Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 15, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israelis Warned Against Vacationing in Sinai (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel issued on Monday a severe travel advisory warning of an "imminent" attack against Israelis vacationing in Sinai.
    Recent intelligence has revealed plans by terrorists to target Israelis on the beaches of Sinai during the Pesach holiday.
    Travelers who are currently in Egypt are in "imminent mortal danger" and should return to Israel, the advisory warned.

Italy's Berlusconi, a Pro-Israel U.S. Ally, Returns to Power (AP/CNN)
    Silvio Berlusconi, a staunch U.S. ally, scored a decisive victory in Italy's parliamentary elections, setting the course for his third stint as premier.
    Berlusconi is also one of Israel's closest friends in Europe. On Monday, he said he would make the first foreign visit of his new term to Israel to mark the country's 60th anniversary.
    It would be, he said, a show of support for "the only real democracy in the Middle East."

Israel to Connect to U.S. Missile Early Warning Systems (AFP/Nasdaq)
    The U.S. has agreed to connect Israel to its ballistic missile early warning system to warn of any missile attack from Iran, a senior Israeli defense official said Monday.
    Israel first benefited from the U.S. worldwide radar system during the 1991 Gulf War when Iraq fired dozens of missiles at the Jewish state.

UK Forces Israel Tourism Ministry to Remove Picture of Dead Sea Scrolls Site - Danny Sadeh (Ynet News)
    The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has asked the Israel Tourism Ministry office in the UK to remove an advertisement featuring a photo of the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
    The photo appeared under the heading: "It takes six hours to cross Israel. Imagine what you can experience in seven days."
    The ASA claimed the advertisement misleads the reader into thinking that Qumran is located within pre-1967 Israel, while it is actually located in the administered territories.
    A senior Israeli tourism official noted: "Representatives of the Palestinian Tourism Ministry feature a map of Palestine which shows all of Israel's regions, including Ben-Gurion Airport, as Palestine's major airport, but the British never complained about that."

Israel's Life Beyond the Headlines - John Temple (Denver Rocky Mountain News)
    The land of Israel that I found on a spring break visit this year was bursting with energy, in the midst of a boom. The people of Israel are an economic force on a global stage.
    I returned home with great admiration for the energy and intensity of the people, for the feeling abroad in the land that, despite their differences, they are all in it together. There's a love of life, a passion for living, that's unforgettable.
    As Israel approaches its 60th birthday in May, I am filled with the feeling that something special is still taking place in this sliver of a nation, something worth appreciating and supporting.
    The writer is editor, president and publisher of the News.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN: Palestinians Blocking Distribution of Fuel in Gaza
    Gaza's main fuel distributor, the Palestinian General Petroleum Corporation, is holding back one million liters of fuel, UN figures showed on Monday, a day after Israel claimed Hamas was stage-managing a fuel crisis in Gaza. "Israel cannot pump more fuel because there is no place to store it....This is a logjam," a UN official said. (AFP)
  • Peres: Weak and Divided Palestinians Holding Up Agreement
    Israeli President Shimon Peres told Britain's Financial Times in an interview published Tuesday that "weak" and divided Palestinian factions were to blame for holding up a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Peres said he was "in doubt" whether the two sides could reach an agreement by the end of the year. "The problem is that the Palestinians are split. They are weak and they are getting weaker." "In order to have a state, they have to make sure that a state will not become a base for attacking Israel. If we give back land we have to be sure that the land will not become the base for firing on us. The main problem is security." Peres ruled out talks with Hamas, which he said was "under the spell" of Iran. (AFP)
  • Hizbullah Militants Training in Iran for Next War with Israel - Nicholas Blanford
    In southern Lebanon, Hizbullah has devised new battle plans that include cross-border raids into Israel and has mounted a sweeping recruitment and training drive, even marshaling non-Shiites and former Israeli-allied militiamen into new reservist units. "The holy fighters are completely focused on the next war, even ignoring families and friends. They are just waiting for the next war," says Jawad, a Hizbullah fighter. Hizbullah continues to recruit and train new combatants at a furious pace. Many recruits are sent to Iran for 45-day advanced training sessions, according to Hizbullah fighters. Jawad says he recently returned from Iran, his second trip in a year, where he was taught how to fire antitank missiles. "The holy fighters are leaving universities, shops, places of work to go and train," he says.
        New tactics are being taught, including how to "seize and hold" positions. "Next time, we will be on the offensive and it will be a totally different kind of war," said one local commander. Jawad says that the next war will be "fought more in Israel than in Lebanon." Hizbullah fighters presently are deployed along a new front line above the Litani River, north of the area patrolled by UNIFIL. In the past 18 months, Hizbullah has purchased land from local Druze and Christians, constructed an entire Shiite-populated village, and turned the area into sealed-off military zones. "There are armed and uniformed Hizbullah men crawling all over the hills. We often hear gunfire and explosions from their training," says one local resident. (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Hizbullah Leader Warns of Offensive on Israel
    A high-ranking Hizbullah official told the Syrian magazine Al-Hakika that the party would launch an offensive on Israel in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 in case of a new war, the Iranian news agency Fars reported. "In case they wage any war in the future...there will be a counter attack behind the front lines...and for the first time since 1948 in Palestine itself," the official said. (Naharnet-Lebanon)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Arabs: "We Extend Our Hand in Friendship"
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told a meeting of Arab leaders at the Doha Forum in Qatar on Monday: "The continued dialogue between Israel and Qatar is a living testimony to the importance attached by both sides to this ongoing relationship, which serves the interests, not only of both sides, but of the entire region. We hope that other Arab states will follow the example of Qatar, as a means for promoting co-existence, understanding and peace in the entire region....To the Arab states of our region, some represented in this conference, we extend our hand in friendship."
        "It is quite clear now that Israel poses no threat to the stability and the peace of the region. It is equally clear now that the threat comes from the radicals, who refuse to recognize our democratic rights....We must cast aside the outdated perception that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the cause for the extremists, and understand that our ability to come to terms depends on the extremists' capability to prevent it."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Gaza Terror Leader Killed in Airstrike
    Israeli aircraft on Monday killed Ibrahim Abu Olba, a top commander in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza, and responsible for recent rocket attacks against Israel. Defense officials said Abu Olba also had been involved in several attacks on IDF troops and a number of infiltration attempts into Israel. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Lands near Ashkelon Beach
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket on Monday that landed near Ashkelon beach. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Egypt and Hamas: The Frontiers of Crisis - Mohammad Salah
    The quick and angry Egyptian reaction to statements by Hamas leaders about another breach of the Gaza-Sinai frontier reflects the degree of Egyptian anger about this "headache." It is no secret that Egyptian officials monitor Hamas' operations, whether aimed at Israel or Egypt. They believe that the fingerprints of Syria can no longer be hidden when analyzing statements issued or actions taken by Hamas leaders.
        The relationship between Egypt and Hamas had remained good until Hamas took over Gaza last June. Cairo has come to believe that Hamas is deliberately trying to "heat up" the situation to reduce pressure on Damascus at times or put pressure on Cairo at others. If the break-out from Gaza is repeated, the reaction will be different this time, since the "frontiers" of the crisis go beyond the borders of Gaza. (Dar Al-Hayat-Lebanon)
        See also Al-Ahram: Hamas Fatwa Permits Killing Egyptian Soldiers
    The Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported Monday that Hamas was planning to fire mortar shells at Egyptian forces on the border with Gaza and destroy Egyptian border posts with explosives, some of them planted in tunnels. The killing of Egyptian soldiers has been sanctioned by Muslim clerics in a special fatwa issued by Hamas on Friday, the report said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • "Extremism" Fear over Islam Studies Donations in UK - Ben Leach
    Extremist ideas are being spread by Islamic study centers linked to British universities and backed by multi-million-pound donations from Saudi Arabia and Muslim organizations, according to a new report by Anthony Glees, the director of Brunel University's Center for Intelligence and Security Studies. Eight universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, have accepted more than £233.5 million from Saudi and Muslim sources since 1995, the largest source of external funding to UK universities. Prof. Glees claims that the propagation of one-sided views of Islam and the Middle East at universities amounts to anti-Western propaganda. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also The Emir of NYU - Zvika Krieger
    Within less than three years, NYU plans to more or less clone itself in Abu Dhabi, thereby becoming the first major U.S. research institution to open a complete liberal-arts university off American soil. The city-state of Abu Dhabi, having already committed a $50 million "gift" to the university, has promised to finance the entire Middle East campus and a good deal of NYU New York as well. Many professors fear the wholesale embrace of a regime with a troubling history regarding academic freedom and human rights (not to mention the State of Israel). Similar entreaties by Arab states have recently been rejected by other American universities. (New York Magazine)
        See also Yale Moves Away from Plans for Link with Abu Dhabi - Tamar Lewin (New York Times)
  • Jimmy's World - Bret Stephens
    Former President Jimmy Carter is on a tour of the Middle East, which includes a scheduled meeting in Damascus with Khaled Mashal, the head of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Mashal is the author of the murder of several hundred Israeli civilians and not a few Americans, too. Hamas has never accepted the Oslo Accords that are the legal basis of the Palestinian Authority it seeks to govern. It does not seek an entente with Israel but its elimination. In meeting with a former U.S. president, Hamas seeks to burnish its reputation as a legitimate Mideast player, not an outlaw. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    It Was Always a Jihad - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

    • In his new book, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, historian Benny Morris insists that the religious dimension of Arab opposition to Jewish sovereignty, the rejection of Israel as an "infidel" and "alien" presence, was overwhelming from the earliest days of the struggle for statehood. Many, if not most, in the Arab world, he writes, viewed the war against Israel's establishment as a holy war.
    • He recalls the Muslim Brotherhood declaring in 1938 that "To fight for Palestine was the 'inescapable obligation on every Muslim,'" and that the mufti of Egypt in 1948 "issued a fatwa positing jihad in Palestine as the duty of all Muslims."
    • Morris contends that "The drift of the Arab world, the Islamic world, and the religious character of Palestinian nationalism means they'll never compromise and agree to a two-state solution in our lifetime."
    • "They may agree to tactical cease-fires of one kind or another for a few years," he allowed. "But even that I doubt. There'll always be groups that oppose this. There won't be peace in our time because those 30, 40 or 60% of Palestinians with political consciences won't agree."

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