Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 21, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Gets Fourth Batch of Nuclear Fuel from Russia (Reuters)
    Iran received a fourth delivery of nuclear fuel from Russia on Sunday to power Tehran's first atomic power plant and it expects four more before the consignment is complete, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

Israeli Spy Satellite Launched from India - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The TecSar reconnaissance satellite, developed by the IAI's Space Division, was successfully launched Sunday from India.
    Israel's most advanced satellite, TecSar has the ability to create images of objects on Earth day and night, even in cloudy weather, using synthetic aperture radar technology.
    See also New Israeli Spy Satellite Sends Iran a Message - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    The primary intelligence contribution of the TecSar satellite lies in improving capabilities of intelligence gathering and coverage over Iran.
    Israel is one of the world's six superpowers in space, with three reconnaissance satellites as well as three communications satellites.

14 Islamic Militants Held in Spain over Terror Plot - Victoria Burnett (New York Times)
    Spanish intelligence agents arrested 14 Islamic militants and raided several apartments and two mosques in Barcelona during a crackdown on a group suspected of plotting an attack in the city. The group included 12 Pakistanis, an Indian and a Bangladeshi.
    Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, the Spanish interior minister, said Saturday that the detainees "belonged to a well-organized group that had gone a step beyond radicalization." Spanish authorities confiscated material for making bombs, including four timing devices, Rubalcaba said.
    Several of those arrested belonged to Tabligh Jamaat, a group based in Pakistan. The group publicizes a benign type of revivalist Islam, but is suspected by Western intelligence agencies of being a recruiter for jihadists.
    See also Spain Alerts Britain after Foiling Bomb Plot on Eve of Musharraf Visit - Ed Owen and David Leppard (Times-UK)
    European countries, including Britain, had been put on alert by the Spanish for the possibility of terror attacks coinciding with a state visit to Europe by Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan.

Canada Removes U.S., Israel from Torture Watchlist - David Ljunggren (Reuters)
    Canada's foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, said on Saturday it would remove the U.S. and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.
    Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats "contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten."
    "The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions."

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  • Lights Out in Gaza City - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Parts of the Gaza Strip plunged into darkness on Sunday when its main power plant shut down after Israel blocked fuel supplies and closed the border to the Hamas-run territory. Israel said the blockade was in response to rocket attacks from Gaza and that "everything would go back to normal" if militants stopped firing missiles, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said. Mekel questioned whether the complete shutdown of the generating plant was necessary, suggesting Hamas Islamists had a political interest in exaggerating the impact of the Israeli measures. Palestinian militants have attacked border towns in Israel in the past week with some 230 rockets. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Supply of Electricity to Gaza Continues
    The supply of electricity to Gaza from the Israeli and Egyptian power grids has continued uninterrupted, representing about 75% of Gaza's electricity needs. While the fuel supply from Israel into Gaza has indeed been reduced, due to the Hamas rocket attacks, the diversion of this fuel from domestic power generators to other uses is wholly a Hamas decision - apparently taken due to media and propaganda considerations. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Israel: Hamas Pretending There Is a Crisis - Ali Waked
    "There is no power crisis in Gaza. Apparently Hamas, out of its own considerations, has decided not to transfer fuel to the power station," said a security official in Jerusalem. "There is enough diesel in Gaza to power the station. And to the best of our knowledge there is also enough fuel for cars. Enough fuel has been provided and there should not be any shortage," the official said.
        Israel also rejected the claim that there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, saying that Palestinian liaisons have said that there are sufficient stockpiles of food and water. "Our feeling is that someone over there, apparently Hamas, is trying to exaggerate the problem and make it seem as though there is a humanitarian crisis. There is no truth to this." Minutes after the Gaza power station shut down, Gaza residents holding candles began marching through the city's streets along with Palestinian children holding signs in English and Arabic. (Ynet News)
  • Hizbullah Claims to Have Israeli Bodies - Zeina Karam
    Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah claimed Saturday the militant group had the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon during the 2006 war. Official Israeli figures say 119 Israeli soldiers died in the 2006 fighting. The Israeli military has a staunch tradition of not leaving the bodies of fallen fighters in enemy hands. Nasrallah also called on Arab governments to confront Bush's "satanic visions" for the Middle East, which he said serve only the interests of the U.S. and Israel. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Gazan Hearts Saved in Israel as Conflict Rages
    With violence along Israel's southern border escalating, a hospital in Israel offers a ray of hope for a handful of seriously ill Gazans. "This child would have died without surgery," said Dr. Alona Raucher-Sternfeld, looking at the small Palestinian baby, Jamal, and the echo machine checking his heart. Six-month-old Jamal came with his grandmother from Dir al-Balah in Gaza to get a check-up on Jan. 15 at Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Jamal was operated on there when he was two months old, suffering from two heart defects.
        The surgery, hospital stay and logistics in bringing him out of Gaza were coordinated and partially funded by Save a Child's Heart, an Israeli humanitarian organization, with some EU donations. In 2007, 128 Palestinian children from the West Bank and Gaza, all suffering from heart conditions, were treated by the program. Col. Nir Press, head of the Israeli coordination and liaison administration in Gaza, said the number of permits to Israel issued for medical reasons had risen 50% in 2007. (ReliefWeb-UN)
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  • Israel Won't Let Humanitarian Crisis Erupt in Gaza - Barak Ravid, Avi Issacharoff, and Amos Harel
    Israel will not allow a humanitarian crisis to erupt in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen on Monday. "We will provide the population with everything needed to prevent a crisis," said Olmert. "Hamas is firing on the power station that supplies electricity to Gaza. That is simply crazy," he told Verhagen, adding, "What would the Dutch government do if it were being fired on daily?" "We won't allow the Palestinians to fire on us and destroy life in Sderot, while in Gaza life is going on as usual." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Is Supplying Electricity to Gaza While Under Rocket Fire - Tani Goldstein
    Miko Zarfati, chairman of the workers' committee at the Israel Electric Company, said: "This is Palestinian spin. No one has stopped the supply of electricity to the Strip." He claimed that Israel Electric Company employees worked day and night in a power plant in Ashkelon while putting themselves in danger of being hit by Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians from Gaza. "The Electric Company sends people to fix power outages that are caused from the Kassam barrages everyday in Sderot and the Gaza vicinity and more than one worker has already been injured in these rocket attacks." (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinians Fire Four Rockets into Israel Sunday (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Rocket Fire by Palestinians in Gaza on Israeli Civilian Targets (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Israel to Deepen Operations Inside Gaza - Yaakov Katz
    In the past week, close to 160 Kassam rockets and 70 mortar shells were fired at Israel by Palestinians in Gaza, Israeli defense officials said. A defense official added that the army was under orders to "deepen" its operations inside Gaza in an effort to stop the rocket fire. On Saturday, IDF troops followed that order and operated more than five kilometers inside Gaza, arresting four armed Hamas operatives in Jabalya, the launch pad for numerous rockets in recent days. On Saturday in Gaza City's Sajaiya neighborhood, an Israel air force missile struck a car loaded with weapons and Kassam rockets, wounding the car's occupants. (Jerusalem Post)
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  • Provocative Trade in Corpses - Editorial
    Israel would do well to treat Nasrallah with the repugnance due him, while ignoring - in the name of the dignity of the dead and the living - his recent macabre call for opening additional negotiations. (Ha'aretz)
  • A New Arms Race in the Gulf? - Walter Pincus
    The Joint Direct Attack Munition is a kit that, when added to the back end of a 500- or 2,000-pound "dumb" bomb, turns it into a lethal, all-weather "smart" weapon that can hit within four feet of a target when launched from a fighter aircraft more than 10 miles away. As proposed in a message to Congress on Jan. 14, the Saudis are authorized to buy 900 Joint Direct Attack Munition kits along with 550 500-pound bombs, 250 2,000-pound bombs, and another 100 2,000-pounders with penetrating warheads. The United Arab Emirates is in line to get 200 JDAM systems for its 80 F-16s. Because JDAMs are offensive weapons, their acquisition by Arab states such as Saudi Arabia that are considered hostile to Israel has drawn concern on Capitol Hill.
        The Saudis are also in line to receive $631 million in armored vehicles, personnel carriers, towed mortars and machine guns, as well as five sets of airborne early-warning and command and control systems worth $400 million. They would also buy for $220 million 40 Sniper advanced targeting pods, which would upgrade the ability of their F-15s to detect other aircraft at long range. The UAE hopes to buy 900 Hellfire missiles and 300 blast-fragmentation warheads for use with its U.S. attack helicopters and 2,106 anti-tank TOW missiles that also can be fired from helicopters.
        Anthony H. Cordesman, a specialist in Middle East national security affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said a surge of arms sales to countries in the region is just beginning. With oil and gas exports providing $2 trillion in revenue, Cordesman expects that "southern Gulf arms sales will be 50 to 100% higher over the next four years." The U.S. will supply only a quarter of the weapons; Russia and European nations also will push to make sales. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    The First "Core Issue": Incitement - Elihu Richter (Jerusalem Post)

    • Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that it was words, not machinery, that produced Auschwitz. Incitement and hate language are early warning signs of genocidal intent by their perpetrators. If the rocks, daggers, guns, suicide bombs, Kassams and long-range missiles are the hardware of today's terror threats to Israel, it is the incitement that is the software.
    • An end to state-sponsored incitement to terror belongs right on top of the negotiating agenda, before any discussions on borders, settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, and all the other issues. The first "confidence-building measure" should be ending incitement, cutting off funding for those spreading such incitement, and prosecuting those who propagate hatred, not only in the PA, but its hinterland in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
    • It is state-sponsored incitement, and not what is whispered between diplomats, that signals the intentions of states or their surrogate organizations. The blowback from "the street" makes the decision-makers captive to such messages. So long as incitement warps the minds of coming generations, no diplomatic solution of the conflict between Israel and the Muslim world will be sustainable.
    • Israel should be demanding an end to funding by U.S., EU and UN agencies of all educational institutions that tolerate or issue hate language. Until Saudi Arabia and Egypt put an end to the propagation of the ugly anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish motifs in their mosques, texts, universities and media, neither should have any credibility as a participant or intermediary in any peace process.
    • The road map explicitly calls for an end to incitement as an essential precondition for all future agreements. Official monitoring, reporting and sanctioning of incitement are the essential next steps to eradicating this fundamental obstacle to peace and threat to human life.

      The writer heads the Genocide Prevention Program at Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine and serves on the advisory board of Genocide Watch.

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