Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 8, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Reservists: Hamas Fights Like an Army - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    After a month of reserve duty in Gaza, an IDF paratroop officer told Ha'aretz: "On the professional level, Hamas in the Gaza Strip is nothing like the terrorists we dealt with before."
    "In all parameters - training, equipment quality, operational discipline - we are facing an army, not gangs," he said.
    Within two weeks, his unit engaged in three live-fire incidents with Hamas. In one encounter with a Hamas cell west of Khan Yunis, two Hamas men died in a brief, close-range battle.
    "The fingerprints of Iran and Hizbullah are all over it," a veteran intelligence officer said. "The Palestinians never looked like this."
    On the bodies of the Hamas fighters the reservists found, in addition to their weapons, night-vision equipment identical to the IDF's.

Sarkozy Petitioned on al-Dura (JTA)
    In a statement Wednesday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations asked visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy to pressure France 2 TV to make available its raw video footage of the shooting of Mohammad al-Dura in Gaza in September 2000.
    Al-Dura's shooting death became an icon for Palestinian suffering, but the Israeli army concluded after an investigation that the boy could not possibly have been hit by Israeli bullets.

Americans Seen Turning Hawkish on Iran - James D. Besser (New York Jewish Week)
    A majority of Americans, including Jews, now support military action to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program.
    A national survey conducted by Zogby International shows that slightly more than half of Americans - and more than two-thirds of Jews - now favor a strike against Iran before it becomes a nuclear power.
    "We have seen a dramatic shift in public opinion in the past 12 months, and particularly since Ahmadinejad came to Columbia," said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of The Israel Project. "And the Jewish community, in particular, is really starting to wake up on the issue."

Israeli Navy to Nearly Double Fast Patrol Fleet - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    The Israeli Navy soon will receive the first of seven fast patrol craft, aiming to nearly double its coastal defense capabilities by 2009.
    Contracted in January 2006 under a combined U.S. Foreign Military Sales and locally-funded program, the acquisition includes four Super Dvora Mk-IIIs by Israel Aerospace Industries and three Shaldag, or Kingfisher, craft by Israel Shipyards.
    All seven ships will feature a German-Swedish jet propulsion system. The acquisition will supplement eight fast patrol vessels deployed over the past three years.
    In addition to traditional patrol, search-and-rescue and coastal-defense roles, the ships will be optimized for counterterrorism, anti-infiltration and weapon-smuggling missions.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran "Could Have Atom Bomb in a Year" - David Byers
    President Ahmadinejad of Iran claimed Wednesday that his country had developed 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium - a sufficient number, according to scientists, to allow it to build an atomic bomb within a year. Ahmadinejad vowed to continue ignoring UN Security Council resolutions to stop Iran's nuclear program, claiming that "the Iranian nation could not care less" about two rounds of sanctions that had been imposed. Western experts say that, in ideal conditions, Iran's 3,000 centrifuges could enrich enough uranium within a year to make a nuclear warhead. (Times-UK)
  • Bush and Sarkozy Find Common Ground Against Iran - Tabassum Zakaria
    President George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy forged a common front against Iran's nuclear ambitions on Wednesday during Sarkozy's visit to Washington. "The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous," Bush said. Sarkozy, who has won U.S. praise for taking a stronger stand against Iran than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, agreed that a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable" and said there was "a need to toughen the sanctions" against Tehran. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Sarkozy Reaches Out to America, and to Its Jews - Nicholas Wapshott
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy received an award Wednesday from the American Jewish Committee and declared his full support for the security and integrity of the State of Israel, which, he said, should be guaranteed by international agreement. Sarkozy also said, "If we want to fight anti-Semitism, the first thing is to refuse to play it down....Racism, anti-Semitism, these are such hateful beasts that the first reaction of a democratic society is to deny it, to say it doesn't exist. But unless you agree on the diagnosis, then you cannot find the remedies to fight the source of the problem....When you try to explain the inexplicable, then you are about to forgive the unforgivable." The French president also reiterated his view that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. (New York Sun)
        See also French President Sarkozy Honored (American Jewish Committee)
  • Merkel Resists U.S. Pressure over Iran Sanctions - Hugh Williamson, Daniel Dombey and Najmeh Bozorgmehr
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday signalled she would not bend to U.S. pressure to impose extra sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, setting the stage for a difficult meeting on Thursday with George W. Bush at his Texas ranch. "The United Nations is the place where sanctions [against Iran] are negotiated," she said in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. The comments are likely to frustrate Washington, especially as Paris and London have made clear their readiness to consider EU sanctions. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Italy Defends Iran's Nuclear Rights
    Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi Tuesday repeated Rome’s opposition to any military action against Iran over its nuclear program, saying Tehran had a right to use civilian nuclear energy. "I would like to reiterate once again Italy’s opposition to any military solution. Such a solution will not only not resolve the problem but also usher in new destabilizing scenarios in the whole region," Prodi said. (AFP/Daily Times-Pakistan)
  • Interpol Issues Warrants for Ex-Iranian Officials for 1994 Buenos Aires Bombing
    Interpol put an ex-Iranian intelligence chief, a former leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, three other Iranians and a Lebanese militant on its most-wanted list Wednesday for a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people at a Jewish center in Argentina. Interpol's general assembly, meeting in Morocco, voted 76-14 to add the names, siding with Argentine prosecutors and turning back a lobbying blitz by Iranian envoys trying to avoid having their country linked to Argentina's worst terrorist attack. Asked after the vote whether Tehran would hand over the suspects, Iranian delegate Alireza Deihin responded: "Of course not." (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Dozens of Fatah Militants Pardoned - Ali Waked
    Dozens of Palestinians who were removed from Israel's list of wanted Fatah militants as part of an amnesty deal with the PA were notified that the restrictions on their movement have been lifted. Israel has informed the PA that the militants would now be able to move about freely and conduct normal lives, after the amnesty deal's three-month trial period came to an end, a Palestinian security source said Wednesday. Israel has told the PA that dozens more Fatah gunmen would be pardoned if they lived up to the same conditions. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Arrested with Bullets at West Bank Checkpoint
    IDF troops at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus on Wednesday discovered a Palestinian man in possession of dozens of bullets. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Three Palestinians Injured as Smuggling Tunnel Collapses under Gaza-Egypt Border
    Three Palestinians were injured on Wednesday after a tunnel underneath the Gaza-Egypt border collapsed. (Maan News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Colonizing Barnard - Editorial
    Barnard College has granted tenure to an anti-Israel anthropologist, Nadia Abu El-Haj, who has accused Israel of being a colonial project. Martin Kramer, the Wexler-Fromer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote in remarks published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: "The tragedy of the academy is that it has become home to countless people whose mission is to prove the lie that Zionism is colonialism. Thus research is undertaken, books are written, and lectures delivered to establish a falsehood." He called the idea that Zionism is colonialism "the root lie." This is the lie that El-Haj is dedicated to promoting in her book, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society.
        The Jews of Israel are no more colonizers than the Indians were in America. They lived there thousands of years ago. They never left, except for brief periods during which they were expelled by actual colonizers. What concerns about El-Haj's skills is her ability to understand the plain meaning of the word "colonial" and how it does not apply to Jews returning to Israel from exile elsewhere.
        The fact is that the Zionist movement that created the Jewish state in the Land of Israel is the 180-degree opposite of a colonial movement. It was a national liberation struggle. So when one is confronted by those who side with every national liberation struggle save for the one in respect of the Jews, it's no surprise that people start to wonder about underlying motives. The real colonizers right now are the oil-rich Arab potentates that are pouring funding into American universities, hoping to brainwash our students with claptrap about Zionists being colonizers. (New York Sun)
  • The Missing Arab Psychological Shift - Editorial
    For years, the notion of creating a Palestinian state was rejected by most Israelis and even by the U.S. government. The U.S. and Israeli positions have changed beyond recognition in this respect, and this sea change in Israel has permeated the public and transformed our politics. By contrast, no Arab or Palestinian leader has uttered the words "Jewish state." Defending the notion of Jewish national rights in any part of "Palestine" is still taboo. It is on creating this "psychological shift" on the Palestinian/Arab side that international diplomacy must explicitly focus, rather than continuing to pretend that it has already happened. Such an Arab shift would directly dismantle the obstacle at the heart of the conflict. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Playing Fast and Loose with the Facts When It Comes to Israel - Ian O'Doherty (Independent-Ireland)

    • The Guardian (UK) has been exposed as playing fast and loose with the facts when it comes to Israel. In last Thursday's edition, The Guardian's Seamus Milne wrote about Gaza and the suffering of the people there.
    • That the citizens of Gaza are suffering is not under any doubt - the deprivations brought about by the civil war between Hamas and Fatah have wrought terrible consequences on the locals. But according to Milne: "This week the collective punishment of the people of Gaza reached a new level, as Israel began to choke off essential fuel supplies to its one and a half million people in retaliation for rockets fired by Palestinian resistance groups."
    • Milne then went on to incorrectly state that: "Israel continues to control all access to the Gaza Strip," conveniently forgetting the Egyptian side of the border.
    • Referring to the homophobic, misogynistic, murderous savages of Hamas as "resistance fighters" is particularly nauseating. As is the suggestion that Israelis should simply accept the rocket attacks on their towns and the mortar attacks on their roads and the shooting of their border patrols. What other country in the world would be expected to tolerate such hostile acts and not retaliate? The reason why enough humanitarian aid is not getting through to the locals is because their masters, Hamas, keep attacking the access routes into Gaza.
    • Milne even goes so far as to say: "Unless Hamas recognized Israel, renounced violence and signed up to agreements it had always opposed, the Western powers insisted, the Palestinian electorate would be ignored. No such demands, needless to say, have been made of Israel." The Israelis have not been asked to renounce violence or embrace democracy because it is already a democracy which only uses violence to defend itself.
    • To liken a group like Hamas, with their pavement executions and battering of women who don't wear sufficiently "modest" clothing, to the only democracy in the region is not just reckless, it is positively wicked.

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