Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Behind Mumbai's Terrorist Attacks - Fareed Zakaria
Syria and the Nuclear Cops - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
Israeli Surgeons Weld Wounds Shut with Surgical Laser - Judy Siegel (Jerusalem Post)
Introducing Israel Studies in U.S. Universities - Interview with Mitchell Bard by Manfred Gerstenfeld (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Indian commandos Friday morning stormed the Habad Jewish center that had been seized by terrorists during a coordinated series of attacks on Mumbai. While many of the targets seemed to indicate a focus on tourists and Westerners, most of the victims were Indians. The gunmen appear to have come ashore at the Sassoon Docks, not far from the Leopold Cafe, one of the first places struck Wednesday night. They moved on to the train station, then opened fire on Cama and Albless Hospital. At one point, the gunmen hijacked a police vehicle and opened fire near the Metro Cinema. (New York Times)
See also Cool and Composed, They Killed and Killed - Randeep Ramesh, Duncan Campbell and Paul Lewis (Guardian-UK)
"There are between 10 to 20 Israeli nationals being held hostage, but it could be more," said Eli Belotsercovsky, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in New Delhi. (AFP)
See also Brooklyn Rabbi and Israeli Wife Caught in Attacks - Fernanda Santos
In 2003, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, moved from Brooklyn to Mumbai, India, to manage a mix of educational center, synagogue and social hall known as a Habad house, one of about 3,500 outposts around the world run by the Lubavitch Hasidic movement. The place soon became a year-round magnet for Israeli backpackers, Jewish businessmen and tourists, as well as for the Iraqi and Indian Jews who live there. Mrs. Holtzberg served visitors coffee and homemade kosher delicacies. Rabbi Holtzberg always offered a helping hand to someone who was sick or stranded. On Wednesday, the Holtzbergs' Habad house became the target of terrorist gunmen. Firing grenades and automatic weapons, the men took the Holtzbergs and at least six other people hostage. (New York Times)
See also India: Holtzberg Toddler Reunites with Grandparents - Hagai Einav
Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg, the parents of Rivka Holtzberg, who with her husband Gavriel run the Habad center in Mumbai, arrived in India from Israel on Friday morning and were reunited with their two-year-old grandson, Moshe Tzvi, who was rescued from the house the day before by Sandra Samuel, an Indian cook at Habad house. (Ynet News)
A resolution that Canada spearheaded censuring Iran for violations of human rights passed in a UN General Assembly committee last week. The resolution accuses Iran of "torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations." It criticizes Iran for executing juveniles, killing people by stoning, and discriminating against women and girls. It also calls on Iran to end human rights violations affecting religious and ethnic minorities, among them Jews, Christians, Kurds, Arabs, Sunni Muslims and, in particular, Baha'is. The resolution was co-sponsored by 42 mostly European and North American democracies, plus Israel, Fiji and Micronesia. Seventy members of the General Assembly's Third Committee voted in favor of the motion. (Canadian Jewish News)
See also Iran Furious at Peace Plan Advert Bearing Its Flag and Israel's - Ian Black
Iran has angrily dissociated itself from Arab and Islamic attempts to publicize an offer to make peace with and recognize Israel. Officials in Tehran are furious that the Iranian flag appeared on an advertisement, published in the Guardian and other papers, promoting the Saudi-brokered initiative. The Iranian embassy in London protested that the Islamic Republic objects "to any move taken by some Arab countries to push the recognition of the occupying Zionist regime in any manner." (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket Thursday evening that damaged a house in a kibbutz in southern Israel. Tami Tuchman, 61, whose home was damaged, said she had fled with her dog to their family's bomb shelter when the Color Red rocket alert system sounded at the kibbutz. (Ynet News)
The achievements of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad over the past year and a half, in making the West Bank a much more bearable place to live, cannot be ignored. In Jenin, Nablus and Hebron, armed militants are no longer on the streets, and the general atmosphere of anarchy has faded. And while the economic situation isn't great, it's immeasurably better than in Gaza, under Hamas. Israeli defense sources confirm that PA security forces are close to crushing Hamas' military infrastructure in the West Bank. Hamas has also drastically reduced its money transfers to its charity organizations in the West Bank, fearing the PA will get its hands on the money. (Ha'aretz)
"Norway is the most anti-Semitic country in Scandinavia," Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a scholar of Western European anti-Semitism, told a discussion on Scandinavian anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred hosted on Tuesday by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gerstenfeld presented cartoons from the Norwegian mainstream press and noted, "There is something wrong with a society which is willing to accept these Nazi cartoons. With a Jewish population of only 1,300, Norway has led the pack in anti-Semitism before, during and after WWII." Zvi Mazel, a former ambassador to Sweden, spoke of a "deep-rooted" anti-Semitism in Sweden, while Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center in Israel - which co-sponsored the event - addressed Norway and Sweden's failure to prosecute Nazi war criminals. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Terror Attacks in India
Counterterrorism officials and experts said the scale, sophistication and targets involved in the Mumbai attacks were markedly different from previous terrorist plots in India and suggested the gunmen had received training from outside the country. "This is a new, horrific milestone in the global jihad," said Bruce Riedel, a former analyst for the CIA and National Security Council. "No indigenous Indian group has this level of capability." Several analysts and officials said the attacks bore the hallmarks of Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Muhammad, two networks of Muslim extremists from Pakistan that have targeted India before. The Hindu newspaper reported Friday that at least three of the suspects held by police were members of Lashkar-i-Taiba. (Washington Post)
India is reeling from the worst series of terrorist attacks in its history. The Deccan Mujahideen, which claimed responsibility, is apparently linked with the Indian Mujahideen (IM), a splinter group of the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). In the past six months, four IM attacks in major Indian cities claimed the lives of over 140 people. IM's previous attacks consisted of a series of coordinated, simultaneous blasts aimed at causing the highest number of casualties. A senior officer of the Indian Police Service, briefing parliament on the group's September 2008 attack in Delhi, stated: "This group...doesn't attack parliament or police stations. They go directly for maximum chaos and maximum financial damage." Following the Delhi blasts, the IM threatened to hit Mumbai in its next operation.
The highly coordinated and planned nature of the attacks, as well as the terrorists' modus operandi, also suggest the existence of a strong international connection between IM and international as well as regional terrorist groups. The Mumbai operation was qualitatively more sophisticated and deadly and shared several characteristics of al-Qaeda's operational strategy: the choice of targets, the deliberate decision to kill the maximum number of Western citizens, the simultaneous use of suicide missions, as well as hostage-taking. Thus, it is clear that the terrorist organization has received assistance and backing from al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations and has adopted an international jihadist agenda. The writer is a Neubauer Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Jerusalem Post)
Over the past four years, Islamist groups have struck in New Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, among other places. The death toll from terrorism - not counting those killed in Mumbai - stands at over 4,000. India's failure to protect Mumbai offers a textbook example for fellow democracies on how not to deal with militant Islam. The country's antiterrorism effort is reactive and episodic rather than proactive and sustained. Its public discourse on Islam oscillates between crude, anti-Muslim bigotry and mindless sympathy for largely unjustified Muslim grievance-mongering. Finally, India's inability to modernize its 150-million strong Muslim population has spawned a community susceptible to militant Islam's faith-based appeal. (Wall Street Journal)
While the U.S. reacts to reports that Iran had enriched enough uranium for a nuclear weapon with concern and calls for tighter sanctions, in Germany it is business as usual. On Thursday, many of the leading lights of German-Iranian trade gathered at a conference in Hamburg on "Iran Sanctions: Practical Consequence for German Firms" to discuss how further to promote German business with Iran. "Even in these difficult times" the conference announcement states, the Chamber of Commerce wants to "support" German firms "developing markets in Iran." "We would be delighted if we could thus contribute to the success of your business with Iran."
One speaker was Norbert Eisenmenger, managing director of the European-Iranian Commerce Bank. As its latest report notes, the bank closed out 2007 "with record earnings yet again." "Net profit doubled...the volume of transactions increased by 35%." The topic "Financing Iranian Business Deals" was covered by Sabine Hummerich, representing Bank Melli Iran, which is fully-owned by the Iranian regime. The 2007-2008 report of Bank Melli's German subsidiary in Hamburg notes that net income increased by 33% over the previous year. In June 2008, the EU placed sanctions on Bank Melli. (Pajamas Media)
See also Berlin Loves Iran - Editorial
As Europe's largest exporter to Iran, Germany has unique leverage over that regime. But Berlin refuses to use it, unwilling to go beyond the relatively soft UN trade restrictions. German exports to Iran are up 14% in the first seven months of this year, according to Germany's Federal Statistical Office. (Wall Street Journal)
At the end of the Vietnam War, visiting PLO representatives congratulated the commander of the North Vietnamese army, General Vo Nguyen Giap, on his victory over the American superpower and asked him when he predicted terror organizations would be victorious over Israel. Gen. Giap answered: "Never! You will never be victorious due to lack of determination." Some believe this meeting represented a turning point in the development of Islamic terrorism, which began to educate its society in the sanctity of suicide and initiated the era of suicide terrorism, believing that the more people willing to prove their readiness to die for a cause, the greater the determination and the closer the victory.
Today, a new, different terror army is being developed, one that enjoys the advantages of feeling exempt from any international law or accountability. In addition, they handicap the power of their opponent through exploitation of the claims of internationally accepted values of human rights, correct treatment of prisoners of war, and prevention of harm to civilian populations - though none of these values apply to them, but only to their opponent. The writer is the senior vice president of Netanya Academic College and the deputy chair of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue. (Jerusalem Post)
Since the security fence was built, there have been no more suicide murders and no more sniping at children walking to and from school in Jerusalem. Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim journalist who lives in Israel and writes for the Jerusalem Post, says life was unbearable and extremely dangerous before the fence was erected.
"It's very simple," explains the reporter who once worked for a PLO newspaper. "I live in Jerusalem. I have three children and I can tell you that for three years I was afraid to take my children to the shopping malls here in Jerusalem. For three years if you asked me to meet you in downtown Jerusalem, I would have refused and for three years I was afraid to stop my car at a red traffic light next to a bus because I didn't want to die in a suicide bombing. The suicide bombers killed both Jews and Arabs."
Today, Abu Toameh says he feels much safer and Jerusalem is a bustling city again, instead of the veritable ghost town it became for three years until the barrier was built. "Look, the wall is bad. I don't like walls....But let's be honest, what other choice did the Israelis have?" he asks. "If I were the Israeli authorities, I would write on the wall that this wall was made by Yasser Arafat and Hamas," said Abu Toameh. (Calgary Herald-Canada)
The Starting Point for Peace - Lior Ben Dor (Guardian-UK)
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