Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 24, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Boosts Arrow Anti-Missile Defenses in Response to Syrian Missile Threat - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF has changed its deployment of Arrow anti-missile missiles in northern Israel.
"Our assumption is that the next war will be characterized by missile onslaughts, and lots of them," a high-ranking officer said.
"We can tell from the way our 'neighbors' are training that this is what they are planning and that we can expect a repeat of what happened during the Second Lebanon War."
A newer model of the Arrow missile - the Arrow 3 - is currently under development and will intercept at higher altitudes than current missiles.

Report: Fayyad Receives U.S. Blessing for PA Leadership Bid (Maan News-PA)
The Jordanian daily Ad-Dustur on Thursday quoted "reliable Palestinian sources" as saying that Mahmoud Abbas, 73, does not intend to stand in presidential elections after his term ends in a year and a half.
The Jordanian paper reports that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has become Washington's nominee to become Abbas' successor, in the wake of Mohammad Dahlan falling out of favor with the U.S., after years of patronage ended in the failure in the Gaza confrontations with Hamas.
See also "Abbas Definitely Won't Seek Reelection" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Troops to Be Turned into Main Police Force (Reuters)
Hamas said on Thursday its Executive Force, which helped the Islamist group seize control of Gaza in June, will become the territory's main police force.
The 6,000-man Executive Force has been carrying out day-to-day policing duties since the group routed Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah forces.
The official police force in Gaza, loyal to Fatah, has refused to work under the Islamists.

Poll: Israelis See No War, No Peace Agreement (IMRA/Israel Radio)
Adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) were asked this week: Do you think that there will be a military conflict in the north in the coming year?
Certain yes 23%, Maybe 23%, No/appears no 38%.
Do you think that Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas are capable of reaching an agreement of principles for a permanent agreement?
Yes 20%, No 63%.

Chemical Ali "Threw My Sons from a Helicopter" - Bonnie Malkin (Telegraph-UK)
Speaking from behind a curtain at the trial of 15 of Saddam Hussein's aides accused of crimes against humanity during the brutal repression of the 1991 Shia rebellion in Iraq, a mother said: "The army detained my two sons, my brother and my niece on March 3, 1991. Nine days later, my brother and niece were released and they told me that Ali Hasan al-Majid [Saddam's cousin, Chemical Ali] had executed my two sons by throwing them out of a helicopter into the Gulf."
Many Shias who took part in the uprising say they had expected U.S. forces to back them in the rebellion, but former president Bush instead ordered a halt at the Iraqi border, leaving the rebels at the mercy of Saddam's elite Revolutionary Guards.

Israel Gives Philippines Bomb-Detecting Machine - Thea Alberto (Inquirer-Philippines)
The Israeli embassy in Manila donated a bomb-detecting machine to the Philippine National Police - a Torrex 150 X-ray inspection system made in the U.S., officials said Thursday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Intelligence Report Sees Little Progress in Curbing Iran - Pauline Jelinek and Katherine Shrader
    A draft intelligence report on Iran suggests a change in the Tehran regime appears unlikely any time soon, U.S. officials said Thursday. The report also anticipates little progress in getting Iran to halt its nuclear program or stop supporting militant groups in the region. The report, the new National Intelligence Estimate, is the latest in a series of reports from 16 American intelligence agencies. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • When the Lights Went Out in Gaza - Tim McGirk
    Last Friday, the lights went out in Gaza because the electric bill wasn't being paid. The European Union which, for humanitarian reasons, is financing the Palestinian enclave's power supply, suddenly refused to continue the subsidy because of allegations that Gaza's government - run by the Islamist party Hamas - was about to tax electricity to bolster its armed militants. On Wednesday, the lights were coming back on in Gaza after Ismael Haniyeh, Prime Minister of Gaza's government, assured the EU that electricity funds were being properly utilized.
    The Palestinians living in Gaza, however, were seething - not at Haniyeh and Hamas but at Abbas, who sat out this crisis in air-conditioned comfort in the West Bank. Gazans believe he is trying to force them to rebel against Hamas and that he is doing this by breaking their backs. Sources in Ramallah said Abbas' advisers provoked the power cut by falsely warning the Europeans that Hamas was pocketing the electricity bill payments. (TIME)
    See also The Gaza Dilemma - Frida Ghitis (Miami Herald)
  • Arabic Educator's Defense of "Intifada" T-Shirts Leads to Resignation - Robin Shulman
    The Khalil Gibran International Academy in New York is one of the first public schools in the U.S. to focus on Arabic language and culture. Principal Debbie Almontaser - an observant Muslim Arab woman - said her mission was to foster tolerance and understanding. But she resigned Aug. 10 after she failed to immediately condemn the slogan "Intifada NYC" on a T-shirt, though she later condemned it. "She's certainly not a terrorist," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. But it was "nice of her" to step down, he said. There are more than 60 existing dual-language city schools that teach in languages including Russian, Spanish and Chinese. (Washington Post)
    See also Hebrew Charter School Spurs Dispute in Florida - Abby Goodnough
    The Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood, Fla., is run by an Orthodox rabbi, serves kosher lunches and concentrates on teaching Hebrew. On Wednesday, the Broward County School Board ordered Ben Gamla to suspend Hebrew lessons because its curriculum referred to a website that mentioned religion. Opponents say it is impossible to teach Hebrew - and aspects of Jewish culture - outside a religious context. But supporters say the school is no different from hundreds of others around the country with dual-language programs, whose popularity has soared. "It's not a religious school," said Peter Deutsch, a former Democratic member of Congress from Florida who started Ben Gamla and hopes to replicate it in Los Angeles, Miami and New York. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Lebanese Arrest Two Palestinians in UNIFIL Attacks
    Lebanese authorities have arrested two Palestinians in connection with a roadside bombing that targeted UN peacekeepers in Qassimiyeh in southern Lebanon on July 16, a security official said Thursday. Salem Kayed and Ahmad Mohammad, who are suspected of belonging to Jund ash-Sham, an extremist Sunni group, were arrested on Wednesday near Ain al-Hilweh. "The two men admitted their role in the attack," the official said. (AFP/Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot House, Seven Rockets Fired at Israel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that penetrated the roof of the Timasit family home in Sderot on Thursday, damaging the house. When the family heard the warning siren, they entered the bomb shelter in the home. The family members were treated for shock. Just a few months ago, a Kassam rocket struck the home of a different branch of the Timasit family. A total of seven Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel on Thursday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Terror in Gaza: Two Months Since the Hamas Takeover
    After Hamas completed its takeover of Gaza in mid-June 2007, terrorist groups there have carried out rocket and mortar fire toward Israel. During the last two weeks in June, 61 rockets hit Israel. A number of Israeli civilians were wounded in the attacks and more suffered from shock; property was also damaged. During July, 55 rockets hit Israeli territory. During the first two weeks of August, 34 rockets were fired. During the first half of July, 42 mortar shells were fired, compared with 37 in June.
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah elements (which continue operating under Hamas aegis) claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, yet on July 7, Hamas itself began claiming responsibility for rocket fire. Hamas has also taken credit for mortar attacks, sniper fire and anti-tank rocket fire at IDF forces. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • IDF Prepares for Future Threats - Amir Oren
    The IDF senior command held a workshop this week on the army's five-year plan. The IDF will be preparing for the following scenarios in the next five years: thwarting the danger of a hostile country that does not border on Israel achieving nuclear capability (Iran, in particular), a war with Syria, another round of hostilities against Hizbullah, a confrontation with the Palestinians, and a deep freeze in relations with post-Mubarak Egypt. All these developments are liable to occur both separately and together, and there are various other possibilities as well: the end of the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan, an upheaval in Saudi Arabia, an uprising by Israel's Arabs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Did the Iranian Government Encourage a Fleeting Era of Reform in Order to Identify Its Opponents So As to Come After Them? - Camelia Entekhabifard
    In 1992, when I started working in Tehran, I was very careful about what I would report. That is, until right after the election of Mohammad Khatami, the reformist president, in 1997. Then I, like so many other journalists, quickly went to work for the country's leading reformist papers.
    The last newspaper I worked for in Iran - Zan - was closed by the judiciary in the spring of 1999. I was in the U.S. at that time, and as soon as I returned to Tehran, I was arrested. The government held me in solitary confinement for three months, and during that time I confessed to crimes I never committed and did whatever a human being could do to save his or her life. I now wonder if all the opportunities we had seen for reform were really illusions created to trick us. (New York Times)
  • Internationalize Now - Samir Ghattas
    It should be acknowledged that the Palestinians, especially when compared to the Zionist movement, were and perhaps still are structurally ill-equipped to further their cause. This applies both to how they handled their drive towards independence internally and how they read changes in the political climate and international balances of power. Testimony to the latter, in particular, resides in a continuous record of injudicious choices, stretching from the Palestinian mufti's alliance with Germany in World War II, through Arafat's support for Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War, to Khaled Meshal's alliance with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in current developments that may culminate in a war against Iran.
    Calls to internationalize the Palestinian cause have gained momentum since Hamas' seizure of power in Gaza in mid-June. Since history has regretfully demonstrated that Palestinian factions and their leaderships are unqualified to lead the Palestinian people towards the realization of their aspirations for national liberation and an independent democratic state, clearly the best option is for the PA to take the initiative to dissolve itself within the framework of a national appeal to fully internationalize the Palestinian cause and to work to secure the best possible conditions for a trusteeship. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • The Big Lie and the Media War Against Israel: From Inversion of the Truth to Inversion of Reality - Joel Fishman
    From the 1960s, inversion of truth and reality has been one the most favored propaganda methods of Israel's adversaries. One of its most frequent expressions has been the accusation that the Jewish people, victims of the Nazis, have now become the new Nazis, aggressors and oppressors of the Palestinian Arabs. Contemporary observers have identified this method and described it as an "inversion of reality," an "intellectual confidence trick," "reversing moral responsibility," or "twisted logic." Because Israel's enemies have, for nearly half a century, repeated such libels without being challenged, they have gradually gained credence.
    Since inversion of reality constitutes the basic principle of current anti-Israel propaganda, it is important to understand what it is and how it works. This propaganda method is a product of Nazi Germany. It is totalitarian both in its methods, particularly the use of the paranoiac myth, and in the absolute solution it advocates. It totally denies all of Israel's claims and leaves no room for introspection and compromise. (Jewish Political Studies Review)

    Weekend Features

  • Russia Confirms Soviet Sorties Over Israeli Nuclear Facility in '67 - David Horovitz
    The chief spokesman of the Russian Air Force, Col. Aleksandr V. Drobyshevsky, has confirmed in writing for the first time that Soviet pilots in MiG-25 "Foxbat" aircraft flew highly provocative sorties over Israel's nuclear facility at Dimona in May 1967, just prior to the Six-Day War. Gideon Remez and Isabello Ginor co-wrote the recent book Foxbats over Dimona, which asserts that the Soviet Union deliberately engineered the war to create the conditions in which Israel's nuclear program could be destroyed. Soviet nuclear-missile submarines were said to have been poised off Israel's shore, ready to strike. The Soviets were also said to have geared up for a naval landing on Israel's beaches. (Jerusalem Post)
  • For Soldiers Wounded in the Lebanon War, the Road to Recovery Stretches Far - Matti Friedman
    Israel's war with Hizbullah remains a painful reality for 666 IDF soldiers who were seriously wounded in the fighting. On a recent morning, at the rehabilitation section of Sheba Hospital near Tel Aviv, it was easy to spot the young men in T-shirts with military logos, propelling themselves in wheelchairs or striding purposefully on prosthetic legs.
    David Shashar, 38, who served in the infantry reserves as a doctor, left his civilian job at Sheba Hospital's maternity ward when war broke out and his unit was activated. Sent into south Lebanon, he was taking cover in an abandoned house on August 9, 2006, when a Hizbullah team fired an antitank missile at the building. The blast killed nine of Shashar's comrades and left him near death, his forearm dangling by shreds of tissue and his body punctured by shrapnel. Doctors reattached his arm, but it will take more surgery and at least two years before Shashar knows if it will function again.
    On the same day, a Hizbullah missile penetrated platoon leader Asael Lubotzky's armored personnel carrier and mangled his lower body, leaving his right leg nearly severed. Lubotzky, 24, remains in a wheelchair, his reattached leg in a brace, and is slowly learning to walk with crutches. Over the past year, Lubotzky said, dealing with his new handicap had been easier than the memory of losing comrades. For many soldiers, dealing with a serious injury is easier at the beginning than it is a year later, when they begin looking ahead to life in a wheelchair or as amputees. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    A Nuclear-Armed Iran Would Not Be Good - Greg Sheridan (The Australian)

    • Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. It has two programs for this: a highly enriched uranium program and a heavy-water reactor that will produce plutonium. These facilities were constructed in secret and in contravention of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to which Iran is a signatory but has consistently flouted.
    • Iran is the leader of the Shia version of fundamentalist and extremist Islam. It sponsors terrorism promiscuously. Its most important terrorist client is Hizbullah, a Shia group that de facto rules southern Lebanon. It is also the most important foreign sponsor of Hamas, a Sunni terrorist organization that rules Gaza. Islamic Jihad, which has been responsible for much Palestinian terrorism, is effectively a branch of the Iranian intelligence services.
    • Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." Iran also sponsors Shia and Sunni elements of the insurgency in Iraq. Iran is a classic demonstration of the limits of realist theory in foreign relations. It is genuinely motivated by ideology, not by a normal calculus of national interest.
    • The Israelis believe Iran could have a nuclear weapon by the end of 2009. The International Atomic Energy Agency thinks it's three to eight years but is constantly revising this estimate down. Once Iran possesses nuclear weapons, its danger as a sponsor of Hizbullah rises exponentially. It can also paralyze Israel and render life there almost unbearable by moving periodically to nuclear alert, forcing Israel to do the same and effectively chasing out foreign investment and tourists and shutting down industry.
    • A strike on Iran would be an awesomely dangerous and fraught action to take. Allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons may be equally as dangerous. There are no good options.

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