Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 31, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Commission of Inquiry on Second Lebanon War Submits Final Report - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
    A year and a half after the Second Lebanon War, retired Justice Eliyahu Winograd, the chairman of the commission of inquiry into failures of the 2006 war, delivered the 500-page final report to Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Barak.
    The other four members of the commission were law professor Ruth Gavison, political science professor Yehezkel Dror, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Menachem Einan and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Chaim Nadel.
    See also Winograd's Dire Warning - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)
    The thrust of the report was focused more on Israel's survival, noting that Israel "cannot survive in this region" without "the political and military leadership, military capabilities, and social robustness" to deter and, if necessary, overcome its enemies.
    See also English Summary of the Winograd Commission Report (New York Times)

Ahmadinejad Tells West: Accept Israel's "Imminent Collapse" (DPA/Ha'aretz)
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the West Wednesday to acknowledge Israel's "imminent collapse" and to "stop supporting the Zionists, as [their] regime reached its final stage."
    "Accept that the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end," he said in a televised speech.
    "What we have right now is the last chapter which the Palestinians and regional nations will confront and eventually turn in Palestine's favor," he added.

Holocaust Exhibition Opens at UN Headquarters (New York Sun)
    A permanent exhibition depicting saviors of Holocaust victims opened on Jan. 30 at the UN headquarters in New York, part of a week of events around the anniversary of the Jan. 27, 1945, liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, which is designated as a Holocaust memorial day around the world.
    "The Holocaust message of 'never again' must be delivered most poignantly to Iran," said Israel's minister of communications, Ariel Atias.
    "No country, no people would allow its own destruction, and President Ahmadinejad must realize that the world does not silently agree with him."

Israel to Send Animal Vaccine to Gaza after Border Breach (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Israel will deliver thousands of doses of vaccine for cattle and avian-borne diseases to Gaza.
    Gazans have brought in large numbers of camels, sheep, cows and chickens. Israeli authorities fear that with the new influx of livestock will come a wave of diseases not indigenous to Gaza, among them foot-and-mouth disease and avian flu that are known to exist in Egypt.
    Because of the proximity between Gaza and Israel, the diseases could easily spread into Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Wants Egypt to Provide Gaza with Electricity and Fuel - Erica Silverman
    "Hamas wants to keep Rafah a Palestinian-Egyptian border crossing, without Israeli interference...and to create an access point to the world, a passage for humanitarian support from Arab nations and our food imports," said Ahmed Yousef, foreign adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader who was elected Palestinian prime minister in 2005. Yousef said Hamas wants to persuade Egypt to provide Gaza with electricity and fuel instead of Israel. "For three years, Egypt has only wanted to deal with Gaza on a security level; for political issues they talk with the leadership in Ramallah," said a Hamas official. "Egypt is now forced to be involved, since the border was breached." (Washington Times)
        See also Abbas: Hamas Must "End Its Coup in Gaza" - Alaa Shahine
    "Hamas has to end its coup in Gaza, accept all international obligations, and accept holding early elections. After that, our hearts are open for any dialogue," Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday, referring to Hamas as an "illegitimate" party. "We do not accept any new (border) agreements," he said. The PA was willing to take control of crossings only according to an international deal in place before Hamas took control, he said. But it is unclear how Abbas would be able to exert control over Rafah, given opposition from Hamas, whose forces have command on the ground.
        "Talking about a partial role contradicts reality," senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said. "The reality is that there is a legitimate government. We will not give up our legitimacy to anybody." (Reuters)
  • Gazans Trying to Get to Cairo - Omar Sinan
    Eissa Sweillem, 27, entered Egypt from Gaza and hopes to buy a fake Egyptian identification card so he can get through security checkpoints and across the desert to Cairo. Most Palestinians trying to get farther into Egypt insist they are merely seeking work, or even just fun - any escape from Gaza. However, there are growing Egyptian concerns that Gazans, if not contained in the border area, could become a problem for the rest of the country.
        Shady el-Rmelat, 23, said he and two other Gazans tried three times to sneak out of El-Arish to Cairo - paying taxi drivers to take them - but had gotten caught each time by Egyptian security. Muwaffaq, 22, said the young men wanted to watch belly dancers in Cairo night clubs and taste alcohol for the first time. Liquor is not allowed in Hamas-controlled Gaza. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel High Court Okays Reducing Fuel and Power Supply to Gaza - Yuval Yoaz
    Israel's High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the state a green light to reduce the supply of power and fuel to Gaza, ruling that the reductions are legal as they still meet the humanitarian needs of the population. Israel has sought to impose economic sanctions on Gaza in response to continued Kassam rocket attacks by Palestinians on southern Israel. The court denied petitions presented by several human rights organizations seeking to stop the government's plans to scale back the supply of fuel and electricity.
        Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote: "We emphasize that the Gaza Strip is controlled by a murderous terror group that operates incessantly to strike the State of Israel and its citizens, and violates every precept of international law with its violent actions."
        The three-judge panel ruled: "In the case of the attacks against Israel, the damage [to the civilian population] is not accidental, but rather a result of deliberate and frequent assaults on civilian populations which are aimed at harming innocent civilians. This is the difference between Israel - a democracy fighting for its life within the confines of the law - and the terrorist organizations trying to destroy it." (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Foils Suicide Attack on Gaza Border - Hanan Greenberg
    An IDF force shot and killed an armed terrorist near the border fence north of Kerem Shalom in Gaza early Thursday morning. A bullet-proof vest and a Kalashnikov rifle were found on the man's body. "This is another attempt by the terrorist organizations to carry out an attack against IDF forces patrolling the fence," said an army official. According to a Palestinian source, the incident was an attempt by an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades cell to infiltrate Israel. Four gunmen tried to reach an IDF outpost, and after a gunfight erupted, three of the Palestinians managed to withdraw, while the fourth was killed. The sources said that the cell planned to carry out a suicide bombing at the army post. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Lebanon Held Hostage - Editorial
    Lebanon is in a state of full political paralysis, a stalemate engineered and enforced by its overlord, Syria. It has been without a president since Nov. 24. U.S., UN, French and now Arab League diplomats have failed to broker a solution. Syria wants to stop the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri from indicting and prosecuting senior Syrian officials. And it appears willing to fight to the last Lebanese to do so. To ensure that the UN tribunal cannot operate, Syria has to control at least one-third of the Lebanese Cabinet, which must authorize the tribunal.
        It's intolerable for international justice - and Lebanon's future - to be held hostage to Syrian political expediency. And the best remedy is swifter justice. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon must rally the Security Council to authorize the tribunal to begin operating and issue indictments as soon as possible. Syrian retaliation is to be expected - including possible attempts to sabotage the nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace process. That is the price of Lebanese freedom. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Has the Shiite Crescent Disappeared? Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Alliance Against Iran - Joshua Teitelbaum
    Viewed from Riyadh, Washington is no longer the strong, confident leader it had been - weakened in Iraq, and burdened by a National Intelligence Estimate that appeared to contradict much of the current administration's rhetoric. Bush arrived in Riyadh on Jan. 15 with the deck stacked squarely against him. Sa'ud Al Faysal had stated a week earlier that his country would hear Bush out, but that "Saudi Arabia is a neighbor of Iran in the Gulf, which is a small lake." In private, the Saudis are deeply fearful of Iran. But they want a U.S. policy of containment, not confrontation. More than anything, they want to be on the winning side. (Dayan Center-Tel Aviv University)
  • Justice at the UN Human Rights Council? - Bridget Johnson
    The UN Human Rights Council voted 30-1 to condemn Israel for "grave violations of the human and humanitarian rights of Palestinian civilians." There was zero mention of Hamas' continued rocket attacks on Israel or Hamas' refusal to renounce violence against and attempted destruction of the Jewish state. Only Canada had the chutzpah to cast that lone "no" vote. The U.S., long having realized the HRC is a farce, is not a member.
        Remember that Israel ceded Gaza and forcibly removed its settlers in 2005 to further the peace process. But since Hamas is hell-bent on the destruction of Israel, that gesture just stoked more jihadist fervor. Efforts were still focused on bringing down Israel instead of developing Gaza. Yet when Israel was forced to enact a blockade after umpteen warnings to Hamas to stop rocket attacks, the HRC jumped on Israel as the baddies. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Observations:

    A Barrage Against Israel - Robin Shepherd (Times-UK)

    • Apologists for extremism had long argued that occupation rather than ideology was the "root cause" of terrorism. Terrorism would therefore cease once occupation ended. That argument has now been conclusively defeated. Since Israel withdrew, Palestinian militants have fired more than 4,000 rockets from Gaza at Israeli civilian targets.
    • There is not a state in the world that could ignore this kind of barrage. So what were the options? One was reoccupation. Another was to carpet-bomb the areas from which the rockets are being fired. Many states would have done both. Israel has done neither.
    • What has Israel actually done? First, it has built a barrier around Gaza to limit the ability of suicide bombers to kill civilians. Secondly, it makes incursions to target the terrorist infrastructure. Thirdly, it has restricted imports into Gaza to stop bomb-making equipment from getting to the terrorists in aid and food packages. Fourthly, it has applied economic sanctions against the Hamas regime. Israel, in other words, has chosen the strategy least likely to cause heavy loss of life while still exercising its right to self-defense.
    • The condition of the residents of Gaza is dire. But ultimate blame for this surely rests with Hamas, other militants, and the culture of violence in Palestinian society that sustains them. In the absence of all this there would, of course, be no security barrier, no military incursions, no trade restrictions, and no sanctions.
    • The frenzied, rhetorical onslaught against the Jewish state is at best intellectually lazy. At worst it forms part of a hateful agenda that shames those who indulge in it.

      The writer is a senior fellow at Chatham House, home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

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