Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 13, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Memorial Service for Jerusalem Terror Attack Victims
Thursday, March 13, 2008, 5:30 p.m.
Yeshiva University Schottenstein Cultural Center, NYC
Advance Reservations Required

    See also Mercaz Harav Victims to Be Remembered Across the Globe - Haviv Rettig (Jerusalem Post)
    Hundreds of gatherings will be held in Jewish communities worldwide on Thursday to mark the end of the week-long mourning period for the eight students slain by a terrorist in Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav yeshiva last week.

Report: Eight Algerian Suicide Bombers Heading for Gaza to Attack Israel (AKI-Italy)
    Eight would-be suicide bombers left Algeria a few days ago and are reportedly heading to Gaza to commit suicide attacks against Israeli soldiers, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reported Monday.
    Two of the men have already reached Gaza and phoned their parents, saying they wanted "to carry out a suicide attack against the Jews."

Ethnic Dispute Tears Al-Qaeda - Bill Gertz (Washington Times)
    Internal divisions between Saudi and Egyptian leaders of al-Qaeda are producing "fissures" within the terrorist group and a possible battle over who will succeed Osama bin Laden, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said Tuesday in an interview.
    Hayden also said that al-Qaeda regrouped in the past two years inside tribal areas of Pakistan and linked up with Pashtun regional extremists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.
    "Keep in mind, he [bin Laden] is a Saudi. An awful lot of that leadership is Egyptian. If the Saudi dies, who becomes the next guy may be quite a contentious matter," Hayden said.
    Terrorism specialists said al-Qaeda relies on Saudi Islamists to provide ideological and financial support, while Egyptians, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, supply practical expertise related to terrorist attacks.

Former Sen. Howard Metzenbaum Dies at 90 (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
    Former Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), who served in the Senate from 1977 to 1995, died Wednesday at 90.
    Metzenbaum was one of the Senate's wealthiest members, yet he prospered in politics as a champion of working men and women.
    He achieved near-legendary status as a foe of big business, an advocate for consumer causes, and a tough infighter blocking scores of special interest bills.
    In the early 1940s, big law firms would not employ Jewish lawyers, so Metzenbaum hired himself out to smaller outfits in exchange for office space.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Offering Israel Truce, Not Peace - Steven Gutkin
    Hamas is once again offering Israel a cease-fire, but the language that the Islamic movement has chosen reveals a deep reluctance to talk about any real peace with the Jewish state. Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza's Hamas prime minister, on Wednesday proposed a "tahdiya" - a loosely defined period of calm that falls short of a formal cease-fire and can be broken off at any time. Israel sees a broad Iranian-driven effort to besiege it from the north through Hizbullah in Lebanon and from the south through Hamas, and fears a truce will simply give Hamas time to regroup and strengthen its fighting forces. Israeli political analyst Efraim Inbar said the benefit of a tahdiya is that "they're no longer firing on us." In the long run, however, he said "it is very problematic to leave a terror group like that in place without taking care of it militarily." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Israelis Bolster New Front Line with Gaza - Ilene R. Prusher
    Seemingly overnight, the quiet seaside city of Ashkelon has become a frontline community in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since the end of February, there have been 15 "serious hits" of Palestinian rockets here, causing damage or light injuries. Realizing that a new dynamic has emerged, Ashkelon is taking serious precautions. The one thing it doesn't have yet is a surefire way to find people a safe place when a missile is careening in their direction. The city has 26,000 schoolchildren, but no schools are armored. And though there are shelters, it's impossible to get to most of them in time. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Humanists: Islamic States Seek World Freedom Curbs - Robert Evans
    Islamic states are bidding to use the UN to limit freedom of expression and belief around the world, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) told the UN's Human Rights Council on Wednesday. The IHEU said the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was also aiming to undermine the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "The Islamic states see human rights exclusively in Islamic terms, and by sheer weight of numbers this view is becoming dominant within the UN system. The implications for the universality of human rights are ominous," an IHEU statement said. The OIC has been pushing for stronger resolutions on "defamation of religions" since a controversy arose two years ago over cartoons in a Danish newspaper which Muslims say insult their religion. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Head of Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem Killed
    Four senior wanted terrorists from Islamic Jihad were killed Wednesday in Bethlehem. Muhammad Shahade Abed Ta'amari, 45, the head of Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem, was involved in several terrorist attacks in which many Israeli civilians were wounded and killed. The three other wanted terrorists, Ahmed Khalil Salem Balbul, 48, Imad Hasin Mahmud Kamil, 35, and Isa Marzuka Saleh Zuhara, 36, were a part of the Islamic Jihad leadership in Bethlehem and were also involved in extensive terrorist activity. Shahade was in direct contact with the Islamic Jihad leadership in Syria from which he received operational orders. (IDF Spokesman)
        See also Report: IDF Kills Mastermind of Jerusalem Terror Attack - Ali Waked
    Palestinian sources say Muhammad Shahade was behind the terror attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem last week in which eight Israeli students were killed. Shahade, a former Fatah member and an Islamic Jihad operative, has been known to have extensive ties with Hizbullah. (Ynet News)
        See also Abbas Calls IDF Killing of Islamic Jihad Terrorists a "Barbaric Crime" - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Fire 15 Rockets at Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired at least 15 Kassam rockets at Sderot on Wednesday. Two rockets landed in town, near a school and next to a warehouse, and caused some damage. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, saying the barrage was an "initial response" to the killing of four terrorists in Bethlehem.
        Prime Minister Olmert visited a school in Ashkelon on Tuesday, where he discovered that students had no time to reach bomb shelters. Olmert asked the children to demonstrate what happens when a Color Red alert sounds, prompting the children to vanish under their desks in seconds. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel: Hamas Accountable for Every Rocket Fired from Gaza - Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay
    Israel holds Hamas accountable for every rocket fired by militant groups in Gaza, the Prime Minister's Office said on Thursday after Islamic Jihad launched at least 15 rockets at Israel. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Olmert, said: "When another group publicly takes responsibility... such a group could not be shooting rockets without the acquiescence and collaboration of Hamas. We will not allow Hamas to sub-contract out terrorism." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israelis Don't Hold Street Parties When Innocent Palestinians Lose Their Lives - Paul Schneidereit
    On Thursday, a 25-year-old Palestinian resident of eastern Jerusalem took an assault rifle and entered a Jewish religious school in western Jerusalem, where he shot dead seven teenagers and one young man aged 26. This was an attack not on a military or political target but on a group of young men peacefully studying holy texts at a religious school.
        Much is often made of the fact that innocents die on the Palestinian side, as well, and in far greater numbers. The key difference is that Israelis target those who fire rockets into Israel. Israelis also don't hold street parties to display happiness when innocent Palestinian civilians lose their lives. While Abbas may publicly denounce the seminary attack, there are many Palestinians who seem to welcome such tactics. The international road map to peace has long called on the Palestinians to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, but - as can be seen - support for terrorism is still deeply ingrained. (Halifax Chronicle Herald-Canada)
  • The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran and Its Aftermath - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, and Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    Between 2003 and 2005, the Iranians refrained from any nuclear activity under the influence of the impression created by America's pre-emptive policies in the region, which served as the main instrument that enabled the Europeans to force Iran to postpone uranium conversion and enrichment. But when the Iranians realized in 2005 that there was no actual threat behind their fears of U.S. pre-emption, they decided to start conversion and then enrichment. As a result, the Iranians already have prepared enough uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) for more than ten atomic bombs. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Fear and Gullibility as Weapons - Barry Rubin
    Radical forces in the Middle East have rewritten the international rulebook in a way designed so they can't lose. These forces say: "We'll never give up. No matter what you do, we will continue fighting. No matter what you offer, we will keep attacking you. Since you can't win, you should give up."
        Yet in a sustained conflict, the radicals' technological and organizational weaknesses, along with their mistaken assessments and unrealistic ideology, will bring inevitable defeat. They will lose even if they never surrender. They can kill people, but not overcome societies determined to grow, prosper, and survive. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Follow the Sequence of Mideast Violence - Ofer Bavly (Tampa Tribune)

    • There is no symmetry between Israel and Palestinian extremists. There is no Israeli action followed by a Palestinian reaction. There is no egalitarian share of the blame and responsibility, and the sooner this fact is understood by the international community, the better.
    • There is no similarity between a robber who attacks his victim, and the policeman who attacks the robber in order to arrest him. Sure, both may use violence. But are they equally responsible for it?
    • In the Middle East, there is a sequence of events, not a cycle of violence. It is a continuum which can be stopped at a moment's notice, by the Palestinians, should they choose to do so or should they feel the necessary international pressure to do so.
    • Do not call it a cycle of violence. The violence will end when the Palestinian terrorists stop attacking us. If they renounce violence, there will be peace. If we renounce self-defense, Israel will cease to exist. No symmetry.

      The writer is Israel's consul general in Miami.

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