Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Hamas Building an Army in Gaza - James Hider (Times-UK)
U.S. to Fund Anti-Missile Systems for Israel - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
Senator: End UN Rights Group Funding - Frederic J. Frommer (AP/Forbes)
Dahlan Resigns as PA National Security Advisor - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Palestinian Doctor Will Not Forgive Libyan Jailors - Anna Mudeva (Reuters)
U.S. and PA Launch $228M "Investment Initiative" (Maan News-PA)
Poll: 74% of Israelis Oppose Another Unilateral Pullback - Anshel Pfeffer (Jerusalem Post )
Israeli Company to Build Largest Solar Energy Park in World in U.S. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
Israel Seeks to Double Nation's Desalination Capacity by 2013 (Engineering News-Record)
Young Diaspora Jews to Visit Israel in Record Numbers in 2007 - Amiram Barkat (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Q: Regarding the nuclear issue, you have a personal assessment that Iran would not possess any real capabilities to create nuclear weapons until 2010 or 2015 perhaps. Is that the U.S. assessment?
A: That remains the assessment. It is a judgment that the intelligence community reached in 2005, and it has not changed.
Q: Can one deduct from that that the U.S. is in no hurry to take the military option?
A: No, I think that this was not a policy prescriptive assessment; this was simply the best judgment of the intelligence community as to when it thought that capability was likely to be available. It was not designed to suggest one policy or another. I should add that we think it is important that Iran cease its enrichment program immediately. We have had at least two Security Council resolutions that have been passed to that effect. This is a view that is shared, it is not a unilateral view of ours; it is shared by the entire Security Council. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
See also Halting Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program: Iranian Vulnerabilities and Western Policy Options - Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (ICA/JCPA)
In late May, about 100 supporters of Syria's largest exile opposition group, the National Salvation Front, gathered outside Damascus' embassy in Washington to protest Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule. One of the NSF's most influential members is the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood - the decades-old political movement active across the Middle East whose leaders have inspired the terrorist groups Hamas and al-Qaeda. The White House views Syria - along with its allies, Iran and militant groups Hizbullah and Hamas - as a main threat to stability in the Middle East. So it is exploring the potential benefits of engaging with the Brotherhood.
Despite its checkered record, the Sunni group could provide a counterweight against the rising influence of Shiite political power in the region. It could also, the reasoning goes, emerge as a force for democratic change. The U.S. has traditionally avoided contact with the Brotherhood across the Middle East. But now the State Department and National Security Council have begun to hold regular strategy sessions on Syria policy with the NSF and is funding an organization linked to it. Senior officials from the State Department and the National Security Council confirm the meetings. (Wall Street Journal, 25Jul07)
Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia's counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow. It appears that Saudi Arabia has stepped up efforts to undermine the Maliki government and to pursue a different course in Iraq from what the administration has charted. Saudi Arabia has also stymied a number of other American foreign policy initiatives, including a hoped-for Saudi embrace of Israel. (New York Times)
See also U.S.-Saudi Tensions to Increase in 2008 (Forbes/Oxford Analytica)
In a prison cell south of Cairo, a repentant Egyptian terrorist leader is putting the finishing touches to a remarkable recantation that undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad. Sayid Imam al-Sharif, 57, was the founder and first emir (commander) of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization, whose supporters assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Sharif is famous as the author of the Salafi jihadists' "bible" - Foundations of Preparation for Holy War. He worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri, now Bin Laden's deputy, before being kidnapped in Yemen after 9/11, interrogated by the CIA and extradited to Egypt where he has been serving a life sentence since 2004.
Sharif recently gave an electrifying foretaste of his conversion by condemning killings on the basis of nationality and color of skin and the targeting of women and children. Egyptian and Western experts agree that Sharif's shift is both genuine and highly significant. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
PA security forces in the West Bank are beginning to demonstrate "positive signs," said Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the IDF Civil Administration in the territories. "Their operations in the [West Bank] cities are in coordination with us," he said Thursday. "The IDF continues to have freedom of operation, but we are allowing the PA to conduct their own operations and we are starting to see signs that their forces are restoring order and are arresting some people and interrogating them." Mordechai said weapons were being collected as some Palestinian gunmen were granted the opportunity to surrender their weapons and be taken off Israel's list of wanted fugitives. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Fatah, Israel Target Hamas in West Bank - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
Palestinian security personnel loyal to Abbas have put up dozens of roadblocks throughout Ramallah in recent days. Their orders: arrest Hamas activists. The outpouring of energy by the security organizations affiliated with Fatah is directly linked to concerns in the PA that Hamas is planning a series of terrorist attacks and assassinations against senior figures in the West Bank. In Israel, experts remain skeptical that any such attempt will be made, due to some serious blows Hamas has suffered in recent years, all delivered by the IDF and the Shin Bet.
For the first time in years, senior PA officials and heads of the security organizations in the West Bank are speaking in different tones. The second intifada against Israel is over, they say. Now, Fatah must focus its energy against its domestic threat, Hamas. For the first time in years, the Shin Bet is making use of intelligence it receives from the PA's security organizations, information it uses against terrorists in the West Bank.
However, as a Palestinian analyst explained: "The Palestinian public is not very excited about the embrace of Israel by Fayad and Abu Mazen [Abbas]. From our point of view, Israel is still the real enemy. Not Hamas." In Israel, while there is recognition that change has occurred, after so many disappointing experiences since the Oslo agreements, the extent to which Israel is willing to take risks is still very limited. (Ha'aretz)
Two Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza slammed into a home and a warehouse in Sderot Thursday evening. A woman sustained shrapnel injuries, while a number of other residents suffered from shock. The home was severely damaged. A total of six rockets landed in Israeli territory throughout the day, as did a few mortar shells, which landed near the border fence with Gaza and near the community of Nativ Ha'asara. (Ynet News)
Three senior leaders of the Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, were killed in an Israeli airstrike Thursday in Gaza. Khalil Daifi, Ahmed Abd Al-el, and Omar Al Khatib, one of the group's most prominent leaders, were in a vehicle south of Gaza City when, witnesses said, an unmanned aerial drone launched two rockets at the car, exploding it. (Maan News-PA)
See also Jenin Islamic Jihad Leader Abducted by Israeli Undercover Forces
Israeli undercover forces are said to have abducted the leader of the Islamic Jihad-affiliated Al Quds Brigades in Jenin, Adham Younis Al 'Azza, 25, when he was visiting the city of Tulkarem in the West Bank on Thursday. (Maan News-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Now, the U.S. may have found a way to exploit Iran's economic Achilles heel by hitting the regime where it hurts - the wallet. Washington has launched a full-scale financial assault on the mullahs. The Bush administration has blacklisted two major state-owned Iranian banks and warned foreign governments and financial institutions against doing business with Tehran. Dozens of financial institutions, many in Europe and Asia, have either halted or curbed their business with Iran. Companies like British Gas, Japan's Inpex Holdings and South Africa's Sasol have abandoned billions of dollars in energy projects.
A growing movement in the U.S. aims to tighten the financial screws on Tehran even further. Modeled after the 1980s anti-apartheid divestment campaign against South Africa, the effort aims to force the $1 trillion pension-fund industry to divest from multinational corporations with business in Iran. In particular, divestment advocates hope to deprive Tehran of the nearly $100 billion it needs to modernize its oil and gas infrastructure and keep its petrodollars flowing. Some public employee pension funds are already divesting from hundreds of foreign firms, including energy giants with Iranian operations such as Royal Dutch-Shell, France's Total, Russia's Gazprom and Malaysia's Petronas. More than a dozen states are likely to follow suit. (International Herald Tribune)
Last month, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill ordering his state to divest its pension fund from businesses that work with Iran's energy sector. The legislation, led by Adam Hasner, Republican majority leader of Florida's House of Representatives, passed unanimously in both chambers of the legislature. Unfortunately, the state legislation is unconstitutional. Only new federal legislation can legally allow states to divest from Iran. In 1996, Massachusetts restricted state businesses from working with companies that dealt with Myanmar, formerly called Burma. Massachusetts sought to press Myanmar's military junta to take steps toward democracy and provide better treatment for dissidents. In 2000, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down the Massachusetts law in Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council.
The House and Senate are considering the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act to authorize states to pass divestment laws aimed at Iran's energy sector. The bill would cure any constitutional conflict. It would integrate the state sanctions as an element of congressional sanctions, rather than leaving them outside the congressional framework. Broad bipartisan support of this bill is a sign that Congress sees sanctions - on both the state and federal levels - as an important tool to weaken Iran.
Despite the bill's wide popularity, some in Washington oppose it. William Reinsch, former commerce undersecretary in the Clinton administration and current president of the National Foreign Trade Council, claims that "a unified U.S. foreign policy - not multiple state sanctions or divestment laws - is best suited to address" the Iran challenge. Jonathan Schanzer, a former intelligence analyst at the Treasury Department, is director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center. (Baltimore Sun)
Following the Nakba (the 1948 defeat and the State of Israel's establishment) and the Naksa (the 1967 defeat), the Palestinian split and the disconnection from Gaza are being referred to as Wakseh, meaning humiliation, ruin, and collapse as a result of self-inflicted damage. The term expresses the great downfall of the Palestinian national movement and its division into two ideological camps - the national camp and the Islamic camp. The Palestinian national movement has regressed 50 years to an era of national disintegration and focus on a daily struggle for personal survival.
The Fatah movement, which started disintegrating following Arafat's death, has collapsed and shattered. Its leaders are still members of the "old Tunisian guard" - Mahmoud Abbas and his group. The transitional generation is tired and broken. The Fatah young guard no longer exists. Abbas is counting the days to the end of his term in office. In practice, he is no more than the ruler of the Muqata, the government compound in Ramallah.
The Western world, which views radical Islam as the enemy, continues to hand over large sums of money to Abbas, who sends the money to Gaza and helps stabilize Hamas rule there. The introduction of Islam by Hamas in Gaza is being undertaken at a slow pace, but consistently and with determination. Hamas has no shortage of money either, and it pads the pockets of its new supporters with welfare and aid funds. Gaza residents have become used to Hamas and do not miss the corrupt Fatah officials. (Ynet News)
By all indications, President Bush's call for an international summit came as a surprise to Israel, and this may herald a new era marked by increased lack of diplomatic coordination between Washington and Jerusalem. The Bush Administration is giving less consideration to Israel's wishes while it seeks new ways to advance solutions, or at least present an appearance of providing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue in order to counterbalance its problems in Iraq. The reason why Israel has always protested such moves - and should have opposed such a summit now - is that there is not much probability that within a constellation where it would face Arab states, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union alone it would not find itself in an inferior position.
It would be hard to expect the Americans - in their current international and shaky position - to strongly confront the other participants. Mahmoud Abbas has already made clear what he would demand at the planned summit: To immediately engage in talks on a final-status agreement based on the desirable Palestinian positions, of course. The writer is a former ambassador to the U.S. (Ynet News)
At 10 p.m., Yehia Abu Moghaseb, a Gaza gravedigger, watched several men lift three large bundles wrapped in black plastic from the back of a car and carelessly dropped them into freshly dug pits lined with cinderblocks at the Martyrs' Cemetery in Wadi Salgah. They shoveled a few scoops of sand on top, before driving off. "There's no police," he recalled later, so Abu Moghaseb asked a neighbor to call the Hamas-controlled "Executive Force."
When a doctor tore open the black body bags, inside were three young women, two of them still in their teens. Two of the girls had been stabbed repeatedly in the chest; the third had her throat cut. Abu Moghaseb explained that the murders had been honor killings, which are becoming increasingly common in lawless Gaza. "There is a very clear increase in the killing of women," says Issam Younis, the director of Gaza City's Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. (Newsweek)
Hugo Chavez's announcement that foreign dissidents will be expelled from Venezuela ought to put Israel's treatment of dissenting activists into perspective. For all that the ISM, CPT and their ilk complain of harassment and intimidation by the IDF and security agencies, the truth is they're afforded a level of freedom totally at odds with the demonic reputation they've bestowed upon Israel.
Jeff Halper, the man behind the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, is a supporter of the one-state solution - in other words, the total elimination of Israel in its current form. Halper travels the world promoting his message of "Israeli apartheid" and calling for heavy sanctions to be implemented against the Jewish state. Despite his highly critical take on Israeli government policies, he and his group are allowed to flourish and promote their biased views, unrestricted by intervention on the part of the authorities.
Clearly, he's as entitled to his views as the next man but, as a recent report by NGO-Monitor shows, the fact that the EU bankrolls his organization is somewhat more unjustifiable. According to NGO-Monitor's Dan Kosky, "EU money is being spent in total opposition to actual EU policy, which is based on support for the Middle East peace process, clearly defined by the road map and a two-state solution." When European taxpayers' money is so casually doled out to anti-Israeli groups such as ICAHD, it is little wonder that many Israeli citizens continue to question the impartiality of the EU and its officials." (Guardian-UK)
See also EU Funding Promotes ICAHD's Ideological Agenda (NGO-Monitor)
The International Criminal Court recently issued warrants for the arrest of Ahmed Haroun, the minister for humanitarian affairs of Sudan, and Ali Kosheib, a leader of that country's notorious janjaweed militia. Charges include murder, rape, torture and "imprisonment or severe deprivation of liberty." Muslim slavers in the Sudan primarily enslave non-Muslims, and chiefly Christians. The black animist and Christian south has been ravaged for many years by slave raids by Arabs from the north and east. For Islamic slavery to disappear, a powerful state would have to move against it decisively, not with mere words. (FrontPageMagazine)
The three main permutations of anti-Semitism are religious anti-Semitism, ethnic (racist) anti-Semitism, and anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism. Their common characteristics include an ongoing, powerful promotion of a discourse of Jew-hatred, where the main motif of the Jew constituting absolute evil manifests itself. Jews and nowadays Israel are judged by standards applied to them but not to others. In its extreme form, the anti-Semitic process has three stages: demonization, isolation, and elimination. The anti-Semitic character of anti-Israelism can be proven through the analysis of cartoons, opinion surveys, statistical analyses, and semantics. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Iran's nationwide crackdown on fashions deemed un-Islamic has resumed in full force throughout Tehran. Vice police are stopping women in cars or walking along the streets with too much hair spilling out of their mandatory head coverings, or wearing open-toed sandals without socks or overcoats deemed too revealing. Men wearing tight T-shirts or boasting racy haircuts have also been targeted in a campaign to stamp out perceived Western cultural influences.
"The police will act against those whose trousers are too short, who have skintight coats, shirts with Western logos, and Western hairstyles," Ahmad Reza Radan, the head of Tehran's police force, said on Iranian television. "We will ask those arrested where they bought their clothes and where they had their hair cut so those outlets can be closed down." Those who vocally or physically resist authorities are typically hauled away, tried in court, fined or sentenced to a few weeks in jail. Minibuses to cart off detainees accompany the morality enforcers as they establish checkpoints in busy squares throughout the city. (Los Angeles Times)
After a recent overseas trip to Israel and several domestic flights, my wife and I wonder how effective U.S. airport security procedures are. The Israelis became the first victims of Middle Eastern aviation terrorism when an El Al flight from Rome was hijacked in 1968. Strong security measures have prevented a single El Al plane from being seized since, and no commercial airliner leaving Israeli airports has ever been taken over.
How does Israel do it? Israeli procedures concentrate more on identifying people who are threats than things that are threats. That makes them more proactive than U.S. protocols, which remain largely reactive. Whereas Transportation Security Administration personnel often chat with one another at checkpoints, Israeli personnel focus consistently on evaluating the passengers. Multiple layers of El Al security began with several rings of armed personnel and progressed to individual interviews by questioners trained to notice body language as well as verbal answers.
All 19 terrorists on the Sept. 11 flights were Middle Eastern males in their 20s and 30s. It is not racism or bigotry but common sense to pay special attention to such travelers. As an Israeli acquaintance said, "We Israelis want to stop terrorists, but you Americans want to be politically correct." All El Al flights have reinforced steel doors at the cockpit, and those doors remain locked while any passengers are on the plane. And all Israeli flights carry more sky marshals than American ones. Finally, the Israeli procedures make obvious sense to the public and are carried out with more politeness than we routinely experience in American airports. (Detroit News)
The children began to cry and shake when they heard the thunder and saw the lightning during the camp dance. One girl fainted. Another hugged a counselor so hard that she dug her fingernails into the woman's back. Everyone had the same thought: The boom from the sky was a Kassam rocket. The boys and girls had traveled from Sderot, Israel, one mile from Gaza, to spend a month at Jewish camps in New Hampshire and Brighton, Massachusetts. Eliaev and the 18 other children from Sderot have been in the Boston area since June. The Russian Jewish community in Boston raised $62,000 to pay their way, in hope of returning the children to normalcy, if only for a month. (Boston Globe)
The 12th day of the Hebrew month of Av, which falls this year on Friday July 27, marks the 60th anniversary of the execution by the British authorities in Palestine of three members of the Irgun underground - Avshalom Haviv, Yaakov Weiss, and Meir Nakar. This column is dedicated to their everlasting memory.
As 1947 dawned, the British governing authorities, driven by an irresistible hubris of self-interest and colonial blindness, and embracing the delusion of decaying imperialists in every age that punitive brutality will cow the rebels into giving up their resistance, began sentencing captured Irgun fighters to the most severe forms of capital punishment: flogging for relatively minor offenses, and hanging for relatively major ones. The executions were frequently carried out in the Acre fortress, a Crusader citadel restored by the Turks and considered impregnable. In May 1947, in what was probably the Irgun's most daring exploit, a wall of this great bastion was breached, allowing for a mass escape. Three of the attacking party - Haviv, Weiss, and Nakar - were captured, tried and condemned to death. The writer served on the personal staff of five Israeli prime ministers. (Jerusalem Post)
Shouting Murder on a Crowded Street - Daniel Schwammenthal (Wall Street Journal, 27Jul07)
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