Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel Disputes Gaza Death Toll - Tovah Lazaroff and Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Navy Searches Suspected Arms-Smuggling Ship - Pauline Jelinek (AP)
Freed by U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief - Robert F. Worth
(New York Times)
Al-Qaeda Urges Muslims to Attack Western Capitals (AP/International Herald Tribune)
IDF Officers Say Troops Behaved Morally in Gaza - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Arab States Fear Muslim Militancy More Than They Dislike Israel - Tim Butcher (Telegraph-UK)
They're All with Gaza...Who Is with Hamas? - Huda al-Husseini (Asharq Alawsat-UK)
Mega-Housing Projects for Gaza - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Post)
Anti-Zionism and the Abuse of Academic Freedom: A Case Study at the University of California, Santa Cruz - Tammi Rossman-Benjamin (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
Israeli Tourism Rose 32 Percent in 2008 (Reuters)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Obama Thursday appointed two special emissaries - Richard C. Holbrooke for Afghanistan-Pakistan and George J. Mitchell for the Middle East. Obama said he was "deeply concerned by the loss of Israeli and Palestinian life...and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs" in Gaza. He called on Hamas to renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist, and said Israel should open the territory's borders. He cited "constructive elements" in an Arab peace initiative but said "now is the time for Arab states to act on the initiative's promise" by supporting the Palestinian Authority government, normalizing relations with Israel, and "standing up to extremism that threatens us all." (Washington Post)
See also below Observations: Obama on the Middle East (Washington Post)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal told Al-Quds TV on Wednesday: "Our people and our nation have emerged victorious....Ultimately, after three weeks, [Israel] was forced to declare a unilateral cease-fire and withdrawal, without any agreement or terms that bind or limit the resistance." "The Gaza war is a turning point in the struggle with the Zionist enemy. With its significance, its accomplishments, its timing, and its greatness, it serves as a cornerstone for an effective and serious strategy for liberation, which begins in Palestine, and will continue everywhere, with the support of the nation."
"We want a Palestinian reconciliation. But after the lesson of Gaza, what will be the basis for the reconciliation? We want it to be based on the resistance, and on adherence to our national rights, and not on these futile negotiations, or on concessions." (MEMRI)
Israel has all but ruled out fully reopening border crossings with Gaza as long as Hamas rules the enclave or stands to benefit from the easing of restrictions, a top adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. The adviser said Israel would allow the "maximum" flow of food, medicine, oil and gas to Gaza, but steel and cement needed for rebuilding would have to wait. "If opening the passages will strengthen Hamas, we won't do it," he said. This week, Israel told the UN and other aid groups planning for the rebuilding that they must apply for project-by-project Israeli approval and provide guarantees none of the work will benefit Hamas.
The adviser said he doubted Hamas would agree to let Abbas' security forces, backed by international observers, return to the border crossings, as Israel and Egypt have proposed. He said Abbas' forces were not ready for Gaza. "It's a limited force. And in order to take it to Gaza, I think they need first more training, more forces, and this is something that takes time." Even if Hamas agreed to let Abbas' PA run the crossings, Israel believes Hamas would maintain control behind the scenes and take over "within days," he said. (Reuters)
Yasser Abd Rabbo, an ally of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, said in Ramallah on Thursday that Hamas had "turned its rifles in the direction of Fatah members" after Israel stopped its military offensive on Sunday. Rabbo accused Hamas of placing Fatah supporters under house arrest and shooting some of them in the legs. (New York Times)
See also With War Over, Internal Palestinian Fighting Continues - Dana Weiler-Polak
Israel's operation in Gaza may have ended, but the internal Palestinian fighting is still going strong. According to a Fatah source, Hamas operatives have thus far killed 10 Fatah members and wounded hundreds, fearing that Fatah might try to undermine Hamas' rule. (Ha'aretz)
See also Hamas Says Fatah Taking Revenge in West Bank - Matthew Kalman
Hundreds of Hamas supporters have been beaten, arrested and tortured across the West Bank as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas takes revenge on Hamas for its crackdown on his Fatah supporters in Gaza, Hamas activists say. Hamas has admitted arresting, executing and torturing Fatah "spies" it has accused of aiding Israel during the war in Gaza. Hamas leaders also have branded Abbas as an Israeli collaborator. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Five U.S. Jewish groups have expressed their concern over a rise in anti-Semitic events in Turkey in reaction to Israeli military operations in Gaza, penning a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urging him to take action, Turkish media reported Friday. "Our Jewish friends in Turkey feel besieged and threatened. A connection is clearly perceived between the inflammatory denunciation of Israel by Turkish officials and the rise of anti-Semitism," said the letter signed by leaders of the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith International, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. (DPA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel has taken a favorable view of an Egyptian request to increase the force of its border guards along the Philadelphi Route by at least 750 - and possibly as much as 1,500 - according to a senior Israeli political source. Currently there are 750 Egyptian troops along the border. It is unclear whether the broadening of the Egyptian border force will become part of the Israeli-Egyptian peace accords, or whether it will be a tacit agreement. (Ha'aretz)
See also Egypt Halting Arms Flow? Forget It! - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland
Its most important success is that the [IDF] operation will produce quiet for a long time in the south. Israel's deterrence has been reasserted. The IDF was successful, the public has been reassured, the home front functioned well.
The issue of arms smuggling into Gaza is much more problematic. The only truly effective way to prevent the smuggling would be for the Egyptians to build a buffer zone five kilometers from the border, fence it off, and control the only road through the sand. But they won't do that.
Israel should be prepared to ease certain border restrictions if the Red Cross is allowed to visit [captured IDF soldier Gilad] Shalit - and should not ease that access if the Red Cross is not allowed to visit. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland is a former national security adviser and former head of the IDF's Planning and Operation branches. (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas has seized control of all the smuggling tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor in southern Gaza and has been moving in additional arms since the Gaza operation ended Sunday. The tunnels in Rafah are usually run by local Palestinian clans. Hamas' decision to take control enables it to decide what is smuggled in and to give priority to weapons and explosives.
On Thursday, Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, was in Cairo for talks about kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and the new anti-smuggling mechanism set up with the Egyptians. The system consists of three layers - intelligence cooperation, obstacles in Sinai, and deployment of new tunnel-detection technology along the border. (Jerusalem Post)
The Israel Defense Forces' Gaza Division Commander on Thursday branded Hamas' use of women and children during Israel's recent offensive as "monstrous" and "inhumane." Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg said civilians were sent by Hamas to transfer weapons to gunmen during the offensive. He also accused Hamas of booby-trapping many of the civilians' homes. "Entire families in Gaza lived on top of a barrel of explosives for months," Eisenberg said.
Palestinian civilians have accused Hamas of forcing them to stay in homes from which gunmen shot at Israeli soldiers, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Thursday. (Ha'aretz)
"Sometimes it's incomprehensible just how monstrously and inhumanely Hamas operatives behave, whether it's to send a woman out with a Koran in one hand and a grenade in the other, or to give a child weapons to transfer from place to place," Eisenberg said. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
New U.S. Mideast Envoy
George Mitchell is the U.S. special envoy to Israel for peace talks. Mitchell has been very clear that there is no purpose in negotiations with parties which don't want peace. The delirium of Palestinian politics is a stark fact. Many Palestinians and most in the Palestinian leadership believe they can whittle Israel down to size without they themselves having to whittle down their ambitions. This delirium also translates into the assumption that losing a military confrontation or, in fact, a war has no consequences.
One of the questions that Mitchell must address first is whether Hamas is really fooling when it says it seeks the elimination of the Jewish state and, secondly, whether Fatah is really willing to live with a Jewish state. I'm afraid that a truthful evaluation is likely to disappoint him. (New Republic)
President Obama named former senator George J. Mitchell Thursday as a special envoy to the Middle East. The 75-year-old Arab American's return to duty was a reminder that much of what the new administration is facing in the region isn't new - and neither is the initial strategy Obama has adopted. Mitchell headed a panel that was launched in the last days of the Clinton administration, and in May 2001 delivered recommendations to the Bush administration that called for a cease-fire, followed by a series of confidence-building measures. The problem, of course, is that the Mitchell plan of 2001 was a flop. Formally endorsed by all sides, endlessly discussed for more than a year, it was eventually folded into Bush's "road map" scheme of 2002 - which, in turn, also went nowhere. So why try the Mitchell approach again? (Washington Post)
The peace agreements reached in Northern Ireland are proof that "there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended," George Mitchell told the Jerusalem Post last month. Mitchell was Washington's special envoy to the Northern Ireland peace negotiations that led to the Belfast Agreement in 1998. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Hamas Is Not the IRA: The Myths, Misconceptions and Misapplication of the Northern Ireland Peace Process - John Bew and Martyn Frampton (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
The Gaza War
Every time Israel seeks to defend its civilians against terrorist attacks, it is accused of war crimes by various UN agencies, academics and some in the media. It is a totally phony charge concocted as part of Hamas' strategy to delegitimate and demonize the Jewish state. Israel is the only democracy in the world ever accused of war crimes when it fights a defensive war to protect its civilians. This is remarkable, especially in light of the fact that Israel has killed far fewer civilians than any other country in the world that has faced comparable threats. Those who cry "war crime" against Israel don't generally care about war crimes, as such; they often support them when engaged in by countries they like.
Any discussion of war crimes must be comparative and contextual. If Russia did not commit war crimes when its soldiers massacred tens of thousands of Chechnyans (not even in a defensive war), then on what basis could Israel be accused of accidentally killing a far fewer number of human shields in an effort to protect its civilians? If Israel alone were ever to be charged with "war crimes," that would mark the end of international human rights law as a neutral arbitrator of conduct. If the laws of war and international human rights are to endure, they must be applied to nations in order of the seriousness of the violations, not in order of the political unpopularity of the nations. (Huffington Post)
What took place in Gaza and Israel over the past three weeks was not a war - it was one battle in a war. Or, to be more precise, it was one battle in a "global insurgency" aimed at overthrowing what we used to call - in a more confident era - the Free World. "Yes, Allah is greater than America," Hamas supreme leader Khaled Mashaal said on al-Jazeera television a few years ago. "Allah is greater than the superpowers. We say to the West: By Allah you will be defeated." Too many people refuse to understand: Hamas is not fighting for a Palestinian state. Hamas is fighting for the annihilation of Israel which it would replace with an Islamic emirate. Not the same thing at all.
There are those who will argue that Hamas wins merely by having survived. But Israel would have lost had it not fought - had it continued to passively accept an endless rain of Hamas missiles on its citizens. Over the days ahead, Hamas may resume its attacks on Israel, or dig new tunnels to smuggle in new missiles to prepare for future attacks. If so, Israel may feel the need to respond strongly - to re-establish deterrence and demonstrate that it can withstand pressure from those in the "international community" all too eager to try to appease radical Islam. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Review)
From his safe haven in Damascus, the capital of terror organizations in our region, Mousa Abu Marzook announced in the Guardian that in the recent clash in Gaza, Israel had suffered "a decisive loss." By "decisive loss," he probably refers to the new reality by which Hamas will no longer be allowed to shell Israeli cities indiscriminately and get away with it. We have seen such things before. Following the Six-Day War - the greatest defeat the Arabs suffered for their aggression against Israel - Egyptian President Nasser had the chutzpah to declare victory.
It is easy to dismiss Abu Marzook's ranting as sheer hallucination, except that if the way of Hamas is really the path Palestinians have chosen to pursue their goals, then a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not in the cards. If Hamas stops harassing Israel and smuggling arms, and accepts a two-state solution, it will find in Israel a solid partner in carving out a better future for our children. (Guardian-UK)
The fighting in Gaza likely made Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation even more distant than before, analysts say. "There's no doubt that Obama is committed to doing something...but I think that, after Gaza, a full-fledged peace process between Israelis and Palestinians just isn't likely in the near term," said Yossi Alpher, a former defense adviser to Israel. "Obama will probably have to focus more on conflict management, on trying to ensure hostilities don't break out again."
Martin van Creveld, a former professor at Hebrew University, said, "There was a time ten years ago when I had great hopes for the peace process. No longer." He calls the Gaza war a "success" because it stopped Hamas' rocket fire - and he says it's just the latest example of Israel "hitting its neighbors over the head" to demonstrate its military power. Israel's use of force was effective enough to intimidate its foes and ensure that a relative calm followed. "That's not peace, but at least it's the absence of bloodshed," van Creveld says. "And in my mind, that's a hell of a lot." (USA Today)
In Gaza, the stated goals were deliberately limited. One-third of the country withstood missile attacks for three weeks. Israel took Hamas by surprise, overcoming the array of explosives and weapons placed in, around, and under houses, hospitals, mosques, and schools. Key terrorist leaders were killed.
The diplomatic initiatives - led by French President Sarkozy, with his European counterparts - provided a theatrical diversion with little substance. This intense motion propped up Mubarak's crumbling regime, and created a facade of international cooperation in preventing Iran from rearming Hamas. In parallel, the continuing demonization of Israel and anti-Semitism that accompanied the war reinforced Israeli distrust of Europe. Dozens of groups funded by European governments falsely blamed Israel for a "humanitarian crisis," while ignoring the import and manufacture of thousands of rockets under Hamas. The writer is chairman of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and executive director of NGO Monitor. (Totally Jewish-UK)
Perspectives on the Gaza War from Britain, Ireland, and Australia
In Britain, the war in Gaza has revealed the extent to which the media, intelligentsia and political class have simply crumbled in the face of the global jihad. Years of demonizing Israel and appeasing Islamist extremism within Britain have now coalesced, as a result of the media misrepresentation of the Gaza war as an atrocity against civilians, in an unprecedented wave of hatred against Israel and a sharp rise in attacks on British Jews.
It was Britain which took the lead in framing the UN resolution calling upon Israel to withdraw all its forces from Gaza while making no mention whatever of Hamas. And it was Britain which also drew a disquieting moral equivalence between Hamas terrorism and Israeli self-defense. Nevertheless, "middle Britain" is beginning to grasp that the Islamists in Gaza are the same as those rampaging through the streets of London. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
Ireland's negative reaction to the Israeli operation in Gaza appears to be linked to a misplaced sympathy with the underdog, Israeli Education Minister Yuli Tamir, a founder member of the Peace Now movement, has suggested. She told The Irish Times Monday that she was disappointed people were more influenced by "the last picture you've seen on TV" than an in-depth understanding of the conflict. Hamas had failed to protect Palestinians, while Israel had successfully protected its citizens. "The Hamas were targeting our children all the time. We were very cautious - why didn't the Hamas make any effort to protect the children? While smuggling all those weapons and arms, they never thought about also using some materials to protect the children, to fortify places for them so they can hide."
The Israeli government regretted civilian deaths, she said. However, Israel had acted with a "lot of restraint and patience" and had endured eight years of bombing of its citizens before it felt compelled to act. "It's not necessarily the case that the weaker party is really fighting a just war. I think this is the case, that the weaker party fights a dirty war and fights it for reasons I think nobody in Ireland would support." (Irish Times)
No way has yet been found to conduct even the most justified war without causing harm to innocent civilians. During World War II, Royal Air Force bombers flattened entire German cities in response to Nazi bombing and rocket attacks against civilian targets in London and elsewhere. Most of the German dead, numbering in their tens of thousands, were civilians. Australian troops fighting in Vietnam, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan have also sometimes caused more casualties among civilians than among the enemy. Yet nobody would have the right to call Australian troops murderers. To apply different, and much harsher, standards to Israeli forces engaged in putting an end to more than 8,000 Hamas rocket attacks deliberately aimed at killing and maiming Israeli civilians, and which constitute a war crime, is therefore the height of hypocrisy. The writer is president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
See also Negotiating with Terrorists Is Impossible - Mark Leibler
Is anyone seriously arguing that if a democratically elected government makes its fundamental policy a genocidal war to the death against a neighboring state, the international community must nod and say, "OK, let's talk about it"? It is necessary to do everything possible to marginalize Hamas. This is the only way to further enhance the efforts of the more conciliatory Palestinian leaders in their negotiations with an Israel that in recent years has been more than ready for a genuine two-state outcome. The writer is national chairman of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. (The Age-Australia)
See also Images of Bloodshed Obscure Truth - Albert Dadon
The writer is the founder and chairman of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange. (The Australian)
Obama on the Middle East (Washington Post)
President Obama discussed the Middle East at the State Department on Thursday:
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