Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Syria Deterred: Assad Got the Message - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
Driver in Glasgow Airport Attack Dies from Burns - Jane Perlez (New York Times)
Powerful Political Blog Attracts Israel Hate Posts - Robert Goldberg (Washington Times)
How Hizbullah and Hamas Exploit the Internet in the Battle for Hearts and Minds - Reuven Erlich (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
A Reporter's Run-in with Hizbullah Militants - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
Ireland to Buy UAVs from Israel (domain-B-India)
Romania Unveils Israeli-Made Biometric Identification Device - Rebecca Anna Stoil (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli-Developed Smart Traffic Sign Stops Collisions (Space Mart)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Egyptian soldiers shot and beat to death four Sudanese refugees who were trying to illegally cross the border into Israel, Israel's Channel 10 television reported Thursday. A soldier from an Israeli military unit near the border said the Egyptian border police fired many rounds of bullets at the refugees, killing two and injuring one. The fourth refugee tried to climb the border fence. The Israeli soldiers, in what they described as a "tug-of-war," said they tried to pull him over to their side, but the Egyptians overpowered them and captured him.
The shocked and audibly shaken soldier said he and others from his unit heard screams of agony as they helplessly watched the Egyptian soldiers then beat the two refugees to death, calling the incident a "lynch." Human rights groups say more than 1,000 Sudanese refugees have entered Israel through the porous border with Egypt this year, including at least 250 from the war-torn Darfur region. In late July, reports said an Egyptian military unit shot and killed a female Sudanese refugee as she and others tried to cross the border into Israel. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
See also Israeli MKs Oppose Deporting Darfur Refugees to Egypt - Mijal Grinberg
Dozens of Israeli legislators from across the political spectrum have urged the government to refrain from deporting to Egypt Sudanese refugees who enter Israel through the Sinai Peninsula. A petition has been signed by 63 MKs including Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, Labor's Amir Peretz, Hadash's Dov Khenin, and the National Religious Party's Effi Eitam. (Ha'aretz)
After years of setbacks, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice set out this week to make one more push toward Middle East peace on behalf of an administration that has less than 18 months left in office. She got some polite nibbles, but not yet the big bite needed to ensure that President Bush's call last month for an international meeting of the region's major players will yield substance. En route back to Washington, America's top diplomat conceded that "we haven't given much thought to how" the meeting will look and said preliminary diplomacy will require at least two more trips to the region. The tentative plan is to hold the meeting in November, U.S. officials say. (Washington Post)
See also Slow Going for Rice - Tim McGirk
It is becoming something of a tradition for U.S. presidents, during their waning months in office, to seal their legacy by trying to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. The stony political landscape has changed, for the worse, since Rice made her last pilgrimage to the region five months ago. The Islamist militants of Hamas now control Gaza, having chased away the armed forces of Mahmoud Abbas - a man heartily championed by the White House, although less so by the Israelis, and openly despised by most Palestinians who see him as a puppet made to dance by the U.S. and the Israelis.
The Saudis made clear that they will show up at a U.S.-sponsored summit this fall only if it is aimed at discussing the "core issues" that stand in the way of a settlement. Israeli officials have made no secret of their reluctance to discuss the most contentious issues at this stage. Israelis doubt that Abbas, especially after his defeat in Gaza, can deliver on promises to curb attacks on Israel from inside the Palestinian territories. Rice promised Abbas $80 million to improve the training and capability of his feckless security forces. But throwing money and bullet-proof vests at Abbas' security forces may not help him overcome his most dangerous weakness - the loyalty of his men is doubtful. Efforts to bolster his forces through recruitment are also struggling. (TIME)
Al-Qaeda-inspired militants battling the Lebanese army for more than 10 weeks hit a main power station in north Lebanon with Katyusha rockets on Thursday, disrupting electricity supplies to a wide area. Security sources said Fatah al-Islam militants, holed up in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, fired half a dozen rockets at the Deir Amar power station. At least two rockets hit the plant. In Beirut, military experts defused a Katyusha rocket wired to a timer near the Sabra Palestinian refugee camp. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
"The agreement according to which Israel will stop chasing dozens of wanted Fatah gunmen in the West Bank if they agree to disarm is on the brink of collapse," a senior Palestinian security source said Thursday. Israel and the PA had agreed on an amnesty for 178 wanted members of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. However, half of the Fatah members on the list have not handed in their weapons to the Palestinian security forces. At the same time, a senior al-Aqsa member not included in the amnesty deal warned that if the list of pardoned gunmen is not expanded, his men would not maintain the calm. (Ynet News)
The Bush Administration would be wrong to believe that it can secure a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace accord in the final year or so it has left in office, Martin Indyk, U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Clinton, warned on Thursday. "It's bad to set artificial deadlines," said Indyk, who was deeply involved in the failed push for a permanent deal at Camp David in 2000, and who is now the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "To try to push to a [full] agreement in the final year of the administration is precisely what George Bush criticized Clinton for doing. It would be ironic indeed if Bush wound up doing it himself."
The Palestinians "don't have the institutions or the capabilities to be responsible partners" to a final status deal, he said. And no diplomatic process could possibly succeed unless the Palestinians were able to exercise "reliable control" over any territory from which Israel would withdraw as part of an accord. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets toward Israel Friday morning. Two landed in Sderot and a number of residents suffered from shock as a result. A dairy barn in a nearby community was damaged. On Thursday night a rocket launched from Gaza landed in a kibbutz. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
After years of bloodshed that has brought the Palestinians only terrible disaster, Prime Minister Salam Fayad is returning to the formulas that his teacher and spiritual mentor Yasser Arafat declaimed when he was on the skids after the first Gulf War and was in desperate need of American aid. In moments of weakness, Palestinian leaders say what the Americans want to hear. A new generation of Fatah people will extend their hands into the coffers of the Palestinian Authority, which will fill up again with donations from the international community.
This feeling of deja vu, however, ignores experience accumulated during the intifada years and ignores the burden of the blood and the hatred that have changed the relationships between the two communities in fundamental ways. In addition, if there will be a process of coexistence, the process is limited to a not very large part of the Palestinian people and includes neither the city-state that is forming in Gaza nor the diaspora. In 1993, Arafat spoke in the name of half of the Palestinian people. Now Fayad is speaking in the name of about one-quarter, who live in the West Bank; all the rest will have to look after themselves. (Ha'aretz)
In the context of the spread of Islamic radicalism in the region, the Sunni regimes are seeing Israel more and more as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Nevertheless, there is a gap between the Arab rulers who are interested in advancing a regional initiative with Israel, even without formal recognition of it, and public opinion. The Islamic circles and the secular Arab nationalist elements alike are drawing encouragement from the Lebanon War, from what is perceived as the U.S.' failure in Iraq, and from the Iranian policy of challenging the West, and are acting to advance the strategy of "resistance" to Israel.
Yet it is precisely in these circumstances that voices in the Arab world are being heard against the "resistance" school, the culture of death, and the cult of hatred. The liberal circles in the Arab countries understand very well that radical elements must not be allowed to dictate the agenda and the values of Arab society. It appears that these circles are expecting recognition and help from the Western countries and Israel, since only a joint struggle will enable the creation of conditions for dialogue, reconciliation, and stability in the Middle East. The writer is the director of the Islam department at the diplomatic planning division of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
The Arab states, not the Palestinians, we must remember, created the Arab-Israeli conflict. These states played a major role in tipping the scales toward radical Palestinians before Israel's establishment, invaded Israel in 1948, and created the PLO in 1964, when Gaza, Judea and Samaria were held by Egypt and Jordan. For the last 60 years, including during the heyday of the peace process in the mid-1990s, most Arab states have continued to wage diplomatic warfare against Israel, maintaining their trade and diplomatic boycotts.
The Arab states cannot have it both ways. They cannot urge the U.S. to act while barely lifting a finger to remove impediments to action that are largely of their own making and certainly within their power to ameliorate. The Saudis and other Arab states can take serious steps to dismantle the monster they created and continue to feed: the Arab-Israeli conflict. Attending a conference would be nice, but it is substance that matters. The key substantive things they can do is to stop their diplomatic warfare against Israel, drop their illegal trade boycotts, combat the rampant anti-Semitism in their countries, and start openly breaking it to the Palestinians that their "right of return" can only be to a future state of Palestine, not to Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
As one who has occasionally challenged Islamic propaganda in public and been told that I have thereby "insulted 1.5 billion Muslims," I can say what I suspect - which is that there is an unmistakable note of menace behind that claim. No, I do not think for a moment that Mohammed took a "night journey" to Jerusalem on a winged horse. And I do not care if 10 billion people intone the contrary. Nor should I have to. But the plain fact is that the believable threat of violence undergirds the Muslim demand for "respect."
Islamists are the current leaders in the global book-burning competition. After the rumor of a Koran down the toilet in Guantanamo was irresponsibly spread, a mob in Afghanistan burned down an ancient library that (as President Hamid Karzai pointed out dryly) contained several ancient copies of the same book.
The enemies of intolerance cannot be tolerant, or neutral, without inviting their own suicide. And the advocates and apologists of bigotry and censorship and suicide-assassination cannot be permitted to take shelter any longer under the umbrella of a pluralism that they openly seek to destroy. (Slate)
The National Intelligence Estimate released July 17 put the problem plainly enough: Al-Qaeda has "regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability" using a new haven in the lawless frontier area of northwest Pakistan known as Waziristan. Al-Qaeda, the intelligence analysts explained, has "the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks and/or fear among the U.S. population." What should the U.S. do about al-Qaeda's new haven, from which it may already be plotting attacks that could kill thousands of Americans?
Henry Crumpton, a former CIA officer who was one of the heroes of the agency's campaign to destroy al-Qaeda's haven in Afghanistan in late 2001, argues that the U.S. must take preventive action but should do so carefully, through proxies wherever possible. The right model for a Waziristan campaign is the CIA-led operation in Afghanistan, not the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. Teams of CIA officers and Special Forces soldiers are best suited to work with tribal leaders, providing them weapons and money to fight an al-Qaeda network that has implanted itself brutally in Waziristan through the assassination of more than 100 tribal leaders during the past six years.
"The United States has an obligation to defend itself and its citizens," says Crumpton. "We either do it now, or we do it after the next attack." Crumpton proposed a detailed plan last year for rolling up these sanctuaries, which he called the Regional Strategic Initiative. It would combine economic assistance and paramilitary operations in a broad counterinsurgency campaign. (Washington Post)
Should Libya be supplied with civilian nuclear technologies, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed during his visit to Tripoli last week? In 2003 Libya abandoned all military nuclear programs. It signed the Nonproliferation Treaty. Recall that in the days when friendship with Iraq was at its height, France supplied Saddam Hussein, vaunted then as a modern reformer, with a power plant whose purpose it is frightening to contemplate, if Israeli aviation had not destroyed it in 1981. More recently, the Islamic Republic of Iran proved to the world that a country that has signed the NPT, including the additional protocol, can suddenly exclude inspectors and conjure up the apocalyptic specter of a military diversion of its program, which would be technically an easy matter.
So should we trust Col. Qadhafi, this leader who was long a state terrorist, who endorsed the destruction of at least two Western airliners, and who is now seeking to rejoin the "concert of nations?" The utmost caution is necessary. Libya remains a dictatorship, lacking any checks and balances and dominated by an unpredictable man, to say the least. (Le Figaro-France)
Magdi Allam, 55, an Egyptian-born Italian writer and journalist and deputy chief editor of Italy's most influential newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, is again at the center of the storm following his seventh book, Viva Israele (Long Live Israel). The book is the tale of his life under the regime of Egyptian President Nasser. According to Allam, Nasser is responsible for having turned Egypt - and the rest of the Arab world - into the cradle of the "ideology of death." Allam claims Nasser brought about an aggressive pan-Arabic dream based on the denial of Israel's right to exist. The need for the destruction of Israel is the dominant theme that made death and destruction the core values of a once liberal Islamic culture.
The new book defends the existence of Israel and terms armed Palestinian groups as "dangerous terrorist threats." Allam added that the main cause for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute stems from Palestinian terror. His interest in the history of Zionism and a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat brought him to realize that "Arafat was responsible for Palestinian terrorism" and that "the predication of the ideology of death eventually hit and harmed the Palestinians themselves." Many Muslims in Italy denounce Allam as a new "Salman Rushdie," the British writer who was forced into hiding in the 1990s after Iran's religious leaders issued a fatwa (religious edict) calling for his death. (Al-Bawaba-Jordan)
In last summer's war against the Hizbullah terrorists, Lt. Eli Kahn, 23, led a unit of paratrooper commandos against heavily defended Hizbullah positions in the southern Lebanon town of Maroun al-Ras. The Israelis drew unexpectedly intense fire and sustained heavy casualties. While tending to one of his wounded soldiers, Kahn saw a terrorist run toward them and throw a grenade that landed at their feet. Kahn picked up the grenade and threw it back at the Hizbullah fighter - killing him. For his leadership and quick thinking, he received the Medal of Valor. His father, Howie Kahn, remembered that his boy played Little League before the family immigrated to Israel from the U.S. and suggested that his skills as a slick-fielding shortstop paid off on the field of battle. (Townhall)
Michael Levin of suburban Philadelphia was determined to join the IDF. When the Second Lebanon War broke out last year, Levin was on leave in the U.S. visiting his family and was not required to return. But he rushed back to Israel to find his paratrooper unit already fighting in Lebanon. On August 1, 2006, he was shot by a Hizbullah sniper in Aita al-Shaab, southern Lebanon.
His father recalls: "Michael was very small in size" - he had to wear weights when parachuting to prevent the wind from blowing him off course - "he was only 5 foot 6, but he had the heart of a lion....You don't have to be the biggest to make your mark on the world." Harriet Levin, his mother, points to a small pair of silver wings pinned to her shirt: When Michael died, one of his fellow paratroopers took his wings from his uniform and his unit, Michael's comrades, presented the wings to her at his funeral. "I wear them every day," she says. "I believe in everything that he did and I'm very proud of him."
Donations can be made to the Michael Levin Memorial Fund for the benefit of lone soldiers at www.michaellevinmemorialfund.org. (Jerusalem Post)
In the early 1980s, Gad Shimron, then a young Mossad operative, was sent to Africa to find a way of spiriting away to Israel the thousands of Ethiopian Jewish refugees in Sudan who had fled the Eritrean conflict. Shimron, now 57, said in an interview promoting the English edition of his book Mossad Exodus, "We're the only Westernized country to have brought out Africans in order to liberate, rather than enslave them." Tens of thousands moved to Israel, where their community now numbers 100,000.
Shimron and a small Mossad team flew to Khartoum in 1981, posing as entrepreneurs from a Swiss travel firm. The Mossad bought a defunct resort up the coast from Port Sudan, which Shimron and his comrades renovated and staffed with locals. It was a front, yet proved to be surprisingly successful, drawing foreign scuba divers and sport fishermen. "Most Mossad operations lose money, but we found ourselves making a small profit," Shimron said. From 1982 to 1984 the Israelis shuttled between the resort and inland areas where they had located 8,000 Ethiopian Jews. Traveling by night and ever conscious of the fact that they were in a country deeply hostile to the Jewish state, the Mossad men took hundreds of refugees to a beach rendezvous where they were collected by Israeli naval commandos and ferried to their new home. (Reuters/Washington Post)
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has agreed to recast part of its permanent exhibition to include the story of the Bergson Group, a World War II citizens' group that called attention to the horrors facing European Jews and urged the American government to help. The group was created in 1942 by Peter Bergson, a Lithuanian Jew who had immigrated to Palestine and then came to Washington to support the creation of a Jewish army that would fight alongside the Allied armies.
The group, formally called the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, bought newspaper ads pointing to the failure to save the Jews, after a Nov. 25, 1942, Washington Post report that the Nazis had killed 250,000 Polish Jews and planned the extermination of half of the Jewish population in that country by the end of the year. There were also demonstrations, including a march of 400 rabbis in Washington. A dramatic pageant called "We Will Never Die" drew 40,000 people to Madison Square Garden.
"Most of what Americans know about our country's response to the Holocaust is that the Jews in Europe were abandoned. There were some Americans who did speak out, and it is important that their work be highlighted," said Rafael Medoff, director of the Washington-based Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. The Bergson Group's "willingness to take a stand and the willingness to launch controversial publicity campaigns and lobby congressmen for a cause" underscores its relevance today, said Steven Luckert, curator of the museum's permanent exhibition. (Washington Post)
Murray Greenfield, an ex-American, first arrived in Israel as a sailor on an illegal immigrant ship named Hatikvah, which was apprehended by the British navy as it neared the coast of Palestine in May 1947. The Hatikvah, previously a St. Lawrence River icebreaker, was one of the ships, many largely manned by American sailors, that took part in the Aliyah Bet, the attempted running of the British blockade on Jewish immigrants to Palestine during, and especially after, World War Two.
Each turned-back boatload of homeless Holocaust survivors, their families murdered by the Nazis, their tragedy-lined faces staring with longing at the land they were not allowed to enter; each doomed and sometimes violent struggle with the British shore police to reach that land, sometimes by jumping into the water; each newspaper photograph of the detainees in Cyprus, looking at the camera through barbed wire as if they had been returned to Auschwitz or Treblinka - was another blow struck in world public opinion against the continuation of the British Mandate and for the creation of a Jewish state. (New York Sun)
Will Palestinian Statehood Solve the Refugee Problem? - Zalman Shoval (Washington Times)
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