Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Report: Israel May Bomb Tunnels Along Gaza-Egypt Border (Reuters)
- October 26, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Israeli Emissaries in America
Is Mahmoud Abbas Planning a Coup? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Security Agent Testifies at Chicago Trial (AP/WMAL)
Danish Paper Wins Mohammad Cartoon Libel Case - Gelu Sulugiuc (Reuters)
Minneapolis Airport Taxi Flap about Alcohol Has Deeper Significance - Katherine Kersten (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Why Johnny Is Reading
Islamist Propaganda - Bob Unruh (WorldNetDaily)
Yad Vashem Gets $25M Donation - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
Marvell Technology to Hire 100 Employees in Israel - Batya Feldman (Globes)
EL AL Israel Airlines Reduces Fuel Surcharge for All Flights Departing USA (New York Times/MarketWatch)
Israeli High-Tech Executives at Blue Knot Networking Event (Business Wire/New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
China and Russia said they would oppose a draft resolution imposing UN sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program as the Security Council's five permanent members held their first meeting on the text. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the text circulated on Oct. 24 by Britain, France, and Germany "fails to match'' his government's position on Iran's nuclear program. (Bloomberg)
See also U.S. Confident of UN Sanctions Against Iran - Meredith Buel
The United States says it is confident the UN Security Council will approve a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for refusing to stop enriching uranium. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says he does not believe Russian objections to a draft resolution will be a serious obstacle to efforts to secure the council's approval of the sanctions. (VOA News)
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy declared last week he has changed his opinion on Israel's controversial separation barrier in light of its drastic effect on terror, forcing French authorities to clarify their position on the issue. "I have significantly evolved on the matter of the separation fence," said Douste-Blazy on French Jewish television TFJ on Thursday. "Although the wall was a moral and ethical problem for me, when I realized terror attacks were reduced by 80 percent in the areas where the wall was erected, I understood I didn't have the right to think that way." Hamas vigorously criticized the French FM after his statement. (European Jewish Press)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Israeli government Wednesday welcomed the publication of the results of the special investigation into the terrorist attack on the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Building (AMIA) in Argentina on July 18, 1994. The investigation determined unequivocally that the attack was carried out by Hizballah, with the support of the leaders of the Iranian government. Eighty-five persons were murdered and hundreds wounded in the bombing. Israel had claimed for years that Hizballah and Iran, both of which continue to perpetrate terrorism today, were responsible for both the AMIA attack and a deadly assault on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992, in which 29 were murdered and some 300 wounded. With the release of the report, Israel expects the Argentine government to take the necessary steps to bring those responsible for these atrocities to justice. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Palestinian terrorists fired at an Israeli car north of Hebron Thursday, wounding an Israeli man. The terrorists blocked the road, causing the driver to slow down, and then fired at him at close range and fled the scene. The man said the three were dressed as shepherds. (Ynet News)
Israel air force aircraft bombed overnight Thursday the home of a Hamas operative in Jabaliya in Gaza that was being used as a weapons warehouse. The IDF said the occupants had been warned 15 minutes before the strike to vacate the premises, and no one was injured. (Jerusalem Post)
On Thursday, residents of the Modiin Elite settlement donated NIS 30,000 worth of medical equipment to equip an ambulance from the neighboring Palestinian village of Naleen. Village resident Husseini Nafar said that they originally appealed to Palestinian Authority sources, who told them to "find another donor." (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Two months after the end of the Middle East's summer war the good news is that the Israeli-Lebanese border is quiet and looks as if it may remain so for some time. The bad news is that neither the small nor the large factors that triggered the fighting - the abduction of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hizballah, and Iran's new drive for power in the region - have been alleviated.
Judging from what Israeli raids have been uncovering in Gaza, Palestinian militants are eager to imitate what they perceive as Hizballah's success in standing up to the Israeli army in the villages of southern Lebanon - and Iran's agents are just as eager to help them. Entering the border zone between Gaza and Egypt last week for the first time in months, Israeli forces found some 15 tunnels that they say were being used to smuggle sophisticated weapons, such as Russian-made Concourse anti-tank missiles, 122-millimeter Grad rockets, and more than 15 tons of TNT. Firings of Kassam rockets from Gaza at nearby Israeli towns have continued, along with Israeli raids to capture or kill the militants behind them.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to harbor one of the architects of the war, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who ordered the June raid inside Israel that began the fighting. Now, from his perch in Damascus, he torpedoes attempts by Egypt and other Arab governments to broker accords to release the Israeli captive in Gaza and create a more moderate Palestinian government. (Washington Post)
In Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border, in an area of half-demolished houses, rises a structure that looks totally new, but turns out to be renovated. This is the Dhu al-Nureen Mosque, which is decked with many Hamas flags. Despite the economic siege, the organization has found the money needed for rehabilitating the mosque. At its entrance there are many pictures of martyrs and a few children trying to convince the reporters to buy a toy rifle from them.
On Tuesday, armed men from one of the large clans abducted AP photographer Emilio Morenatti, and then released him. The clan that abducted him specializes in vehicle theft and extorting ransom.
Also Tuesday Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary about the security chaos in the territories in which a number of heads of armed clans were interviewed. Talat al-Sha'ar from Rafah related without a glimmer of remorse how he kidnapped journalists and Red Cross representatives because the PA had not paid him money as it had promised. Sha'ar did not reject the possibility that he would kidnap senior PA people in order to preserve his family's economic interests. Mumtaz Durmush explained proudly that he had executed the head of military intelligence, Moussa Arafat, about a year ago. The heads of the clans/gangs can move securely around Gaza in the knowledge that the PA will not try to arrest them. Sha'ar and Durmush are simply taking advantage of the vacuum of governance that has been left by the struggle between Hamas and Fatah to become the real decision-maker in Gaza.
The Israeli security establishment is watching the internal Palestinian friction. A contribution to strengthening Fatah at the expense of Hamas? We've been there, done that, and nothing came of it. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin agree on the pointlessness of relying on the PA and Fatah to be the ones who will succeed in overcoming Hamas and doing the dirty work for Israel. (Ha'aretz)
Following the failure of efforts to reach agreement between Hamas and Fatah on the formation of a government of national unity, there are growing fears among Palestinians that the two movements are now on the brink of an all-out civil war. The prevailing opinion in Israel is that the failure stems from the refusal of the Damascus-based political leadership of Hamas to accept the Quartet's demands: recognition of Israel, endorsement of previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and non-violence. This explanation may be a handy excuse for the two parties, but their inability to agree also stems in large measure from the internal fragmentation and power plays in both camps.
Both sides are now preparing for a decisive showdown. Accelerated arms smuggling through the tunnels along the border with Egypt is not just part of preparations for a confrontation with Israel; it also reflects the determination of the various militias to be better prepared for the expected internal clash. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies)
See also Is a Violent Fatah-Hamas Confrontation Inevitable - Pinchas Inbari
Senior sources in Fatah say a confrontation with Hamas is inevitable. Fatah feels it must make a move to bring a change or it will lose power to Hamas. In Gaza, Hamas is able to recruit from inside the PA security forces since Hamas can pay salaries, unlike the PA. In addition, Palestinians are becoming more religious and more affiliated ideologically with Hamas. Fatah sources envision a bloody and intense all-out confrontation which will last a few days and that will help break the existing deadlock. Yet in Israel, Fatah's threats are taken with a grain of salt and are seen as aimed at pressuring Hamas to reach an agreement. (JCPA-Hebrew)
I'm sitting in the back of a synagogue in Sderot on Friday night when I hear the siren go off. We have about 15 seconds to seek shelter. The congregants carry on praying and pay little attention to the siren. After 27 seconds, the synagogue shook with a loud thud. Everyone jumped out of their seats. The rocket came down close - real close. It fell 100 meters from the synagogue, in the backyard of a family home. Nearby car and home windows were shattered. A young boy on the sidewalk was wounded by shrapnel. Residents of Sderot and the region's 45 communities have been living with this horrifying reality for more than five years.
Sderot's chief security officer showed me a map covered with dots indicating the places were the rockets have hit. He stopped putting dots on the map two years ago, because it was completely full. Would any other Western democratic nation put up with this? (Jerusalem Post)
Near the Shariah Islamic Law Department at the University of Jordan in Amman, a blue Star of David is spray-painted on a concrete path so students can trample the symbol every time they walk by. At the Center for Strategic Studies, center director Mustafa Hamarneh says, "Israel is probably the last openly bigoted racist country today." This is the voice of moderation in Jordan today. While the two governments have developed close strategic ties since their leaders signed a historic peace treaty 12 years ago, acceptance of Israel among rank-and-file Jordanians remains abysmally low.
"The peace is between governments, not the people," said Hani Hourani, the director general of the Al-Urdun Al-Jadid Research Center in Amman. "It is not even between the elites. It is not even between NGOs." A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that a whopping 100 percent of those polled in Jordan have "unfavorable" views of Jews - more even than Lebanon's 99 percent. "Israel is not a country. It is a terrorist organization founded by the British government in 1948," said University of Jordan student Omar Al-Hinfi, expressing a commonly held view in his country. "It is something put in the whole Arab world to serve the colonial powers." (JTA/Philadelphia Jewish Exponent)
Slowly and without much fanfare Israel is tightening its cooperation with NATO. An Israeli corvette this summer participated in a NATO exercise in Romania. Infantrymen joined war games in the Ukraine and a NATO AWACS plane was in Israel demonstrating its capabilities. The notion that Iran, that openly hopes Israel would be liquidated, would have a nuclear bomb is troubling and has heightened Israel's realization that it needs partners to stop Iran, a country 82 times bigger than Israel.
Israel itself hasn't decided how far it wants to go with NATO. Retired intelligence Col. Eran Lerman says Israelis are not sure their country should become a full member, which might restrict Israel's freedom to retaliate, initiate military action, and would reduce its independent deterrence. (UPI)
Using the language of tolerance to justify oppressive practices is a grotesque perversion of liberalism. The veiling debate is a case in point. No amount of rhetorical sleight of hand can disguise the fact that the full-face veil makes women, literally, faceless. Some Muslim women in the West may choose this garb (which is not mandated in the Koran), but their explanations often reveal an internalized misogynistic view of women as creatures whose very existence is a sexual provocation to men. What's more, their choice helps legitimize a custom that is imposed on millions of women around the world who have no choice. Perhaps, as some say, women are the key to Islam's modernization. The West cannot impose its own solutions from the outside - but, at the very least, it can honestly confront the problem. (Boston Globe)
See also Veiled Insult - Anne Applebaum
If Western tourists can wear sarongs in Balinese temples to show respect for the locals, so too can religious Muslim women show respect for the children they teach and the customers they serve by leaving their head scarves on, but removing their full-faced veils. It isn't religious discrimination or anti-Muslim bias to tell her that she must be polite to the natives and respect the local customs. (Washington Post)
See also Clothes Aren't the Issue - Asra Q. Nomani
The notion of using physical punishment as a "disciplinary action," especially for "controlling or mastering women" or others who "enjoy being beaten," is common throughout the Muslim world. As long as the beating of women is acceptable in Islam, the problem of suicide bombers, jihadists and others who espouse violence will not go away. The writer is the author of Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam. (Washington Post)
See also Australian Islamic Cleric Won't Step Down Over Rape Remark - Rod McGuirk
Australia's most prominent Islamic cleric, Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali, declared Friday that he would not resign for suggesting that women who don't wear head scarves invite rape, saying he would only leave his post "after we clean the world of the White House first." (AP/Washington Post)
See also Veil War Breaks Out on Egypt University Campus - Ramadan Al Sherbini (Gulf News-Dubai)
Politics makes artists stupid. Take "My Name Is Rachel Corrie," the one-woman play cobbled together from the scribblings of the 23-year-old left-wing activist who was run over by an Israeli Army bulldozer in 2003 while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian house in the Gaza Strip. It's an ill-crafted piece of goopy give-peace-a-chance agitprop - yet it's being performed to cheers and tears before admiring crowds of theater-savvy New Yorkers who ought to know better. So why don't they? Because Palestine is the new Cuba, a political cause whose invocation has the effect of instantaneously anesthetizing the upper brain functions of those who believe in it. (Wall Street Journal)
University of Chicago professor Norman Golb has long argued that the Dead Sea Scrolls are a sort of library of writings by different Jewish sects hidden near a site known as Qumran to protect the texts from Roman invaders. Most scholars, meanwhile, have insisted that the scrolls are the work of a tiny sect that wrote them in a monastery at Qumran. But when Golb first visited Qumran, "I looked at it and said to myself: 'This wasn't a monastery. It was a fortress.'"
Now Biblical Archaeology Review, in its September issue, reports on an archeological dig in Israel that backstops Golb's ideas about the scrolls. Yitzhak Magen and Yuval Peleg concluded that the site wasn't a monastery and had nothing to do with the Essenes. It began as a fortress when the Jews had an independent kingdom. When the Romans afterward took over Palestine, it housed a pottery factory. (Chicago Tribune)
Arafat's Legacy: A More Islamic Palestinian Society - Joel Mowbray (Washington Times)
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