Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 5, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Russia Condemns Missile Attacks on Israel (Itar-Tass-Russia)
    Moscow condemns and categorically rejects rocket attacks against Israeli territory, the Russian Foreign Ministry's first deputy spokesman, Boris Malakhov, said Tuesday.
    "Of particular concern is the fact that such strikes are targeted against civilians and civilian facilities. There is no argument in support of such actions," he said.

Hamas Bans Fatah Friday Prayers in Gaza (Reuters/Washington Post)
    Hamas on Tuesday banned open-air prayers organized by the rival Fatah faction in Gaza, gatherings that have turned into weekly protests against the territory's Islamist rulers.
    The Hamas administration in Gaza said Fatah had used outdoor worship to sow "chaos and sedition."
    See also Fatah Regroups in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Men keep watch from windows, others guard the street as members of Fatah gather discreetly at a comrade's home. But in Gaza, away from their West Bank power base, Fatah members feel like a clandestine opposition after the rout of Abbas' forces in June by the Islamists of Hamas.
    There are signs that Fatah is regrouping to challenge the new status quo in Gaza.

Ex-President Rafsanjani Wins Leadership of Key Council in Iran - Michael Slackman (New York Times)
    Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, defeated in elections two years ago by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, narrowly won election to head the Assembly of Experts, a group of 88 clerics who select the replacement of the supreme leader when he dies.

Archeologists Find 3,000-Year-Old Beehives in Northern Israel - Matti Friedman (AP/Washington Post)
    Archeologists digging in northern Israel have discovered evidence of a 3,000-year-old honey industry, including remnants of ancient honeycombs, beeswax and what they believe are the oldest intact beehives ever found.
    The findings in the ruins of the city of Rehov include 30 intact hives dating to around 900 BCE, said archaeologist Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
    The beehives, made of straw and unbaked clay, have a hole at one end to allow the bees in and out and a lid on the other end to allow beekeepers access to the honeycombs inside.
    They were found in orderly rows, three high, in a room that could have accommodated around 100 hives.
    The Bible repeatedly refers to Israel as a "land of milk and honey."

Useful Reference:

Israel's Agenda for the 62nd UN General Assembly (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israel is interested in separating itself from its image in the UN as a one-issue country (the Arab-Israel conflict).
    Instead, it seeks to act within the multilateral diplomatic arena of the UN and international organizations in the areas of peace and security, economic and environmental development and human rights.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Rockets May Spur Israel Action on Gaza - Laurie Copans
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened his top ministers on Wednesday to discuss Israel's response to the latest wave of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza, as public pressure for retaliation grew after an attack that nearly hit a crowded nursery school. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Close to the Edge: Residents of Israeli Town Have Endured Over 2,000 Palestinian Rocket Attacks - Philip Jacobson
    On a summer morning, the hubbub and bustle of the central market place in Sderot is interrupted by the wailing of sirens and the urgent voice of a woman repeating "Tzeva Adom" (Red Alert) over the public address system. Another Kassam rocket has been launched by Palestinian militants in Gaza and is heading towards the town. Residents of Sderot are only too well aware that the warning gives them a maximum of 15 seconds to take cover. Some shoppers respond instantly, scurrying for the freestanding steel-and-concrete shelters, known as "life shields," dotted around public places. Others panic, running in one direction then another, spilling fruit and vegetables from their shopping bags.
        Sderot is a town of 24,000, a little more than a mile away from the Palestinian city of Beit Hanoun. In the past five years, more than 2,000 rockets have struck homes, schools, offices, factories and a local synagogue. Eight people have been killed (three of them small children) and dozens more wounded. At Sderot's center for the treatment of shock victims, Dr. Adriana Katz talks about the invisible wounds inflicted on the hundreds of patients in her care by the relentless barrages. She says the Palestinian rockets "have largely destroyed the normal fabric of life in the town. Everyone exists in a state of permanent alert, which is physically and psychologically very destructive....We do our best to prevent people lapsing into full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."
        The most tragic victims of the rockets are Sderot's children, one in three of whom suffers from PTSD, according to a survey published last year. Like their parents, they spend much of their lives "on alert," dreading the next attack, unable to concentrate at school or enjoy the normal pleasures of childhood at home. (Times-UK)
  • Three Arrested in Germany Over Airport Attack Plot - Erik Kirschbaum and Sabine Siebold
    Germany has arrested three men it suspects of planning "massive bomb attacks" on U.S. installations and belonging to a domestic cell of the Islamic Jihad militant group, German officials said on Wednesday. Federal prosecutor Monika Harms said the men, two German nationals and one Turk, had obtained enough materials to make a bomb with an explosive power equal to 550 kg. of TNT and that an attack appeared imminent. Harms could not confirm reports that the accused were targeting the Frankfurt airport and U.S. military base in Ramstein, but said they had been observed scouting out U.S. installations such as discos, pubs, or airports. Earlier this year the accused men acquired 12 vats and a hydrogen peroxide solution used in bomb-making. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Eight Terror Suspects Arrested in Denmark - Jan M. Olsen
    Danish intelligence agents Tuesday arrested eight Islamic militants with links to leading al-Qaeda figures, and said they were plotting an attack involving explosives. The suspects, ages 19 to 29, are of Afghan, Pakistani, Somali and Turkish origin, said Jakob Scharf, head of the PET intelligence service. (Associated Press)
        See also Three Indicted in Norwegian Terror Case
    Three men have been indicted on charges connected with an attack on an Oslo synagogue or plotting to attack the U.S. or Israeli embassies in the Norwegian capital, the national prosecutor said Tuesday. Arfan Bhatti, 30, was indicted on charges of firing gunshots at Norway's main synagogue in September 2006 and for conspiring to commit a terror attack on the embassies. Andreas Bog Kristiansen, 27, was indicted for plotting to use explosives or weapons to attack the U.S. or Israeli embassies, and conspiring to commit armed robbery. Ibrahim Oezbabacan, 29, was indicted for either firing or being an accomplice to 13 shots fired at the Oslo synagogue. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Weighs Responding to Rocket Attacks by Cutting Electricity to Gaza - Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Barak Ravid
    In response to the ongoing Palestinian rocket fire at Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday to examine the implications of temporarily cutting off Gaza from Israeli infrastructure, including electricity, fuel and the supply of basic commodities - as an alternative to a broad IDF incursion into northern Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Pulling the Plug on Gaza - Sima Kadmon
    To what extent do we really understand the lives of these people who live near Gaza, who must face a constant tangible, existential threat? A threat so chilling it is almost surreal: Will my house be hit by a Kassam rocket today? Or where will my child be in the next Kassam attack? And the dilemma of each sane parent in Sderot: Am I being irresponsible by continuing to live in a place where my children are in danger's way? Once, the solution of "pulling the plug" on Gaza sparked harsh criticism. But that was before thousands of Kassam rockets. (Ynet News)
  • Fatah: We Will Rocket Israel's Ashkelon Power Station
    The Buraq Army unit of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, warned Tuesday that if Israel deprives Gaza of electricity, the Israeli power generating station at Ashkelon will be bombarded. On Tuesday the Al-Mujahideen Brigades, another unit of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, claimed responsibility for launching a rocket at the Israeli town of Sderot. (Maan News-PA)
  • IDF Destroys Explosives Lab in West Bank, Three Soldiers Wounded
    IDF troops uncovered an explosives laboratory in Balata near Nablus, acting on intelligence from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). Both ready-to-use explosives, as well as chemicals for preparation, were found. The laboratory's contents were detonated in a controlled manner. Soldiers were later attacked by armed Palestinians.
        Three IDF soldiers were wounded after an explosive device was detonated near their jeep in the Casbah in Nablus early Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Naturalize Several Hundred Darfur Refugees - Mazal Mualem
    Israel intends to grant citizenship to several hundred refugees from Darfur who are currently in the country, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit said Tuesday. Israel cannot ignore the refugees' fate because of the history of the Jewish people, Sheetrit said. "Just as Prime Minister Menachem Begin acted to grant citizenship to refugees from Vietnam, the same ought to be done today," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Israel Lobby in U.S. Strategy - George Friedman
    Israeli-U.S. relations have gone through three phases. From 1948 to 1967, the U.S. supported Israel's right to exist but was not its patron. In the 1967-1991 period, the Israelis were a key American asset in the Cold War. From 1991 to the present, the relationship has remained close but it is not pivotal to either country. Washington cannot help Israel with Hizbullah or Hamas. The Israelis cannot help the U.S. in Iraq or Afghanistan.
        There is a powerful Jewish, pro-Israel lobby in Washington, though it was not very successful in the first 20 years or so of Israel's history. When U.S. policy toward Israel swung in 1967, it had far more to do with geopolitical interests than with lobbying. Beyond its ability to exert itself on small things, the Israel lobby is powerful in influencing Washington to do what it is going to do anyway. What happens next in Iraq is not up to the Israel lobby. (Stratfor/IMRA)
        See also Understanding the U.S.-Israel Alliance: An Israeli Response to the Walt-Mearsheimer Claim - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Do Israel's Critics Have Anything Original to Say? - Lenny Ben-David
    Every generation sees new critics who arise to assail American support for Israel. Profs. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, authors of the last year's controversial paper (and a new book), The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, repeat and amplify the 30- and 40-year-old opinions of two of the most prominent critics of American support for Israel a generation ago: Sen. J. William Fulbright and George Ball, an undersecretary of state in the 1960s. They sound like Ball/Fulbright disciples, but Ball and Fulbright were perceived as so one-sided on Middle East issues that their opinions had little currency. There is not much new in the publication of Walt and Mearsheimer's expanded polemic - not the anti-Israel accusations, not the charges of dual loyalty, nor the challenges to the rights of American citizens who effectively petition their government. The writer served as deputy chief of mission in Israel's embassy in Washington. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Why Is the Temple Mount So Important? - Gabriel Barkay (One Jerusalem)

    Dr. Gabriel Barkay, a professor of biblical archaeology at Bar-Ilan University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained in an interview the Jewish and Christian connections to the Temple Mount and why it is vital to stop the destruction of Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount currently being carried out by Muslim religious authorities who are digging a trench at the site:

    • The Temple Mount is the heart, soul, and spirit of the Jewish people. It is the only holy place that Jews have and it is the place chosen by the Almighty which is mentioned in Deuteronomy. This is the place believed to be the site of the binding of Isaac. This is the place where David built the altar on the threshing floor of Aravna the Jebusite to stop the plague. This is the place where the First Temple was built and the Second followed it, built by the returnees to Zion from Babylonian captivity. This is also the place of the third edifice built on the site by King Herod the Great - the building so frequently mentioned in the New Testament.
    • The Temple Mount occupies about 1/6th of the total area of the old city of Jerusalem and this is one of the most important cornerstones of Western civilization. It is at the moment the focus of a political battle that embodies within it the crux of the Near Eastern conflict, as both parties claim to have historical linkage to the site.
    • The Temple Mount represents the Near Eastern conflict in a nutshell and whatever happens to the Temple Mount will happen to the rest of the country. If the Temple Mount is under Palestinian rule and there is no accessibility for Jews to the Temple Mount and no control on the antiquities discovered there, that means that the legitimacy of Jews in the entire country is questioned.
    • The gigantic stones of the Temple Mount are mentioned in the New Testament: Jesus was brought to the Temple Mount as an infant, and later in his career he chased away the money changers from the Temple Mount. There are approximately twenty references to the Temple Mount in the New Testament and beyond any doubt the Temple Mount is an integral part of the Christian heritage. It should be sacred and important to any civilized person all around the world.
    • I am amazed that there was a world outcry concerning the blowing up of the statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley by the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan, while the destruction on the Temple Mount didn't hit the media and there was no outrage expressed.

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