israel.
A Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, filled the vacuum left by the PLO's incompetence. Hamas has regarded the elections last winter as a mandate to bend Palestinian strategy to the Islamist vision of gradual attrition of Israel. The possible combination of Iranian nukes, Hizballah rockets, and Hamas "resistance" has electrified the Arab-Muslim world. Might the forces of Islamism, acting in concert, achieve the victory that eluded Arab states and the PLO? A major weakness of the Islamist coalition is its lack of direct access to Israel's borders. In the summer war, Hizballah lost its exclusive control of Lebanon's border with Israel, arguably the most significant strategic outcome of the war. Without access to Israel's borders, the Islamist coalition cannot conduct a sustained war of attrition against Israel. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
"How dare you say Islam is a violent religion? I'll kill you for it" is not exactly the best way to go about refuting the pope's charge. In today's world, religious sensitivity is a one-way street. The rules of the road are enforced by Islamic mobs and abjectly followed by Western media, politicians, and religious leaders. Where is the protest over the constant stream of vilification of Christianity and Judaism issuing from the official newspapers, mosques, and religious authorities of Arab nations? When Sheik 'Atiyyah Saqr issues a fatwa declaring Jews "apes and pigs"? (Washington Post)
The Jewish people have prayed for peace for three thousand years. The word shalom (peace) came long before the same word in other languages. But when someone threatens to kill us, for us these are not just words: Stalin wanted to do it, Hitler wanted to do it, and we believe that Ahmadinejad wants to do it. How do we deal with those who want to kill us? You live in a good situation: Nobody wants to destroy Portugal. You wake up in the morning and don't hear anyone in Spain or France saying, "We will destroy Portugal." Israel wakes up every morning and listens to the Iranian president, alongside Hizballah and Hamas, repeating that they seek to destroy the State of Israel.
What should Israel do? It should strengthen its military capabilities, use force if necessary, and, simultaneously, if and when leaders in other countries are interested in signing peace treaties, as happened with Egypt and Jordan, it should pursue peace with those countries. I don't think there is any country in the world that aspires to peace more than Israel. People outside Israel cannot understand what it means to live without a day of peace for 58 years; to be surrounded by countries that seek its destruction; knowing that a terrorist or military attack is possible at any given moment. Is this situation normal? To confront it, Israel needs to have a strong military. There is no other choice in this part of the world. Countries in this region do not respect weakness.
Second, Israel needs to seek partners who are ready to compromise. If I sit down with Hizballah, what is there to discuss? The terms of my own destruction? And with Hamas? What am I going to discuss? My own destruction? David Harris is executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (Publico-Portugal/AJC)
Speaking at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler said several important aspects of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 have yet to be implemented. Hizballah has not yet been disarmed; the terrorists are returning to southern Lebanon, which is supposed to be a demilitarized zone; the Lebanese government has not yet extended its control over all parts of Lebanon, and is still not imposing an interdiction on weapons from Iran and Syria. But most importantly, the kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev have yet to be returned. (Canadian Jewish News)
The battle for Lebanon's political future continues. The latest maneuver is Hizballah's call for a national unity government that would threaten the slim majority held by pro-Western parties, known as the March 14 movement. The surge in popularity and power that Hizballah has enjoyed since this summer's war has alarmed those who are trying to pull Lebanon more securely into the American orbit, since they fear that political gains for Hizballah translate into political gains for Iran. "There is an Iranian empire slowly but surely being erected," said Walid Jumblat, the Druze warlord who has emerged as Hizballah's most vocal opponent among the American-backed pro-democracy movement that holds a slim majority in parliament. (New York Times)
Just the sheer size of the increase in UNIFIL in Lebanon - from the 2,000-strong force in the area before the conflict to an eventual 15,000, including a naval component - will make a huge difference, observers say. They also point to new mechanized equipment; the French are deploying tanks and 155mm artillery and the mission will have radar and a sea component for the first time. The intensity of patrols has already increased, troops say, and an Italian contingent became operational last week. The number of UN positions is likely to double. (Financial Times-UK)
See also Lebanon Peacekeepers Met with Skepticism - Anthony Shadid
A contingent of several bored-looking Italian soldiers in blue berets watched traffic pass within eyeshot of Hizballah's yellow banners. On a recent day, two Italian vehicles took up spots on different sides of the road, watching traffic pass unhindered for hours. Hizballah has insisted that the UN force restrict its mission to such patrols and has bridled at suggestions it would monitor the airport, Lebanon's border with Syria, or routes into the country by sea. (Washington Post)
Sahar Bajouk, 17, was surprised to learn how many men in her village of Aita el Shaab belonged to Hizballah. Her brothers stayed to fight the Israelis. So did her high school boy friend. Her history teacher died in battle, along with an administrator from her school and several of her neighbors: an architect, a restaurateur, a college student, and a shopkeeper. "See that house over there?," she said. "That's where Hizballah kept the collaborators, the spies. They don't kill them straightaway. First, they're questioned so that they can catch the whole web." A Shiite Muslim scout group in blue uniforms adorned with photos of Iranian ayatollahs distributed bottles of water. A crisply dressed band played martial music with lyrics that said martyrdom was "as beautiful as the moon." (McClatchy News)
Prominent Palestinian official Nabil Shaath had his green BMW carjacked at gunpoint the other day as battling between gunmen affiliated with Fatah and those of Hamas continues. The fighting is part of a struggle for power in the one part of the Palestinian territories that Israel has largely abandoned. The rivalry has been visible in the murders of prominent officials, in clashes on street corners, and in the creation, against the express orders of PA Chairman Abbas, of a Hamas-run "Executive Force," a separate police force dressed in camouflage pants, black shirts, and, invariably, beards.
Such clashes are compounded by the criminal activities of various gangs and clans that engage in racketeering, carjacking, and kidnapping. Hamdi Shaqqura, a director at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said: "The main issue in Gaza is the security chaos - the attacks on people, on internationals, on journalists. Crime is everywhere, and 90% of the attacks come from those in the security forces, with no punishment." (New York Times)
Arabian fundamentalists concluded that if post-medieval progress in the world made their values unworkable, then it was the world's fault, and the world should be stopped in its tracks. The Islamists found in Afghanistan that this could be done, after a fashion: Reduce the environment to premodern conditions, and, miraculously, the ideology applies precisely - as it did wherever nature, not tamed by progress, had to be tamed by repressive social discipline. An apparently impossible predicament confronts Western policymakers: whether to uphold corrupt and often hostile tyrannies, as in Egypt and Uzbekistan - or to topple them and open the door to religious extremists applying their iron dialectic.
In such Central Asian countries as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, where sub-al-Qaeda groups now clandestinely offer the only full-fledged religious instruction available to the populace, national leaders should be encouraged instead to revive their own indigenous practices. Both in Western mosques and in the Islamic world, the reintroduction of regional forms of belief and practice should be fostered to break the extreme Islamists' strategy for indoctrination and for sowing jihad. Wahhabists should no longer expect to meet with no counterargument when, as a prelude to conversion, they accuse the locals of ignorance and godlessness. They should be confronted with a literate and self-confident Islam, deeply rooted in local history and all the more resistant to their internationalist template. (Wall Street Journal, 18Sep06)
Israel kicked off the year with its strongest first quarter growth in five years as gross domestic product grew 6.6%. High economic growth in the first half laid the groundwork for the market's resilience during the conflict mid-year. Despite the postwar dents to the economy, growth this year is still expected to top 4%. Early indications suggest that the economic impact of the war in the north was less than initially feared. During the war, foreign and domestic investors continued to pour money into Israel. The Manufacturers Association of Israel still expects that foreign direct investment will more than double in 2006 to over $12b. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel has opened to the public an underground archaeological exhibit in Jerusalem near Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall. The "Chain of Generations Center" took over 10 years to construct and includes a Jewish ritual bath dating to the 1st century which was discovered during building work. Arieh Banner, an official with Israel's Western Wall Heritage Foundation, noted that the site did not run under the Islamic Dome of the Rock shrine. "We have not done any work in the direction of the Temple Mount," he said. "The site is at least 20 to 30 meters from the Western Wall." (Reuters)
In the town of Chelmno in central Poland, the Germans built their first extermination camp for mass murder by gas. Between December 1941 and January 1945, more than 300,000 Jews and 5,000 gypsies from Lodz and the vicinity were murdered in Chelmno. Only three people survived. The last survivor of the Chelmno Extermination Camp, Shimon Srebnik, 76, of Ness Ziona, died last month. Srebnik was 13 when he was deported to Chelmno and forced to bury the dead at the Nazi extermination camp. "How did I know my mother arrived in Chelmno? There were many handbags, a mountain of handbags. Once, I found a handbag with my mother's pictures and all her documents." - from the testimony of Shimon Srebnik in the Yad Vashem archives. (Jerusalem Post)
Bring Them Freedom, or They Destroy Us - Bernard Lewis (IMPRIMIS)
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