Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iranian Opposition Delayed Indian Launch of Israeli Satellite - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
The Construction Site Called Saudi Arabia - Jad Mouawad (New York Times)
Hundreds of Israeli Bedouin Women Attend University - Jessica Shepherd (Guardian-UK)
U.S. Fears "Disastrous" Links in Latin America with Islamic Militants (AFP)
Unemployment Drops to 10-Year Low - Adrian Filut (Ynet News)
2008 Herzliya Conference on Israel's National Security (Institute for Policy and Strategy, Lauder School of Government, IDC Herzliya)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel Tuesday eased a blockade of Gaza imposed in retaliation for militant rocket attacks, allowing in some food and fuel. Israel pumped cooking oil and fuel for Gaza's power plant through the Nahal Oz crossing, and was expected to allow a shipment of fuel, food and medicine through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Prime Minister Olmert said Monday he will not allow a humanitarian crisis to develop. But he said Gaza's residents won't be able to live a "pleasant and comfortable life" as long as southern Israel is under rocket attack. "As far as I'm concerned, Gaza residents will walk, without gas for their cars, because they have a murderous, terrorist regime that doesn't let people in southern Israel live in peace," Olmert said.
"We think Hamas got the message," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel. "As we have seen in the past couple of days, when they want to stop the rockets, they can." But Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said a reduction in rocket attacks was not enough for Israel to ease the closure. "If we open the crossings again tomorrow, there will be rockets that fall again on Israel," Dror said. "They don't want to recognize Israel and want to destroy Israel - that's their problem. They shouldn't expect that we will help them destroy us." The power outage mainly affected Gaza City, while electricity in other areas of Gaza was not interrupted. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
Palestinians in Gaza fired four Kassam rockets at Sderot Tuesday morning. Nine Kassam rockets and 13 mortar shells were fired at Israeli communities on Monday afternoon. (Ynet News)
Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei Monday reversed a decision by President Ahmadinejad and ordered him to implement a law supplying natural gas to remote villages amid rising dissatisfaction with the president's performance. Ahmadinejad's popularity has plummeted amid rising food prices and deaths due to gas cuts during a particularly harsh winter. Both reformists and conservatives are increasingly asking why Iranians are dying from the cold while sitting on massive gas fields. (AP)
See also Radical Left Challenging Authority in Iran - Nazila Fathi
In early December at Tehran University, 500 Marxist students held aloft portraits of Che Guevara to protest President Ahmadinejad's policies. Political protest has been harshly suppressed under the current Iranian government, but the radical left has been permitted relative freedom. Analysts say this may be because, like the government, it rejects the liberal reform movement and attacks the West. (New York Times)
Egypt has canceled political talks with senior EU officials after a European Parliament resolution criticized the state of human rights in Egypt, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Saturday. The resolution triggered angry reactions from the Egyptian government and parliament. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Abdel Rahman Rashed, a Saudi national serving as general manager of the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya news channel, said Hamas was responsible for the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. Writing in the London-based daily Asharq Alawsat, Rashed questioned the wisdom of firing rockets and mortars at Israel which, he said, was only increasing the suffering of the Palestinians.
PA officials in Ramallah have also blamed Hamas for the crisis in Gaza. PA Information Minister Riad al-Malki said the latest crisis was the result of Hamas' "insistence on creating an Islamic republic in Gaza." A top PA official in Ramallah accused Hamas of ordering bakery owners to keep their businesses closed for the second day running to create a humanitarian crisis. "Hamas is preventing people from buying bread," he said. "They want to deepen the crisis so as to serve their own interests." The official said that, contrary to Hamas' claims, there is enough fuel and flour to keep the bakeries in Gaza operating for another two months. "Hamas members have stolen most of the fuel in Gaza to fill their vehicles," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian gunmen opened fire on IDF troops near the southern Gaza border fence in two separate incidents on Tuesday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinians in Gaza Open Fire at Israeli Farmers - Shmulik Hadad
Palestinians in Gaza opened fire Tuesday morning at farmers working near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha in southern Israel. An Ecuadorian volunteer was murdered by a Palestinian sniper in the same area last week. (Ynet News)
British taxpayers are funding hate education and violence in the Middle East, according to a new report published by the British NGO Tax Payers Alliance (TPA). The report shows that part of the £47.5 million of British aid to the Palestinian territories goes towards textbooks that praise insurgents in Iraq, encourage execution of apostates, and idealize martyrdom. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A Hamas official warned that the reduction in fuel shipments to Gaza's power plant meant: "We have the choice to either cut electricity on babies in the maternity ward or heart surgery patients." Not exactly. Hamas has the choice of supplying the electricity it has first to hospitals and other essential humanitarian needs. Hamas also has the choice of stopping the Kassam rocket attacks against Israel. Instead, as usual, Hamas' leaders have chosen to deliberately increase the suffering of Palestinians, knowing the international community will cooperate with this cynical choice and blame Israel.
There is no greater act of "collective punishment" than randomly firing missiles at the homes of innocent Israeli civilians. Where is the concern for the "humanitarian crisis" of Israelis who have had to live under the threat of rocket fire for the last seven years? Power outages cannot compare to the deadly and indiscriminate threat from missiles landing on kindergartens and homes. If Western officials uniformly blamed Hamas instead of amplifying its propaganda, it might be forced to stop its aggression, ending the "humanitarian crisis." (Jerusalem Post)
Israel has been under siege from missiles and rockets day in, day out ever since it withdrew from Gaza on Sep. 12, 2005. Israel is a tiny country, wedged in between the sea and a great swath of hostile Arab territories. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are within easy range of the land the peace processors have set aside in their imaginations for a Palestinian state.
Imagine the U.S. tolerating a situation in which there is relentless bombardment from across its border, and the regime there in power not only tolerates it but facilitates it; not only facilitates it, but makes clear that it is a picture of the Israeli future. Not only the U.S., but any and all governments, would respond forcefully, more forcefully than Israel had responded. (New Republic)
The missile that Israel tested Thursday was two-stage. The test examined the critical moment where the missile's first stage disconnects and the second stage's engine fires. Interested parties will analyze the missile firing and reach the reasonable conclusion that this capability enables Israel to produce long-range ballistic missiles. Particularly, this capability enables Israel to produce missiles that can launch satellites into space, and also missiles aimed at thwarting incoming ballistic missiles fired at Israel from great distances at very high altitude.
The "show" presented by Israel was an explicit signal: Those who are playing with their own missiles, such as the Shehab, or pursuing nuclear weapons, should know they are not alone in this game. Adventures come with a price. This is also known as "deterrence." (Ynet News)
The Gaza "Blackout" and the Laws of War - J. Peter Pham (National Review)
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