Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 2, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Israeli Jets Foiled Russian Radar in Syria - Uzi Mahnaimi (Sunday Times-UK)
    The Russians have sent technicians to upgrade Syria's air defense system after Israel foiled it using stealth technology to remain invisible during an airstrike.
    The Israeli air force used a sophisticated electronic warfare system operated by F-15I jets and a fleet of specialist electronic warfare aircraft over the Mediterranean during the attack on a suspected nuclear facility near Dayr az-Zawr on September 6.
    They transmitted signals that jammed the Russian-made radar and the Syrian army's communications.

Hamas Says 50,000 Gunmen Ready to Defend Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Fifty thousand Palestinian gunmen and 400 suicide bombers are ready to repel or at least impede any large-scale Israeli invasion of Gaza, Nizar Rayyan, a senior Hamas leader, said on Friday.
    Israeli intelligence assessments are that Hamas has at least 20,000 fighters.

Let Lebanese, Not Palestinians, Rule Lebanon - Youssef Ibrahim (New York Sun)
    For nearly three decades hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs have lived in camps inside Lebanon where, by law, neither the Lebanese army nor the Lebanese state have jurisdiction of any kind.
    These "guests of Lebanon" are free to come and go with weapons, to train as guerrillas, and to use their dwellings as sanctuary for legal or illegal acts - no questions asked.
    What makes more sense is taking away the Palestinian Arabs' weapons and ability to run indoctrination centers in Lebanon.

Cairo Moving More Aggressively to Cripple Muslim Brotherhood as Transition Looms - Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post)
    After imprisoning or prodding into exile Egypt's leading secular opposition activists, the government is using detentions and legal changes to neutralize the country's last surviving major political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, ahead of the end of the 26-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who is 79.

The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: No Hatred So Common - Russell Working (Chicago Tribune)
    Matthias Kuentzel, a German scholar who has traced the influence of Adolf Hitler in the Muslim world, says Judeophobia is at its worst level since the Nazi era.
    The Middle East conflicts fuel anger at Israel, but this is more than just frustrated people blowing off steam. It is a demonology that encompasses all Jews, wherever they live or whatever their stand on Israel.
    Editorial cartoons across the Middle East and Europe portray Israelis as ogres who devour babies, drawing on medieval and Nazi imagery.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Assad: Syria Won't Attend If Conference Doesn't Discuss Golan Heights
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the BBC his government will not attend a Middle East peace conference in November unless Syria's concerns regarding the return of the Golan Heights are addressed. (BBC News)
        See also Syria Sets Conditions for Role in Peace Talks - Robin Wright
    Assad's rejection could play into the Bush administration's preference that Syria not attend unless it moderates its position on several issues, U.S. analysts said. (Washington Post)
        See also PA Demands Sweeping Deal with Israel Before Conference - Khaled Abu Toameh and Mark Weiss
    The Palestinians will only participate in the U.S.-sponsored peace conference next month if general agreement is first reached with Israel on all the fundamental issues, PA officials in Ramallah said Monday. In addition to the issues of Jerusalem, the borders of the future Palestinian state and the problem of the refugees, the PA was also seeking agreement on water, security and settlements.
        One PA official said the Palestinians want a declaration of principles to include an Israeli commitment to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders. "When Condoleezza Rice was here lately, she told us that the U.S. administration was determined to turn the conference into a successful event. She also promised to exert pressure on Israel to soften its position," the official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Struggles to Beat Boycott Squeeze - Steven Gutkin and Diaa Hadid
    The Islamic militants who violently seized control of Gaza are selling confiscated cigarettes, smuggling cash through underground tunnels and auctioning off government vehicles to make ends meet in the face of a global economic boycott. No bank will deal directly with Hamas, so it's making deals to receive funds from Iran, Arab countries and Islamic charities abroad. As the funding boycott is intensifying, Hamas is feeling the squeeze. It is charging hefty fees for vehicle registration and birth certificates, big companies are being dunned for heavier taxes, and Hamas officials are having to car pool. So far Hamas is managing to stay afloat financially, getting most of its money through merchants, moneychangers and charities, while letting these go-betweens keep 20% of any sum they deliver. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: Palestinians Staged Death of Mohammed al-Dura in 2000 - Barak Ravid
    The September 2000 death of Palestinian child Mohammed al-Dura in Gaza was staged by a Gaza cameraman, Government Press Office Director Daniel Seaman said Monday. France 2 television had broadcast the original footage of al-Dura's death on September 30, 2000, the second day of the Second Intifada. "Israel was accused of murdering a small child after the event by the world press and his image has been burned into the collective Arab memory as a symbol of the brutality of the Zionist state," Seaman wrote in an official letter. Yet "the events of that day were essentially staged by the network's cameraman in Gaza, Talal Abu Rahmeh." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Propaganda Coup - Natan Sharansky
    The al-Dura incident is part of the insidious trend in which Western media outlets allow themselves to be manipulated by dishonest and politically motivated sources (recall the Jenin "massacre" that never was, or the doctored Reuters photos from Israel's war against Hizbullah in 2006). Tragically, there is no way to repair the damage inflicted on Israel's international image by the France 2 report, much less restore the Israeli and Jewish victims whose lives were exacted as vengeance. It is possible, however, to deter slanderous news reporting - and the violence that often accompanies it - by setting a precedent for media accountability via the handover of Talal Abu Rahmeh's full 27 minutes of raw footage. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Two Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians from Gaza landed in Israel's western Negev on Tuesday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran's Economic Suicide - Stuart Levey
    Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and its radical foreign policies have provoked international sanctions and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's blunders are debilitating Iran's economy. Sustained international pressure on Iran is having an impact. More banks world-wide are refusing to deal with Iran in any currency. The OECD recently increased Iran's risk classification for the likelihood that the country will pay its external debts to its second-worst rating - equal to that of Gabon and Swaziland. The writer is undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the U.S. Treasury Department. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Why Are We Funding the UN's "Human Rights" Nonsense? - Anne Bayefsky
    On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council approved a resolution on the Durban II racism conference - the newest UN forum for anti-Semites being planned for 2009. The resolution calls for the Libyan Chair of the Preparatory Committee to come to New York to present a report in person to the General Assembly. (Distributing the written report is not good enough.) The cost of the visit? $8,400 according to the Secretariat. American taxpayers will pay 22% of the cost.
        The story line is always the same: Arabs are the victims of anti-Semitism, Jew-hatred is off the radar screen; a billion people have been gravely wounded by a few cartoons in a newspaper published some two-thirds the way to the North Pole; freedom of expression is legitimately curtailed for just about every imaginable offense - particularly in Islamic dictatorships; religion is irrelevant to understanding and preventing terrorism, despite the fact that terrorists terrorize in the name of religion; and terrorists are driven by poverty and lack of opportunity - in other words, our dead are our fault. (National Review)
        See also UN Human Rights Council Head: We Have Criticized Israel Unfairly
    UN Human Rights Council President Doru-Romulus Costea told a Spanish newspaper on Saturday that he was dissatisfied with the fact the council had overly focused on human rights violations by Israel. "The body which I head must examine the actions of both sides equally, and we have not done that," said Costea. "Clearly, from now on things need to change." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Israel Tells UN: Set Standards for Participation in Genuine Democratic Elections (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni told the UN General Assembly on Monday:

    • The conflict in our region is driven by those who seek power without responsibility; those whose aim is not to realize their own rights, but to deny those rights for others. At its heart, this is a conflict not about territory, but about values.
    • As we have proven in the past, we are prepared for the territorial compromise that lasting peace entails. But we also know - especially after withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza - that territorial withdrawal by itself will not bring peace unless we address the core clash of values that lies beneath the conflict.
    • Extremists - opposed to the very ideals of democracy - are entering the democratic process not to abandon their violent agenda but to advance it. As a spokesman for al-Qaeda recently declared, "We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy." This should be a wake up-call for all of us. It is time to reclaim democracy, and this begins by rejecting those who abuse it.
    • Genuine democracy is about values before it is about voting. No true democracy on earth allows armed militias, or groups with racist or violent agendas, to participate in elections. Violent extremists, who could never run for office at home, are treated as legitimate politicians when elected elsewhere. As a result, we empower those who use democratic means to advance anti-democratic ends.
    • We need a universal democratic code that requires that all those seeking the legitimacy of the democratic process earn it by respecting such principles as state monopoly over the lawful use of force, the rejection of racism and violence, and the protection of the rights of others. The goal of such a code is to protect core democratic values from those determined to use the democratic system against itself.
    • The temptation to engage with extremists can be strong. It may seem to promise stability and quiet. We may hope that by feeding the beast we can gradually tame it. But we do a disservice to diversity when, in its name, we tolerate the intolerant. Bitter experience has shown that buying off extremists is a short-term fix - for which we will pay dearly in the long run. Instead, groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah must be presented with a clear choice - between the path of violence and the path of legitimacy. They cannot have both.
    • And it is this same stark choice that must be presented to the radical regime in Iran. No responsible state disagrees that Iran is the most prominent sponsor of terrorism. None disagrees that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state - mine - off the map. And none disagrees that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end.
    • What is the value, we have to ask, of an organization which is unable to take effective action in the face of a direct assault on the very principles it was founded to protect? It is time for the United Nations, and the states of the world, to live up to their promise of "never again." To say enough is enough, to act now and to defend their basic values.

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