Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 14, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Official PA Website: Jewish Historical Connection to Jerusalem a "Deception"  (International Press Center-PA)
    The Palestinian Authority Information Service website reported Tuesday on the Israeli government's approval Sunday of a plan developed to renovate the Western Wall complex in Jerusalem.
    Israel is "constructing a heritage center - dedicated to show a fabricated heritage that might help them to deceive the foreign visitors into believing Jerusalem as a historical place of the Jews."
    Israel was also allegedly "carrying out a marketing project to encourage the Jewish soldiers and students to visit the Islamic holy square of Al-Buraq along with Al-Aqsa mosque."
    The report also refers to propping up the Hasmonean Tunnel "that passes under Al-Aqsa mosque" - in fact, the tunnel is hundreds of meters away from the mosque.
    See also Cabinet Approves Western Wall Renovation - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    The Western Wall complex will undergo a $14.7 million renovation to include a modern visitors' center, a new police station, information center, and new entrance to the site.
    Five million people visited the site in 2005.

    See also Distribution of Hate Propaganda Continues in West Bank and Gaza (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
    Although PA-controlled media have lowered the tone of their hate propaganda under Abbas, the terrorist organizations have found alternative methods for inculcating hatred and violence among Palestinians.
    These groups use local radio stations, the Internet (used extensively by Hamas), and cartoons (the vicious cartoons of Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha continue to appear in the official PA newspaper), as well as Hamas- and Islamic Jihad-affiliated "charitable societies."

Rival Book Snipes at Spielberg's "Munich" - Steven Zeitchik (Variety)
    Vengeance, the book that serves as "Munich's" source material, botches the history of the events, says Random House which is releasing Striking Back, a new book by Time magazine Israel correspondent Aaron Klein, to "correct" the account.
    A main disagreement between the two books is whether the Mossad's killing of Black September leaders that followed the 1972 Olympic attacks was an emotional reaction against the attackers, as Vengeance and "Munich" both assert, or whether, as Klein argues, it was also a strategic response to break up a terrorist network.

Baby Elephant Born at Jerusalem Zoo - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    The first Asiatic elephant to be conceived in Israel through artificial insemination was born Saturday at the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem.
    The calf, which weighed 90 kilograms, was born to Tamar, who was impregnated 21 months ago by sperm from Emmet, who lives in an English zoo.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Newsweek: Sharon Willing to Make Concessions in Jerusalem, Says Pollster - Dan Ephron (Newsweek)
        See also Prime Minister Denies Report He Would Compromise on Jerusalem
    Prime Minister Sharon issued a special statement Tuesday in which he dissociated himself from quotes in Newsweek attributed to his pollster, Kalman Gayer, in which Gayer claimed the prime minister was ready for territorial concessions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. "The remarks attributed to Kalman Gayer are in total contradiction to my positions and opinions," Sharon's statement read. "If, indeed, these remarks were made, they were made strictly on Mr. Gayer's initiative, and they are senseless and absurd. The entire united Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel forever. The road map is the diplomatic plan that will guide Israel in the years to come."
        According to Newsweek, Gayer said, "Sharon would accept a Palestinian state in Gaza and 90% of the West Bank, and a compromise on Jerusalem, in exchange for peace." (Ha'aretz)
  • No Holocaust Repeat, Israel Tells Iran
    Israel urged the world to "open its eyes" to the Iranian regime and its nuclear program after its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, described the Holocaust as a "myth." "Thank God, Israel has the means at its disposal to bring about the downfall of this extremist regime in Iran. There will be no second 'final solution'," Prime Minister Sharon's spokesman Raanan Gissin said. "We hope that these extremist declarations will make the world wake up to the nature of this regime - especially the fact that Iran's nuclear program and its support of international terrorism represent not only a danger for Israel but for the entire Western civilization."
        The comments came after Ahmadinejad said in a speech that "they have invented a myth that Jews were massacred" and said the Jewish state should be moved as far away as Alaska. (Melbourne Herald Sun-Australia)
        See also below Observations: Iranian President Calls Holocaust a Myth - Jonathan Freedland (Guardian-UK)
  • UN Report: "Many Leads Point Directly Towards Syrian Security Officials"
    The Mehlis report on the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister concludes: "It is the Commission's conclusion that, after having interviewed witnesses and suspects in the Syrian Arab Republic and establishing that many leads point directly towards Syrian security officials as being involved with the assassination, it is incumbent upon Syria to clarify a considerable part of the unresolved questions....Several interviewees tried to mislead the investigation by giving false or inaccurate statements. The letter addressed to the Commission by the Foreign Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic proved to contain false information." (United Nations)
        See also UN Hariri Murder Inquiry Thwarted - Tim Butcher
    The UN inquiry into the killing of Lebanon's former premier, Rafik Hariri, appears unlikely to find the culprits after it admitted it depended on further Syrian help to solve the crime - something Damascus has not provided. The admission means the inquiry is likely to peter out unless Syria can be persuaded to alter its position radically. With Russia indicating it would not back UN sanctions against Syria, the threat of severe diplomatic pressure on Damascus appeared toothless. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Hariri Probe Could Take Years If Syria Stalls - Evelyn Leopold (Reuters)
  • Palestinian Security Crackdown Debated - Sarah El Deeb
    Masked Palestinian security forces have arrested dozens of Islamic Jihad activists in recent days. However, the crackdown has netted only low-level operatives, and some suspect the goal is to appease the U.S. and Israel rather than crush the militant group. Islamic Jihad leaders said many of those arrested were students, academics, or political leaders. "None of those arrested are wanted by Israel," said Daoud Mikkawi, 48, an Islamic Jihad activist. "If anyone is really linked to military actions, Israel will not wait for the (Palestinian) Authority. It will come and get them."
        A senior Israeli military official said that even though going after low-level officials was important, many Islamic Jihad leaders whose names Israel passed to the Palestinians have not yet been arrested. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "It is clear that as long as Islamic Jihad remains armed, it will have the ability both to kill innocent civilians and to kill chances for peace. What is needed is a continuous, ongoing effort by the Palestinian leadership to disarm these extremist groups." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Police Seize Forged Ballots Headed to Iraq from Iran - Dexter Filkins
    Just before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Iraqi Interior Ministry said. The Iranian truck driver told the police that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF: Iran Able to Resume Enriching Uranium in March - Akiva Eldar and Gideon Alon
    Iran will be capable of enriching uranium within the next three months, but will have to overcome many technological obstacles before reaching the nuclear "point of no return," Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said on Tuesday. "Even if the Iranians pass the uranium-enrichment stage, they are still a number of years away from building the bomb," he told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Halutz estimated that Iran could be able to produce a nuclear bomb between 2008 and 2015. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians: Gaza Man Killed in Accident, Not By Israeli Tank Fire as Claimed
    A Palestinian who died in Gaza on Tuesday was killed while drilling through a metal fuel tank that accidentally exploded, according to a Palestinian security official. Palestinian hospital officials and relatives of Mohammed Fara, 45, said earlier that he was killed by Israel Defense Forces tank fire. (Ha'aretz)
  • Anti-Abbas "Intifada" Worries PA - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Facing a violent uprising by representatives of the young guard in his ruling Fatah party, PA Chairman Abbas was under enormous pressure on Tuesday to postpone parliamentary elections scheduled for next month. The PA's central election commission suspended all activities in protest against a rash of attacks against its offices and employees in the West Bank and Gaza. Election officials said they would not return to work until the PA can guarantee their safety. The latest crisis was triggered by Abbas's decision to appoint Fatah's candidates for the parliamentary vote instead of endorsing the results of the recent primary elections for the party. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Will Abbas Delay PA Elections? - Ali Waked
    According to Fatah sources, Abbas is inclined to form a list which will include a considerable representation of veteran and senior members, headed by Prime Minister Qurei, while leaders of the younger generation would be pushed into lower spots, despite their victory in recent primaries. According to some reports, a number of candidates who have won the internal elections may even find themselves outside the list. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Breaking the Assassins - David Ignatius
    This is the time of the assassins in the Arab world. On Monday they killed a brave Lebanese journalist who dared to tell the truth about Syria. This week in Iraq they will try to kill people who want to vote. The shame for America isn't that we have tried to topple the rule of the assassins but that we have so far been unsuccessful. It's easy to lose sight of what is at stake in this battle. But this week brings it back to square one: It's about breaking the power of the assassins. (Washington Post)
        See also Gebran Tueni, R.I.P. - Claudia Rosett
    At a rally of the terrorist group Hizballah in Lebanon this past March, among the chants of "Death to America" and the banners lauding Syria, some of the demonstrators brandished posters that threatened, in Arabic: "We are going to sweep Gebran Tueni from Lebanon." A car-bombing Monday in Beirut murdered Tueni, 48, who was Lebanon's leading newspaperman in the struggle for a free and democratic society. Tueni's assassination comes not only as a loss to the Lebanese, but a hideous affront to the free world. Tueni himself spent years telling us what the problem was, and the direction he pointed was not only Syria, but Iran.
        Tueni described Hizballah as "an imported product from Iran. It has nothing to do with Lebanese identity." He explained that Hizballah is "a direct threat, acting in Lebanon like a state within a state," with "weapons everywhere." Hizballah's strategy, he said, "is to transform us into an Islamic republic."
        This March I asked him if his own life was in danger. He said he expected a wave of Syrian-backed "assassinations, booby-trapped cars," but did not think that could stop Lebanon's democratic movement. "They can kill one, two, three of us" he said, but then they are "finished." He paused and smiled, "Better," he said, if they stop at "one." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Iranian President Calls Holocaust a Myth - Jonathan Freedland (Guardian-UK)

    • On Thursday the president of Iran chose to stand with the cranks, neo-fascists, and racists who deny the factual truth of the Holocaust. "Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces," said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Although we don't accept this claim..."
    • Suddenly, the usual apologetics won't work. No one can say Iran's president was really complaining about Israel or Zionism, rather than Jews. He was peddling Holocaust denial. It is a stance that seeks to deny Jews their history, their suffering, almost their very being.
    • When, in October, he stood beneath a banner that promised "A world without Zionism" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," many Jews felt a chill at what seemed an annihilationist fantasy. Cooler heads said no, this was merely the hyperbolic style of the region, deployed to press a robust anti-Zionist rather than anti-Semitic case. What he wanted, they explained patiently, was a world without Zionism, not a world without Jews.
    • Well, now I'm done with the charitable explanations. A man who refuses to believe the historic truth is capable of anything. This is not an Arabic cable TV station or an obscure Egyptian newspaper. This is a head of government, the leader of a nation of 70 million - a country that aspires to lead the Muslim world. And, lest we forget, Iran has nuclear ambitions. So now it's not paranoid to worry about a president with annihilationist dreams - it's smart.
    • Unfortunately, it doesn't end with Ahmadinejad, for he has given voice to a sentiment that runs deep in Iran and in the wider Muslim world. The virus of anti-Semitism has infected the Muslim world. And virus it is, for Jew-hatred on this scale, as Christian Europe can testify, is a kind of sickness.

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