Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Hamas Seizing Half of All Fuel Sent to Gaza, Creating False Gas Crisis - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Witness in Hariri Case Disappears - Harvey Morris and Ferry Biedermann (Financial Times-UK)
Report: 20 Hizbullah Men Killed During Training in Iran (Jerusalem Post)
Report: Israel to Transfer Jerusalem Airport to PA (Jerusalem Post)
Danish Intelligence Service Warns of Increased Terror Threat (AP/FOX News)
Poll: U.S. Christians Support Israel - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Leads the World in Computers per Capita - Yaron Hoffman (TheMarker/Ha'aretz)
Israel Celebrates Booming Tourism (Opodo-UK)
Cancer Patient in California Meets Marrow Donor from Israel - Courtney Perkes (Orange County [Cal.] Register)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The secret site where Iran is suspected of developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets in Europe has been uncovered by new satellite photographs. The imagery has pinpointed the facility, about 230 km. southeast of Tehran, from where the Iranians launched their Kavoshgar 1 "research rocket" on Feb. 4. Analysis of the photographs taken by the Digital Globe QuickBird satellite four days after the launch indicates to experts that it is the same site where Iran is developing a ballistic missile with a range of 4,000 miles (6,000 km.).
Avital Johanan, the editor of Jane's Proliferation, said analysis of the Iranian site indicated that Tehran may be about five years away from developing a 4,000-mile ballistic missile. (Times-UK)
The State Department said Thursday it had advised former president Jimmy Carter against meeting Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria next week, saying the idea goes against U.S. policy of isolating the militant group. Carter discussed his upcoming trip with the State Department's point person on Israeli-Palestinian issues, David Welch. "We counseled against it," said department spokesman Sean McCormack. (Reuters/Washington Post)
See also Israeli Leaders to Snub Carter over Hamas Visit - Joshua Mitnick
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu turned down requests for meetings with Jimmy Carter in Israel next week during a tour of the Middle East. "Israeli officials have expressed outrage at the possibility that he'll meet Meshaal....He's the leader of a terrorist organization," said an Israeli official. (Washington Times)
A senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday that Moscow is seeking to invite Palestinian Arabs who have been excluded from the American-led negotiations - a reference to Hamas - to a Middle East summit in Moscow "in the near future." The inclusion of Hamas, which America considers a terrorist group, is likely to raise further opposition to the Moscow summit in Washington and Jerusalem. (New York Sun)
Egypt has sent 1,200 extra security personnel to the border area with Gaza, after a senior member of Hamas threatened on Tuesday to repeat a breach of the border with Egypt. Trucks carrying goods to the border have been stopped at the Suez Canal, an official said. (BBC)
The High Court in Britain on Thursday ruled that officials investigating accusations of corruption in a multibillion-dollar arms deal involving Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems, Britain's biggest weapons maker, acted unlawfully when they dropped the inquiry under pressure from British and Saudi authorities. The ruling renewed pressure on the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to reopen the investigation into the relationship between BAE and the ruling royal family in Saudi Arabia.
The SFO announced in December 2006 that it was halting the inquiry after Prime Minister Tony Blair said the investigation would threaten thousands of British jobs and affect diplomatic and intelligence ties with Saudi Arabia. Two judges ruled that the government and the SFO had "failed to recognize the rule of law" when bowing to pressure by Saudi officials. Since the inquiry was abandoned, BAE has won a $8.7 billion order from Saudi Arabia for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Ahmed Abu-Riyal and Mustafa Salum, both 21, from Nablus, who were staying in Israel illegally, were arrested last month for planning to poison diners at Ramat Gan's Grill Express, where they were employed, according to details revealed Thursday. The pair admitted being recruited by an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade cell that received funding and instructions from Hizbullah. The flavorless, odorless poison was supposed to take effect about four hours after ingestion, during which the pair planned to kill as many Israeli diners as possible. Terror organizations have tried a number of times in the past to recruit Palestinian cooks and waiters to poison food at Israeli restaurants. Defense sources said the terror cell that sent them is still operating in Nablus. (Ha'aretz)
Israeli security forces on Thursday arrested two Hamas militants in the West Bank town of Kalkilya after uncovering a weapons cache. The forces found barrels containing 100 kg. of gun powder and 100 kg. of fertilizer to be used for preparing explosives, as well as electrical switches and wires. (Ha'aretz)
Israel will "swallow" Wednesday's terror attack at Nahal Oz. This is not the right time for harsh responses. The holidays are approaching: Passover, Independence Day, the 60th anniversary celebrations. The American president is on his way to Israel with presents for our birthday and expects in exchange that Israel will present him with something that resembles a document of understandings with the Palestinians. A large-scale military operation in Gaza may ruin Bush's visit, so we will restrain ourselves yet again. The militant bodies in Gaza realize that in the coming month Israel will have one hand tied behind its back, so their attempts to carry out "high quality" attacks will persist. (Ynet News)
The murder at the fuel depot at Nahal Oz on Wednesday shows that Israel is having a hard time establishing a sufficiently effective deterrent against the terror organizations operating from Gaza. Even if Hamas is not currently firing rockets at Israel itself, it is continuing to clash with the Israel Defense Forces along the Gaza border and is not lifting a finger to rein in the smaller Palestinian factions firing rockets and sending operatives into Israel. There has barely been a single day of quiet on the Gaza border in the last two years.
In the past, there was an attempt to maintain a buffer zone of about a kilometer west of the fence, where Palestinians were not allowed to enter, but this does not happen today. This is partly because the IDF has reduced its offensive operations in the security zone west of the fence. When its activities were more intensive, the number of incidents along the fence decreased. Without creating depth on the Palestinian side of the border, it is hard to thwart terror attacks. (Ha'aretz)
See also below Observations: Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (ICA/JCPA)
Palestinian gunmen fired at an Israeli bus south of Nablus on Thursday, causing damage. Palestinians also hurled three Molotov cocktails at an Israeli vehicle southeast of the town. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The latest round of UN Security Council sanctions, which took a year to achieve, is comically weak. It represents the end of the sanctions road. The president's efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program were irreparably undermined by November's National Intelligence Estimate, whose "moderate confidence" that Iran has not restarted nuclear weaponization has promoted the illusion that Iran has given up the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Uranium enrichment, the most difficult step, proceeds apace, as does the development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. The president is going to hand over to his successor an Iran on the verge of going nuclear. This will deeply destabilize the Middle East and threaten the moderate Arabs with Iranian hegemony.
As there will be no disarming of Iran by preemption or by sanctions, we shall have to rely on deterrence to prevent the mullahs, some of whom are apocalyptic and messianic, from using nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, when we were dealing with rational actors, we were successful in preventing an attack not only on the U.S. but also on America's allies. We did it by extending the American nuclear umbrella - i.e., declaring that any attack on our allies would be considered an attack on the U.S. We should do the same to keep nuclear peace in the Middle East.
An implacable neighboring power has openly declared genocidal intentions against Israel - in clear violation of the UN Charter - and is defying the international community by pursuing the means to carry out that intent. For those who believe that America stands for something in the world, there can be no more pressing cause than preventing the nuclear annihilation of an allied democracy, the last refuge and hope of an ancient people openly threatened with the final Final Solution. (Washington Post)
Iran's state-run media have confirmed that last month's fighting in Basra, Iraq, was no spontaneous "uprising." Rather, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to seize control of Iraq's second-largest city using local Shiite militias. Tehran spent vast sums persuading local Iraqi security personnel to switch sides or to remain neutral. The Revolutionary Guard's Quds (Jerusalem) unit, which is in charge of "exporting the Islamic Revolution," used units known as Special Groups, consisting of individuals recruited from among the estimated 1.8 million Iraqi refugees who spent more than two decades in Iran during Saddam Hussein's reign and returned to Iraq shortly after his fall.
After more than a week of fighting, the Iran-backed side lost more than 600 men, with more than 1,000 injured. The Iraqi government's new Iraqi Security Force lost 88 dead and 122 wounded. (New York Post)
Iran's Ahwazi Arabs are the most deprived and persecuted ethnic group in the Middle East. This week, Iran cut off the supply of drinking water to Arab villages along the left bank of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. This follows forced relocation, land confiscation, cultural repression, state terrorism, mass executions and economic disadvantage, even though their land is one of the most oil-rich regions in the world. (Jerusalem Post)
There is growing media discussion of how long Israel can last in a hostile environment. Many young Jews today grew up knowing of Israel mostly from the headlines. When these young people see Israel on the defensive on so many fronts, do they want to stand up and be counted among the targeted? For those of us in the diaspora who want to ensure Israel's survival, the first point we should make is that the fate of the Jews of the world is linked to those of our brothers and sisters in Israel. They are on the frontlines, true, but those who would destroy them would come after us next because the issue here is not just land but religion, identity and ideology.
For militant Muslims, jihad is to be waged against the Jews, not just the Zionists, and against Western culture, especially the U.S. We American Jews must come to realize that our support for Israel stems not just from compassion and connection, but self-preservation. (New York Jewish Week)
It's 4 a.m. at Tel Aviv Airport and this is the third time I've been questioned so far. My passport has stamps from various Arab countries: Dubai, Yemen and archenemy Syria. Finally I get my passport back and am allowed to enter. I save my complaint for the government press office in Jerusalem, where I go to pick up my press card the next day. "Security measures," is the explanation I get from the press officer, a tired looking woman by the name of Pnina Aizenman. "What do you think it's like for us, waking up each morning and never knowing what the day will bring?" she says, clearly referring to Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli civilians.
While Pnina's busy getting my press card ready, I take a look at the photos of children and a newspaper article on the wall behind me. The article is about a woman who lost her mother and her five-year-old child in a Palestinian suicide bombing. The name of the woman is Pnina Aizenman. I get the shivers. "That's you," I stammer. "Yes. Do you understand now what I mean by security measures?" she replies. I suddenly feel ashamed that I've just been complaining about being kept waiting for five hours when this woman's life has been totally wrecked by a bomb. (Radio Netherlands)
Giant solar energy balloons floating high in the air may be a cheap way to provide electricity to areas lacking the land and infrastructure needed for traditional power systems, researchers in Israel say. Designed by a team from the Technion Institute of Technology, helium-filled balloons, covered with thin solar panels, hover as high as a few hundred meters in the air, and are connected via a wire cable to an inverter, which converts the electricity into a form households can use. Initial research showed a balloon with a three meter diameter could provide about one kilowatt of energy, the same as 25 square meters of traditional solar panels. While 25 square meters of traditional solar panels may cost $10,000, the target cost of the balloon is less than $4,000, with most of the savings coming from the minimal structural support needed. (Reuters)
The Israel Gene Bank for Agricultural Crops (IGB) in Beit Dagan has been safeguarding Israel's flora for future generations and for research purposes against the encroaching dangers of modernization, industrialization, and climate change. Preserved for their genetic usefulness as foodstuffs or medicine, the flora are stored in a room that looks and feels like a very cold library. They represent many of the 2,700 species of plants that call Israel home. (Jerusalem Post)
Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) (pdf)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert