Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Israel Thwarts Islamic Jihad Plan to Bomb Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Railroad - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
EU Deputies Slam Egypt over Rights Despite Cairo Threats - Yann Ollivier (AFP/Yahoo)
Israel Successfully Tests New Rocket System - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
Israeli University Lecturers Strike Ends (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Muslim Bedouin Named Consul General to Alexandria - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
Hamas Police Force Recruits Women in Gaza - Taghreed el-Khodary (New York Times)
Two Palestinians Killed by Weapons Misuse in Gaza (Maan News-PA)
New Jersey Recluse Helps Make the Negev Bloom - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
A Jewish Military Chaplain in Iraq - Anna Badkhen (Boston Globe)
Tourism Arrivals Hit Seven-Year High (Bloomberg/Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Rockets fired by Palestinians slammed into the Israeli town of Sderot in quick succession Thursday evening on a third day of heightened hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza. Hamas and other militant factions launched about 40 Kassam rockets throughout the day, Israeli Army officials said. Four Israelis were wounded and a dozen were treated for shock.
Eliyahu Cohen, 65, was surveying the damage to his home, which was struck during an early barrage about 8 a.m. His wife, Marcelle, had been alone in the house at the time, and had managed to reach a fortified basement room, escaping injury. At best, the municipal alert system gives residents about 20 seconds to find shelter from incoming rockets. The rocket crashed through an outside wall into the Cohens' kitchen, sending the refrigerator flying across the room and blasting off its door, which lodged in the ceiling. The ground floor was covered with broken glass and debris.
The house next door, where the Cohens' daughter, Nofit, lives, was also carpeted with glass and debris. "I'm happy that everyone was miraculously saved," said Mr. Cohen. As he spoke, another alert sounded, and about a dozen friends, relatives and local officials who had been standing outside tramped through the daughter's house, glass crunching underfoot, and crammed into a tiny fortified room. Thirteen Israelis have been killed since the rocket attacks started seven years ago, eight of them in Sderot. (New York Times)
See also below Observations: Escalation of Terror in Gaza (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel locked down Gaza on Thursday in a bid to halt daily Palestinian rocket fire. Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the closure of all border crossings to commercial traffic and individual travelers except for "exceptional humanitarian needs." The U.S. urged Israel to avoid the loss of innocent life in Gaza, but defended Israel's right to strike against rocket and mortar attacks from Islamic militants. Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said, "There is no need to negotiate with Hamas. If the rocket firings stop, we will cease operating in Gaza." (AFP/Yahoo)
Russia last month delivered the first shipments of nuclear fuel to Iran's first nuclear power plant in Bushehr. But Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said during a visit to Russia Thursday that the fuel might help Iran develop its nuclear weapons program. "Now Russia has started delivering nuclear fuel to Bushehr, (Iran's) uranium enrichment may serve military goals," Russian news agencies quoted Livni as saying. Israel, Washington's staunchest ally in the Middle East, says Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2010 and says an Iranian nuclear weapon would threaten the existence of the Jewish state. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinians said they believe the escalation in rocket fire is part of a new Hamas policy aimed at forcing Israel into a ceasefire. Since Tuesday, Palestinians have fired more than 130 rockets and dozens of mortar shells at Israel. Hamas was responsible for most of Thursday's launches, and senior IDF officers believe that unless the situation calms down soon, Israel will have to further escalate its military operations.
Hamas has upgraded its launching capabilities: Some of the rockets that hit Israel this week were fired by remote control from buried launchers, which makes it hard for Israeli forces to attack the launch crews. Hizbullah used this tactic extensively during the Second Lebanon War. (Ha'aretz)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday, "The IDF will continue in its ongoing operation [in Gaza] and deepen it in order to strike at the perpetrators, until the [rocket] firing stops....It won't be easy, it won't happen this weekend, but we will bring an end to Kassam attacks on Sderot." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "We are not looking to fight in Gaza, we do not want to harm its residents...but we will not and we cannot continue to suffer this relentless Kassam rocket fire." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Only a Military Operation in Gaza Will Stop the Palestinian Rocket Fire - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
There are only two ways to stop the rocket barrages on Sderot and Ashkelon. One way is to negotiate with Hamas and reach a cease-fire. However, this would mean that Israel could not act against Hamas, which will be free to prepare for the next war at a time when it feels ready. The second way is a military operation like Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in 2002 - meaning Israel reconquers all those areas that are important to control. The area of Gaza used for firing rockets on Sderot is not particularly large and the threat can be neutralized in a few days. Such an operation would not only prevent rocket fire on Sderot, but also would prevent the continued strengthening of Hamas. Nevertheless, the price to be paid during such an operation will not be small, nor can it even be predicted. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
A 40-year-old Israeli man sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder while driving on Route 446 near Modi'in, when Palestinian terrorists opened fire on his vehicle from a passing car Thursday evening. The attack is the latest in a number of West Bank shootings in the past few months. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
All past Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have gone nowhere primarily because of the manifest Palestinian refusal to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. The record is of almost a century of rejection, beginning with the 1917 Balfour Declaration of the right to a Jewish homeland in Palestine and continuing today. Even when Israel pulled out of Gaza in September 2005, removing its own citizens by force, the Palestinians did not get on with building their own society. They began rocket and mortar attacks on adjacent Jewish communities, to date killing 18 innocent civilians and wounding some 600. More killings and maimings are in prospect with more powerful, more accurate rockets.
What incentive has Israel to withdraw from the West Bank when it could become a launching pad for rocket attacks on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Ben-Gurion Airport - a situation that would render Israel virtually uninhabitable? (U.S. News)
It is Egypt's failure to prevent, and sometimes even open facilitation of, the flow of weapons and trained terrorists into Gaza that has led to the current escalation. It should be obvious that the first step to be taken against Hamas in Gaza must be to shut down, as much as possible, the flow of weapons, terrorists and funds that are the lifelines of that regime. But this will not happen so long as Egypt acts as Hamas' gateway to its terrorist allies, much as Syria does for Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Who trained the terrorist who murdered Carlos Chavez, the volunteer from Ecuador who was shot dead by a Hamas sniper on Tuesday at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, about 100 meters from the Gaza border fence? Over which border did his gun come? Most importantly, which supposed ally of peace refuses to sever the lifelines that keep the regime alive that sent him? (Jerusalem Post)
Let's remember who attacked whom in 1967. Arab nations gathered forces in an attempt to wipe Israel from the face of the Earth. But they underestimated the capabilities of the Israeli armed forces, and six days after they attacked the Arab forces were vanquished and Israel had captured buffer territory necessary to preserve its security. Forty years later, Israel still needs those buffers. And to suggest revisiting events of decades ago and conjure up reparations of some sort in the name of a "peace process" is the height of foolishness.
The problem of peace is quite simply about Israel's neighbors recognizing that it has a right to exist. If and when Middle Eastern powers unequivocally recognize that right in all its implications - among them lifting restrictions on trade and ending their funding and material support of terrorist organizations, then maybe it would be appropriate to reexamine borders. Until then, however, neither Bush nor any future president will serve the cause of peace by implying that Israel is wrong to err on the side of caution regarding its slender territory. Israel never has waged a war of aggression against its neighbors, but they have waged open and covert war against Israel since its founding. (The Intelligencer-Wheeling, W.Va.)
Lt.-Gen. Moshe Levi, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (1983-87), was born in Tel Aviv to parents who had moved there from Baghdad, Iraq. Levi was popular with the Israeli public for his straightforward manner and reputation for visiting bases and chatting with low-ranking soldiers. He served in the Six-Day War of 1967 as commanding officer of the Paratroopers Brigade. In 1981 he became Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations, posts he held during the 1982 Lebanon war. The standard move for top military brass in Israel is into politics, but Levi went back to plowing the wheat fields with a tractor on his kibbutz. Later he headed a committee to build Israel's first toll road spanning the country from north to south - Highway 6. (Times-UK)
A balding, bearded visage loomed during President Bush's visit to Jerusalem last week, peering down from banners and from posters on buses. The face was that of Jonathan Pollard, an American who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing top-secret information to Israel. Israeli supporters seeking his release were rebuffed by President Bill Clinton during the last period of extended negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Pollard has remained a cause celebre in Israel, perceived in some quarters as a Jewish patriot whose spying was intended to strengthen Israel, an American ally, rather than weaken the U.S. Israel granted him citizenship in 1998. (Washington Post)
When President George W. Bush visited Yad Vashem last Friday, he paused before a photograph of Auschwitz, called over Secretary of State Rice and said, "We should have bombed Auschwitz." Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?
The question of bombing Auschwitz arose only in the summer of 1944, more than two years after the gassing of Jews had begun. By July, information about Auschwitz and its function was available, German air defenses were weakened, and the accuracy of Allied bombing was increasing. By July, officials of the Jewish Agency in London were forcefully calling for the bombing. All that was required was the political will.
As early as May 1944, the U.S. Air Force had the capability to strike Auschwitz at will. The rail lines from Hungary were also well within range. Between May 15 and July 8, 437,402 Jews were deported from Hungary, overwhelmingly to Birkenau, the death camp of Auschwitz. On July 7, 1944, American bombers flew over the railway lines to Auschwitz. On August 20, 127 Flying Fortresses dropped 1,336 500-pound bombs on the I.G. Farben synthetic oil factory less than five miles east of Birkenau. The death camp remained untouched. (Ha'aretz)
Virtual world "Second Life" opened a virtual Israeli community for its "Residents" on Sunday, allowing over 11 million users worldwide to teleport into a vibrant 3-dimensional Internet version of the country. "The purpose of Second Life Israel is to present Israel to a global audience beyond traditional media," said SL Israel founder Chaim Landau. "This is a concept of Israel as a fun, entertaining, thriving and diverse community for Jews and non-Jews, and a home for Israelis on Second Life."
As a Legacy Heritage Fellow at the European Union of Jewish Students in 2007, Landau initiated the Second Life Israel island with Beth Brown, a building and design manager. Users can walk through the Old City in Jerusalem, visiting the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Dome of the Rock as easily as they can venture down the promenade in Tel Aviv and weave through the Mahaneh Yehuda marketplace in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
Sixteen law students were celebrating the start of 2008 at a party in my apartment. While all the students were Jerusalemites whose discourse was in fluent English, half were Palestinians enrolled at Al Quds, a Palestinian university, and half were Israeli Jews enrolled at Hebrew University. I teach these students Criminal Procedure at a neutral site, the American Colony Hotel. For the first ten weeks of class the students had been cautiously polite and cordial to each other.
At the New Year's Eve Party these students were not focused on their differences. Instead, they talked and listened non-judgmentally, asking respectful questions, genuinely interested in the responses. Nada told me as she was leaving for her home in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa: "This was the best night of my life. We were really like friends. If they left it to us, we could make peace." I am generally pessimistic about things here in Israel. Not only do I not see the light at the end of the tunnel, I don't see the tunnel. Still, I believe there is a very large core of both the Palestinian and Israeli societies, like my students, who are desperate to learn what the other side really wants, thinks, and feels. The writer was a district court judge in Boulder from 1977 to 1996. (Boulder Daily Camera)
Israel, with fewer than 7 million people, has become a Goliath in the world of technology and medicine. It is third only to America and Canada in the number of companies listed on the Nasdaq, ahead of economic powerhouses like Germany, England and China. Bruce Aust, executive vice president of Nasdaq , said 75 Israeli companies worth a total of $60 billion are listed.
American troops use Israeli portable digital x-ray machines in Iraq and Afghanistan that don't require film for developing and are used in battlefield situations. "The quality of their post-doctorates in medicine, nanotechnology and software development is rather incredible," said Marc Stanley, a technology official at the U.S. Department of Commerce who is involved with fostering collaboration between American and Israeli technology companies. Experts attribute the nation's success to a confluence of cultural and systemic factors, such as Israel's highly educated and motivated immigrant population. (FOXBusiness)
Established in 1983, the Golan Heights Winery is credited with remaking the Israeli wine industry and slowly transforming Israel's reputation as a producer of world-class, award-winning wines that appeal to sophisticated international consumers. Its three labels, Yarden, Gamla, and Golan, produce some 17 different varieties and are the most widely exported Israeli wines in the world. In 2007 the winery's 1,600 acres of vineyards produced 430,000 cases, up from 420,000 in 2006, and generated sales of $30 million. Today, says the head winemaker, California-born Victor Schoenfeld, "We have wine shortages. Our demand outstrips our supply."
In 1972, Cornelius Ough, a renowned oenologist from the University of California at Davis, visited and surveyed Israel. He concluded that the Golan Heights was an obvious place to produce high-quality wine because of its volcanic soil, cool climate, altitudes, and water available through drip irrigation systems. Four years later, the area's first vineyards were planted. (Business Week)
Escalation of Terror in Gaza (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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