Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 26, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Moves Maneuver from Golan Heights to Prevent a "Misunderstanding" with Syria - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    The Israel Defense Forces has decided to move military maneuvers scheduled to take place next week from the Golan Heights to the Galilee in order to prevent unnecessary tension between Israel and Syria.
    A military source said the change was "aimed at preventing a misunderstanding."

Lebanon Troops Fire on Israeli Planes - Sam F. Ghattas (AP)
    Lebanese troops opened fire Thursday on Israeli warplanes flying low over southern Lebanon, the first time the Lebanese army has fired on the aircraft since an Aug. 14, 2006, cease-fire, Lebanese officials said.
    Lebanese soldiers opened up with machine guns and light anti-aircraft weapons mounted on armored vehicles at two planes that flew east of Marjayoun.

Cutting Palestinian Forces Poses Challenge - Adam Entous and Wafa Amr (Reuters)
    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has begun to act on a plan to shrink the security forces by about a third - from 83,000 to about 50,000 - a move that may fuel tensions in the PA.
    Diplomats said the goals of the Western-backed plan were to save money and produce a smaller, more tightly controlled force - a better armed and trained gendarmerie that can both police civilians and prevent heavily armed militant groups from jeopardizing peace agreements with Israel.
    But overhauling the security forces could place Fayyad, an independent technocrat, on a collision course with Fatah's powerful old-guard.
    To cushion the blow, he is drawing up plans for generous incentives to retire.
    But it is unclear how much support Fayyad has within Fatah.

Saudi King Tries to Grow Modern Ideas in Desert - Thanassis Cambanis (New York Times)
    Some 50 miles from the Red Sea port of Jidda, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is staking $12.5 billion on building from scratch the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a graduate research institution with one of the ten largest endowments in the world.
    The king has hired the state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco to build the campus, create its curriculum and attract foreigners.
    Its planners say men and women will study side by side in an enclave walled off from the rest of Saudi society, the country's notorious religious police will be barred and all religious and ethnic groups will be welcome in a push for academic freedom and international collaboration sure to test the kingdom's cultural and religious limits.

Palestinian Smugglers Arrested Driving Fake Police Vans - Eli Ashkenazi (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Police on Monday arrested two Palestinians attempting to smuggle 40 illegal Palestinian workers into Israel in commercial vans that had been painted and fitted with fake police lights and sirens to resemble police vans.
    The vans were stopped by police after they drove through a checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley with sirens and lights blazing.

Report: Fugitive in Madrid Terror Attack Died in Iraq Fighting (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Daoud Ouhnane, an Algerian fugitive suspected of playing a key role in the Madrid terror bombings of 2004, died in Iraq in 2006 while fighting U.S.-led forces, El Pais reported Sunday, quoting a confidential Spanish police report.
    Spanish investigators have said another key suspect in the Madrid attacks, Moroccan Mohamed Afalah, is believed to have died in a suicide attack in Iraq in 2005.

On the Road to Legacy With an Ex-President - Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
    Jimmy Carter isn't a real saint, but he plays one in a new documentary, "Jimmy Carter Man From Plains," a chronicle of the former president's 2006 national book tour to promote and occasionally defend his best-seller: Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.

Recycling in Israel - the Whole Dump - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
    On Oct. 28, Israel's president, prime minister, senior politicians, mayors and business leaders plan to gather on the colossal brown garbage dump known as Hiriya, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, and name it the Ariel Sharon Park.
    Ensuring that Hiriya and the flat flood lands around it would be reclaimed as open green space for the residents of southern Tel Aviv, rather than falling into the hands of eager real estate developers, was one of the last and lesser known battles fought by Mr. Sharon.
    The Hiriya dump, closed nine years ago, will serve as the centerpiece for a vast 2,000-acre urban wilderness.
    The monumental dirt mountain will be transformed into a beauty spot designed by German landscape architect Prof. Peter Latz.

Two Dozen U.S. Attorneys General Visit Israel (AFP/Khaleej Times-UAE)
    Two dozen U.S. attorneys general arrived in Israel on Thursday for a week-long visit organized annually for the past 25 years, the Israel Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Useful Reference:

How to Understand Islam - Malise Ruthven (New York Review of Books)
    A review of Arguing the Just War in Islam by John Kelsay, Islam: Past, Present and Future by Hans Kung, Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice by Michael Bonner, Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Secularism Confronts Islam by Olivier Roy.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Satellite Photos Show Cleansing of Targeted Syrian Site - William J. Broad and Mark Mazzetti
    New commercial satellite photos show that a Syrian site that Israel bombed last month no longer bears any obvious traces of what analysts said appeared to have been a partly built nuclear reactor. A senior intelligence official said, "It doesn't lower suspicions; it raises them. This was not the long-term decommissioning of a building, which can take a year. It was speedy. It's incredible that they could have gone to that effort to make something go away." (New York Times)
  • EU Condemns "Growing Repression" of Human Rights in Iran
    The EU on Tuesday condemned Iran following crackdowns on journalists and human rights activists. "The EU remains deeply concerned at the growing repression against all groups which exercise their right to freely express their opinions, and at the escalation of restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the Islamic Republic of Iran," the EU presidency - currently run by Portugal - said in a statement. "The EU condemns the closure of newspapers, magazines and of the Iranian Labor News Agency, as well as the arrest and persecution of journalists, web bloggers, and human rights defenders for exercising their right to freedom of expression," the statement added. (DPA/Digital Journal-Canada)
  • Jerusalem Arabs Wary of Talk of Future PA Rule - Joshua Mitnick
    Many Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are less than eager for an end to Israeli rule. Some 250,000 people could find themselves under Palestinian rule if the idea of ceding parts of Jerusalem to a new Palestinian state goes forward. "If they put a border here, we'll move to Haifa and Tel Aviv. You'll have 50,000 people who live here leaving East Jerusalem in minutes," said Jamil Sanduqa, head of the popular committee that governs the Shuafat neighborhood. Many of the city's Palestinian residents openly worry about being cut off from jobs, unemployment insurance and medical care. (Washington Times)
        See also What Will Become of Jerusalem's Borders? - Joel Greenberg
    Meron Benvenisti, a historian and writer who is a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, said that the patchwork of Jewish and Arab neighborhoods that has developed in the area captured in 1967 makes it impossible to simply divide the city between Israel and a proposed Palestinian state. "In this city the egg has been so scrambled that it cannot be restored," Benvenisti told Israel Television. "This talk may be good for the Americans or for internal Israeli debate, but on the ground, take a look and see, how can you do it? You can't." (Chicago Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Limit Supply of Power to Gaza in Response to Palestinian Rocket Fire - Hanan Greenberg
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the green light on Thursday to reduce Israel's power supplies to Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled territory. Security sources explained that the decision was an implementation of Israel's disengagement from Gaza. Israel does not plan to cut the power supply in response to each rocket fired at Israel, but will gradually reduce Gaza's dependency on Israel for electricity. Gaza's population uses about 200 megawatts of electricity, of which 120 are provided directly from Israel, 17 are from Egypt, and 65 are produced locally. "Because this is an entity that is hostile to us there is no reason for us to supply them with electricity beyond the minimum required to prevent a crisis," Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio. (Ynet News)
        The first sanctions will be implemented in the coming days, with electricity supply being disrupted during the evening hours for periods between 15 minutes to an hour each time. The volume of gasoline allowed into Gaza is to be cut significantly. However, the delivery of diesel will not be disrupted because of its widespread use in hospitals and public transportation.
        On Thursday, Palestinians fired ten Kassam rockets at Israel. On Thursday afternoon, four Palestinian mortar shells struck near the Sufa checkpoint. (Ha'aretz)
  • Olmert, Abbas to Discuss Framework Agreement - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to discuss the framework for the peace talks being drafted by teams of negotiators. Israel is demanding that any future agreement should be implemented in accordance with the stages set out by the road map. The first stage of the plan requires Palestinian security to undertake continuous and effective operations to counter terrorism in the territories. The Palestinian delegation, headed by Ahmed Qureia, say the PA has fulfilled the first stage of the road map by reorganizing its leadership and government, while Israel says the Palestinians have done nothing to meet their security obligations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Attempts Crack-Down in Nablus - Khaled Abu Toameh
    U.S. security coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton visited Nablus Thursday for talks with PA security officials on the PA's security plan to deploy some 500 policemen in Nablus, the largest West Bank city, as part of an effort to end the state of lawlessness and anarchy and undermine Hamas' influence. "This is where the Palestinian state will get its first real test," Dayton said. "When you succeed in Nablus, it will send a message throughout the West Bank and it will send a message to your neighbors that you're serious about law and order and that you can do the job."
        It's not clear if the PA intends to deploy its forces inside the three main refugee camps surrounding Nablus. Previous attempts by the PA to dispatch policemen to the camps were foiled by members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, who, according to local residents, are largely responsible for the ongoing state of anarchy. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Chaotic Nablus: Testing Ground for Abbas - Ali Daraghmeh and Diaa Hadid (AP)
  • IDF: Sinai Bedouin Are Aiding Gaza Terrorists - Greer Fay Cashman
    Sinai Bedouin are helping armed terrorists from Gaza, taking them in and allowing them to integrate into their midst, according to IDF Brig.-Gen. Yoel Strick. Since the disengagement from Gaza there had been an intensified effort on the part of Gaza terror cells to penetrate Israel, he said Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Squeezing Iran - Editorial
    Thursday's announcement by the Bush Administration that it is sanctioning Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a step forward. The U.S. is also citing the branch of the Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force for supporting such terrorist groups as the Taliban, Hizbullah and Hamas. These sanctions should have some bite, because we've learned from North Korea that even unilateral U.S. financial sanctions can get the attention of rogue regimes. These nonmilitary U.S. sanctions come after more than four years of deferring to European and UN diplomacy toward Iran.
        U.S. commanders in Iraq have provided acres of evidence that the Quds Force is responsible for aiding Shiite radicals with deadly roadside bombs. Senior administration officials tell us that 70% of U.S. casualties in Iraq are the result of Shiite forces supplied by Iran. The Quds Force has been caught red-handed supplying the Taliban with weapons that kill U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
        The main problem with these sanctions is they probably won't go far enough to change Iranian behavior. If the rest of the world really wants a nonmilitary solution to Iranian aggression, they should see these U.S. sanctions as one last chance to show Tehran otherwise. The alternative is likely to be the resort to military force. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran Sanctions Are Meant to Prevent War, Bush Aides Say - Michael Abramowitz and Robin Wright (Washington Post)
  • Iran Sanctions: Can They Be Effective? - Matthew Levitt
    The State and Treasury Departments announced a new package of sweeping unilateral sanctions targeting multiple entities in Iran, including three banks, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Qods Force, the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, several IRGC-affiliated companies, and eight individuals. Can such sanctions be effective in halting Iran's nuclear program? If they are used as part of a comprehensive strategy to create diplomatic leverage, absolutely. Targeted economic sanctions represent the strongest nonmilitary means of changing Tehran's behavior. Although multilateral sanctions are preferable, regional and unilateral sanctions are also very effective.
        Sanctions do not undermine diplomacy; they create diplomatic leverage. Diplomatic engagement with Iran, whether broad or limited, is severely undermined when Iran is able to pursue its nuclear ambitions, support terrorist groups, and erode security in Iraq and Afghanistan without consequence. The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute and formerly served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


  • Security of Jerusalem Holy Sites Threatened - Mike Seid
    Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president, has a warning for the religious faithful. "Taking the holy sites of Jerusalem which are presently protected and secure and putting them under the uncertainty of Palestinian rule or of some poorly defined special regime for the Holy Basin is to put their future in great doubt." At the planned summit in Annapolis, the fate of this special city appears to be on the table.
        "Jerusalem has been a part of Jewish faith and religious practice since the time of King David and King Solomon," he says. "The most widely practiced ceremonies in Judaism today, the Passover Seder and the Ne'ila prayer of Yom Kippur, close with the declaration 'Next year in Jerusalem.' The call for rebuilding Jerusalem is a part of Jewish daily prayer and of the grace after meals. Thus Jerusalem is at the heart of Jewish religious consciousness."
        "Christians treasure the importance of Jerusalem, but their main institutions developed elsewhere," Gold says, referring to Rome and Constantinople. "For Islam, Jerusalem has special meaning. But Jerusalem never appears in the Koran. And the proper place of pilgrimage for the haj is Mecca, with Medina being the second most holy city in Islam. Jerusalem was never the seat of the Islamic caliphate." "Only a free and democratic Israel can protect Jerusalem for all faiths," he concludes.
        Dr. Ikrema Sabri, former mufti of Jerusalem, says, "Islam said the city was to be under the authority of Muslims because it is a Muslim city." Despite this week's findings of First Temple remains on the Mount by the Muslim Wakf, Sabri argues, "There was never a Jewish temple on Al-Aksa and there is no proof that there was ever a temple." Similarly, Sabri maintains that the Western Wall "is not part of the Jewish temple, it is just the Western Wall of the mosque," he says. "There is not a single stone with any relation at all to the history of the Hebrews." Islamic leaders were not always so certain. The Supreme Muslim Council in 1930 wrote that the Temple Mount's "sanctity dates from earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Christians Are Persona Non Grata in Gaza - Conal Urquhart
    The murder on Oct. 7 of Rami Ayad, who worked at Gaza's Bible Society, has persuaded many in the 3,000-strong Christian community they are no longer welcome in Gaza. He had been stabbed several times and shot in the head. The Bible Society is primarily involved in offering charity to Muslim families, but Ayad had nevertheless been threatened several times.
        Christians have been in Gaza since the fourth century, but Ayad's murder follows a series of incidents that has shaken the community's desire to stay. "Everything has changed. In the times of my father and grandfather, there was no difference between Muslims and Christians," said Ibrahim Ayad, a brother of the victim. "The Islamic revival has also brought intolerance in its wake." He estimated that 70% of the Christian community would leave when they had the opportunity. He said many Muslims perceived Christians as "kaffirs," or unbelievers, which meant they were not subject to the same laws as Muslims. (Guardian-UK)
  • In West Bank and Gaza, a Cycle of Retribution Churns Among Palestinians - Joel Greenberg
    Amer Halayqa, 26, a Hamas follower, was rousted out of bed with a punch in the face, then dragged in his pajamas to a Palestinian security center in Hebron for more than three weeks of interrogation. "The Israelis would at least give you time to get dressed and say goodbye to your family," Halayqa said. "It's harder to take when the injustice is from your own people." Scores of Hamas activists have been rounded up in the West Bank in recent months. Accounts of abuses of prisoners in the West Bank and reports by Palestinian human-rights monitors suggest that law-enforcement practices in the area are seriously flawed, as in Gaza, where detainees from Fatah have reported violence by the Hamas security force. (Chicago Tribune)

    Other Issues

  • Show of Force - Noah Pollak
    Israel has an image problem. Beginning with the 1982 Lebanon War, and accelerating rapidly after the start of the second Intifada in 2000, the Jewish state has come to be viewed in many quarters of enlightened opinion as a sinister presence on the world stage. Whether the crisis was al-Dura, Jenin, Lebanon, or the Gaza beach explosion, the Israeli response distinguished itself by the same blunders: A reflexive assumption of guilt; pre-emptive apologies, unnecessary self-criticism, and suspension of military action; the assertion of innocence only after the media storm had passed; and a refusal to push back rhetorically against individuals and organizations who have turned slandering Israel into such a disgracefully undemanding sport.
        On the conceptual level, Israeli strategists and spokespeople must come to understand the immense influence of symbolism, theater, and the repetition of defining anecdotes in modern warfare. In our age of global communication and the disproportionate influence of easily manipulable photographs and video, a new theater of war has been created. The battle is over images, narratives, and beliefs. What hangs in the balance is Israel's strategic position among democratic nations; its ability to sustain its own sense of moral clarity and national confidence against its enemies; the perseverance of Zionism as the animating ethos of the Jewish state; and the fulfillment of the central aspiration of creating a country in which Jews no longer feel intimidated by their assailants. Israel cannot change its enemies, but it must change how it fights them. (Azure-Shalem Center)
  • Engaging the Enemy - David J. Feith and Andrew M. Steinberg
    Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Lee Hamilton, and other former high-ranking officials have called for the U.S. to engage in "genuine dialogue" with Hamas, the terrorist organization currently in power in Gaza. But Hamas has always been an avowed anti-democratic force. It has never held internal elections, is not creating democratic institutions, and eliminates internal opposition by means of summary executions. If the failure of the Oslo process taught us anything, it was to judge Palestinian groups by their actions, not by their soothing words to the West. The writers are students at Columbia and Yale, respectively. (National Review)
  • BBC's Alan Johnston: I Imagined My Beheading - Nicole Martin
    Alan Johnston, 45, the BBC journalist held hostage in Gaza for 114 days, has recalled how he sat in his cell, visualizing his own bloody death at the hands of his captors. In an interview for BBC1's Panorama, he described the moment one of his captors walked into his cell with a set of chains and told him he may be killed in "the Zarqawi way." Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, made a number of videos showing prisoners being beheaded. "I imagined being put into that red suit they would make me wear for videos," Johnston said. "I imagined one of them in a hood and one of them putting a knee in my back, and then my throat being cut." "Perhaps there's more to life than working in dangerous places," he concluded. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Muslim-Jewish Interaction in the Netherlands - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    The immigration of a large number of Muslims into the Netherlands over the past four decades has led to major challenges for the Dutch Jewish community. These include increased verbal and physical violence against Jews and the Jewish community, the need for greater security measures, impact on the teaching of the Holocaust in Dutch schools, and changed attitudes of the authorities and third parties toward the needs of the Jewish community. The attitude toward Israel of some Dutch politicians and political parties has also been affected. The many negative developments have led some of the Jewish community leaders to reflect on how to interact with certain segments of the Muslim community. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Jerusalem Syndrome - Walter Russell Mead (Foreign Affairs)

    • John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt claim that they want The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy "to foster a more clear-eyed and candid discussion of this subject." Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. It will confuse the policy debate not just in the U.S. but throughout the world as well, while giving aid and comfort to anti-Semites wherever they are found.
    • Rarely in professional literature does one encounter such a gap between aspiration and performance as there is in The Israel Lobby. Mearsheimer and Walt fail to define "the lobby" in a clear way. Their accounts of the ways in which it exercises power, as well as their descriptions of the power it wields, are incoherent. Their use of evidence is uneven. At the level of geopolitics, their handling of the complex realities and crosscurrents of the Middle East fails to establish either the incontestable definition of the national interest that their argument requires or the superiority they claim for the policies they propose.
    • The book's poor analysis of U.S. domestic politics sometimes involves a remarkably slipshod handling of evidence. One rubs one's eyes, frequently, at the spectacle of these two academics earnestly and solemnly presenting fundraising letters and convention speeches and other materials by paid employees of AIPAC and other such groups as conclusive proof of those groups' power and reach. This is not serious scholarship.
    • Their geopolitical analysis of Israel's position is interesting and in many respects useful. But Mearsheimer and Walt seem not to see how it undercuts the importance of the Israel lobby. According to them, Israel is the dominant regional power, and its enormous advantages in weapons and technology are so great that it has relatively little need for U.S. support at this point. Both the military and the economic aid that the U.S. offers, Mearsheimer and Walt tell us, can be substantially reduced or even eliminated without undermining Israel's security. But they do not carry this point through to its logical conclusion: if U.S. aid is of relatively limited value to Israel, then threats to trim or withhold that aid will have relatively little impact on Israel's behavior.
    • Mearsheimer and Walt also significantly underestimate the importance of the U.S.-Israeli alliance to the United States.
    • The authors do what anti-Semites have always done: they overstate the power of Jews. Although Mearsheimer and Walt make an effort to distinguish their work from anti-Semitic tracts, the picture they paint calls up some of the ugliest stereotypes in anti-Semitic discourse. The Zionist octopus they conjure - stirring up the Iraq war, manipulating both U.S. political parties, shaping the media, punishing the courageous minority of professors and politicians who dare to tell the truth - is depressingly familiar.

      The writer is Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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