Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

May 8, 2007

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In-Depth Issue:

Congressional Hearing Shows Israel at Crux of Missile Defense Plan - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
  The threat posed to Israel from Iran and the damage to Israeli deterrence from last summer's Lebanon war play a critical role in new U.S. plans for missile defense, a congressional hearing revealed.
  The May 3 session also dropped a bombshell: A senior congressman, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), claimed that an Iranian crew was behind the missile attack on an Israeli Navy ship off Lebanon's coast last summer that killed four Israeli seamen. "We also know that as positions were overrun [by Israeli troops], Iranian IDs were found on many of the combatants," Royce said.


Little Arab Pressure Over Darfur - Sebastian Abbot (AP/Washington Post)
  Western countries looking for ways to pressure Sudan to curb violence in Darfur are getting little support from the Khartoum regime's Arab neighbors. Egypt, whose president met Monday with Sudan's leader, has the greatest influence with its neighbor, but analysts said it is leery of pushing Khartoum for fear of jeopardizing access to Nile River water and because of Arab sentiment against outside interference in the region.


Video: FBI Reconstructs "Shoe-Bomber's" Bomb and Shows Its Lethality (YouTube)
  Faulty detonator kept Richard Reid from blowing the plane out of the sky.


Pups for Peace Aim to Be "First Preventers" - Josh Richman (Inside Bay Area)
  Eight Israeli-trained, bomb-sniffing antiterrorism dogs have been deployed in the Bay Area under a pilot program backed by state Homeland Security officials and a Southern California nonprofit group.
  Pups for Peace is the brainchild of Glenn Yago, capital studies director at the Milken Institute economic think tank in Santa Monica. He and a group of like-minded Los Angeles-area volunteers founded the organization and raised money to train dogs in Southern California, then send them overseas in late 2002 for use by the Israeli Defense Forces. In 2003, the group began training dogs in Israel and deploying them through civilian authorities at bus and train facilities where ridership had decreased after a rash of transit bombings.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Illegal Arms Said to Reach Lebanon Frequently -- UN - Evelyn Leopold
    Illegal arms traffic into Lebanon across the Syrian border, mainly to Hizbullah fighters, is reported to be taking place on a regular basis, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday. In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Ban said news of arms shipments, including "detailed and substantial" reports from Israel, and other nations, showed the need for a team he was sending to propose ways of monitoring of the border.
      "Such transfers are alleged to be taking place on a regular basis," Ban wrote. "I am deeply worried that the political crisis in Lebanon may be deepened and exacerbated" by arms smuggling. He also said that there was a growing threat from armed "extremist Islamist groups" who have found safe haven in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. (Reuters)
  • Hamas Leader Khaled Meshal Predicts a New Intifada - Kevin Peraino
    "A new intifada is not a mere prediction," Meshal said. "I estimate it will be a reality in the future — if we base our analysis on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict during the past years, and consider the difficult and escalating conditions on the ground. What does the world expect from the Palestinian people if the current conditions continue, if the economic siege continues, even after we formed the national unity government?" (Newsweek)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Hebrew University: Herod's Tomb and Grave Found at Herodium - Amiram Barkat
    The Hebrew University announced Monday night that it has uncovered the grave and tomb of King Herod, who ruled Judea for the Roman empire from circa 37 BCE. The tomb was discovered by Hebrew University Professor Ehud Netzer, who is considered one of the leading experts on King Herod. Herodium, a fortified palace built by Herod some 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem, was destroyed by the Romans in 71 CE. Herod is credited with expanding the Second Temple and building Caesarea, Masada, and many other monumental construction projects. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S. Struggles with Mideast Plan - Joshua Brilliant
    The United States has presented Israel and the Palestinians with a new plan for enhanced security, movement and access -- but if initial reactions are any indication, its fate might be no better than previous, never-implemented plans. The plan was drawn up by U.S. Security Coordinator Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton and discussed in weekly meetings with the parties. It was presented a fortnight ago.
      Its text has two essential elements, one of which is to improve Palestinian movement and access. It talks of easing Israeli restrictions on movement in the West Bank, especially in the Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus and Jordan Valley areas. No later than July 1 there should be five bus convoys a week linking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
      The second major element concerns security. Palestinian security forces should actively enforce law and order and fight terrorism, the plan says. By June 21 the Palestinian president should deploy forces to stop Qassam rocket attacks into Israel.
      A senior Israeli defense official indicated the defense establishment did not want to open a corridor between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. "There is a mess and chaos in Gaza. Why bring it to the West Bank?" he asked. The Gazans are more prone to violence, the situation in the West Bank is already "problematic ... delicate," and if Gazans reach the West Bank "within a week there will be terrorist attacks here."
      Hamas' spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, minced no words about the Dayton plan. "The American plan is rejected and we will work to make it fail by any means," he declared. Even if Hamas were to cooperate, it would be a long time before the authorities could end the chaotic security situation where clans and factions seem armed to the teeth. (UPI)
  • Assessing Syria's True Intentions a Tricky Task - Yaakov Katz
    Following the Second Lebanon War and the country's poor showing in the fight against Hizbullah, Israeli defense officials have pointed to an increase in chances for war with Syria, referring to the double-tongued Assad as someone who extends his hand in peace while simultaneously threatening the use of force to win back the Golan.
      While Damascus has made several clear and repeated overtures to engage the Israelis in peace talks, on the other side of the border a cacophony of assessments and opinions within the Israeli intelligence community has created confusion as to the authenticity of the Syrian proposals.
      On Monday, head of the National Security Council Ilan Mizrachi expressed to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he believed the overtures were authentic, contradicting an assessment voiced at the same committee by Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who said Assad should not be taken seriously. Dagan and other defense officials believe that Syria is actually preparing for war with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lessons from Israel's Lebanon War Resonate Globally - Ilene R. Prusher
    Last week's Winograd Commission report on the war provides a window into what may be an increasingly insurmountable task facing modern democracies: winning war, regardless of military superiority. Both Israel and the United States are face to face with religious militants and insurgency groups – organizations that are committed to an idea but not necessarily a country or its leadership. From Hizbullah in Lebanon to Al Qaeda in Iraq and around the world, victory is in the eyes of the beholder.
      Each group has the Internet at its fingertips and an increasingly sophisticated public-relations machine to strike at the home front, from Hizbullah's slick marketing proclaiming "Divine Victory" after the Lebanon war to Al Qaeda's professional video-distribution network. The traditional scorecards used to tally winners and losers, experts say, were designed for a battlefield that is fading into obsolescence. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Strategic Lessons of the Winograd Commission Report - Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • In general terms, the Winograd Commission Report dealt mostly with the flaws in the decision-making process in Israel. However, the report contains important insights into the strategic thinking that was predominant in the Israeli political-military leadership from the time of Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon until the July 2006 Second Lebanon War:
  • Israel completed its unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon on May 24, 2000. It was hoped that the withdrawal would erode the legitimacy of any continuing military activity by Hizbullah, especially in Lebanon's internal politics. At that time the Israeli government declared that any violation of Israeli sovereignty would bring about a harsh and immediate Israeli response.
  • These declarations stipulated that in the event of any assault on Israeli soldiers or civilians, all of Lebanon, Syria, and Hizbullah would be affected. The purpose of these statements was to build up Israeli deterrence in the aftermath of the withdrawal. Effective deterrence of this sort was critical for Israel, the Winograd Commission Report explains.
  • Despite these strong declarations, Israel only responded locally to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers in October 2000. The Winograd Commission Report presents the assessment of Deputy Defense Minister Efraim Sneh that the Israeli government at the time did not respond more forcefully because it did not want to show that its Lebanon withdrawal had actually produced an escalatory effect.
  • As a result, another view became deeply rooted in the Israeli national security establishment that Hizbullah's military buildup after Israel's Lebanon pullout was not so terrible as long as relative quiet along the border was preserved.

    Implications for the Gaza Strip
  • In the Gaza Strip, Hamas is getting stronger as it organizes itself, digs fortifications underground, and builds up its military capabilities. Israel will have to ask itself whether it is preferable to delay the confrontation with Hamas, because of a temporary truce or some other illusory understanding. We are likely to find ourselves in exactly the same position in Gaza that we created with respect to Lebanon.
  • What Israel is doing today in the Gaza Strip is a case of ignoring reality completely. It is an extremely costly policy. Few have any idea what price Israel will have to pay if it moves into Gaza in two or three years, when Hamas feels strengthened and has the capability to launch 122mm Katyusha rockets -which Hizbullah possessed in the thousands - as far as Ashdod and Kiryat Gat.
  • It is now clear that the only way to thwart rocket attacks is by controlling the situation on the ground. Qassam rockets are today landing in Sderot and Ashkelon - and not in Kfar Saba - because Israel does not control the situation on the ground in Gaza, whereas it has control of the ground around Qalqilya in the West Bank.

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