Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Warning to Israelis Traveling Abroad (Prime Minister's Office)
Saudis Let Go Terrorist Mughniyeh in 1996 Despite U.S. President's Pleas - Brian Ross (ABC News)
Al-Qaeda Leader in Iraq Threatens Israel, Vows to "Liberate" Palestine in New Audiotape (AP/Asharq Alawsat)
The Nexus Between Iranian National Banks
and International Terrorist Financing - Shimon Shapira (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
UN Human Rights Commissioner a Cheerleader for Israel Bashers - Neal Sher (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
Needed: A Strategy to Disrupt the Supply Chain of Suicide Bombers - Editorial (Los Angeles Times)
Gazans Celebrate Valentine's Day - Karin Laub (AP)
Rights Group Urges Saudi King to Spare Woman Convicted of "Witchcraft" (AFP/Yahoo)
Add Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to Global Monopoly - Mark Weiss (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Arab Woman School Principal Achieves Success - Diana Bletter (Jerusalem Post)
Dollar-Shekel Exchange Rate Shifts 20 Percent - Michele Chabin (New York Jewish Week)
Terror in Gaza: Eight Months Since the Hamas Takeover (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The FBI is telling authorities to be on the alert for possible threats to synagogues or other potential Jewish targets in the U.S., following the death of Hizbullah leader Imad Mughniyeh in Syria, a law enforcement official told CNN on Thursday. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces nationwide have been instructed to reach out to community officials to detect increased Hizbullah activity in the U.S. (CNN)
See also Israel: Hizbullah Has Fifty Terror Cells Around the Globe - Yaakov Katz and Mark Weiss
More than 50 Hizbullah terror cells believed to be spread across the globe could be activated and used to strike at Israeli or Jewish targets in retaliation for Tuesday's assassination of Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Syria, a senior Israeli defense official said Thursday. Defense officials said that Hizbullah had advanced infrastructure overseas, mainly in South America and Africa. (Jerusalem Post)
Accusing Israel of killing one of his top commanders, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, threatened Thursday to intensify his group's conflict with Israel and to retaliate against Israeli targets anywhere in the world. Nasrallah, who has been in hiding since 2006, spoke to mourners via a televised image at the funeral of Imad Mughniyeh. "You crossed the borders," Nasrallah said. "Zionists, if you want an open war, let it be an open war anywhere."
Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, spoke at the funeral, reading a letter from President Ahmadinejad. "These are operations that will shorten their corrupt and filthy life," Mottaki said, quoting the letter, which was referring to the Israelis. "Their smiles will not last long. The free people and the Lebanese people have lost one hero, but there are a million more Hajj Rudwans [Mughniyehs] ready to join the ranks of the resistance." (New York Times)
President Bashar Assad boasts that Damascus is "the capital of resistance," a claim borne out by the presence here of Hamas leaders and a host of other radical Palestinian groups. The fact that someone was able to set off a car bomb Tuesday in the capital to kill Imad Mughniyeh, one of America's most-wanted fugitives, is a blow to the reputation of Syria's feared security services, which are a cornerstone of the regime's autocratic control of the country. It could also raise questions over the strength of the regime's grip. Mughniyeh was a terror icon, linked to the killings of hundreds of Americans, French, Jews and Israelis in bombings and airline hijackings over two decades. A Western diplomat based in Damascus said the incident was a double embarrassment for Syria - "on account of (Mughniyeh) being here and because they could not protect him." (AP/Washington Post)
The U.S. has recently shared new intelligence with the International Atomic Energy Agency on key aspects of Iran's nuclear program that Washington says shows Tehran was directly engaged in trying to make a bomb, diplomats said Thursday. One of the diplomats said Washington also gave the IAEA permission to confront Iran with at least some of the evidence in an attempt to pry out details of Iran's suspicious nuclear past.
Over the past two years, the U.S. has shared material on a laptop computer reportedly smuggled out of Iran. In 2005, U.S. intelligence assessed that information as indicating that Tehran had been working on details of nuclear weapons, including missile trajectories and ideal altitudes for exploding warheads. After declassification, U.S. intelligence also was forwarded on two other issues: the "Green Salt Project" - a plan the U.S. alleges links diverse components of a nuclear weapons program, including uranium enrichment, high explosives testing, and a missile re-entry vehicle - and material in Iran's possession showing how to mold uranium metal into warhead form. (AP)
Canada's Supreme Court refused Thursday to hear the appeal of Eliyahu Veffer, who immigrated to Canada about 12 years ago and wanted his Canadian passport to show he was born in "Jerusalem, Israel." Veffer's passport states only his birth city with no reference to any country because Ottawa officials contend the status of Jerusalem has been disputed since 1948. Veffer's attorney, David Matas, argued unsuccessfully in federal court that Canada allows people to choose which state appears in their passport if a birth city is in disputed territory. But Jerusalem is an exception to this policy. (AFP/Yahoo)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Hamas fired shots over the heads of Egyptian workers building a new concrete wall on the border between Egypt and Gaza on Tuesday, causing them to flee. "Sources in Gaza say that Hamas will fire at anyone attempting to build the wall unless the Rafah border crossing is reopened," said Sinai resident Hussein El Qayem. (Daily News-Egypt)
See also Hamas to Discuss Border Reopening with Egypt - Khaled Abu Toameh
A Hamas delegation from Gaza headed by Mahmoud Zahar traveled to El-Arish Thursday for talks with Egyptian government officials on reopening the Rafah border crossing. A top PA official in Ramallah said the PA would not accept any deal that gives Hamas a say in managing the border crossing. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired nine Kassam rockets at Israel Thursday, damaging several structures. Two of the rockets landed near Sapir College. Others landed inside Sderot. (Ynet News)
In a poll conducted for Israel's Ma'ariv daily published Friday, 67% of Israelis said they supported a broad ground operation against Palestinian rocket squads in Gaza, while 25% said they were opposed. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Death of a Terrorist
At Hizbullah's official funeral of Imad Mughniyeh Thursday, where Hizbullah's leader eulogized him over a coffin decked in Hizbullah's flag, it is useful to recall the party's denial of his very existence over all these many years. Mention of his name to Hizbullah officials would draw a blank stare or blanket denial. Nasrallah's eulogy has placed Mughniyeh officially in the pantheon of Hizbullah's greatest martyrs. That his relationship to Hizbullah was ever a question is a testament to the discipline of Hizbullah in sticking to lies that serve its interests.
Hiding its clandestine branch makes it easier for Hizbullah to sell the movement to useful idiots in the West who insist that the movement hasn't done any terror in years, and maybe never did any at all. The truth is that Hizbullah has always included within it a clandestine terrorist branch, and it probably always will. Indeed, Nasrallah's threat in his eulogy - to commence an "open war" with Israel outside the Israel-Lebanon theater - alludes to the "global reach" that Mughniyeh helped to build. Hizbullah's official send-off to a most-wanted terrorist has exposed the core of Hizbullah that lies deep beneath the schools, the hospitals, and all the other gimmicks the party uses to get support. (Middle East Strategy at Harvard)
As Hizbullah's international operations chief, Mughniyeh oversaw the group's terror network and established operational cells around the world. Hizbullah Secretary General Nasrallah and Mughniyeh reportedly worked together in planning terrorist attacks globally and across the Israel-Lebanon border. Mughniyeh also facilitated the training and transfer of Hizbullah operatives into Israel through Europe to carry out attacks and conduct surveillance. Mughniyeh was also deeply involved in the Karine-A affair - an Iranian attempt to ship arms to the Palestinian Authority. Hajj Bassem, Mughniyeh's senior deputy, personally commanded the ship that met Karine-A at the Iranian island of Kish, and oversaw the ship-to-ship transfer of the Iranian weapons. Mughniyeh's departure removes Hizbullah's key conduit to Iranian intelligence. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The killing of Hizbullah's Imad Mughniyeh "is a major setback because he is an important military figure," said Reuven Ehrlich, director of the Tel Aviv-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University, said that whoever was responsible would never acknowledge it, but if Israel played a role, "it shows a strengthening of the Mossad's [Israel's secret intelligence organization] operations." During the 1990s and the early part of this decade, Steinberg noted, there was a perceived "weakening of Israel's operational capabilities." But he said the killing of Hizbullah's top military officer and the reported Israeli attack on a nascent Syrian nuclear plant late last year send a message that Israel's strike capabilities have been restored.
Eldad Pardo, an expert on Hizbullah at the Hebrew University's Truman Institute, said it also sends a message to Iran because Hizbullah is intrinsically connected to Iran. "There is an image in some countries that Israel is about to collapse, which is foolish," he said. "Israel is a young, vigorous state that is very strong but also wants peace. It's hard to project this duality. Just because we want peace does not mean we are a kind of sissy."
"The Syrians are assassinating people in Lebanon one after another," Pardo said. "It is important that the West project some resolve...that it is not sleeping. And it shows that there are a lot of collaborators inside Hizbullah; it creates uncertainty. And it is a signal to Mubarak and King Abdullah that America is not going to disappear from the Middle East....This shows that it is not over 'till it's over. And this is just as important with Iran and its nuclear project." (New York Jewish Week)
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Danny Rothschild, Chairman of the Council for Peace and Security, said: "This assassination likely prevented many future terror attacks, and 'quality' attacks at that." Rothschild believes that the Hizbullah commander will be replaced, "but no successor can function at his level of expertise. It will take them a long time to find someone who can plan and carry out 'quality' attacks of Mugniyah's caliber." He noted that "seeing as Hizbullah believes that Israel carried out this attack, it creates some sort of deterrence as far as we are concerned, and also with respect to Hamas. After all, if Israel can pull off an operation like that in Damascus, it can carry out these types of assassinations anywhere." (Ynet News)
Hamas in Gaza
Israel hoped that by pulling its settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005, it would also leave behind responsibility for the Gazans. It was another case of wishful thinking. As rockets continue to fall on Israeli towns and Israeli politicians, under pressure from the public, call for harsh retaliation, Israel faces an acute quandary in Gaza, with delicate political, military and moral dilemmas.
Shlomo Brom, a retired general at the Institute for National Security Studies, says that none of the military options is especially attractive. To stop rockets, as the army learned in Lebanon, Israel must occupy the launching zones. But the range of the rockets is improving. "That means, for all practical purposes, occupying most of the Gaza Strip," he said, "and no one in Israel...has the appetite to reoccupy the Gaza Strip." (International Herald Tribune)
Gazans poured through by the thousands when Hamas blew up the barrier on the Egypt-Gaza border on Jan. 23. The stampede was something of a PR coup for Hamas. Arab media tended to portray the event as the act of a hungry and desperate people, victims of an inhumane Israeli political blockade. And here and there in the West, perpetually Palestinian-dazzled commentators fell for the scam, too. But there were a few things wrong in those reports.
The Gazans weren't starving. Most who rushed into Egypt were buying cheap cigarettes and food for profitable resale back home. Israel has allowed in measured food shipments and essential fuel and electricity. And the blockade has been enforced both by Israel and Egypt under a negotiated 2005 agreement and has broad international support, a reaction to Hamas' de facto coup after Israel voluntarily withdrew from Gaza. Thus do the Palestinians once again get indulgent sympathy rather than progress toward their own state. Has ever a people with genuine needs and legitimate ambitions been so ill-led for so long by so many as the Palestinians have been? And been misled so willingly?
Israel has been trying to cut a deal with its region ever since 1948. It has tried to barter land for peace since its neighbors ganged up on it in the 1967 war. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza and got in return only rocket attacks. The interests of the Palestinians have been held hostage all along to militants' demand that no outcome is acceptable that doesn't destroy Israel. The political theatrics at the Gaza-Egyptian border are just another in a long line of destructive distractions that the Palestinians celebrate as victories. (Cox News/News and Observer-Raleigh, NC)
Hamas does not enjoy a good press, and probably does not deserve to. "Best known in Israel and the West for its suicide bombings," says Wikipedia pretty unarguably. According to the brave and revealing documentary "Inside Hamas" on Sunday night on Channel 4, Hamas is making a hopeless government and has turned its brutality on its own people.
There are signs that families are sickening of offering up their sons for martyrdom in return for scant political progress. One protester, Ramzi Nasser, beaten up for talking to the documentary, announced that although he came from a family of 11 Hamas "martyrs," he was off to join Fatah, the movement's more moderate rival. The only surge in Hamas recruitment is occurring in prison, where a convicted drug dealer spoke enthusiastically of a government scheme by which his sentence was reduced by two months for every chapter of the Koran he memorized. Hamas looked morally and politically bankrupt to me. (Times-UK)
See also "Inside Hamas" - James Walton
Not all Gazans agree with the creeping Islamization of their territory, or the suppression of free speech. The program proved too honest to pretend the West's view of Hamas as violent extremists is all that wide of the mark. Baton-wielding police regularly broke up peaceful demonstrations. A government official at a celebration of local "martyrs" pledged to cleanse Jerusalem "from the filth of the Jews." (Telegraph-UK)
Hamas rule in Gaza is dangerous for Israel, which needs a stable two-state solution unifying Gaza and the West Bank. Hence Israel has a strategic interest in Palestinian unity under Fatah. But it has few ways to make this happen. Of all the diverse scenarios that touch on the issue of Palestinian unity, the one that is increasingly likely - in view of ongoing aggression from Gaza - is an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip with the objective of eliminating Hamas rule there. But if it fails to dislodge Hamas or end the violence emanating from Gaza, it will sow greater Palestinian disunity. The writer is a former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. (bitterlemons.org)
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer uses numerous false or falsified quotations attributed to Israeli leaders to make its argument. Thus they claim that the following statement by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, proved that Israel was always intent on expelling and dispossessing the Palestinians: "After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine" (p. 93). The quote is from a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive, and here's what Ben-Gurion actually said according to the meeting protocol:
"Mr. Ben-Gurion: The starting point for a solution of the question of the Arabs in the Jewish state is, in his view, the need to prepare the ground for an Arab-Jewish agreement; he supports the Jewish state [on a small part of Palestine], not because he is satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we constitute a large force following the establishment of the state - we will cancel the partition [of the country between Jews and Arabs] and we will expand throughout the Land of Israel."
"Mr. Shapira [a JAE member]: By force as well?"
"Mr. Ben-Gurion: Through mutual understanding and Jewish-Arab agreement. So long as we are weak and few the Arabs have neither the need nor the interest to conclude an alliance with us....We are obliged to run the state in such a way that will win us the friendship of the Arabs both within and outside the state." In other words, Ben-Gurion was stating exactly the opposite of what Walt and Mearsheimer would have their readers believe. (CAMERA)
Last week, various university campuses hosted events connected to Israeli Apartheid Week. This annual international phenomenon, which began in 2005, serves as an opportunity for those who demonize Israel to spew hatred. A major theme is that Israel is the Middle East equivalent of South Africa's infamous apartheid regime. This comparison betrays an acute ignorance - both of the meaning of the word "apartheid" and of the nature of the State of Israel. Apartheid is the state-sanctioned and -generated degradation of one or more ethnic groups, based on an assumption of racial inferiority. How anyone could seriously equate Israel with such a system defies logic.
Israel is a liberal democracy, guaranteeing civil, religious and social equality to all its citizens - including Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and Baha'is. Israel's Arab citizens have the right to vote, and are represented by three Arab political parties in Israel's parliament. Followers of the Baha'i religion, who are persecuted in Iran, maintain their central religious institutions in Haifa and Acre in Israel.
Arabic is an official language, together with Hebrew. All legislation, jurisprudence and official documentation appear in Arabic. Road signs are in Hebrew and Arabic. There is an Arab member of the Israeli cabinet and an Arab judge on the Supreme Court. One third of the staff of Israel's Hadassah Hospital are Arab. Arabs have complete and equal access to all Israeli universities and Haifa University, for example, is 20% Arab. Does any of this sound like "apartheid"? The writer is the Israeli ambassador to Canada. (National Post-Canada)
See also Apartheid Label Is Grossly Misapplied to Israel - Gary Yevelev
Apartheid Week is one of many symptoms of the unjust double standard that the international community has applied to Israel since its birth. Critics target Israel's Law of Return for Jews as an "apartheid" policy while almost identical citizenship laws in countries like Germany and Ireland go unnoticed. Almost no one criticizes Jordan for its law barring Jews from becoming citizens. The irresponsible use of "apartheid" dilutes the power of the word, hinders efforts at peace, and leads to ignorance of other glaring cases of injustice, both in the Middle East and worldwide. (Daily Californian)
For the past three months Jyllands-Posten cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and his wife have been on the run. Westergaard did the most famous of the 12 Muhammad cartoons published in Denmark in September 2005 - the one depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban. The cartoon was a satirical comment on the fact that some Muslims are committing terrorist acts in the name of Islam and the prophet. Tragically, Westergaard's fate has proven the point of his cartoon, as Danish police arrested three men who allegedly plotted to kill him.
My colleagues at Jyllands-Posten and I understand that the cartoon may be offensive to some people, but sometimes the truth can be very offensive. As George Orwell put it in the suppressed preface to Animal Farm: "If liberty means anything, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
Sadly, the plot to kill Westergaard is not an isolated story, but part of a broader trend that risks undermining free speech in Europe and around the world. Right now the Organization of Islamic Countries is conducting a successful campaign at the UN to rewrite international human-rights standards to curtail the right to free speech. Last year the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution against "defamation of religion," calling on governments around the world to clamp down on cartoonists, writers, journalists, artists and dissidents who dare to speak up. Europe should make it clear that democracies will protect their citizens if they say something that triggers threats and intimidation. The writer is culture editor of Jyllands-Posten. (Wall Street Journal)
Author Mark Steyn has been summoned to appear before two Canadian Human Rights Commissions on vague allegations of "subject[ing] Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt" and being "flagrantly Islamophobic" after Maclean's magazine published an excerpt from his book, America Alone. Steyn's predicament is just the latest salvo in a campaign of legal actions designed to punish and silence the voices of anyone who speaks out against Islamism, Islamic terrorism, or its sources of financing. Islamists with financial means have launched a legal jihad, manipulating democratic court systems to suppress freedom of expression and abolish public discourse critical of Islam. The practice, called "lawfare," is often predatory, filed without a serious expectation of winning and undertaken as a means to intimidate and bankrupt defendants. At the time of her death in 2006, noted Italian author Orianna Fallaci was being sued in France, Italy, Switzerland, and other jurisdictions, by groups dedicated to preventing the dissemination of her work.
Shortly after the publication of Funding Evil in the U.S., Khalid bin Mahfouz, a wealthy Egyptian who resides in Saudi Arabia, sued its author, anti-terrorism analyst and director of the American Center for Democracy, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, for alleging financial ties between wealthy Saudis, including Mahfouz, and terrorist entities such as al-Qaeda. The allegations against Ehrenfeld were heard by the UK court despite the fact that neither Mahfouz nor Ehrenfeld resides in England, because 23 copies of Funding Evil were sold online to UK buyers via Amazon.com. Unwilling to travel to England or acknowledge the authority of English libel laws over herself and her work, Ehrenfeld lost on default and was ordered to pay heavy fines, apologize, and destroy her books. (American Spectator)
The international law said by Israel's critics to prohibit Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank is Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The article provides that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies." "Occupation," as used in the treaty, seems to mean seizing territory belonging to another country. The West Bank, however, was not part of Jordan's territory when Israel took it in 1967. At the time, the area was not recognized as the territory of any nation.
What is clear is that the Convention specifically bars action only by the "occupying power" - in other words, the government and public authorities of the country. It does not apply to the movements and real estate decisions of private individuals. Various other parts of the Convention distinguish between "nationals of the occupying Power" and "the occupying power" itself; the prohibitions of Article 49 fall exclusively on the latter. Certainly the Geneva Convention is not a zoning law, or a Jim Crow ordinance preventing people of a certain nationality from living where they choose.
The Palestinian Authority insists that the price of any deal be not only the withdrawal of Israeli sovereign force, but also the expulsion of all Jews from the area. The Geneva Convention was designed to protect against governmental efforts to forcibly change the ethnic make-up of an area, efforts of the kind that occurred in World War II. It would be a bitter irony if it were misread as requiring that any territory be kept free of Jews, or any ethnic group. The writer is a professor at Northwestern University Law School, where he teaches international and constitutional law. (New York Sun)
Hours after Hizbullah terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh was killed in Damascus, the responses of Israeli officials and other voices from the Western world were quickly translated into Arabic and offered, for the first time, by an Israeli-run website speaking to the Arab world. "To communicate and reach the Arab world, it is important to communicate in their own language. We translate materials from progressive and democratic voices in the West into Arabic and make them available to Arab people in the Middle East who otherwise cannot access the material," said Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and head of the new site - infoelarab.org.
Mazel, whose project falls under the auspices of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank, has a history of involvement with similar projects. He has already created a section on the center's Hebrew website which translates Arabic texts into Hebrew, to allow Israelis better insight into emerging thinking from the Arab-speaking world. "We are already getting feedback and hope to grow and establish a broader audience," said Mazel of the new site launched three months ago. He recounts an e-mail received this week from a reader in Yemen who wanted to find ways to work "in cooperation with the site to stop" extremist Muslim voices that are dominating the region. Other readers, however, blast the site as a "Zionist enterprise." "Of course, I know we cannot reach everyone - and we won't appeal to everyone. At least now this information is out there and available in Arabic," said Mazel. (Jerusalem Post)
The Elimination of Imad Mughniyeh - Editorial (Ha'aretz)
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