Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Report: Turkey Using Drones in Northern Iraq with Help of Israeli Crews - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
Hamas Demands 1,400 Palestinian Prisoners for Captured Israeli Soldier - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
Poll: Israelis Unwilling to Free Palestinian Murderers (JTA)
Bahrain Hit by Shiite Riots (AFP)
The Hate Industry: Gaza Children Encouraged to Kiss Corpses of Terrorist "Martyrs" (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Russia is selling Iran its new S-300 air defense system, signaling growing military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran, Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Wednesday. Earlier this year, Russia delivered 29 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract signed in December 2005. A Russian source said the new contract envisaged delivery of several dozen S-300 missile systems. The S-300 is much more powerful and versatile than the Tor-M1. It is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of up to 95 miles and at altitudes of up to 90,000 feet. Russian military officials boast that it excels the U.S.-built Patriot missiles. (AP/FOX News)
See also Iran Plans to Buy Russian Copters, Fighter Engines
Moscow and Tehran are in negotiations for the sale of fighter jet engines and helicopters to Iran, the Kommersant daily reported on Dec. 24. Iran wants to buy RD-33 engines for a fleet of new Iranian fighter jets, as well as an upgraded version of the Ka-32 helicopter that Tehran wants to be assembled in Iran. (AFP/Defense News)
Two U.S. lawmakers said on Wednesday that the U.S. could make financial aid to Egypt conditional on Cairo doing more to prevent smuggling of arms into Hamas-controlled Gaza. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) both sit on the powerful appropriations committees that control U.S. foreign aid spending. "It's an intolerable situation for Egypt to be complicitous in letting arms be smuggled to Hamas. They (Egypt) get a lot of U.S. largesse, a lot of U.S. money, $2 billion a year," Specter said. (Reuters)
New Jersey is slated to become the first state in the country to divest its pension funds from Iranian-linked companies if the governor signs legislation that passed out of the state legislature last week. As the result of a law passed last year, the state divested $2.16 billion from 17 companies linked to Sudan. New Jersey's state pension fund is worth about $80 billion, making it the ninth largest in the country.
"The passage of this legislation would [mean] that we can't put any of these large amounts of money into funds that would directly benefit Iran," said state Sen. Loretta Weinberg. "It's our way in the state of New Jersey of making a statement, as well as putting our money where our collective mouths are on an issue of international importance." (New Jersey Jewish Standard)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday in Sharm e-Sheikh. Barak discussed weapons smuggling as well as other regional issues such as the Iranian threat. Israeli defense officials said Egypt is just as concerned about Iran as Israel is.
Despite tension over smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border, Israel and Egypt are not ready to give up the strategic alliance they have managed to forge since they signed a peace agreement almost 30 years ago. Both countries are aware that they need one another. Israel sees peace with Egypt as a model for other Arab and Muslim countries. On the other side, Egypt views its relations with Israel as a strategic asset. Cairo recognizes the fact that Israel and the Jewish lobby have a great deal of influence in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Egypt Vows to End Weapons Smuggling - Yaakov Katz
Egypt will begin to crack down on weapons smugglers along the Philadelphi corridor into Gaza until Israel no longer has anything to complain about, Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman said Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
What has become increasingly clear since Annapolis is that there are two different universes. There is the universe of Annapolis meetings and Paris conferences, of handshakes and speeches; and there is the universe of Hamas entrenchment in Gaza, arms smuggling from Egypt, Kassam rockets and IDF military actions. The ongoing smuggling from Egypt into Gaza poses a strategic threat to Israel, as an emboldened Hamas strengthened with massive quantities of explosives and weapons would doom any diplomatic process with the Palestinians. For a diplomatic process to work, both sides need to be in a position to compromise. With Hamas gaining military strength and very much in control of Gaza, Abbas will be unable to compromise on any of the core issues until Hamas' wings are clipped. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza on Wednesday fired thirteen Kassam rockets at Israel. Six rockets landed inside Sderot and one woman was treated for shock. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In this holiday season, one of the journalistic conventions one comes to expect are stories blaming Israelis for the problems afflicting the Holy Land. Reuters, the BBC, McClatchy, ABC News all have run pieces in this category in recent days. But the one that troubled me most appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 24 by Ken Woodward. His op-ed was headlined: "The Plight of Bethlehem: Why Christians can't visit the holy shrines in Jerusalem." According to Palestinian tourism officials, 450,000 foreigners will have visited Bethlehem by the end of this year - a 50% increase over the 295,000 who came last year. Every hotel room was filled.
Woodward also seems unaware of the extent to which Bethlehem's Christian population has declined since 1995 - the year Arafat's Palestinian Authority took over the West Bank and Gaza as part of the Oslo Accords. Arafat quickly fired the city's Christian politicians and replaced them with his cronies. Woodward singles out the security barrier separating the Christian village of Beit Jala from the Jerusalem neighbor of Gilo, but fails to mention that Palestinian snipers had used locations in Beit Jala to shoot at Israeli men, women and children in Gilo. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Scripps Howard)
The hardship model, subscribed to by all Western states, attributes Palestinian actions to poverty, isolation, Israeli roadblocks, the lack of a state, etc. Eliminate those hardships and Palestinians, supposedly, would turn their attention to such constructive concerns as economic development and democracy. The exhilaration model says that for Palestinians, hope derives from a perception of Israeli weakness, implying an optimism and excitement that the Jewish state can be eliminated. Only when Palestinians cannot see a way forward against Israel do they devote themselves to the more mundane tasks of earning a living and educating their children.
Exhilaration, not hardship, accounts for bellicose Palestinian behavior. Accordingly, whatever reduces Palestinian confidence is a good thing. A failed economy depresses the Palestinians' mood, not to speak of their military and other capabilities, and so brings resolution closer. Palestinians must experience the bitter crucible of defeat before they will drop their foul goal of eliminating their Israeli neighbor and begin to build their own economy, polity, society, and culture. Those who truly care for Palestinians must want their despair to come quickly, so that a skilled and dignified people can move beyond its current barbarism and build something decent. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Terminal Situation - Ziv Hellman
In 1967, when the Israeli and Palestinian economies first began interacting, the average Israeli citizen was 10 times wealthier than the average Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, Israeli per capita GDP is more than 20 times that of the Palestinians - $27,000 in Israel versus less than $1,200 in the Palestinian territories, down from $2,000 per year in 1992. (Jerusalem Report)
Fuel for Bushehr - Editorial (New York Times)
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