Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
IDF Planning Large-Scale Gaza Operation - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Sending Hamas Cease-Fire Signals - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
IDF: Gaza Terrorists Have Anti-Aircraft Capabilities - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
Poll: 93% of Israelis Worry about Terror (Jerusalem Post)
Muslim Birthrate Worries Russia - Michael Mainville (Washington Times)
My Life as a Spy at the Heart of Al-Qaeda (Sunday Times-UK)
Al-Qaeda Suspect Running in Bahrain Election (AFP/The Peninsula-Qatar)
U.S. Firms Turn to Israel as Outsourcing Alternative - Matthew Kalman (Boston Globe)
Strengthening Israel-New Jersey Business Ties - Thomas Gaudio (NJBIZ)
Agreement to Develop Fish Farming in Ghana (Ghanaweb)
Israelis to Lend Medical "Helping Hand" in Uganda - David Machlis (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Mortar shells and car bombs devastated several streets in the Shia neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad Thursday, killing over 150 people and wounding more than 230. Witnesses said at least three car bombs blew up one after the other in markets and shopping streets. Maj.-Gen. Abdel Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said, "It is clear al-Qaeda did this." He said police believed ten mortar rounds had been fired and eight car bombs set, of which four went off. More than 3,700 people were killed in Baghdad last month, the UN reported Wednesday. (Times-UK)
With an anti-Syria fury that recalled the aftermath of the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese poured into Beirut on Thursday for the funeral of the government minister slain Tuesday, Pierre Gemayel. Demonstrators shouted for the resignation of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, who is allied with Syria. They cursed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and spat on pictures of Gen. Michel Aoun, a Christian who aligned his party with Hizballah. (New York Times)
Sunni Arab militant groups suspected of having ties to Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia have established training camps east of Baghdad that are turning out well-disciplined units willing to fight American forces in set-piece battles, American military commanders said Thursday. American soldiers fought such units in a pitched battle last week in Turki, a village in Diyala province, bordering Iran. At least 72 insurgents and two American officers, both West Point graduates, were killed in more than 40 hours of fighting including 12 hours of airstrikes. Officers said insurgents stood and fought, even deploying a platoon-size unit in "perfect military formation." "We hadn't seen anything like this in years," said Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas of the 82nd Airborne Division. (New York Times)
Iran said Thursday that it would build a heavy-water reactor on its own at Arak after the UN nuclear monitoring agency decided to remove the item from a list of projects for which it planned to provide technical assistance. (New York Times)
A plain clothes French police officer shot into a crowd of skirmishing soccer fans Thursday as he tried to protect a supporter of the Hapoel Tel Aviv team, killing one person and injuring another, police said. The incident near the Parc des Princes stadium occurred after Hapoel Tel Aviv's 4-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in a UEFA Cup match. The officer was trying to protect a Hapoel Tel Aviv fan set upon by some 150 PSG supporters, police said. He lobbed tear gas when the crowd went after him, then fired two shots, "having been driven into a corner," police said. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had wanted to use her trip to Jordan next week to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian talks by inviting Prime Minister Olmert and PA Chairman Abbas to a meeting, but the idea was shelved due to the Palestinians' ongoing failure to establish a unity government, Israeli government sources said. President Bush unexpectedly announced he would be joining Rice on her Jordan trip, mainly to reassure a key American ally in the region that the U.S. will not execute a hasty withdrawal from Iraq. (Ha'aretz)
Three IDF soldiers sustained light injuries after a Palestinian female suicide bomber exploded near forces in northern Gaza. Hamas claimed responsibility and identified the bomber as Fatma Omar an-Najar, 68. (Jerusalem Post)
Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Abir said Thursday that Faik Abu al-Qumsan, commander of the PRC military wing in northern Gaza and responsible for leading the rocket attacks on Israel, was killed in an Israeli air strike. Abir said Qusman, who was killed along with two other operatives, was responsible for placing an explosive that blew up an IDF tank in 2001, killing 3 soldiers. Qumsan was the brother of Sheikh Ismail Abu al-Qumsan, who founded the PRC and was also killed by the IDF. (Ynet News)
Israeli security forces Wednesday arrested four wanted Palestinian Islamic Jihad members in Kabatiya in the West Bank who had been in the final stages of planning a suicide bombing inside Israel. Forces also uncovered an explosive device, two AK-47 rifles, and an M-16 rifle. (Ynet News)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed in the western Negev on Friday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Two Rockets Hit Sderot Thursday Night (Jerusalem Post)
See also Kindergarteners and Kassams in Sderot - Noam Bedein
At a Sderot nursery school, Debbie, one of the teachers, details how they had just managed to go to their security room with 15 children aged 3-5, in 15 seconds. She describes how the children walk quickly, in a way which has already become routine, stay quiet, and wait to hear the explosion of the rocket. The children are not able to play outside in the school playground. When they go home, Debbie says she reminds the children not to go to any playground and to run home as fast as they can. On Fridays, the children have a "wishing day," where they can ask for anything, Debbie explains. The only wish, she says, is for the Arabs to stop firing missiles at us.
At another nursery school, Ofra the teacher is talking about snails, and asks the children: "Why does the snail have a shell?" The children answer in chorus: "So it can be protected from the Kassams." Ofra mentions that the children have building and puzzle pieces made from Kassam rocket fragments, as if they were a new form of Lego, and that they all say they want to be soldiers when they grow up, to "fight those Arabs who fire Kassams on us." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The pressure on Israel and the U.S. to fill the diplomatic vacuum, following the post-Lebanon war political collapse of convergence, seems to be growing. A vacuum, however, cannot be filled by simply repackaging the policies that failed to fill it, namely the Quartet's road map and Israel's unilateral withdrawal track. Both these policies have become stalled because they ignore the root cause of the problem. Both pretend that the obstacle to peace is the lack of a Palestinian state, when in reality the obstacle to such a state - and to Arab-Israeli peace - is the Arab refusal to accept Israel's right to exist.
It has been obvious at least since 2000, when Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat a state on a silver platter, that the Palestinians could have a state over almost all of the West Bank and all of Gaza whenever they wanted. But the fight is over something much more fundamental, whether the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world are willing to give up their desire to destroy Israel itself. In the Arab and Muslim world today there is no significant peace camp arguing that Israel does have a right to exist, or even a pragmatic camp openly arguing for peace for the Arabs' own sake. In such an atmosphere, no peace process worthy of the name is possible, and new American, Israeli, or European plans repackaging the offer of a Palestinian state will tend to encourage Arab radicalism.
Israel should have a peace plan - the demand that the Arab world end its war against Israel. If Arab leaders really want peace, they should help the Palestinians out of their suicidal stalemate by meeting with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem and their own capitals, calling on Palestinians to give up the dream of "returning" to Israel by the millions, and beginning to settle Palestinian "refugees" rather than continuing to use them as pawns against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
There is never a wrong time to do the right thing and if, like me, you are convinced of Israel's cause, then why not support Israel and why not now? Since its birth 58 years ago, Israel has always been prepared to compromise for peace. From Begin's agreement with Sadat in 1979 to the Arafat-Barak talks at Camp David in 2000, Israeli leaders have been prepared to challenge their own people in pursuit of peace. Last summer Israel withdrew from Gaza, angry settlers and all. Yet the terror from the Gaza Strip has continued - more than 1,000 rockets have been fired into southern Israel in the past year.
We need to think carefully about the consequences of questioning the defensive reactions of a nation-state that is constantly bombarded by an enemy calling for its destruction, especially after it has withdrawn from Lebanon and Gaza. Would we as British citizens accept a single rocket on a British town, let alone hundreds? Israel's willingness to compromise for peace has never been enough, because Israel alone cannot gain peace. The Palestinians and others in the region also have to want peace. Why not concentrate attention there, rather than on the one player in the region who has always been serious about peace? The writer is chief executive of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre and the former Labour MP for Rochdale. (Guardian-UK)
In a thousand ways, in a thousand places, Kassam rockets have been written off as primitive, unguided, home-made. They are all of those. They are also a war crime. They are a lethal weapon fired intentionally and specifically at purely civilian targets. As such, their use, at the hands of their Palestinian gunners, is a flagrant violation of international law.
Any party to any armed conflict "is obligated to abide by international humanitarian law, or the laws of war," Human Rights Watch declared earlier this month, after a Sderot mother of two was killed by a Kassam. "Because Kassams are not capable of accurate targeting, it is unlawful to use them in or near areas populated with civilians." "A prohibited indiscriminate attack includes using weapons that are incapable of discriminating between civilians and combatants or between civilian and military objects."
On the solely pragmatic level, the Kassams have tarnished and undermined the Palestinian cause as has no other action since suicide bombings cost the Palestinians their entire reservoir of international sympathy. (Ha'aretz)
All but seven members of the UN General Assembly recently voted to condemn Israel for its military incursion into Gaza. The buzzword is "overreaction." To what is Israel "overreacting"?
Hamas is indiscriminately launching rockets into civilian areas, hoping to kill as many innocents as possible. For more than five years, the residents of Sderot, a small development town of 26,000 in the Negev desert near the Gaza border, have been subjected to a constant barrage of Kassam rockets fired by Hamas, or the democratically elected government of the Palestinians. More than 3,000 rockets have hit Sderot and the roughly 45 smaller communities in the area.
Hamas has no plans to stop voluntarily, and the international outrage machine won't ask it to. The Islamic terrorists are merely fulfilling a promise made this June: "We have decided to turn Sderot into a ghost town. We won't stop firing the rockets until they all leave." (Washington Times)
The U.S. should take unilateral and multilateral steps parallel to the UN track, including pressuring Iran economically through stricter enforcement of existing regulations, offering Tehran the prospect of appropriate inducements, implementing security measures that dissuade and deter the regime, making the preventive military option more credible, and promoting reform regardless of the nuclear situation. Even if such measures prove ineffective in the face of a clerical leadership dead set on nuclear development, they can still serve as proof that Washington is pursuing every peaceful option possible, thus strengthening the U.S. position if more severe measures become necessary. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
While Tony Blair suggests that the West should engage in a constructive dialogue with both Syria and Iran in an attempt to resolve all the ills of the Middle East, what he singularly fails to understand is that, far from being interested in pursuing a dialogue with the West, the Syrian and Iranian regimes are engaged in an elemental battle with the West to define the future shape of the Middle East. Far from wanting to work with the West to make the region a better place, the ruling classes in Iran and Syria want to keep it as it is. The unreconstructed autocrats of Damascus and Teheran are viscerally opposed to any attempt to make life better for the people they rule. (Telegraph-UK)
By the standards of ordinary warfare, last summer's conflict between Israel and Hizballah ended with an inconclusive truce and no real winner or loser. But don't tell that to the residents of southern Lebanon. Here in the land that is Hizballah's headquarters, the 33-day war has been branded beyond a doubt: It was a holy war fought for the glory of God. And Hizballah warriors, with God's help, won a magnificent victory against the Israeli invaders.
Three months after the fighting ended, parts of Lebanon remain a shambles. So the slogans and messages can be an effective way to help the community deal with the loss. "I believe Hizballah felt they were in crisis, they didn't have many choices, they have strong propaganda skills, and they felt they needed to rely on supernatural forces to help their audience," said Mona Fayyad, a professor of psychology at the Lebanese University. Walid Jumblatt, leader of the minority Druze community, declared that anyone who considers the war a divine one is "crazy." (Washington Post)
How do we win the conflict against radical Islamic terrorist groups and their supporters? In his important book, Unconquerable Nation, Brian Michael Jenkins, who established the first major U.S. terrorism studies program at the RAND think tank in 1972, formulates a counterterrorism strategy to destroy what he terms the "jihadist enterprise." A number of strategic principles can be discerned, including conserving resources for a long war, waging an effective political warfare campaign, breaking the cycle of jihadism, maintaining international cooperation, pre-empting attempts by terrorists to launch attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, and retaliating "in kind" against any state that provides WMD to a terrorist group.
Among these principles, the "real battle" is ideological, with political warfare a crucial component in America's arsenal. "It is not enough to outgun the jihadists. We must destroy their appeal, halt their recruiting. It is not enough to kill or apprehend individual members. Al-Qaeda's jihadist ideology must be delegitimized and discredited." What is important, he argues, is to engage them in a political warfare campaign that "comprises aggressive tactics aimed at the fringes of the population, where personal discontent and spiritual devotion turn to violent expression." (Washington Times)
President Jimmy Carter's decision to title his new anti-Israel screed Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid tells it all. His use of the loaded word "apartheid," suggesting an analogy to the hated policies of South Africa, is especially outrageous. Nor does he explain that Israel's motivation for holding on to land it captured in a defensive war is the prevention of terrorism. Israel has tried, on several occasions, to exchange land for peace, and what it got instead was terrorism, rockets, and kidnappings launched from the returned land. In fact, Palestinian-Arab terrorism is virtually missing from Mr. Carter's entire historical account, which blames nearly everything on Israel and almost nothing on the Palestinians. (New York Sun)
See also Carter's Book a Distorted View of Israel - Michael Jacobs
By using "Palestine" as the first word in the title, Carter is revealing the prism through which his book examines the situation: It's not about an equitable resolution of a two-sided struggle; it's about the Palestinians getting all they can. If Israel would just do what is right, Carter implies, Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, al-Qaeda, etc., would lay down their explosive belts, give up their improvised explosive devices, dismantle their rockets, forget nuclear bombs, and live in peace and harmony for all time. In reality, Palestinians, Arab nations, and Iran remain intent on Israel's destruction. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
See also Jimmy Carter, Go Back to Your Peanut Farm - David J. Forman
The book's cover shows an obviously troubled Jimmy Carter, who believes that he is the moral voice of all those who suffer human rights indignities, overlooking the security wall Israel has built. Would it not have been far more appropriate had Carter, instead of superimposing his own humble presence over the wall, superimposed a replica of the hundreds of memorial plaques that dot Israeli bus stops, restaurants, supermarkets, malls, and synagogues where Palestinian suicide bombers carried out their acts of murder? Carter is purposefully providing a great measure of both respectability for and acceptability of the Muslim world's drive to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the globe. (Jerusalem Post)
An Israeli nonprofit believes it has perfected the art of training dogs to detect explosives. Those highly trained dogs will soon be patrolling the streets of California cities, including Sacramento. The state Office of Homeland Security is paying $411,000 to an organization called Pups for Peace so that eight handlers from California law enforcement agencies can travel to Israel to learn the bomb-sniffing training techniques. After two months of training, the handlers will return to the U.S. with two dogs each, ready to sniff out explosives. If the pilot program proves successful, the state may try to bring it to California and offer it to more police agencies, said Chris Bertelli, spokesman for the homeland security office.
In a sense, the program is returning to its roots. Pups for Peace was started in 2002 by Glenn Yago, an economist at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, in response to a hotel bombing at an Israeli resort town. (Sacramento Bee)
See also Ontario, Israel Share Expertise on Emergency Services (CNW Group)
At least 20,000 Jews live in Poland. The two leading organizations, the Union of Jewish Communities and the Cultural and Social Association of Jews, each have about 2,000 members. Since 1989, official Poland has wanted to reexamine its relations with the Jews. The main reasons for this are the teachings of Pope John Paul II, Poland's admiration for the U.S., and the rejection among the younger generation of everything their parents and grandparents stood for.
Although the main government force, the Law and Justice Party, is not anti- Semitic, the coalition now contains an anti-Semitic party, the Polish Families League, whose leader, Roman Giertych, is deputy prime minister and minister of education. This poses many dilemmas for the Jewish community, and Israel is boycotting Giertych. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Middle East Academics Disregard Quest for Balance - Pierre M. Atlas (Indianapolis Star)
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