Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 7, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Militants Train for Attack on Israel (FOX News)
    FOX News had an exclusive look at Hamas soldiers as they trained with new Kalashnikovs in Gaza.
    "The U.S. and Israel and other regional powers were generous enough to provide Fatah security with very good weapons, and now they are in our hands," one Hamas gunman said.

Gaza Fuel Station Owners Strike Ends (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
    A five-day-old strike by the owners of Gaza gas stations that has been gradually emptying streets of cars and taxis ended Thursday night, said Mahmoud al-Khozendar of the Union of Gaza Service Stations.
    The gas stations were striking in protest of an Israeli cut in fuel supplies to Hamas-ruled Gaza in retaliation for daily rocket and mortar attacks from the area at southern Israeli towns and villages.

    See also PA: Hamas Stealing Gaza Hospitals' Fuel (Jerusalem Post)
    The PA Health Ministry on Thursday accused Hamas of robbing fuel stockpiles in two hospitals in Gaza.

Disputed Jerusalem Neighborhood Built on Jewish Land - Julie Stahl (CNSNews)
    Israel's Ministry of Construction and Housing this week invited contractors to bid on a contract to build 307 new housing units in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa.
    Har Homa is a neighborhood inside the Jerusalem city limits, at the edge of PA-controlled Bethlehem, that has more than 1,000 dwellings, housing some 6,000 residents.
    Har Homa sits on 210 acres of land that Jews purchased from local Arab landowners in the 1920s. It is therefore Jewish-owned land, said Israel Kimhi of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.
    David Baker, an official in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office, said that construction in Har Homa and elsewhere in Jerusalem is not settlement construction, nor is it a violation of Israel's commitment to the first phase of the road map.
    There are about 180,000 Israelis who live in neighborhoods like Har Homa that became part of Jerusalem after 1967.

American-Born Jihadist on Trial - Betsy Yagla (New Haven Advocate)
    Hassan Abujihaad, an American born Paul Hall, listened to recorded phone conversations in federal court last week, in which he offered assistance in an ill-conceived plot to attack a San Diego military base and then snipe off soldiers trying to escape the attack.
    In 2001, while in the Navy, Abujihaad allegedly emailed classified information about ships' locations in the Middle East to Azzam Publications, a pro-jihad website.

Women in Iran Fight for Rights - Farangis Najibullah (RFE/RL)
    The One Million Signatures campaign, which started in August 2006, seeks to change inequitable laws - such as polygamy and unequal legal compensation for men and women.
    According to Iranian law, if a woman initiates a divorce, she loses her right to a share of the family's property and loses access to her kids, because fathers get custody of all children over the age of 7.
    Campaigners say they are aware their counterparts in other Islamic societies, such as Saudi Arabia, probably face even worse discrimination.

Saudi Arabian Students Are Back in U.S. - Juliana Barbassa (Miami Herald)
    The number of international students attending American colleges and universities has nearly rebounded from a slump that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks, which triggered tough new visa restrictions and closer monitoring of foreign scholars.
    Nearly 8,000 students from Saudi Arabia attended American colleges and universities in 2006-2007, a 128% increase over 2005-2006.

Ex-Israeli Envoy Details Talks with North Korea - Mina Mitsui (Yomiuri Shimbun-Japan)
    Former Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Eytan Bentsur told the Yomiuri Shimbun in an interview that secret negotiations took place with North Korea in the early 1990s in an effort to stop Pyongyang's export of ballistic missiles and related technologies to Egypt, Syria, Libya and Iraq.
    Contact was initiated by North Korea in the summer of 1992. Pyongyang wanted investment in its gold-mining project in Unsan, in the northwest of the country.
    As talks started, Israel confronted North Korea with its evidence that Pyongyang had exported missiles to Middle Eastern countries and protested against such actions, but North Korea flatly denied the allegations.
    Shabtai Shavit, former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, told the Yomiuri that he advised then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that further negotiations would be playing into Pyongyang's hands. In August 1993, Rabin accepted this advice and stopped the negotiations.

Israeli Navigation, Targeting Pods for German Air Force (
    Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. will provide the German Air Force with Litening navigation and targeting pods for its Tornado and Eurofighters. The $25 million deal is a follow-up to a previous German order for a similar amount.
    Hundreds of Litening pods are operational in many air forces around the world including those of Israel, the U.S., Australia, Holland, and Hungary.

Massive Holocaust Archive Opens to the Public (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    The Red Cross and the German government announced Wednesday that the last of the 11 countries that administer the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in the German town of Bad Arolsen had ratified a 2006 agreement, thereby opening the files to the public for the first time.
    The archive, which contains more than 50 million pages of documents stored in six buildings, represents a rich resource for Holocaust historians and is expected to shed new light on the details of the Nazi genocide.
    The German archive provided digital copies of its entire archive to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem in August.

Drinking Water for India with Israeli Help - Syed Zarir Hussain (Earthtimes-UK)
    "A deal was signed recently between the Meghalaya government and Israel's Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation (CIADC) for technical collaboration in rainwater harvesting in Sohra" to help overcome an acute drinking water scarcity, Meghalaya chief secretary Ranjan Chatterjee said.

Israel's Silicon Valley - Amar C. Bakshi (Newsweek/Washington Post)
    Israel is a small country with seven million people, unfriendly neighbors, and relatively high taxes - and with the second-largest concentration of startups per capita after Silicon Valley.
    Israeli venture capitalists support over 400 startups per year, more than any European nation. After America, Israel has more stocks traded on NASDAQ than any other country.
    High tech makes up 50% of the country's exports, worth about $15 billion per year. Israeli startups provided crucial technology to develop the flash drive, the call center, and instant messaging software.

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  • U.S. Intelligence: Iran's Nuclear Program Still a Threat - Pam Benson
    U.S. deputy intelligence chief Donald Kerr told a House intelligence subcommittee Thursday that the National Intelligence Estimate "did not in any way suggest that Iran was benign for the future." He said Iranians continue work on what he called the "most important component" of any future program, a uranium enrichment plant. Kerr also said Iran continues to develop a medium-range ballistic missile, which could be used as the delivery system for nuclear weapons. (CNN)
        See also Cheney: Iran Must Give Up Efforts to Enrich Uranium - Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris
    Vice President Cheney said in an interview Wednesday: "It's very important, I think, and the president clearly does, that we proceed down the road of trying to persuade Iran diplomatically to give up their efforts to enrich uranium. That has not changed. There's nothing in the NIE that said we should not be concerned about their enrichment activities."  (Politico)
  • U.S. and Britain Push for Tighter Sanctions on Iran - Anne Penketh
    The U.S. and Britain are pushing ahead with plans to tighten international sanctions on Tehran, despite concerns about greater Russian and Chinese resistance after the latest U.S. intelligence assessment. A Foreign Office spokesman said the U.S., Britain, France and Germany were "working the phones" with Russian and Chinese officials on the text of a draft resolution they hope to submit to the UN Security Council next week. But UN diplomats said the assessment would complicate the drive to secure Russian and Chinese agreement, after the Chinese ambassador to the UN said "things have changed."  (Independent-UK)
        See also Despite Report, France and Germany Keep Pressure on Iran - Katrin Bennhold
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Iran remained a danger and that other nations needed to keep up the pressure over its nuclear program. They said they had not changed their minds despite the findings of the American intelligence estimate released Monday. "Notwithstanding the latest elements, everyone is fully conscious of the fact that there is a will among the Iranian leaders to obtain nuclear weapons," said Sarkozy. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice won the backing of NATO foreign ministers on Thursday for new UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. (New York Times)
  • Another Day, Another Palestinian Bombardment of Israel - Tobias Buck
    The small Israeli town of Sderot is enveloping itself in a blanket of concrete. Schools and nurseries crouch below hulking canopies, dozens of bomb-shelters dot the urban landscape and even the bulletproof windows of one school have been provided with thick overhanging slabs. The town's open-air bus stops are being replaced with concrete cubicles. The profusion of concrete is a determined, but ultimately futile, attempt to shield Sderot's 20,000 citizens from the Kassam rockets that are fired into the town every day by Palestinian militants from Gaza.
        "It's like Russian roulette. If it's your day you are finished," says Tiger Avraham, the head of the local paramedic team. "Children don't go outside and you cannot walk far from home. It's hard to live like this." Israel's military planners are tormented by the thought of a rocket blowing up a Sderot school bus or inflicting a large number of civilian deaths through a direct hit. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Inside Source at FBI Believed to Have Fed Secret Info to Hizbullah - Josh Meyer
    An illegal immigrant from Lebanon who became an agent for the FBI and CIA allegedly used her access to sensitive U.S. government secrets to help her brother-in-law, a suspected major fundraiser for the terrorist group Hizbullah, according to new details concerning a national security breach that emerged Wednesday. In court documents and interviews, federal authorities said Nada Nadim Prouty, 37, illegally accessed top-secret FBI investigative files on five occasions and most likely shared the information with the suspected Hizbullah operative. On Wednesday, prosecutors said Prouty illegally accessed the FBI's Hizbullah investigative files in 2002 and 2003, at a time when she was a Washington, D.C.-based FBI field agent who was not working on Hizbullah cases. At the time, her sister's husband, Talal Khalil Chahine, 51, was under investigation by the FBI in Detroit for suspected ties to Hizbullah.
        Authorities now believe Prouty was illegally accessing the FBI files to determine for Chahine and perhaps others what the FBI knew about the group's presence here, and that she accessed an investigative file on Chahine. At the time, Chahine was suspected of raising large sums of money for Hizbullah and of meeting with top Hizbullah leaders in Lebanon. The FBI began investigating Prouty after agents began hearing that Chahine, an influential power broker in Dearborn, had an inside source at the FBI who was feeding him information about its investigations into his activities and into Hizbullah. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iran Building Critical Supply Road for Hizbullah in Lebanon - Tim Butcher
    Under the cover of an aid project, Iran is building a large mountain road in southern Lebanon believed to be a supply route for Hizbullah. During the 2006 war, the lack of good supply lines meant that Hizbullah struggled to move men and arms down from the Bekaa Valley. But in the event of another war, there will now be a clear route - presently lined with banners announcing that it has been paid for by the "Iranian Contributory Organization for Reconstructing Lebanon." (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF to Present Iranian Nuclear Evidence to U.S. Military Chief - Yaakov Katz
    IDF Military Intelligence will present its hard core evidence on Iran's nuclear program on Sunday to the visiting chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen. Mullen will hear presentations on a wide range of topics - including the Hamas buildup in Gaza, Egypt's failure to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, Hizbullah activities in Lebanon, Syria and Iran. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Upgrades Rocket Arsenal - Amos Harel
    Senior defense officials say Hamas is now able to store rockets for a relatively long period, which allows it to launch a large number of rockets at one time. The defense establishment is concerned that Hamas may accumulate thousands of rockets and be able to fire hundreds of rockets a day at Sderot for several days. The improvement in rocket-storage capability followed the entrance into Gaza in recent months of Palestinian terror experts crossing from Egypt who had trained with Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon and Iran.
        Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai met Thursday with officials from Ashkelon, Sderot, Netivot and the communities bordering on Gaza and advised them to prepare for an escalation including increased rocket fire. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Legislative Council Passes Law Against Any Concessions on Jerusalem - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council Thursday passed a law that makes any concessions on Jerusalem illegal and defines such concessions as a crime of high treason. Many Fatah legislators made it known that they too support the law, which states that Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic city.
        The new law still requires the approval of Mahmoud Abbas, said Ahmed Bahar, acting speaker of the PLC. The law is intended to embarrass Abbas and ties his hands on the eve of the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on core issues, including the future status of Jerusalem. Hamas officials said Abbas would have no other option but to endorse the law. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Pardon Five Fatah Gunmen Involved in Bethlehem Church Standoff
    Israel has agreed to pardon five out of the 25 Fatah gunmen who were expelled from the West Bank after the 2002 standoff with the IDF at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Israel's Channel 10 television reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Contending with Iran's Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities - Matthew Levitt
    The National Intelligence Estimate's more significant conclusion is that the most likely tool to successfully alter Iran's nuclear calculus is targeted political and economic pressure, not military action. On the pressing issue of how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions the intelligence assessment is clear: financial and political sanctions can be effective. Sanctions do not undermine diplomacy, they create leverage for diplomacy. Iran poses a proliferation threat whether it maintains an active nuclear weapons program or merely produces fissile material in a civilian program that could be quickly weaponized at a later date. The writer, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for intelligence and analysis, directs the Stein program on terrorism, intelligence and policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Israel Cannot Let Down Its Guard in the Face of Iranian Threats - Editorial
    While Iran continues threatening to annihilate Israel, what American intelligence thinks about Iran's nuclear capability is irrelevant. It is not fantasy or paranoia when we hear regular, concrete threats from Tehran. Therefore, the question of whether Iran obtains a nuclear capability to destroy Israel in two years or seven years is not important. While other nations can amuse themselves by mulling their economic interests with Iran, Israel is the only country that cannot let its guard down as long as the current Iranian regime is in power. The American intelligence report cannot justify a policy change or a calming down. The report establishes that if Iran wants to produce a bomb it can do so. (Ha'aretz)
  • Ahmadinejad Thinks Iran Is Home Free
    It always was implausible that a country without a single working nuclear-power reactor would spend so heavily on, and be so secretive about, uranium enrichment. The IAEA still wants to know more about unexplained traces of highly enriched uranium found by inspectors and a document Iran had for years showing how to shape uranium metal into hemispheres, a technique useful only for weapons. Inspectors also want Iran to account for drawings dated 2003 from a laptop provided to America by a defector in 2004 that show design work on a missile cone that could accommodate a nuclear warhead. (Economist-UK)
  • Iran: The Elephant in the Room - Rick Santorum
    Whether because of its role as the prime sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world - the creator of Hizbullah and the driving force behind Hamas - or as the chief foreign-power obstacle to a peaceful, democratic Iraq, Iran is our greatest national security concern. A consensus has developed that a nuclear-armed Iran would be our greatest national security challenge since the end of the Cold War. The NIE assessment tends to support the consensus that a combination of economic sanctions, diplomacy and support for pro-democracy groups can be effective in getting Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions.
        Since adopting a terror-free investment policy, the Missouri Investment Trust's performance has actually improved, outperforming a benchmark index by a substantial margin. And, last month, despite opposition from California's profit-fixated fund managers, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation to require the state's pension fund - the nation's largest - to divest of companies doing business with Iran. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • The Thousand Volt Farce - Melanie Phillips
    How Iran is laughing. America has achieved the remarkable feat of dealing a terrible blow to all those fighting to defend civilization. It has actually strengthened Ahmadinejad, whose grip on power had been looking ever more fragile. But then the U.S. handed him a priceless gift in the form of the NIE report which says, in effect, that U.S. intelligence hasn't got a clue about the Iranian nuclear threat. We can all see from its ludicrously threadbare reasoning - much of it merely using guesswork to assess Iran's intentions, in the absence of reliable information on the ground - that intelligence of any sort is clearly in short supply in the U.S. security world. (Spectator-UK)

    The Palestinians

  • Fuses in Gaza - Jackson Diehl
    At Annapolis it was easy to forget that Israel is at war with the winners of the last Palestinian general election, and that rockets fired by Palestinians are detonating in southern Israel nearly every day. The Islamic Hamas movement spent the week of Annapolis quietly doing what it has been doing every week for the past six months: smuggling tons of explosives, rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft missiles and Katyusha rockets through tunnels from the Sinai peninsula in Egypt. Israeli-Palestinian history tells that a single Kassam rocket hit on an Israeli school or refinery could be enough to derail the fragile Annapolis initiative. (Washington Post)
  • Hizb ut-Tahrir: A Rising Force among West Bank Palestinians - Jonathan Spyer
    Last week's demonstrations across the West Bank in protest of the Annapolis conference showcased the entry into the public eye of a new force in Palestinian politics - the pan-Islamic Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation). The party held a demonstration numbering 2,500 in Hebron, and one of its members was killed in subsequent clashes with PA police. Hizb ut-Tahrir was established in 1952 in Jerusalem by Sharia court judge Taqi al-Din al Nabhani. The party's goal is the reestablishment of an Islamic caliphate to govern the whole Muslim world under Islamic law - and eventually to bring the entire world under Islamic rule. Hizb ut-Tahrir has developed into an international Islamist organization active in 45 countries. It has particularly active branches in Indonesia and Uzbekistan, and has made inroads into the Pakistani community in the UK.
        Its branches do not maintain an armed, insurgent wing and the movement does not stand in elections. The intention is to leave violent action - such as the destruction of Israel, which the party supports - to the conventional armed forces of the restored caliphate. Yet even if Hizb ut-Tahrir itself does not maintain an insurgent wing, recent experience in Europe shows that it has acted as an exemplary hothouse for the nurturing and education of future terrorists, who then go on to ply their trade in different frameworks. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Ha'aretz)

    Other Issues

  • Myths about the American Peacemaking Role - Leon Hadar
    Washington pundits have an odd way of ridiculing the Bush administration's grandiose plans for remaking Iraq, while at the same time embracing ambitious designs for bringing peace to the Holy Land. These realpoliticos become born-again idealists in insisting that American leaders could and should help resolve the conflict between Arabs and Jews. Since the 1979 peace accord between Egypt and Israel, achieved at Camp David, generations of American officials and experts have been fantasizing about a sequel: Camp David II.
        In fact, the Egyptian and Israeli leaders agreed to meet at Camp David only after officials from both sides agreed on the diplomatic formula that served as the basis for negotiations there. What both the Israelis and the Egyptians wanted and succeeded in winning at Camp David were American security commitments and economic assistance in exchange for signing a peace accord whose contours had been accepted in advance. The writer is a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington. (Houston Chronicle)
  • Expert: "Christian Groups in PA to Disappear" - Etgar Lefkovits
    The ever-dwindling Christian communities living in Palestinian-run territories in the West Bank and Gaza are likely to dissipate completely within the next 15 years as a result of increasing Muslim persecution and maltreatment, international human rights lawyer Justus Reid Weiner said Monday. Tens of thousands of Christian Arabs have left the Palestinian territories for a better life in the West, in a continuing exodus. The Palestinian Christian population has dipped to 1.5% of the population, down from at least 15% a half century ago. Bethlehem is now less than 20% Christian, after decades when Christians were the majority. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Impending Demise of Christian Communities in PA Must Be Prevented - Editorial
    Justus Reid Weiner's chilling forecast of the impending demise of Christian communities under PA jurisdiction fits too snugly for comfort into the international pattern of an intolerant, aggressive and expansionist Islam. The takeover of Bethlehem recalls Islamists' openly aggressive stance against other religions shown by the blasting of Afghanistan's giant Buddhist monuments or the wanton disregard of the threat to antiquities demonstrated by the Muslim Wakf's myriad construction schemes on the Temple Mount. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Holy Land's Only Christian TV Station Shuts Down - Ethan Cole
    The only Christian TV station in the Holy Land, "The Nativity" (Al Mahed in Arabic), has been broadcasting since 1996, but the station in Bethlehem closed due to death threats to director and owner Samir Qumsieh, trouble with the Palestinian authorities, and overwhelming financial debts. (Christian Post)
        See also Report: Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society - Justus Reid Weiner (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Question of a Freed Slave - Melanie Phillips
    Simon Deng, a former jihad slave in Sudan and now a human rights activist, has written a remarkable protest to Bishop Desmond Tutu over the bishop's rabid prejudice against Israel which he accuses of "apartheid": "The State of Israel is not an apartheid state. I know because I write this from Jerusalem where I have seen Arab mothers peacefully strolling with their families - even though I also drove on Israeli roads protected by walls and fences from Arab bullets and stones. I know Arabs go to Israeli schools, and get the best medical care in the world. I know they vote and have elected representatives to the Israeli Parliament. I see street signs in Arabic, an official language here. None of this was true for blacks under Apartheid in Tutu's South Africa." (Spectator-UK)

    Weekend Features

  • Israeli Military Presence in West Bank Justified to Protect Jewish Lives - Matthew Wagner
    Maintaining an Israeli military presence in Judea and Samaria to protect Jewish lives is completely justified and overrides concerns over Palestinian suffering, according to IDF Head Chaplain Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronzki, who has a rich military past in addition to his rabbinic training. "If you have intelligence information on someone who is about to perpetrate a terrorist attack, you are obligated to stop him. Having a presence in Judea and Samaria allows us to enter Palestinian towns when necessary to make arrests." "For more than two years now, there haven't been any terrorist attacks inside the Green Line, because we are inside the Palestinian cities foiling terrorist attempts."
        Ronzki says, "as commander of IDF forces in the Samaria region, I did what I could to alleviate Palestinian suffering. We put up roofing that would provide shade for people waiting at the roadblocks so they would not have to sit out in the sun. We would try to supply people with water. And to this day, when I see a lot of traffic at the roadblocks, I call headquarters - they all know me - and I ask them to send in more soldiers to process people faster." "But at the same time, I am very aware of the military justification for it. The IDF is constantly catching people trying to transport arms and ammunition, all the time. So you can't just do away with the roadblocks." "In the big picture, it is definitely moral to monitor people, arrest suspects, put up roadblocks...because all these things protect Jewish lives." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Younger Muslims Tune In to Upbeat Religious Message - Kevin Sullivan
    Moez Masoud, 29, is a Muslim televangelist, in a stylish goatee and Western clothes, who preaches about Islam in youthful Arabic slang. He says imams who outlawed art and music were misinterpreting their faith. He talked about love and relationships, the need to be compassionate toward homosexuals and tolerant of non-Muslims. Masoud is one of a growing number of young Muslim preachers who are using satellite television to promote an upbeat and tolerant brand of Islam.
        Television preaching in the Middle East was once largely limited to elderly scholars in white robes reading holy texts. But as TV has evolved from one or two heavily controlled state channels to hundreds of diverse, private satellite offerings, Masoud and perhaps a dozen other young men - plus a few women - have emerged as increasingly popular alternatives. The Middle East now has at least 370 satellite channels, nearly triple the number three years ago, including 27 dedicated to Islamic religious programming, up from five two years ago. (Washington Post)
  • Jerusalem, Earthly and Heavenly - Berel Wein
    Jerusalem does not rely upon natural wonders, outstanding weather or unusual surroundings for its attraction. It is holy, mysterious, the soul of Jewish history and longing. To see Jerusalem as a piece of real estate, a place on the map, is not to see it at all, let alone appreciate its role in Judaism and Jewish life and thought. The driving force behind Zionism, even in its most secular format, was the hunger of the Jewish people for Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the emotional battery that charged all of the movement of the return to Zion by Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    An Insult to Intelligence: The Israeli Defense Community Responds to the NIE - Yossi Klein Halevi (New Republic)

    • With the release of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, America, even under George Bush, is hardly likely to go to war to stop a nuclear weapons program many Americans now believe doesn't exist. The sense of betrayal within the Israeli security system is deep. After convincing the international community that the nuclear threat was real, now that has been undone by Israel's closest ally.
    • What makes Israeli security officials especially furious is that the report casts doubt on Iranian determination to attain nuclear weapons. There is a sense of incredulity. The Israeli strategists I heard from ridicule the report's contention that "Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs." Is it, asks one Israeli analyst, a cost-benefit approach for one of the world's largest oil exporters to risk international sanctions and economic ruin for the sake of a peaceful nuclear program?
    • For Israeli security analysts, the suspension in 2003 of Iran's covert nuclear military program - the NIE's defining issue - is hardly pivotal. The working assumption in Israeli intelligence is that the Iranians have resumed their covert military program. "The Syrians were working on their nuclear project for seven years, and we discovered it only recently," says one security analyst. "The Americans didn't know about it at all. So how can they be so sure about Iran?"
    • Shabtai Shavit, former head of the Mossad, said: "My assessment is that, after they decided to aim for nuclear weapons, they advanced on three parallel tracks: enriching uranium, creating components for a bomb, and developing missiles. The missiles are ready for operation. As for enrichment, they have encountered all kinds of problems, like exploding centrifuges. I estimate that they made great progress, and very quickly, on the military track. Since they have problems with the uranium enrichment track, they can allow themselves to delay the military track, and wait for progress with uranium."
    • And if Shavit had written the report? "I would have based my assessment on the facts and said unequivocally that Iran is going to create the ability to make a bomb."

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