Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 16, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S., Israel See Need for "Tangible Action" on Iran Nukes - Barak Ravid and Shahar Ilan (Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. and Israel agree on the need for "tangible action" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said Friday, after a visit by President Bush.
    "We are on the same page. We both see the threat...and we both understand that tangible action is required to prevent the Iranians from moving forward on a nuclear weapon," Regev said.
    Senior officials in Jerusalem said Thursday that Israel is fully satisfied with the results of Bush's visit, including policy on Iran's nuclear program.
    "In talks with the president of the United States during his visit it was made clear that Bush's statements on the subject of Iran's nuclear program are fully backed in practice," a senior official said.
    During the meetings, Israel presented more data to back the desire for a reassessment of an American intelligence report which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.

Bomb Explodes at Christian School in Gaza (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Unknown assailants detonated a bomb outside a Christian school in Gaza City before dawn Friday, the latest in a string of attacks on Christian institutions in Gaza.
    The Zahwa Rosary School, which is run by Catholic nuns, caters mainly to Muslim students.
    The school had been ransacked in June 2007, along with the nuns' adjacent convent, during a week of intense fighting that ended with Hamas' seizure of power.

U.S. Army's Next Crop of Generals Forged in Counterinsurgency - Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post)
    A U.S. Army board headed by Gen. David H. Petraeus has selected several combat-tested counterinsurgency experts for promotion, sifting through more than 1,000 colonels to identify a handful of innovative leaders who will shape the future Army.
    See also Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (ICA/Jerusalem Center)

7 Convicted in France on Terrorism Charges - Molly Moore (Washington Post)
    A French judge on Wednesday convicted seven men on terrorism charges for recruiting young French Muslims to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq.
    The seven helped send about a dozen French fighters to training camps linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq.
    The group's leader, Farid Benyettou, 27, told police, "I taught that suicide attacks are legitimate under Islam."

Exposed - Anti-Israeli Subversion on Wikipedia (HonestReporting)
    Despite Wikipedia's clear policy against political advocacy, initiatives such as "Wiki Project Palestine" and the Yahoo group "Wikipedians for Palestine" used the Wikipedia platform to promote their ideological views.
    Anti-Israel bias in Wikipedia takes three primary forms: vandalism, blatantly false allegations, and attempts to marginalize the Israeli perspective.
    See also Wiki-Warfare: Battle for the On-Line Encyclopedia - Andre Oboler (Jerusalem Post)

Saudi Professor to Get 150 Lashes for Unchaperoned Meeting with Woman (NetIndia123)
    A psychology professor in Mecca was arrested by the Saudi religious police, the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, after he was caught meeting a woman without a chaperone in a coffee shop.
    Muhammad Ali Abu Raziza was sentences to receive 150 lashes and spend eight months in prison.

Muslim-Jewish Interactions in Great Britain - Interview with Michael Whine (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    There are an estimated two million Muslims in the UK, largely from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. The UK Jewish community numbers approximately 300,000.
    Despite outward appearances, there is a broad range of Jewish-Muslim dialogue groups and other kinds of interaction.
    On the other side, there are many violent attacks by Muslims on Jews.
    Some campuses have become hostile environments for Jews openly identifying with Israel.
    Michael Whine is government and international affairs director at the Community Security Trust, the defense agency of the UK Jewish community, and defense and group relations director of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Sixty Years On, Israel Emerges as an Economic Force (CNN/Dow Jones)
    Israel was born not only into war, but also into shortage, having to ration meat, eggs and cooking oil. Lacking allies, trade partners and natural resources, the Israeli economy was swamped by poor immigrants.
    As Israel celebrates its 60th birthday, memories of this economic desolation seem exotic. The shekel is now one of the strongest currencies in the world, inflation is 2.5%, last year's 5% growth was the developed world's highest for the fifth consecutive year, while unemployment slid to a 15-year low of 6.5%.
    With the budget deficit shrinking within five years from 7% to 0.8% of GDP, the global financial community began to understand that Israel means business.
    See also High Tech Puts Israel in the Black - Neal Sandler (Business Week)
    See also Slide Show: Israel's High-Tech Hot Spots - Jennifer Fishbein (Business Week)

Useful Reference:

Facing Tomorrow: The Israeli Presidential Conference 2008 (Ha'aretz)
    Read the presentations.
    Watch the videos.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Sees Peace in Mideast in 60 Years - Joshua Mitnick
    President Bush Thursday predicted in the broadest of brush strokes the defeat of Islamic radicals giving way in the next 60 years to a Middle East where peace and democracy would prevail. The tone of unequivocal U.S. support for Israel in Mr. Bush's speech to the Israeli Knesset was noteworthy in that the president made no mention of ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. "Israel will be celebrating its 120th anniversary as one of the world's greatest democracies," Mr. Bush said of the future. "The Palestinian people will have a homeland, a democratic state that is governed by law, respects human rights and rejects terror." "From Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies," the president said.  (Washington Times)
        See also Bush Exalts Ties to Israel - Joshua Mitnick
    President Bush brought Israel's parliament to its feet Thursday with a rousing speech that described U.S. ties to the Jewish state as a biblical bond and the two nations as eternal allies in the war against terrorism. (Washington Times)
        See also Bush's Covenant - Editorial
    President Bush gave a beautiful and moving speech in the capital of Israel to give voice to America's solidarity with the Jewish state. "Israel's population," Mr. Bush said, "may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you." (New York Sun)
        See also President Bush Addresses the Knesset
    View the Video. Read the Text. (White House)
        See also Arabs Slam Bush's Warm Rhetoric Towards Israel (Ynet News)
  • Bin Laden Vows to Fight Israel - Lin Noueihed
    Osama bin Laden vowed in an audio tape timed to coincide with Israel's 60th anniversary to continue to fight the Jewish state and its allies in the West. We "will not give up a single inch of Palestine as long as there is one true Muslim on earth," the leader of al-Qaeda said in a message posted on an Islamist website on Friday. Bin Laden has placed growing emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent pronouncements. (Reuters)
  • Qatar Interfaith Dialog Includes Rabbis from Israel
    More than a dozen Jewish rabbis, including two from Israel, were in attendance this week for the opening of a scholarly center dedicated to interfaith dialogue in Doha, Qatar. Qatar has had low-level ties with Israel through a trade office for 12 years although it does not recognize Israel. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Strikes Sderot Synagogue - Mijal Grinberg
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets into the Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday. One struck the yard of a preschool adjacent to a synagogue, causing extensive damage to the building. Several passersby were treated for shock. (Ha'aretz)
  • Toddler Wounded in Mall Attack Regains Consciousness - Shmulik Hadad
    Two-year-old Tair Afgin, who was wounded when a Palestinian Grad rocket crashed into an Ashkelon shopping mall on Wednesday, has regained consciousness, doctors at Sheba Medical Center said Thursday. Her mother, Avital, was moderately wounded while Tair sustained severe injuries. Avital has undergone several operations to remove shrapnel from various places in her body, while doctors are waiting for Tair's condition to stabilize further before they attempt to remove shards of shrapnel that pierced her head. (Ynet News)
        See also Southern Residents Face Rocket War - Roni Sofer
    Israel's southern residents are on the frontlines of the struggle against Palestinian terror. In Ashkelon, just like in Sderot and other regional communities, people are picking up the pieces, comforting bereaved families, praying for the well-being of the injured, and looking to the sky with anxiety, so maybe they can spot the next rocket fired at them. (Ynet News)
  • Palestine Is Ours, Cry Children on "Catastrophe Day" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Chanting "We will return!" thousands of Palestinian schoolchildren marched in Ramallah Thursday as part of Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, the anniversary of the birth of Israel. After sirens were sounded in the city, thousands of schoolchildren converged on the Mukata compound. Many chanted slogans expressing support for the armed struggle against Israel.
        In Lebanon, only a few hundred Palestinians took part in a march toward the border with Israel. The Palestinians were hoping that some 100,000 refugees would show up. The organizers claimed that Lebanese army checkpoints prevented thousands of refugees from approaching the border.
        In Gaza, two Palestinians were wounded in clashes with IDF soldiers near the Erez checkpoint, Palestinian sources reported. They said hundreds of Hamas supporters tried to march toward the checkpoint to mark Nakba Day. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Fatah: Hamas Attacked Nakba Rally in Gaza
    Fatah sources claimed Thursday that Hamas men attacked a rally to mark the Palestinian Nakba in Jabaliya in northern Gaza. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that more than 30 participants in the rally were injured as a result of gunfire and being beaten with clubs. (Maan News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Gaza Says It All - Michael Coren
    Gaza is an icon of the failure of peace. Gaza says it all. Israel occupied it when it dared to win a war with Arab neighbors dedicated to wiping the Jewish state off the map. It wanted to hand it back to Egypt, but Cairo wanted no part of it. They still don't. Even so, Israel withdrew. They did it because they hoped it might lead to peace. However, instead of viewing this as a gesture of goodwill, Hamas saw it as weakness and stepped up its military campaign.
        Israel left an entire economic infrastructure. It was smashed apart by the Palestinians within hours. Within days the shower of rockets began to descend on Jewish civilians living close to the border, in towns that had never been Arab and had been built from nothing by Jewish labor. This, the Israelis are being told, is what happens if you return land. Gaza has been given billions of dollars in foreign aid and the money is still being pumped in. Tragically, it goes to buy guns, rockets and explosives rather than food, oil and books. As a consequence, Israel has tightened the border to protect its citizens. It is then accused by the media and its enemies abroad - often dictators and torturers - of being cruel.
        Little is said about Egypt being far stricter on its side of Gaza with its Palestinian cousins or how Hamas has prevented a million liters of fuel being distributed to its people. Double standard and unfair criticism. Nothing new. Israel knows that whatever it does, some people and groups will always hate it. Yet it still celebrates its birthday. As it should. Sixty glorious years. (Toronto Sun)
  • Ceasefire in Gaza - Shlomo Brom
    Hamas is interested in a comprehensive ceasefire, binding on the West Bank as well as Gaza, because it wants to halt Israeli pressure on its West Bank units. For Israel this is a red line, because a cessation of Israel's activity in the West Bank would allow the rebuilding of a terror infrastructure that could be directed at Israel at Hamas' convenience. The proximity of the West Bank to key areas in Israel prohibits any Israeli flexibility in this regard. The building of a Hamas infrastructure for manufacturing rockets in the West Bank would create an intolerable reality for Israel. Cessation of Israeli activity would also allow Hamas to build an organizational and military infrastructure that could eventually overcome Abbas' forces and take control of the West Bank, as it did in Gaza. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Hamastan Must Go - Editorial
    Since the Hamas government in Gaza has chosen to pursue violence across the border, relentlessly targeting Israel's civilians - including those who supply the people of Gaza with fuel and electricity - Israel's necessary course of action is clear: to begin restoring deterrence along the Gaza border. This requires a series of escalating steps beginning with the elimination of Hamas' key leaders, and continuing with relentless fire at the sources of rocket launches, while making every effort to minimize civilian casualties. Ultimately, so long as the danger persists, "putting an end to the Hamas government" may necessitate temporarily retaking some or even all of the Strip.
        All this must be accompanied by public diplomacy, stressing that Israel has no long-term interest in occupying Gaza, and that such action in defense of sovereign Israel's citizenry is legitimate under international law. As Stephen Schwebel, who served as president of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, said, "A state acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense." Only by restoring deterrence and securing defensible borders - which mandates the uprooting of Hamastan - will Israel be able to protect its citizens and work toward peace and a genuine two-state solution. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Road Map to Nowhere - Daniel Levy
    This is one of those times of maximum mismatch between the optimistic rhetoric of peace process declarations and the gloomy reality of daily experience. The Annapolis architect, President Bush, is back in the Middle East, still declaring the worthy goal of peace in '08. But the fundamentally flawed logic of the process initiated last year is increasingly transparent. The logic of Annapolis - that an agreement on paper creates the conditions for its own implementation - is flawed.
        Palestinian analyst Hussein Agha commented to me recently that "Israel cannot make peace with Abbas for one simple reason - Israel is not at war with Abbas." The PA security forces under Abbas' authority present no military threat to Israel; the Fatah-affiliated militias that do continue to target Israelis do so against the instructions of Abbas - a fact recognized by Israel. Abbas can vanquish neither these forces nor Hamas. The Israeli army operating in the West Bank provides security to Israelis and also to the PA regime, thereby sustaining it in power.
        Israel can no more end the violence by making a deal with Abbas than the U.S. can end the hostilities in Afghanistan by reaching an agreement with President Hamid Karzai. And that is why what we have now is a make-believe process. The writer is director of the Prospects for Peace Initiative at The Century Foundation and director of the Middle East Initiative at the New America Foundation. (International Herald Tribune)

    Hizbullah in Lebanon

  • When Will the Lebanese Government Fall? - Zvi Barel
    Hizbullah is conducting a well-planned battle to change the balance of power in Lebanon. After having occupied Beirut within hours and demonstrating his power in the northern city of Tripoli, Nasrallah succeeded in taking over Mount Lebanon and also handed a huge victory to the Syrians. Those who had demanded that Hizbullah lay down its arms are now being told to disarm. The question now is not whether Siniora's government will fall, but rather when and how. (Ha'aretz)
  • How to Deter Hizbullah - Giora Eiland
    Syria's removal from Lebanon was mostly the result of an American-French-Saudi short-term interest that contradicted the Israeli interest. The result was that the partial vacuum that emerged in the wake of Syria's departure was filled by Iran rather than by moderate elements; when the Syrians left Lebanon Israel lost a "return address" that it could deter effectively; and the Syrians, who up to that point made an effort to hold on to Lebanon, shifted their political focus back to the Golan Heights.
        Hizbullah has been given two precious years to regain its military and political capabilities. We must explain to the international community now that another war on the northern border will not pit Israel against Hizbullah alone, with the Lebanese state playing the role of spectator. Such a war would bring about Lebanon's destruction, and this is something even Hizbullah doesn't want to see happen. This is the almost only way to create deterrence vis-a-vis an organization that attaches great importance to its domestic Lebanese legitimacy. The writer is former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Ynet News)


  • Iran Pumps Iron in the Middle East - Editorial
    Hizbullah's in-and-out coup in Lebanon in a show of its military superiority (courtesy of Iran and Syria) has deeply shaken the Middle East's Sunni Arab governments, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which see it as Iran on the march in the region. Turning out a dismal economic performance at home, Tehran props itself up by challenging enemies abroad: Sunni Arabs, Israel, and the West. Iran has caused endless trouble for the U.S. in Iraq by arming and supporting Shiite militants there, and it is stepping up aid to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then there is Iran's other terrorist and anti-Israel proxy, Hamas, in Gaza. The last seven years have seen "a very significant increase in the amount of assistance that Iran is giving to Hamas," said Elliott Abrams, a national security adviser to President Bush. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • The Iranian Threat Is Real - Rami Loya
    Iran has been providing every enemy of Israel with financial resources and active military assistance that has created a wall of thousands of missiles aimed at every major population center in Israel. Ahmadinejad is not just talking about wiping Israel off the map. He is backing his words with very bold and dangerous acts - and thus far, he is getting away with it. Iran has made its intentions clear beyond a shadow of doubt. The free world should remove from Iran the means to execute its threat. This task will become increasingly exigent every day that Iran is allowed to implement its ambitious yet destructive scheme to control the entire Middle East and beyond. (Washington Times)

    Israel at 60

  • An Aboriginal People - Irwin Cotler
    Israel, rooted in the Jewish people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal religion, the first of the Abrahamic religions. The Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language - Hebrew - and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel, as it did 3,500 years ago. Its birth certificate originates in its inception as a First Nation, and not simply in its United Nations international birth certificate. The State of Israel, then, as a political and juridical entity, overlaps with the "aboriginal Jewish homeland"; it is, in international legal terms, a successor state to the biblical Jewish kingdoms.
        It is not the case, as it is sometimes said, that if there had been no Holocaust, there would not have been a State of Israel, as if a state could somehow even compensate for the murder of six million Jews. It is the other way around: If there had been an Israel, there would not have been a Holocaust. The writer is a member of the Canadian Parliament and the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Survival Despite the Odds - Barry Cohen
    On November 29, 1947, the UN accepted the recommendation of its Special Committee on Palestine, by 33 votes to 13, to divide the territory into two states, one Arab, one Jewish. Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, made it clear that it was far from what he wanted, but on behalf of the Jewish people he accepted. Had the Arab nations agreed, the bitterness and acrimony of the previous years would have ended and tens of thousands of lives would not have been lost during the ensuing 60 years. Instead, the Arabs set out to strangle Israel at its birth.
        The terrible tragedy of the last 60 years is that no one need have died, and that the infusion of some of the brightest from around the world has created an expanding, thriving, pulsating Israeli economy and culture that could have been shared by the Arab world, instead of them wallowing in the squalor and misery experienced by all but the oil-rich states. The writer was a federal Labor MP (1969-1990). (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • Common Enemies - David Warren
    Will Israel last another 60 years? Will Canada? Will the West? The questions are closely related. Israel's survival is tied to that of the West. Israel is our front line, an embodiment of unambiguously Western values. The enemies we have are common enemies. Most of those in the West who are demanding the abandonment of Israel do not even know what they are doing. They are like parasites upon a host organism, and do not understand that when the host organism dies, they too will die. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
  • Observations:

    The Miracle, at 60 - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post)

    • This week marks the 60th anniversary of the return and restoration of the remaining two tribes of Israel - Judah and Benjamin, later known as the Jews - to their ancient homeland. Besides restoring Jewish sovereignty, the establishment of the State of Israel embodied many subsidiary miracles, from the creation of the first Jewish army since Roman times to the only recorded instance of the resurrection of a dead language - Hebrew, now the daily tongue of a vibrant nation of 7 million.
    • As historian Barbara Tuchman once wrote, Israel is "the only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, under the same name, and with the same religion and same language as it did 3,000 years ago."
    • Palestinian suffering is, of course, real and heart-wrenching, but what the Arab narrative deliberately distorts is the cause of its own tragedy: the folly of its own fanatical leadership - from Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem (Nazi collaborator, who spent World War II in Berlin), to Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser to Yasser Arafat to Hamas of today - that repeatedly chose war rather than compromise and conciliation.
    • Palestinian dispossession is a direct result of the Arab rejection, then and now, of a Jewish state of any size on any part of the vast lands the Arabs claim as their exclusive patrimony.
    • Israeli losses during its War of Independence were staggering: 6,373 dead. One percent of the population. Yet you rarely hear about Israel's terrible suffering in that 1948-49 war.
    • Israel's crime is not its policies but its insistence on living. On the day the Arabs - and the Palestinians in particular - make a collective decision to accept the Jewish state, there will be peace, as Israel proved with its treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Until that day, every "peace process," however well meaning, will come to nothing.

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