Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
American Technology Reducing Gaza Smuggling? - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
Iran Urges Officials to Keep Out of Syria - Smadar Peri
French Panel to Probe Shooting of Palestinian Boy Mohammed al-Dura in 2000 - Adi Schwartz (Ha'aretz)
Number of Net Users in Middle East Zooms 600 Percent (Bahrain Tribune)
Saudi Religious Police Get Tough on Fashion - Abeer Allam (Financial Times-UK)
The Canadian Campus Scene - Alain Goldschlager
(Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
Arafat Sniper Now Works for Jesus - Joseph Farah (WorldNetDaily)
Singaporean Celebrity Becomes Jewish - Boaz Arad (Ynet News)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Expressing confidence his country is facing a diminished military threat, Iran's top diplomat said Thursday that Tehran remains committed to its nuclear development program despite international pressure to abandon its uranium enrichment. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki contended that the danger of an Israeli airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities is waning as the U.S. finds itself mired in an economic crisis and Israel is roiled by its own domestic political troubles. (Chicago Tribune)
See also Iran Ties Uranium Enrichment Halt to Fuel Import Guarantee - Ingrid Melander
Iran would consider stopping sensitive uranium enrichment if guaranteed a supply of nuclear fuel from abroad, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, suggested Thursday. (Reuters)
Iranian President Ahmadinejad said on the Iranian News Channel in September: "The Zionists are crooks. A small handful of Zionists, with a very intricate organization, have taken over the power centers of the world. According to our estimates, the main cadre of the Zionists consists of 2,000 individuals at most, and they have another 8,000 activists. In addition, they have several informants, who spy and provide them with intelligence information."
"Their Jewishness is a great lie. They have no religion whatsoever. They are a handful of lying, power-greedy people who have no religion, who only want to take over all the peoples and countries." "If they themselves do not wrap up Zionism, the strong arm of the peoples will wipe these germs of corruption off the face of the Earth." (MEMRI)
The Internet revolution is striking at the Muslim Brotherhood's identity in Egypt. In his blog, "Waves in the Sea of Change," Mustafa Naggar, 28, a Cairo dentist, blames the Muslim Brotherhood for a religious rigidity that has weakened the Islamic party as a political force and distanced itself from day-to-day concerns of most Egyptians.
He and other young Brotherhood members began blogging to attack the government of secular President Hosni Mubarak, but now they have turned their cyber-debate toward their organization's stands on women's rights, religious freedom and tolerance. "Our biggest concern is changing the group's religious education system. It's obsolete and unable to create minds to contribute to an Islamic renaissance," Naggar said. "Our new generation needs an open society toward moderate Islam and away from extremist Wahhabi values."
The bloggers "have gone beyond their role as a media tool" for the Brotherhood and have emerged as "rebels, freed from ideological and organizational constraints," Khalil Anani, an expert on the group, wrote for the magazine Arab Insight. The bloggers say they are trying to make the Brotherhood more palatable to the West, borrowing from the efforts of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, which allows for division between religion and the state. (Los Angeles Times)
An appeals court on Thursday increased the prison sentences of four Islamic radicals - Dutch nationals of Moroccan descent - accused of plotting attacks on Dutch politicians, convicting them of the additional charge of membership in a terrorist organization. (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
An international summit is to be held in Egypt in November, with representatives from Israel, the PA, and the members of the Quartet. In recent months U.S. Secretary of State Rice has been urging both sides to draft a document detailing the points of agreement in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. She suggested they compile an "inventory" detailing progress on each of the core issues. Israel opposed Rice's suggestion and argued that it would set the talks back. "It would make each side harden its stance to appear as though it has made no concessions," an Israeli source said. Instead, the parties agreed to give a detailed briefing to the Quartet. Quartet members have also decided to hold a peace summit in Moscow next spring. (Ha'aretz)
Head of IDF Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni says that instead of counting checkpoints in the West Bank, the Palestinians should be improving the economy. "We've taken down hundreds of barriers and today movement in the territories is almost free." "Hamas' military wing has suffered a serious blow, but it is still a threat. It has the capability to recover quickly, which necessitates unrelenting pressure, both from us and from the PA. There is enough knowledge out there, mostly accumulated by former prisoners. These are people who know how to carry out professional terror attacks, even within Israel. They learn new methods in prison and sometimes are released only to head straight to explosive materials waiting for them in a hiding place throughout their entire incarceration."
A few months ago, Shamni told President Shimon Peres that without the IDF's presence in the West Bank, Hamas could gain control on the ground and defeat Fatah within two or three days. Since then, the PA has become stronger, "but I still maintain that if we leave the territories, it's a very big risk. It will take time for the PA to establish itself properly....They have just started building an alternative to what Hamas has been doing for years." (Ha'aretz)
Having fallen two meters over the past year, today the level of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) stands at 214.06 meters below sea level, more than a meter from the lowest red line, according to data from the Water Authority published Thursday. Since Spring 2004, the level of the lake has dropped more than five meters. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report does at least tell us the Iranians are closer than ever to becoming a nuclear power. In unusually scathing terms for an outfit disinclined to criticize Iran, the IAEA lays bare Tehran's lack of cooperation and implies it was hiding illegal military work related to its nuclear program. After six years of monitoring, says IAEA boss Mohamed ElBaradei, "the agency has not been able to make substantive progress" to resolve concerns about Iran's military ambitions.
According to the IAEA report, Iran had built up a stockpile of 1,058 pounds of "low-enriched" uranium hexafloride by the end of August. At this rate, as Gary Milhollin of Iran Watch pointed out in the New York Times, Iran will have the low-enriched uranium necessary to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb by mid-January. Iran has recently tested long-range missiles and tried to retrofit them to carry a nuclear warhead.
The Security Council adopted a resolution calling on Iran to abide by the previous three resolutions to suspend its enrichment program. Translation: "Stop - or we'll do nothing." Condoleezza Rice called it "a very positive step." Her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, a foreign minister in the Andrei Gromyko mold, was more honest: "This is a reiteration of the status quo." (Wall Street Journal)
Even a cursory look at the structure and personnel of the Iranian government and its history of involvement in terrorism and insurgency demonstrate that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Qods Force are in fact the opposite of rogues - they are deliberate creations of the Islamic Republic's government, are tightly controlled by the government, and exist to serve the government's policy objectives in Iran and abroad. Many of the Islamic Republic's current leadership - at least the nonclerical portion - spent their formative years at the front serving with the Revolutionary Guards. Both the IRGC and its elite Qods Force represent the core of the Iranian state and enjoy the full support of its all-powerful supreme leader. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Middle East Quarterly)
American church officials hosted the visiting Iranian president on Sep. 28 in New York City after Ahmadinejad had earlier delivered his usual rant against Israel and the U.S. at the UN. Notably absent from the interfaith evening with Ahmadinejad was the National Council of Churches (NCC), whose chief, Michael Kinnamon instead released a statement to be read at an earlier anti-Ahmadinejad rally.
"President Ahmadinejad's hateful language, denying the Holocaust and apparently calling for Israel to be 'wiped off the map,' must be persistently and forcefully denounced by all who value peace....If President Ahmadinejad has so little regard for the verifiable facts of history and the legitimacy of a state created by UN decision, it is hard to believe he means it when he insists that Iran's nuclear program is only intended for peaceful purposes."
The Rev. John Thomas, president of the United Church of Christ (UCC), said in a statement: "I fear the occasion can and will be used by President Ahmadinejad to claim legitimacy and support for himself by an association with respected United States religious leaders....I respect the sponsoring organizations' intent for dialogue, but fear that the more likely outcome is sowing confusion and disappointment among our own members and, in particular, the American Jewish community." The writer directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy. (Weekly Standard)
Now, more than two years after the Second Lebanon War, Israel faces two major challenges. The first is how to prevent being dragged into an ongoing dynamic of attrition on the northern border similar to what developed along the border with Gaza. The second is determining the IDF's response to a large-scale conflict both in the north and in Gaza. These two challenges can be overcome by adopting the principle of a disproportionate strike against the enemy's weak points as a primary war effort, and operations to disable the enemy's missile launching capabilities as a secondary war effort.
With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy's actions and the threat it poses. Punishment must be aimed at decision-makers and the power elite. In Syria, punishment should clearly be aimed at the Syrian military, the Syrian regime, and the Syrian state structure. In Lebanon, attacks should both aim at Hizbullah's military capabilities and target economic interests and the centers of civilian power. The closer the relationship between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government, the more the elements of the Lebanese state infrastructure should be targeted.
Such a response will create a lasting memory among Syrian and Lebanese decision-makers, thereby increasing Israeli deterrence and reducing the likelihood of hostilities against Israel for an extended period. The writer is a Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
Why has Syria had an uninterrupted record of attaching itself to radical causes and countries like Iran? For starters, Syria is ruled by a besieged and insecure minority, the Alawites. About 12% of Syria's population, the Alawites are looked at by extremist Sunni Muslims as heretics. In the late '70s and early '80s, the Sunni extremists came close to getting their way. During a February 1982 Muslim Brotherhood insurrection in Hama, Syria's third largest city, Hafez al-Assad felt compelled to flatten it in order to stay in power.
By joining Iran in the so-called "Islamic resistance" against Israel, Assad associated the Alawites with a cause larger than themselves. Since the Alawites cannot settle with Tel Aviv and survive the wrath of the Muslim Brotherhood, it remains reliant on its alliance with Tehran. Americans don't understand the Alawites' insecurity - and the fact that they will risk war with Israel if they believe their survival requires it. The writer was a case officer in the Directorate of Operations for the CIA from 1976 to 1997. (TIME)
There has been series of flagrant human rights violations recently in Syria, including the mass killing of prisoners in Sidnaya prison and the killing of three Kurdish citizens who were celebrating Norouz (New Year) in the city of Kamishli. On July 5, 2008, Syrian oppositionist websites and human rights organizations reported that least 25 prisoners had been killed by security forces during rioting in Sidnaya prison. (MEMRI)
When a contingent of U.S. soldiers opens a radar facility on a mountaintop in the Negev desert next month, Israel will for the first time in its 60-year history have a permanent foreign military base on its soil. And despite the early warning that the American radar would provide if Iran launches a missile attack on Israel, some senior Israeli officials are nonetheless wary about its presence. One top official said, "It's a like a pair of golden handcuffs on Israel." The radar will allow the U.S. to keep a close watch on anything moving in Israeli skies. Israeli officials expressed concern that the radar's installation may anger Moscow, since its range will enable the U.S. to monitor aircraft in the skies over southern Russia. (TIME)
In anticipation of the Durban Review Conference (scheduled for April 20-24, 2009), on Sep. 23, 2008, the U.S. Congress adopted a resolution calling on the U.S. government to "lead a high-level diplomatic effort" aimed "to defeat any effort by states to use the forum to promote anti-Semitism or hatred against members of any group or to call into question the legitimacy of any state." The resolution noted that the 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa, and particularly the NGO Forum, "misused human rights language to promote hate, anti-Semitism, incitement, and divert the focus of the conference from problems within their own countries to a focus on Israel." (NGO Monitor)
With a ceasefire holding between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and in a month when war raged in Georgia, Amnesty International continued to focus on Gaza. In fact, Amnesty issued harsher condemnations of Israel than of any party to the Georgian conflict. Despite the fact that a greater number of civilians were killed during the conflict in Georgia than over the course of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, on that occasion, Amnesty rushed to condemn Israel in almost-daily publications. It portrayed Israel as an aggressor and largely ignored the fact that civilians in northern Israel suffered a constant barrage of rockets launched by Hizbullah terrorists.
Had its aversion to war been genuine, Amnesty would have responded as forcefully or even more vocally to the Georgian conflict. Were it truly concerned with the universality of human rights, Amnesty would apply the same standards to all countries. The writers are researchers at NGO Monitor. (Ynet News)
Two far-right parties, the Austrian Freedom Party and the Movement for Austria's Future, won 29% of the vote in Sunday's general elections in Austria, double what they got in the elections of 2006. Yet to see the rise of the Austrian right as a revival of Nazism would be a mistake. Both parties share the same attitudes toward immigrants, especially Muslims. But because the leaders of the two parties, Heinz-Christian Strache and Jorg Haider, can't stand each other, there is little chance of a far-right coalition actually taking power. (Los Angeles Times)
At the St. Mauront Catholic School in Marseille, 80% of the students are Muslim. France has only four Muslim schools and 8,847 Roman Catholic schools. Muslim and Catholic educators estimate that Muslim students make up more than 10% of the two million students in Catholic schools. France is now home to around five million Muslims, Western Europe's largest such community. Imam Soheib Bencheikh, a former grand mufti in Marseille, is founder of its Higher Institute of Islamic Studies. His oldest daughter attends Catholic school. "It's ironic," he said, "but today the Catholic Church is more tolerant of - and knowledgeable about - Islam than the French state." (New York Times)
Yehudit Nessyahu, a former Mossad agent who died five years ago at age 78, took part in one of the Mossad's most famous and most important operations: finding and kidnapping Adolf Eichmann in 1960 to bring him to Israel to stand trial. Nessyahu maintained a silence about her intelligence work until her dying day and would not allow her picture to be published as long as she was alive. This is the first publication of the account she wrote 14 years ago about her work as a Mossad agent. (Ha'aretz)
Israel is being recognized as an ideal destination for adventure travelers. During a recent trip to Israel I found myself dangling from a rope on the side of a steep canyon of the Judean Desert. Yes, I had a harness on, and the rope was controlled by the skilled hands of our guide, Boaz Langford - a soldier in an Israeli Army unit that specializes in rescues. So I gently rappelled my way down the 130-foot cliff, feeling increasingly secure and ultimately exhilarated. Between the hiking, biking, rappelling, and jeeping, people are discovering that Israel has a lot to offer. (New York Times)
Dr. Andre Waismann's clinic, based in Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, is at the forefront of rapid detoxification under anesthesia for drug addicts. He has successfully treated 11,000 patients over 14 years, and refers to his technique as ANR, or accelerated neuro-regulation. He says it reverses both the physical and the psychological dependency on the drug. (Independent-UK)
Municipal authorities in the southern Iraqi city of Basra have mounted a campaign to clean up the Jewish cemetery there. The cemetery is seen as one of Basra's cultural landmarks and the authorities want to keep it clean and tidy, said Ahmad al-Yasseri who heads the clean-up campaign. There are no Jews left in the city, which used to house a sizeable Jewish community of tens of thousands before the creation of Israel in 1948. They were the finest goldsmiths and the most adventurous traders of Basra, known as the Venice of the Middle East. They lived in one of the city's smartest quarters with spacious villas adorned with palm trees and oranges. Yasseri said in the tumultuous post-Saddam period, 62 houses were built on the cemetery grounds illegally. (Azzaman-Iraq)
Jerusalem: The Dangers of Division - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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