Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Bus Bomb in Lebanon Kills 15 and Wounds 40 - Robert F. Worth (New York Times)
Syrian Infiltrator Shot in Golan Heights - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
PA Forces to Get Flak Jackets - Adam Entous
Israel to Supply Military Drones to Canada (AFP)
Digitizing the Holocaust - Bob Davis (Wall Street Journal)
Seaweed Gel from Israel Could Save 20,000 Heart Attack Patients in Britain - Stephen Adams (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Iranian Parliament declared Wednesday that saying Iran is a friend of the Israeli people is an "unforgivable mistake." In a statement signed by 200 members of the 290-seat assembly, Iranian lawmakers called on President Ahmadinejad to dismiss Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, the vice president for tourism, after he repeated on Sunday his earlier comment that "we are a friend of all people in the world, even Israelis and Americans." "We do not recognize a country called Israel and so we cannot recognize a nation called Israel," the lawmakers said in their statement. (New York Times)
See also Ahmadinejad in New Anti-Israel Tirade (Reuters)
The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza last week showed off what they said was a new rocket, called the Nasser-4, which can travel 25 km. (16 miles) - double the range of the existing Nasser-3. If true, larger Israeli cities like Ashkelon and Ashdod would be under threat of attack. Israel says the rockets would represent a violation of the six-month Egyptian-brokered truce reached in June. "If the cease-fire is just a front for extremists in Gaza to rearm and regroup, of course we have the right to act," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN. "Any arms buildup is a direct violation of the calm that was achieved."
CNN was the only Western news organization to take part in the tour of the PRC rocket factory. Inside the "factory" - a tiny room with rockets lining the walls - masked men tried to light a fire from a gas canister in order to heat the explosives to liquefy them so that they could be poured into the shells. But first, the lighter didn't work. Then, a leak in a canister filled the room with suffocating gas. Explosions, euphemistically called "workplace accidents," occur in Gaza from time to time. (CNN)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman agreed on Wednesday to establish diplomatic relations between their countries at the ambassadorial level, Buthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Assad, said. The two countries announced last month in Paris that they intended to open diplomatic relations for the first time since they gained independence in 1943. Wednesday's agreement formally set those ties. In Washington, Secretary of State Rice said, "We have long stood for the normalization of relations between Syria and Lebanon on the basis of equality and respect for Lebanese sovereignty." (Reuters)
See also Warmer Lebanon-Syria Ties Puts Focus on Fate of Lebanese Prisoners in Syria - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Russia's war with Georgia and the infuriated reaction in the West could make it harder to enlist Russian help on the Iranian issue, according to Israeli diplomatic officials and academics. According to one diplomatic official, Russia is trying to reaffirm its status in the world. "They have an interest in showing that they are tough in South Ossetia, and that they are also not going to be pushed around by the West when it comes to Iran." The Russians might also conclude that they now needed Iranian support to maintain stability in the south of Russia, including in Chechnya, which borders Georgia, the official said.
There was a direct correlation between Russia's policy toward Iran and its relationship with the U.S., said Brenda Shaffer, a lecturer on Central Asia and the Caucasus region at the University of Haifa. "If they feel the U.S. is cooperative, then they are cooperative on Iran," she said. "And if not, they feel they can hurt the U.S. on Iran." (Jerusalem Post)
The Israel Defense Forces has closed an investigation into the death of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana in Gaza last April. The army found that troops acted properly when they opened fire. The shooting occurred on a day of clashes in which three Israeli soldiers and 20 Palestinians were killed. Earlier in the day, Israeli troops had come under fire from mortar shells, and a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at a tank.
Brig. Gen. Avihai Mandelblit, the army's top prosecutor, said in a letter that the tank commander sought permission to open fire after spotting a small group of people attaching an unidentified black object to a tripod and pointing it toward the tank. He also said Shana and Wafa Mizyed, a Reuters colleague wounded in the attack, were wearing body armor commonly used by Palestinian militants. "The tank crew's superiors, asked to authorize firing by the tank, reasonably concluded...that the characters identified by the tank were hostile, and posed a threat to the tank and its crew," he wrote. (Ha'aretz)
IDF soldiers on Wednesday detained a Palestinian at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus in the West Bank, after he was found to be carrying two pipe bombs. The bombs were detonated by military sappers. Over the past few years the IDF has thwarted numerous attempts to smuggle explosives and weapons through the Hawara checkpoint. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In 1988, Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who died this week, wrote a poem that became the anthem of the first intifada. The poem shocked Israelis who hoped for historic compromise with the Palestinians, as Darwish rejected Israel's moral claim to existence. Palestinian nationalism is united in the fundamental article of faith that Jewish claims to connection with the land are fictitious, fraudulent and lacking in moral or factual basis.
Darwish authored the Palestinian "Declaration of Independence" of 1988 and scripted Arafat's speech before the UN General Assembly in 1974. His funeral took place in the mukata compound in Ramallah at a site close to Arafat's grave. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
Mosab Hassan Yousef, 30, the son of one of the most influential Hamas leaders, has renounced his Muslim faith, left his family behind in Ramallah, and is seeking asylum in the U.S. In an interview, he explained: "All those walls that Islam built for the last 1,400 years are not existing anymore....Now, people have media. If the father closes the door for his daughter not to leave the house, she's going to go behind her computer and travel the world....For the next 25 years this is for sure going to make [a] huge change in the Muslim and the Arab world."
"When I was 18 years old, and I was arrested by the Israelis and was in an Israeli jail under the Israeli administration, Hamas had control of its members inside the jail and I saw their torture; (they were) torturing people in a very, very bad way....Hamas leaders that we see on TV now, and big leaders, [were] responsible for torturing their own members. They didn't torture me, but that was a shock for me, to see them torturing people: putting needles under their nails, burning their bodies. And they killed lots of them....Hundreds of people were victims for this, and I was a witness for about a year for this torture. So that was a huge change in my life. I started to open my (eyes)." (FOX News)
Sticks, Carrots and Nukes - Patrick Clawson (Guardian-UK)
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