Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 23, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Bulldozer Driver Related to Jailed Hamas Parliament Member - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Palestinian sources in Jerusalem reported Tuesday that the man who carried out the bulldozer attack in Jerusalem on Tuesday was Ghasan Abu-Tir, 22, of Umm Tuba, who is related to jailed Hamas parliament member Muhammad Abu-Tir.

Israel Government Press Office to Sanction Al-Jazeera over Party for Kuntar - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    For the second time this year, Israel has decided to act against Al-Jazeera, after the influential TV station held a party for released Lebanese child-killer Samir Kuntar in Beirut, where he was hailed as a hero who carried out a brave military operation against the Jewish state.
    "We will suspend all handling of Al-Jazeera requests," said GPO director Daniel Seaman.
    Earlier this year, Israel decided to boycott the station after Al-Jazeera correspondents staged a candlelight protest following an Israeli decision to reduce electric supplies to Gaza in response to continued rocket attacks.

Israel Pardons 24 Fatah Terrorists - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Israel will pardon 24 wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades' members as part of a deal made in 2007, Palestinian sources said Tuesday.
    Four of the men will be fully pardoned and would be able to move freely within Palestinian territories. The rest would be able to move freely within Palestinian Zone A and will no longer be included on Israel's most wanted list.

Hamas Gunman Killed, Two Injured, by Palestinian Bomb in Gaza (Palestinian Center for Human Rights/IMRA)
    On Tuesday, Khalil Ibrahim Jundiya, 30, a member of the armed wing of Hamas, was killed and 14-year-old Hamza Ahmed Jundiya, 14, and an unidentified adult were injured when a bomb they were handling exploded in the Sajaiya neighborhood east of Gaza City.

U.S. News Anchors Follow Obama to Jerusalem - Meira Faratci (Jerusalem Post)
    Major streets in Jerusalem will be closed on Wednesday because Barack Obama is in town, along with approximately 50 visiting journalists including three anchors from the top U.S. media networks.

Israeli-Planned Irrigation Project a Boon for Senegalese Farmers - Naomi Schwarz (Christian Science Monitor)
    A new irrigation project in Senegal developed by the Israeli Embassy is expected to drastically increase local agricultural production.
    The equipment was developed by an Israeli scientist, Dov Pasternak, who specializes in agriculture in desert areas.
    Traditionally, farmers wait for the three-month rainy season to plant, but with drip irrigation, Senegal's farmers can grow crops year round.
    "Drip irrigation means bigger yields by as much as five times," says Alioune Diouf, technical adviser to the project.

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

  • Palestinian Attacks in Jerusalem Using Construction Vehicle - Again - Laurie Copans
    A Palestinian attacker turned a construction vehicle - a backhoe loader - into a fearsome weapon in downtown Jerusalem on Tuesday, ramming a bus, overturning a car and injuring numerous people before he was shot dead, in the second attack of its kind in less than a month. In both cases the attackers were from eastern Jerusalem, where Palestinian residents hold Israeli ID cards and can move freely. The attack had Israeli Jews questioning whether they could continue to let Palestinians from eastern Jerusalem freely enter the Jewish section. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Eyewitnesses Describe the Bulldozer Attack
    Witnesses described how the driver of the bulldozer had targeted pedestrians and vehicles before he was shot dead by a civilian and a Border Policeman Tuesday. "[The driver] tried to bring the blade of the bulldozer on the head of a pedestrian, but missed her by an inch," said one eyewitness. "Then he kept going in a zigzag down the slope of King David Street....One car flipped over and others were crushed."
        The driver of the bus hit by the bulldozer said he was chased as the driver wielded the vehicle's shovel. "I was driving on the main road when the [bulldozer] hit me in the rear," the driver of the bus told Channel 10 TV. "After I passed him he turned round, made a U-turn and rammed the windows twice with the shovel. The third time he aimed for my head, he came up to my window and I swerved to the right, otherwise I would have gone to meet my maker."
        Witness Moshe Shimshi said the bulldozer driver slammed into the side of the bus, then sped away and went for a car. "He just kept ramming into cars....The driver then headed for cars waiting at a red light and rammed into them with all his might." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Terrorist Motioned to Woman to Cross and Then Tried to Run Her Over - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
    The first person to encounter the bulldozer terrorist was an English-speaking woman named Sarah who was about to cross the street. The man in the bulldozer indicated with his hand that she could cross and then pressed on the gas pedal to run her over. Fortunately, she was only lightly bruised by the tire. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli President Gives Palestinian Leader Red Carpet Welcome for Peace Talks
    Israeli President Shimon Peres gave Mahmud Abbas a red carpet welcome on Tuesday when he welcomed the Palestinian leader to his official Jerusalem residence for talks on the peace process. "We hope to reach a true peace based on mutual understanding, culture and economic development; a peace that will permit both peoples to coexist peacefully in two states," said Peres. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Security Services Focus on Eastern Jerusalem Arabs - Amos Harel
    For the second time in three weeks, a Palestinian terrorist went on a rampage with a bulldozer in central Jerusalem, injuring 24 Israeli civilians. Security sources expressed concern Tuesday at the sharp rise in the number of attacks in the capital, and the role of eastern Jerusalem's Arabs in them. Since the start of the year there have been five major attacks in Jerusalem, claiming the lives of 12 Israelis. During the first half of the year, the Shin Bet security service arrested 71 Palestinians from eastern Jerusalem suspected of being involved in attacks, compared to 37 such arrests during the entire year of 2007. (Ha'aretz)
  • Shin Bet Chief Warned of Copycat Terrorists Hours Before Jerusalem Attack - Shahar Ilan
    Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of copycat terrorist attacks three hours before Tuesday's bulldozer rampage in Jerusalem, copying a bulldozer attack in the capital three weeks ago. "If we do not take care of the power vacuum, Jerusalem will turn into a serious problem," Diskin said. "Today, entering [the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of] Shuafat requires massing a greater number of forces than it does entering Jenin [in the West Bank]," Diskin said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Settler Grandpa and Druze Border Guard Save the Day
    Yaakov Asael, a resident of Susiya in southern Mount Hebron, was the one who first shot the terrorist who carried out the bulldozer attack in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Asael, 53, is an IDF reserve company commander, a father of eight, grandfather of six, and a teacher. "He is a bible teacher and an agriculturalist but has studied judo his whole life," said his daughter Ayelet Recanati. "He grasps things quickly, he has intuition regarding people and he most likely understood what was going on quickly," she added. (Ynet News)
        Border Guard officer Amal Ganem shot and killed the terrorist in the Jerusalem bulldozer attack, bringing the incident to an end. Officer Ganem, who is Druze, said, "The lesson from the previous attack was not to mount the bulldozer....I improved my position and fired at him." Druze community leader Sheikh Muafiek Tarif said: "Ganem, who acted quickly and without hesitation in order to prevent further casualties, is a model to thousands of young Druze who have acted and are acting on behalf of the State of Israel." (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizbullah's Future in Lebanon - Fouad Ajami
    It is doubtful that the Shiites will always follow Nasrallah to the barricades, and those who do so will expect material sustenance from Hizbullah. There are estimates that Hizbullah provides employment for 40,000 of its wards and schooling for 100,000 children. This is no small burden, even for a movement sustained by Iranian subsidies. Nor is it the case that the majority of the Shiites want the strictures and the rigor of Qom and Tehran dominating their world.
        Hizbullah will not be able to run away with Lebanon. Already the Sunnis have been stirred up by Hizbullah's power. Sunni jihadists have made their presence felt in the northern town of Tripoli, and in the dozen or so Palestinian refugee camps on the outskirts of the principal cities. Nor do the Christians want Hizbullah's utopia. The Christians have been weakened by emigration, but they, too, will fight for their place in the country if forced to do so. The writer teaches at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Changing the World One Schoolbook at a Time - Anne Applebaum
    According to a report by the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, a recent edition of a Saudi fourth-grade textbook, Monotheism and Jurisprudence, says that belief is true if "A man worships God alone, loves the believers, and hates the unbelievers." "Unbelievers," in this context, are Christians and Jews. In fact, in ninth grade they will be taught that Jews conspire to "gain sole control of the world," that the Christian crusades never ended, and that on Judgment Day "the rocks or the trees" will call out to Muslims to kill Jews. These passages are from new, "revised" Saudi textbooks. In Britain, a small political storm began last year when British mosques were found to be distributing Saudi books that called on Muslims to kill all apostates.
        Here is a novel idea: Make sure that children in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in Islamic schools all around the world have decent fourth-grade textbooks. It might save a lot of trouble later on. (Slate)
  • Arab Initiatives Always Seem to Fail the Palestinians - Ali Jarbawi
    Why is it that all Arab initiatives to bring about dialogue between Fatah and Hamas have failed? No Arab capital wants a repeat of the Mecca agreement. If the Palestinians cannot respect the wishes and good offices of the Saudis, with all their leverage, and uphold an agreement reached in the holiest Islamic site, would they respect it if reached elsewhere? What has changed to convince any Arab capital to put its weight behind a new mediation attempt? The writer is a professor of political science at Bir Zeit University. ( Star-Lebanon)
  • Observations:

    Realism Must Rule in Engaging Syria - Michael Bergman (Boston Globe)

    • The debate over whether or not to engage Syria is once again center stage this week as a Syrian delegation visits Washington. What should America ask from Syria in their negotiations?
    • Many policy analysts argue that the "low-hanging fruit" is an Israeli-Syrian peace treaty. They recommend requiring Syria to actively pursue a peace treaty with Israel in return for full U.S. engagement and resumption of full diplomatic relations. However, a look at the political dynamics in Israel reveals that such an agreement would not be imminent. The Israeli Parliament is considering a law that will require the government to bring any agreement pertaining to a withdrawal from the Golan Heights to a national referendum.
    • The issue of relinquishing the Golan Heights encounters three significant barriers. The first is a strong grass-roots lobby on behalf of Israel maintaining the Golan. The second is a lack of urgency in the Israeli public to resolve this dispute due to the absence of an occupied population in this area - significantly different from the approach to the West Bank. The third is that the Israeli public views a withdrawal from the Golan as a significant security risk.
    • Syrian leaders have other items of higher priority on their agenda before a peace agreement with Israel. More important for them is regaining their dominance over Lebanon and breaking out of their international isolation through full engagement with the U.S.
    • Syria must choose between its top priorities. If Assad wants to pursue domination over Lebanon and his support for Hizbullah, he should find no friend in Washington. However, if he wants to engage the U.S., he would need to end the weapons flow to Hizbullah, demarcate his borders with Lebanon, and establish full diplomatic relations with it - treating it as a fully sovereign state. The Syrians are not eager to "give up" their attempts at domination over Lebanon. But using the leverage of a U.S.-Syrian relationship is the best way to achieve this American interest.

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