Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Rocket Fire from Gaza: It Cannot Go on Like This - Editorial (Ha'aretz)
Christians Celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem - Dalia Nammari (AP)
UK NGOs Use Christmas to Attack Israel - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Germany to Supply Tanks to Lebanon (Turkish Press)
"VIP Tunnel" Smuggling Wealthy Gazans into Egypt - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Israel Blacklists 35 Global Terrorist Groups Linked to Al-Qaeda - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinian militants from Gaza increased the range and intensity of their rocket fire against Israel on Wednesday. The strikes caused extensive damage and widespread panic among local residents. The Israeli security cabinet met to consider options for a response, while Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev suggested that Israel's patience was running out. Regev said the sole responsibility for the deterioration lay with Hamas. (New York Times)
See also Dozens of Palestinian Rockets, Mortars Barrage Israel - Amy Teibel
A rocket slammed directly into a house in the small community of Tkuma seconds after a father rushed his children from the living room into a bomb shelter. The living room wall had a gaping hole and was sprayed with shrapnel. Toys lay covered in rubble and dust. A crib was pocked by shrapnel and filled with pieces of concrete. (AP/Washington Post)
See also UN Chief Calls on Hamas to Immediately End Rocket Attacks on Israel (Xinhua-China)
Iranian President Ahmadinejad is offering season's greetings to Christians in a British TV address and suggesting that if Jesus were alive he would oppose "bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers" - an apparent reference to the United States and its allies. Ahmadinejad's Christmas Day broadcast will be delivered on Britain's Channel 4 television, occupying a slot that provides a counterpoint to Queen Elizabeth II's traditional annual message, the station said Wednesday.
Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor said: "That [Channel 4] should give an unchallenged platform to the president of a regime which denies the Holocaust, advocates the destruction of the sovereign state of Israel, funds and encourages terrorism, executes children, and hangs gay people is a disgrace." (AP/Washington Post)
EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering called on Arab governments on Tuesday to allow Christian churches to be built in their countries in the same way that mosques can be built in Europe. In Saudi Arabia, at the end of a tour of Gulf countries, Poettering said Arab governments need to be more tolerant of other religions. "It is vital that we get a better understanding of the Islamic culture," he said. "But it's a two-way road. We ask for tolerance for Christians...in the Arab world. It's mutual."
Poettering noted that Saudi Arabia is host to millions of foreign workers, including more than one million Filipinos, most of whom are Christian. "There are hundreds of thousands of Catholics here. We have Christmas tomorrow and they cannot assemble in a church." (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Hamas on Wednesday mocked what it described as the "state of confusion" in Israel over how to react to the latest spree of rocket and mortar attacks. The armed wing of Hamas, Izzadin Kassam, issued a leaflet boasting that it had fired dozens of rockets and mortars at Israeli towns in the past few days, pointing out that Israel was "hopeless and desperate" because it doesn't know what to do to stop the attacks.
Meanwhile, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper quoted Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman as saying that Egypt was not opposed to a limited Israeli operation in Gaza. According to the report, Suleiman said, "The Hamas leaders have become very arrogant....It's time to teach these leaders a lesson so that they would wake up from their dreams." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Hamas Goes into Hiding in Gaza - Ali Waked
Most Hamas gunmen in Gaza went into hiding on Wednesday for fear of a harsh Israeli response to their heavy rocket and mortar barrages of Israel. All exposed Hamas structures, including police stations and government buildings, have been abandoned. (Ynet News)
All Israeli towns within a 30-km radius of Gaza were hooked up on Wednesday to an early warning system designed to deliver rocket launch alerts. Among the newly-connected towns are Ofakim and Netivot. Ashdod, just outside the 30-km mark, is expected to be connected to the system this week. Some towns are already connected to the "Color Red" system, which alerts residents living within a 7-km radius of Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The paradoxical bottom line for Hamas is that crisis, both humanitarian and military, is necessary for legitimacy and survival. Should an Israeli invasion or major air campaign seem likely, Hamas will probably accede to another ceasefire. Israel should not take the bait. Instead, a campaign of targeted killings of Hamas leaders and the destruction of Hamas assets, such as smuggling tunnels, should be instituted.
The national elections in Israel (among other reasons) make this a bad time to commence a ground campaign. If the IDF can make Hamas fear for its ability to maintain institutional cohesion and governing power while limiting civilian casualties - dead Gazans are a major international lifeline for Hamas - Israel could push Hamas into a position in which it would either have to resume the ceasefire on unfavorable, even humiliating, terms, or go down in a blaze of martyrdom. This is a dilemma Hamas hopes it won't have to face. (Commentary)
Aides to Barack Obama have said he may give a speech from a Muslim capital in his first 100 days to "make clear that we are not at war with Islam." This idea of trying to reconcile Islam and the West is well-intentioned, but the premise is wrong. Such an initiative would reinforce the all-too-accepted but false notion that "Islam" and "the West" are distinct entities with utterly different values. Those who want to promote dialogue and peace between "civilizations" or "cultures" concede at least one crucial point to those who, like bin Laden, promote a clash of civilizations: that separate civilizations do exist.
The page Obama should try to turn is not that of a supposed war between America and Islam, but the misconception of a monolithic Islam being the source of the main problems on the planet. People routinely - but wrongly - single out Islam as the explanation for a host of conflicts, rather than nationalism or separatism, political ambitions or social ills. In addition, there exist as many varieties of Muslims as there are adherents of other religions. Olivier Roy is a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Justin Vaisse is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. (International Herald Tribune)
The Obama administration would be wise to retain targeting of terrorists' financing as a key part the U.S. government's counter-terrorism tool kit. Although mounting a terrorist attack is relatively inexpensive, the cost of maintaining a terrorist infrastructure is high. Terrorist networks need cash to train, equip and pay operatives and their families and to promote their causes. Recruiting, training, traveling, bribing corrupt officials and other such activities also cost money. Limiting their ability to raise funds therefore limits their ability to function.
Efforts to disrupt terrorist groups' finances can have a real effect. In 2005, Bin Ladin's deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, wrote to Abu Musab Zarqawi, asking the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq if he could spare "approximately one hundred thousand" because "many of the lines have been cut off." Matthew Levitt is the director of the Stein Program on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Michael Jacobson is a senior fellow in the Stein Program. (Los Angeles Times)
See also How We're Tying Up Terrorists' Cash - Undersecretary of the Treasury Stuart Levey (Christian Science Monitor)
A Syrian Lesson - Giora Eiland (Ynet News)
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