Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran's Uranium Glitch - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
- September 28, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Recovering from the war
EU to Guard Gaza-Egypt Border? - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
UN Report Says U.S. Breaking Al-Qaeda - James Gordon Meek (New York Daily News)
Saudis Plan Fence Along Iraq Border - Jim Krane (AP/Seattle Times)
New IDF Film Unit to Combat Bad Press - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Economy Resilient Despite Lebanon War - Steven Scheer (Reuters)
Israel Jumps to 15th Place in Economic Competitiveness Rankings - Eliyahu Hassin and Aharon Rosen (Globes)
After a Decline, Israel's Citrus Industry Is Blossoming (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
Sabon Cleans Up in America - Stacy Perman (Business Week)
The Jewish Community of Australia and Its Challenges - Jeremy Jones (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Remote Warriors for Indian Air Force Eyes in the Sky - Sujan Dutta (Telegraph-India)
Unravelling the Little India within Israel - Harinder Mishra (Rediff-India)
Israel Helps Build Mosque in Nigeria (JTA)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
On Thursday, an Israeli armored vehicle and two jeeps crossed the border and tried to penetrate into Lebanese territory when UN French peacekeepers blocked their path, said an Associated Press photographer who witnessed the incident. The Israelis retreated after a brief standoff. Israel believes Hizballah still has massive weapons stores in south Lebanon and guerrillas in place to use them, and that a full-scale conflict could erupt at any time if the UN force and Lebanese army do not take firm control. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Israel Denies Friction with UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon
Israel denied its forces in southern Lebanon had been involved in a confrontation with UN peacekeepers Thursday. According to Lebanese reports, four French tanks stood 50 meters from five Israeli tanks near the village of Marwaheen in a 20-minute face-off. The Israeli military spokesman said "our forces did not prevent them from doing anything and they did not prevent us from doing anything," adding that "no conflict arose" between the Israeli force and the French force. (Deutsche-Presse Agentur)
U.S. counterterrorism officials say Hizballah terrorists remain a threat to the survival of Lebanon's government, Israel's security, and regional stability, telling Congress Thursday that Hizballah has an increasing global reach and is capable of harming U.S. and other Western interests around the world. Frank Urbancic, a counterterrorism official at the State Department, said: "Hizballah has supported terrorist activities in the Palestinian territories since at least 2000 by providing financial, training, and logistical support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups." Hizballah's growing reach, the officials say, is due in large part to the support it receives from its biggest backers - Iran and Syria - who provide money, arms, and training.
Officials warn that the group operates in the U.S. to raise money to support its terrorist activities. John Kavanagh, a counterterrorism official with the FBI, said: "Within the United States, Hizballah associates and sympathizers have engaged in a wide range of criminal activities to include money laundering, credit card fraud, immigration fraud, food stamp fraud, bank fraud, and narcotics trafficking." (Voice of America)
See also Hizballah "an Octopus" with Tentacles Around World, U.S. Officials Say (U.S. State Department)
In an audio message Thursday, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, called for explosives experts and nuclear scientists to join his group's holy war against the West. "The field of jihad (holy war) can satisfy your scientific ambitions, and the large American bases (in Iraq) are good places to test your unconventional weapons, whether biological or dirty," he said. He also said more than 4,000 foreign insurgent fighters have been killed in Iraq since 2003. (AP/Guardian-UK)
See also Iraq's Qaeda Chief Urges Kidnap of Western Christians - Habib Trabelsi
Al-Qaeda's chief in Iraq urged his followers to kidnap Western Christians in order to swap them for Egyptian cleric Omar Abdul Rahman, who is being held in the U.S. over the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. (AFP/Yahoo)
Syria will keep supporting Hamas and Hizballah despite U.S. threats to impose more sanctions on it, an editorial in the government newspaper Baath said Thursday. Both Hizballah and Hamas refuse to recognize Israel. (Reuters)
Secretary of State Rice will travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and the West Bank next week to consult with leaders "who have a vision for a more moderate, peaceful, democratic, stable, and prosperous Middle East," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday. (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
In a letter to Secretary of State Rice on Thursday, Congressmen Steve Rothman (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) accused UNRWA of distributing funds to terrorist organizations and called for "stricter oversight" of the more than $100 million in U.S. foreign aid provided to UN humanitarian programs each year. "We know that Hamas supports the indiscriminate killing of civilians. We know that UNRWA cannot account for large amounts of money it has spent. And we know that UNRWA does not check Palestinian beneficiaries against a list of known terrorists," said Rothman. "Are U.S. tax dollars funding terrorists through UNRWA?" (Ha'aretz)
Long lines formed Thursday outside banks in Gaza City as PA employees waited to receive their salaries after Saudi Arabia and Qatar donated funds to the PA. Earlier in the day, hundreds of PA police and security officers blocked all main roads in Gaza City in a protest against unpaid wages. (Ha'aretz)
Vice Premier Shimon Peres said in London on Thursday that "the government cannot evacuate more settlements in Judea and Samaria," given that Israel has continued to suffer rocket attacks since last summer's withdrawal from Gaza. Peres said, "There is natural growth of settlements. The government does not fund this, it is privately financed. We cannot stop the children [of settlers from] building homes for themselves." His spokesman added that it had been the policy of the Israeli government to allow for natural growth construction in Judea and Samaria. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in north Gaza fired a Kassam rocket toward Israel Thursday evening that landed near the city of Sderot. Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter told the cabinet this week, "We don't need to conquer Gaza, but operations that will create deterrence against the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are required. We must hit where is needed and to charge a price. The government needs to reconsider all of its policies toward Gaza following the continuation of the Kassam attacks." (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
EU members have been expressing great interest in renewing financial support to the Palestinian Authority. On September 21, 2006, the office of the Palestinian president signed an agreement with the World Bank for the transfer of $46.6 million to maintain basic services in the Palestinian Authority. In order to encourage donating countries to transfer as much money as possible to finance its budget, the PA is striving to magnify the image of a "humanitarian crisis" in the territories. However, without proper supervision, the West's financial aid might directly or indirectly find its way to funding Palestinian terror.
The PA allocates $48 million a year to security prisoners in Israeli jails and to released prisoners. Every Palestinian prisoner or Israeli-Arab in an Israeli prison is entitled to receive financial aid from the PA if he was imprisoned for the struggle against "the Israeli occupation." In addition, a released prisoner is entitled to a government position if he spent more than 5 years in prison. A prisoner who spent over 25 years in prison is entitled to the position of deputy minister and the rank of a brigadier-general in the security forces. The PA also transfers millions of dollars per month to organizations, run mostly by Hamas, that support the families of prisoners, dead terrorists, and the wounded.
This system of support, which aids murderous terrorists, suicide bombers who were caught, and those who launched them, conveys the message that the Palestinian Authority supports the armed struggle against Israel. The West's financial aid to the PA, if renewed without the proper precautions and supervision, might end up supporting thousands of former and current Palestinian terrorists. (JCPA-Hebrew, 27Sep06)
Everyone says that disarming the terrorists is a priority - Israel, Lebanon, the U.S., France, the UN. But no one's going to actually do it. Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora has said his army won't actively hunt for hidden Hizballah arsenals. So there are thousands of troops on the ground in Lebanon, but no one with the will to do the job of getting the guns, missiles, rockets, etc. away from the terrorists. Meanwhile, Hizballah has blended back into the daily life of Lebanon. It's paying off the civilian population while its fighters prepare for the next battle. (New York Post)
To read bin Laden's communiques is to be reminded of Admiral Yamamato assuring his peers that his years in the U.S. in the 1920s taught him that America, despite its fancy cars and skyscrapers, simply could not match the courage of the chosen Japanese.
Just as it was idle in the middle of World War II to speculate how many Germans, Japanese, or Italians really accepted the silly hatred of Hitler, Mussolini, or Tojo, so too it is a vain enterprise to worry over how many Muslims follow or support al-Qaeda. Most people have no ideology, but simply accommodate themselves to the prevailing sense of an agenda's success or failure. It doesn't matter whether Middle Easterners actually accept the tenets of bin Laden's worldview - not if they think he is on the ascendancy, can bring them a sense of restored pride, and humiliate the Jews and the West on the cheap. (National Review)
See also The New Anti-Semitism - Victor Davis Hanson
The renewed hatred of Jews in the Middle East - and the indifference to it in the West - is a sort of "post-anti-Semitism." Islamic zealots supply the old venomous hatred, while affluent and timid Westerners provide the necessary indifference. The danger of this post-anti-Semitism is that, ever so insidiously, radical Islam's hatred of Jews is becoming normalized. The result is that the world's politicians and media are talking seriously with those who not merely want the West Bank, but rather want an end to Israel altogether and everyone inside it. (Baltimore Sun)
Montreal MP Irwin Cotler has made a refreshing return to human-rights campaigner form with his plan to help prepare an indictment of the president of Iran for incitement to genocide. Genocides don't happen spontaneously or without the world knowing. If Iran's deranged president does indeed acquire nuclear capability, and uses it to exterminate whole population centers, no one will be able to claim surprise.
Genocidal leaders typically spend significant time "preparing" their people and the world for the horror they are planning. Ahmadinejad has declared that "Israel must be wiped off the map." Cotler, correctly assuming that the president means what he says, is seeking to have Ahmadinejad prosecuted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. This legal initiative is a way of signaling that Ahmadinejad's genocidal intentions must not be ignored, tolerated or minimized, as Hitler's were in the 1920s and 1930s. (Ottawa Citizen, 27Sep06)
We need to stop insulting Islam. What is insulting is the politically correct, kid-gloves view of how to deal with Muslims that is taking root in the West today. It goes like this: "Hush! Don't say anything about Islam! If you say anything critical or questioning about Muslims, they'll burn down your house. They are not capable of a civil, rational dialogue about problems in their faith community." Now that is insulting. It's an attitude full of contempt and self-censorship, but that is the attitude of Western elites today.
As someone who has lived in the Muslim world, enjoyed the friendship of many Muslims there, and seen the compassionate side of Islam in action, I have to admit I am confused as to what Islam stands for today. I don't get it. How can Muslims blow up other Muslims on their most holy day of the year - in mosques! - and there is barely a peep of protest in the Muslim world, let alone a million Muslim march? Yet Danish cartoons or a papal speech lead to violent protests. What matters is not what Muslims tell us they stand for. What matters is what they tell themselves, in their own languages, and how they treat their own. (New York Times, 29Sep06)
Mahmoud Abbas announced agreement with the radical Islamic group Hamas on the political platform for a national unity government more than two weeks ago, as a way to try to induce the West to resume financial aid to employees of the Palestinian Authority. The idea was endorsed on Sept. 15 by the European Union at a meeting of foreign ministers. But Hamas repudiated the political program even before it was published. In fact, the idea began falling apart as soon as Abbas announced it. A national unity government is a clever idea, but the whole exercise has an element of prestidigitation about it - a magician wooing an audience desperately hoping to suspend disbelief. (International Herald Tribune)
The main battle being waged by bin Laden's men today is the Iraqi insurgency, whose leaders openly acknowledge their adherence to bin Laden and his organization. Syria is the main sponsor of the Iraqi insurgency, which means it is meeting with, paying off, training, arming, giving safe transit to, and probably making plans with al-Qaeda. (Jerusalem Post)
I have traveled in the Middle East for decades and always found Israelis living full lives, with a thriving cultural scene, ebullient political discourse, and an almost compulsive need to enjoy themselves. Still, I always sensed a state of low-grade national anxiety, perhaps unavoidable considering the daily headlines quoting enemies vowing to destroy Israel. Yet, something is different this time. The threat of doomsday feels more palpable. The source of Israel's national middle-of-the-night cold sweat, of course, is Iran. While the rest of the world sees the Iranian regime's nuclear ambitions as a political, diplomatic, even an academic problem, Israelis sense the bull's eye on their backs.
Israelis know from experience that when a nation's leader says they should be destroyed, his words cannot be ignored. Here, Ahmadinejad's words have a 1930s German accent. Israelis take Iran's threats more seriously than any country on Earth, because they believe that a misstep could spell catastrophe for every family. Israelis want the world to understand this is not just their problem, that Iran already has the capability to hit Europe and could spread dangerous weapons to terrorists anywhere in the world while it triggers a devastating new regional arms race.
Most here call the war with Hizballah the ''Second Lebanon War,'' because they fought another one there in the 1980s. But some now call the latest war ''The First Iran-Israel War,'' a label foretelling a future that makes the age of suicide bombers seem placid by comparison. (Miami Herald)
In Arab-Israel Military Forces in Asymmetric Warfare, Anthony Cordesman evaluates the military forces of Israel and its surrounding Arab neighbors with particular emphasis on unconventional warfare, or what is now called asymmetric warfare, meaning war where one side mingles with the civilian population causing moral confusion to the enemy.
The Syrian army he calls hollow. At one time it had been dangerous, as much from its paranoid leadership as its extensive armament, but with the demise of the Soviet Union and its military grants, the army has collapsed into a relatively immobile garrison force. Much of the armament is obsolete if not unusable through poor maintenance, while the officers are chosen for political reasons and the men are under-trained.
Egypt suffers somewhat from the same deficiencies, though not on such a large scale. However, because of American aid, both the Egyptian army and air force are potent forces that cannot be discounted. (Washington Times)
The New York Times ombudsman, commenting on coverage of the recent war in Lebanon, reflects a mentality that the essence of war is the suffering it creates on each side while the war is going on. The reasons for the war, the implications of victory or defeat for each side, the moral status of the combatants (an issue the ombudsman says is irrelevant), are at best a sideshow. The author is a professor of law at George Mason University. (Volokh Conspiracy)
A collection of sacred artifacts looted by the Romans from the Temple of Jerusalem and long suspected of being hidden in the vaults of the Vatican are actually in the Holy Land, according to British archeologist Sean Kingsley. He claims that the trumpets, gold candelabra, and the bejeweled Table of the Divine Presence were among pieces shipped to Rome after the looting in 70 CE of the Temple, the most sacred building in the ancient Jewish faith. After a decade of research into ancient texts and archeological sources, Kingsley has reconstructed the treasure's route. It left Rome in the 5th century and was taken to Carthage, Constantinople, and Algeria before being hidden in the Judean wilderness beneath the Monastery of Theodosius. (Times-UK)
David Adan-Bayewitz, Associate Professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, and a guest at Berkeley Lab, and Frank Asaro and Robert D. Giauque of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division, performed measurements on 1,200 pottery vessels from 38 sites in Roman Judea (present-day Israel). They found that samples of pottery from Jerusalem during this era showed anomalously higher concentrations of silver, as compared to samples from all other sites dated to the same period of time, which may be evidence of the wealth of the city during the Second Temple period.
Jerusalem and its Temple was the religious and national focus of Jews throughout the Roman Empire during the Second Temple Period, leading to substantial growth and accumulation of wealth of the city's inhabitants. The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, who lived during this time, called Jerusalem "by far the most famous city of the East." Jewish pilgrims to Jerusalem contributed to the city's wealth, and continual donations to the Temple made it a target for plunder. (Physorg.com)
Some 160,000 Jews lived in Kiev, Ukraine, on the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Ten days after the invasion, on September 28, 1941 - Yom Kippur eve - posters were put up instructing all Jews to report to the cemetery and bring clothes, money, and personal documents. People thought that they were going on a long journey. The Jews were divided into groups of men, women, and children. They were forced to undress, then shot at the edge of a forested ravine. More than 33,170 people were murdered in two days. In the following months, thousands of additional Jews were also murdered. All told, about 100,000 people were murdered at Babi Yar, including gypsies, Soviet war prisoners, communists, and Ukrainians.
Yelena Korovchevskaya, who was 15 then and lived about a kilometer from Babi Yar, said, "From September to May, there were shots almost every day. The neighbors told us they were shooting Jews." Leonid Bernstein, 86, who lost his father and his uncle in Babi Yar, adds, "No one notes that out of 1,000 murderers, only 150 were German, and all the rest were Ukrainians." (Ha'aretz)
See also Wiesenthal Center Traces Suspected Ex-Nazi to Budapest
The Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center has traced a suspected Nazi war criminal to Budapest, the Hungarian MTI news agency reported Thursday. Sando Kepiro, 92, is accused of participating in a massacre of 4,000 unarmed civilians (including 1,250 Jews) in Novisad as a gendarme with a Hungary Army unit allied with Nazi Germany, charges that Kepiro denies. He was sentenced in absentia by a court in 1946 to 14 years in prison for war crimes. (DPA/Ha'aretz)
In 1977, an Israeli cargo ship nearing Japan spotted a leaking boat crammed with 66 Vietnamese men, women, and children. They were among hundreds of thousands of "boat people" fleeing their country following the end of the Vietnam War. The Israeli ship picked them up and took them to Israel where Prime Minister Menachem Begin authorized their permanent admission.
What happened to the Vietnamese refugees in the Jewish state? One of the opening scenes of the Israeli film "The Journey of Vaan Nguyen" features one of the original refugees, Hanmoi Nguyen, who has been in Israel for 25 years and with his wife is raising five Israeli-born, Hebrew-speaking daughters. The oldest girl, Vaan, is a writer, has served in the army, and feels Israeli. (JTA)
Ahmadinejad's Translator in NY: Ahmadinejad Believes Iran's Situation Is Improving - Hooman Majd (New York Observer)
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