Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Abbas Aide: Western Wall Is Ours (JTA)
By a Landslide, Food Co-op Rejects Israel Boycott - Daniel Strauss (Michigan Daily-University of Michigan)
Germany's Iranian Secret - Benjamin Weinthal (Ha'aretz)
Syrian Soap Opera Captivates Arab World - Dalia Nammari (AP/Washington Post)
Israel Hosts Hot Air Balloon Festival (Zeenews-India)
Movie Review: Golda's Balcony - Jeannette Catsoulis (New York Times)
As Farmers and Fields Rest, a Land Grows Restless - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Abu Hamza is constantly on the run from Israel. His hideout today is a barren room with a computer hooked up to the Internet, which the Islamic Jihad commander said is used to plan rocket attacks on southern Israel. He pledged to keep up the violence. "We must create a balance of terror with the enemy," he said. The rockets that Islamic Jihad fires into Israel almost daily serve as constant reminders that renewed talk of Mideast peace remains a distant dream in Gaza. Thousands of rockets fired over the past seven years have killed 12 Israelis, wounded dozens and disrupted life for thousands.
Islamic Jihad, a virulently anti-Israel group backed by Iran and Syria, has killed dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings and has about 2,000 militants armed with automatic rifles, grenades and anti-tank weapons. It operates independently of the much larger Hamas, whose tolerance and sometimes encouragement of rocket attacks have increased Gaza's isolation. "Resistance must continue until we uproot the occupation from all the land of Palestine...from the sea to the river," said Abu Hamza, outlining Islamic Jihad's position that a future Palestinian state must replace Israel, not live alongside it. He said that Palestinian rocket fire forced Israel out of Gaza in 2005 and that he expected the same result in southern Israeli towns like Sderot and Ashkelon.
Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Gaza's Al Azhar University, said there is no doubt Syria and Iran are involved. "There are outsiders giving orders from outside the Gaza Strip, whether from Damascus or Tehran, for their own reasons," Abusada said. "They (Gaza militants) are doing this because they're getting paid for it." (AP/Washington Post)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday urged Mahmoud Abbas not to make concessions to Israel at a planned peace conference. Hamas has repeatedly called on Palestinians not to participate in a peace conference next month near Washington. Haniyeh said the conference "carries grave risks for the Palestinian cause and the entire region." (Reuters)
Secretary of State Rice on Thursday accused Iran of "lying" about the aim of its nuclear program, saying there's no doubt Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived the UN's atomic watchdog about its intentions. "There is an Iranian history of obfuscation and, indeed, lying to the IAEA," she said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. "There is a history of Iran not answering important questions about what is going on and there is Iran pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to nuclear weapons-grade material," Rice said. (AP)
The Pope hit out at Iran as he pledged to help world Jewish leaders in their fight against anti-Semitism. Pope Benedict XVI told leaders of the World Jewish Congress that Iran was "an issue of big concern" to him. At a meeting at the Vatican, the Pope spoke of his concern about rising anti-Semitism and described how he wanted to use educational tools to counter the hatred of the Iranian leadership towards the Jewish people and Israel. Ronald Lauder, new president of the WJC, who headed the delegation, said that the Pope had agreed to host a joint event with his organization when Benedict XVI visits New York next year. (Times-UK)
Iranian police have warned 122,000 people, mostly women, about flouting strict Islamic dress codes since April and nearly 7,000 of those attended "guidance classes," the daily Jomhuri-ye Islami reported Thursday. The dress codes require a woman's hair to be covered and the shape of her body to be disguised by a loose coat. A Tehran police commander, Reza Zaraei, said 482 people were arrested for taking part in mixed parties. Men and women are not allowed to mix in Iran unless they are family members. (Reuters/Washington Post)
See also Fatah Uses "Morality Police" to Burnish Image Among Palestinians - Joshua Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Egypt could halt the flow of weapons from the Sinai Peninsula into Gaza in a single day, Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told UN Middle East envoy Tony Blair on Friday. Senior Israeli political figures said Thursday that in talks with their American counterparts, they stressed that the porous border in Sinai "is becoming a strategic problem" and asked them to raise the issue with the Egyptians. "The smuggling of weapons and terrorist experts from Sinai to the Gaza Strip through the Philadelphi Route poses a real threat to the holding of the Annapolis conference," was their message.
"Egypt is working against everything we are all trying to achieve," senior Israeli officials told the Americans. "We are organizing a summit to further the diplomatic process under the banner 'strengthening Abu Mazen' [Mahmoud Abbas], and they are strengthening Hamas." Israeli officials are particularly irate at the clandestine entry of dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants through the border near Rafah, without Egypt's trying to stop them. (Ha'aretz)
An IDF force completed an operation to root out terrorist infrastructure in Gaza on Thursday. During the operation, four Palestinian gunmen were wounded in clashes near El-Bureij, and 40 terror suspects were arrested. Soldiers also discovered seven Kassam rocket launchers ready to fire near Beit Hanun in northern Gaza. Overnight Wednesday, the IDF targeted and hit a Kassam rocket squad in northern Gaza just after it fired a Kassam, which landed near the security fence. (Jerusalem Post)
"The IDF will have to enter parts of the Gaza Strip and stay there for a few months," outgoing Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky told Yediot Ahronot Thursday. "We won't be able to keep ignoring Hamas' strengthening in Gaza and the incessant rocket attacks for long....In order to dismantle the terror infrastructure we need systematic treatment and the ground operation is a matter of timing," he said. (Ynet News)
The interrogation of detained Fatah al-Islam terrorists unveiled plans to seize control of a "big section" of northern Lebanon, to "destabilize" the country by shelling government institutions and business facilities, and to attack UN peacekeepers. A large number of the militants were "true jihadis," or holy warriors, who were under the impression that they were going to fight in Iraq. Most of the non-Lebanese militants had illegally crossed into Lebanon overland from Syria via a border area controlled by Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, which is backed and financed by Syria. (Ya Libnan-Lebanon)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hundreds of rockets have been fired at Israel by the militants of Gaza. The rockets are popularly known as Kassams after their inventors, the Kassam Brigades loyal to the Islamist Hamas movement. But the rocket that fell on Oct. 7 near Netivot, 11 km. from the Gaza border, was a Grad-type Katyusha, a variant on the ones that Hizbullah rained on Israel from south Lebanon during last year's war. Israel's military intelligence says it has logged an increase in weapons-smuggling in recent weeks, with Fatah sources claiming that this included a delivery of several dozen Katyushas. (Economist-UK)
The main lesson of the Hizbullah war is that military responses are simply not enough. The jihadi threat needs to be defeated by a combination of political, ideological, media, military and intelligence measures. The good news is that the potential does exist for a broad coalition between Western, non-Western and Sunni Muslim and Arab nation-states to get the job done. (Policy Review-Hoover Institution)
The West is more concerned over the suffering of Arabs than the Arabs' own governments or leaders. The West is desperate to get the Palestinians a state, while both Hamas and Fatah want only an independent country on their own terms. Hamas wants total victory and Israel's eradication; most of Fatah merely wants an agreement to move that dream closer to reality.
Why is this? Because they: think they are winning; fail to comprehend the concept of compromise; embrace a culture of patience in which steadfastness wins versus what they perceive to be a Western culture of instant gratification; use militancy as a demagogic substitute for peace or prosperity; understand that he who says no gains bargaining leverage; hold such extreme goals that they cannot be satisfied by any conceivable deal with Israel, America, or the West.
The West assumes that the Palestinian leadership will be grateful if it is given a state, when it wants to be given all of Israel; that Iran merely need feel secure from U.S. power, when it wants to throw America out of the region; that the Iraqi insurgents want more of a voice for the Sunni minority, when they want to chop the head off the Shi'ite majority; or that Syria just wants the Golan Heights when it desires Lebanon enslaved and Israel destroyed. Or that the Muslim Brotherhood wants a reformed democratic state when it prays for an Islamist theocracy. There are very good reasons why Western efforts at engagement are never followed by marriage, and why endless confidence-building measures, peace plans, aid packages, and summit conferences keep failing. (Jerusalem Post)
A number of major political divergences of view between the EU and Israel also find their expression in legal positions. One such issue concerns the legality of Israeli neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. Differences also exist as far as the settlements are concerned. The Europeans, UN organs, the International Court of Justice, and the Palestinians consider that these violate the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Yet both the plain meaning of the words and the legislative history of the relevant provision of the Convention do not support this interpretation. Ruth Lapidoth is Professor Emeritus of International Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The latest peacemaking drive relies on the principle of harnessing moderate forces. That's moderate as in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. Bush is hoping that Riyadh can be relied on to rein in hostile forces in the Gulf and basically bring about world peace - even though it itself does not recognize Israel's right to exist and hardly seems to be on better terms with Syria or Iran. And indeed, exactly with whom is Israel meant to be making peace?
We have tried Oslo I and Oslo II, and many cities in Israel bear the scars to prove it: memorials set up to commemorate ordinary citizens blown up on buses, in restaurants, wedding halls and other places of entertainment. Not to mention the psychological scars. It's not that Israel and its Arab neighbors can't make peace. Both Egypt and Jordan have managed to maintain ties, not necessarily cordial but at least not confrontational. (Jerusalem Post)
Patrick Desbois, 52, a French Roman Catholic priest, has been quietly seeking out the terrified witnesses to mass slaughter, roaming the back roads of Ukraine, hearing their stories and searching for the unmarked common graves. The Nazis killed nearly 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine after their invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. But with few exceptions, most notably the 1941 slaughter of 34,000 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine in Kiev, much of that history has gone untold.
Over four years, Father Desbois has videotaped more than 700 interviews with witnesses and bystanders and has identified more than 600 common graves of Jews, most of them previously unknown. Unlike in Poland and Germany, where the Holocaust remains visible through the searing symbols of the extermination camps, the horror in Ukraine was hidden away, first by the Nazis, then by the Soviets. "There was nothing to see in Ukraine because people were shot to death with guns," said Thomas Eymond-Laritaz, president of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Ukraine's largest philanthropic organization. "That's why Father Desbois is so important." (New York Times)
See also Finding - or Erasing - Ukraine's Jews? - Omer Bartov
Over two dozen scholars gathered in Paris last week to discuss the murder of some 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine during the Holocaust. Father Patrick Desbois was among those attending. (Ha'aretz)
Gamal Mubarak is the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the man most widely expected to succeed him. Egyptians have never experienced a democratic transfer of presidential power. As Hosni Mubarak, 79, begins the 27th year of his rule this month, many say they expect Mubarak's family and ruling party, military officers and security officials to decide on his successor. If power passes to Gamal, Egypt would join Syria, Jordan and Morocco on the growing list of modern Middle East dynasties in which sons have taken over from fathers.
Gamal Mubarak denies any interest in the presidency, but he is accumulating power in the ruling party and as his father's economic adviser. Cautious but business-friendly changes in economic policy have helped the country achieve a 7% growth rate this year and attract $11 billion in direct foreign investment, up from less than $500 million four years ago. (Washington Post)
According to Haifa University geostrategist Arnon Soffer, who serves as head of research at the IDF National Defense College, "We are living in a 100-year period of terrorism, and we have another 100 years of terrorism ahead of us. We will forever be forced to live by the sword. We are not wanted in the Middle East....No Palestinian wants us here. No Muslim wants us here. No Arab wants us here." "I live with the sense that one day we will wake up to the news of a coup in Jordan and Egypt. And woe is the day when insane Islam takes over those two countries."
Soffer sees Iran as "weak and vulnerable." "Two missiles on the Iranian islands of Karaj and Siri, and Iran's entire oil revenue drops from $60 billion to zero." (Jerusalem Post)
Major Diplomatic Assets Such as Road Map and Bush's Letter Must Be Defended - Dov Weisglass (Ynet News)
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