Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 5, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Approves PA Assistance to Families of Suicide Bombers - Jonathan D. Halevi (News First Class-Hebrew)
    On the very day of a suicide bombing in Netanya, it has been reported that the chairman of the Palestinian Authority gave budgetary approval to assistance for the families of suicide bombers.
    Each martyr's family will receive a monthly stipend of at least $250 from the PA.
    The budget for families of martyrs, prisoners, and the wounded could reach $100 million a year out of an annual budget of over $1 billion.

IDF Chief: Diplomatic Pressure on Iran Unlikely to Succeed (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said Sunday that he is skeptical that diplomatic pressure will put a halt to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
    "The fact that the Iranians are successful time after time in getting away from international pressure...encourages them to continue their nuclear project."
    "I believe that the political means that are used by the Europeans and the U.S. to convince the Iranians to stop the project will not succeed," he said.

Syria Boosts Accuracy of Scud D Missile - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    Syria has introduced significant changes in its Scud D missiles that give it greater guidance capability and accuracy, according to Western missile experts.
    This evaluation was based on an examination of pieces of a Scud D missile that went off course after a test launch and landed in southern Turkey.

Israel Campus Beat
- December 4, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    Sharon's Kadima Party

Gazans Warn IDF of Missile Launchings (Maariv-Hebrew, 2Dec05)
    Last month the IDF dropped thousands of leaflets over Gaza that included a telephone number to call to report on terrorists trying to launch Kassam missiles at Israel.
    The Israeli security services believed that Gaza residents were tired of the missile launchings, which provoked IDF artillery fire and sonic booms in retaliation.
    During the past month, 2/3 of the 1,500 messages recorded at the phone number contained quality information about terrorist activities.
    Examples included: "Four men in a black Subaru are planning to launch rockets from northern Gaza" or "I know about terrorists planning an attack - call me at this number."
    There has been increasing pressure within the Palestinian public for an end to rocket attacks after rockets have fallen short or exploded before launching, killing innocent Palestinians.

Arab Enrollment Jumps at West Bank Settler College - Cynthia Johnston (Reuters)
    More than 300 Arab students, up from 235 a year ago, are among a student body of 8,500 at the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel.
    The college, a tree-lined campus on a hilltop, says it welcomes Arab students - both Israelis and Palestinians - to promote diversity.
    Arabs say they feel largely comfortable there. They are also reluctant to study at Palestinian institutions or in nearby Arab countries for fear their qualifications will not secure them jobs in Israel after graduation.
    At the college, where classes are taught in Hebrew, female Arab students in Islamic headscarves are a visible presence.

Spielberg Takes On Terror - Richard Schickel (TIME)
    Steven Spielberg's movie Munich, a film about terrorism at the Munich Olympics and Israel's response, will open in theaters on Dec. 23.
    "One of the reasons I wanted to tell this story is that every four years there's an Olympics somewhere in the world, and there has never been an adequate tribute paid to the Israeli athletes," Spielberg says.
    "The silence about them by the International Olympic Committee is getting louder for me."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Suicide Bomber Attacks Shopping Mall in Central Israel, 5 Dead, Dozens Injured
    A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the Sharon shopping center in Netanya on Monday, killing at least five people and wounding dozens. Security guards are stationed at the doors of major shopping centers in Israel. (Reuters)
        An eyewitness said he spotted a man walking "like a robot" to the mall. He said that another woman who saw him shouted to the security guards at entrance to the shopping center: "Suicide bomber, suicide bomber!" The guards stopped the man and pushed him up against the wall, and nearby police officers rushed to help. At that point, the bomber detonated the explosives he had in his bag. One of the security guards was killed and the policemen were wounded.
        "The fact that the security guard and policemen managed to identify the bomber meant that they prevented a major disaster," said Israel Police Commander Moshe Karadi. David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office, said that the attack was the result of PA refusal to dismantle the terrorist organizations. (Ha'aretz)
  • ElBaradei: Reopening Iranian Nuclear Enrichment Plant a Dangerous Escalation - Anne Penketh
    The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, warned in an interview that if Iran carries out a threat to reopen its mothballed Natanz underground enrichment plant, a dangerous escalation will ensue. Although IAEA officials have said it would take at least two years for Natanz to become fully operational, ElBaradei believes that once the facility is up and running, the Iranians could be "a few months" away from a nuclear weapon. "I know they are trying to acquire the full fuel cycle. I know that acquiring the full fuel cycle means that a country is months away from nuclear weapons," he said.
        It is generally believed that Iran holds all the cards at this point. If referred to the Security Council, the Iranians could use their oil-charged political influence to prevent any punitive action. (Independent-UK)
        See also U.S. and Britain Try a New Tack on Iran - Steven R. Weisman and David E. Sanger
    Britain and the U.S. are trying to persuade Russia and China to endorse their conclusion, derived from what officials call new evidence, that Tehran intends to build nuclear weapons, American and European diplomats said. The new effort, floated by Britain and endorsed by France and the U.S., seeks a declaration on Iran from the five major nuclear weapons powers that are the permanent members of the Security Council. "If we could get China and Russia to agree that this bears all the hallmarks of a weapons program, it could have an enormous impact on Iran," said one senior European diplomat, because it might signal that if the issue reaches the Security Council, Iran could not count on Beijing or Moscow blocking action. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Gathers Allies for Iran Sanctions - Nathan Guttman
    The U.S. administration has been working with European and Japanese allies on a "menu" of sanctions that could be imposed on Iran even if the issue is not referred to the UN Security Council. According to sources in Washington, the sanctions focus on trade issues, since almost half of Iran's trade is with Europe and Japan. American officials told their Israeli counterparts recently that the U.S. would take the Iran issue to the UN only if it is sure that the case is "veto proof." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Top Al-Qaeda Commander Killed in Pakistan - Zeeshan Haider
    An al-Qaeda commander ranked as its third most senior leader was killed in a tribal region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, President Musharraf said Saturday. Abu Hamza Rabia, an Egyptian credited with heading al-Qaeda's international operations, was among five people killed in an explosion in North Waziristan on Thursday. Rabia was involved in two attempts on Musharraf's life in December 2003. Intelligence sources said the house in which Rabia was staying was hit by missiles in an aerial attack. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Fire Rockets at Israel, Air Force Retaliates - Nir Hasson
    After Palestinians fired rockets into southern Israel on Sunday, Israel Air Force jets launched a series of air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip. On Saturday, Palestinians fired three Kassam rockets at an Israeli town north of the Gaza border. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Finance Minister to Form New Political Party - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, who recently announced his intention to resign, is planning to form a new party that will run in next January's parliamentary elections, sources in Ramallah said on Saturday. Fayyad and his supporters are hoping to attract voters who are unhappy with Fatah and Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Navy Sinks Palestinian Boat - Hanan Greenberg
    An IDF ship sank a Palestinian fishing boat Saturday after it entered prohibited waters off the southern Gaza Strip coast. After an IDF navy patrol boat ordered the Palestinian boat to return to the permitted zone, Palestinians on the boat opened fire toward the navy ship, which was also fired at from shore. When the vessel continued to move in the prohibited zone, navy gunners sank the boat. Palestinians reported one man killed in the incident. (Ynet News)
  • Five Palestinians Killed as Clans Clash in Gaza - Arnon Regular
    Five Palestinians, including a policeman, were killed and some 40 wounded on Saturday as two rival clans clashed using assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades in Beit Hanun in north Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ashkelon Is in the Sights of Gazan Kassam Rocket Crews - Editorial
    Two Kassam rockets shattered the twilight calm Sunday in the western Negev's Moshav Shuva, near Netivot. A more powerful Kassam than the rockets hitherto fired from Gaza into Israel hit an avocado grove in a moshav near Ashkelon on Friday. Five other Kassams struck the western Negev, Sderot, and Nahal Oz over the weekend.
        Gaza's terror machinery has not remained idle during Israel's disengagement process. Perhaps with the assistance of greatly increased access to Egypt, Kassams are being upgraded and tested with impunity in an effort to increase range and deadliness. The fact that the terrorists can get right up to areas in the northern Gaza Strip that were inaccessible to them prior to disengagement automatically increases range. Ashkelon is in the sights of Gazan Kassam crews, with its industrial zone that includes the Rutenberg Power Station, the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline, and a storage facility for hundreds of tons of fuel and gas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shaky Preview to the PA Elections - Danny Rubinstein
    The first thing you can learn from the Fatah primaries held last week is that there is a danger that the general elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council scheduled for Jan. 25 might not even take place. The Fatah primaries were accompanied by outbursts of violence, exchanges of gunfire, and general thuggishness, to the extent that the voting in several districts had to be canceled or postponed. Many observers said that if this sort of unrest could occur during an internal party election, there will almost certainly be much more serious violence when Fatah and Hamas run against each other.
        Riots notwithstanding, the majority voted for candidates of the young guard as opposed to the arrivals from Tunis. The membership of Fatah want to see in their parliament "alumni" of the intifada, nearly all of whom are ex-prisoners, many of whom carry weapons in the name of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mubarak Outdoes Himself - Jackson Diehl
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former general, practices politics with martial crudeness. Under pressure from Washington to hold free and fair elections for his formerly rubber-stamp parliament, Mubarak set out this fall to crush his secular and liberal opposition, while allowing the banned Muslim Brotherhood to campaign relatively freely. The goal was to eliminate all moderate opposition and present the U.S. with a choice between his continuing rule - and the eventual succession of his son Gamal - and an Islamic fundamentalist movement.
        In the Cairo district of Ayman Nour, the liberal democratic runner-up to Mubarak in September's unfree presidential election, the president's party nominated a former state security police officer against Nour; the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate cooperatively withdrew and endorsed Mubarak's man. Some 2,000 government supporters were then illegally registered in the district and, in defiance of a court order, bused in to vote against the local favorite. Nour was declared the loser, and last week the government resumed his criminal prosecution on trumped-up forgery charges.
        Yet Mubarak's plan worked too well. Egypt's democratic opposition was all but eliminated from parliament - but the Muslim Brotherhood trounced the government at the polls. Because the Islamists limited themselves to contesting fewer than one-third of the districts, Mubarak still holds a majority of the decided seats. (Washington Post)
        See also Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood - Editorial
    The Brotherhood represents an anti-American political stance which is particularly popular in Egypt right now. The Islamic state that the Egyptian Brotherhood would like to establish would be significantly more hostile to Washington than the current Egyptian government. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    A Muslim in a Jewish Land - Tashbih Sayyed (Muslim World Today)

    • When I flew to Tel Aviv on November 14, 2005, on my first visit to Israel, the entry form that I needed to fill before landing did not ask for my religion as is the law in Pakistan, and unlike Saudi Arabia, no one in Israeli immigration demanded any certificate of religion. People felt so secure that none of the stores, gas stations, market places, or residences we went to, and where it was known that we were Muslims, deemed it necessary to either search or interrogate us.
    • The map of the Muslim world is too crowded with kings, despots, dictators, sham democrats, and theocratic autocrats, and the persecution of minorities is an essential part of Islamist social behavior. But here, protected by Israel's democratic principles, the Muslim Arab citizens of Israel are afforded all the rights and privileges of Israeli citizenship. When the first elections to the Knesset were held in February 1949, Israeli Arabs were given the right to vote and to be elected along with Israeli Jews. Today, Israel's Arab citizens are active in Israeli social, political, and civic life and enjoy representation in Israel's Parliament, foreign service, and judicial system.
    • I could not find Israelis acting in vengeance against their Arab compatriots. Despite daily provocations, they have managed successfully not to descend to the same level of depravity as their Arab enemies. In my experience of Muslim societies, minorities have never been allowed the benefit of the doubt. Hatred of non-Muslims and outbursts of violence against minority faiths among radical Islamists have remained a norm rather than an exception. As a non-Wahhabi Muslim, I have personally faced their barbarism and have watched Christians, Hindus, and other minorities being persecuted on false pretenses.
    • As our bus negotiated the mountainous curves in the heart of Galilee, I could not miss the rising minarets identifying a number of Palestinian Arab towns dotting the hillsides. The imposing domes of mosques underlined the freedoms that are enjoyed by the Muslims in the Jewish state. Large Arab residences, widespread construction activity, and big cars underlined the prosperity and affluence of Palestinians living under the Star of David.
    • The status of Muslim women in Israel is far above that of any country in the region. They have the right to vote and to be elected to public office. Arabic is an official language in Israel and all street signs have Arabic alongside Hebrew. Israel's Arabic press is the most vibrant and independent of any country in the region. There are more than 20 Arabic periodicals. They publish what they please.

      The writer is president of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance, and an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute.

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