Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 6, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Kidnapper Freed After Rampage - Ibrahim Barzak (AP/Washington Post)
    Palestinian authorities Thursday released Alaa al-Hams, a militant from the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades held in connection with the kidnapping of a British family in Gaza, a day after his followers went on a rampage and smashed holes in a wall along the Egypt border.
    Two Egyptian troops were killed in the melee.

Israel HighWay
- January 5, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Israel's Military Equipment and Battle Experience Save Lives

MI5 Plans 200 Extra Counter-Terrorist Officers to Tackle Home-Grown Threat - Michael Evans (Times-UK)
    Britain's MI5 will soon employ twice as many counter-terrorist officers as the police, after an injection of extra money from the Treasury last month.
    The Security Service, headed by Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, is to recruit another 200 intelligence officers to cope with a rising threat from home-grown terrorists.
    Security sources said that MI5 was engaged in the biggest counter-terrorist surveillance operation in its history because of the increasing emergence of a radical element prepared to resort to terrorist attacks in this country.
    Crispin Black, a former government intelligence analyst and author of 7-7 What Went Wrong, said, "The reason why MI5 didn't get Mohammad Sidique Khan (the leader of the suicide bombers) before July 7 was because it had to prioritize about who to follow."
    During a previous counter-terrorist operation, when Khan's name came up he was not subjected to long-term surveillance because he was considered to be on the periphery of the suspect terrorist plot.

Building Collapse Kills at Least 20 in Mecca (AP/New York Times)
    A building used as a hostel by pilgrims in Mecca collapsed Thursday as millions of Muslims converged for the annual hajj, and at least 20 people were killed and 59 injured, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.

Denmark, Arab League Resolve Row Over Cartoons (AFP/Yahoo)
    Denmark and the Arab League have agreed to stop arguing over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said.
    The cartoonist at the Jyllands-Posten daily received death threats after it published 12 caricatures of the Muslim prophet.

Norway Leaders Divided Over Israel Boycott (UPI/Washington Times)
    Norwegian Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen is backing a planned consumer boycott of Israeli goods, contradicting her government's policy.
    Halvorsen voiced support for a campaign of solidarity with the Palestinians, due to be launched by her Socialist Left party this month, but agreed that she was expressing her party's view, not her government's.
    Norway's foreign ministry said the boycott did not represent government policy.

Diamonds, Chemicals, and Telecommunication Israel's Top Exports (Port2Port)
    Israel's exports to the U.S. in 2004, including $7.3 billion worth of diamonds, totaled $14.2 billion.
    Excluding diamonds, the largest export sectors to the U.S. were chemical products (13.8%), medical and scientific equipment (6.9%), electronic communications equipment (4.8%), and textiles, clothing and leather (3.9%).
    Pharmaceutical exports to the U.S. rose from $309 million in 2000 to $987 million in 2004.
    Israeli exports to the EU in 2004 totaled $10.7 billion, excluding diamonds.
    Exports to Asia, including $3.2 billion in diamonds, totaled $7.1 billion in 2004.

Saint Patrick - Roey Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    In unknown locations throughout Ukraine, some 1 million Jewish victims of the Nazis are buried in mass graves.
    A French Catholic priest, Father Patrick Desbois, has taken on the task of finding them, and through interviews with elderly witnesses, has already identified more than 400 burial sites.

Useful Reference:

A Constitutional Transfer of Power - Ze'ev Segal (Ha'aretz)
    The Basic Law on the Government states that if the prime minister is temporarily unable to discharge his duties, the deputy prime minister will take his place and is authorized to make all prime ministerial decisions, whether urgent or not.

Major Events in the Life of Ariel Sharon (AP/Washington Post)

Photo Gallery: Ariel Sharon's Life and Career (Washington Post)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sharon "Is in Great Jeopardy" - Matthew Gutman
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was in grave condition Thursday, a day after suffering a massive, life-threatening stroke. His "career is definitely finished, and his life is in great jeopardy," said Stefan Brandeis, head of cardiology at Laniado Hospital in Hadera. (USA Today)
        See also Sharon Undergoes More Surgery Friday (CNN)
        See also Sharon's Doctors: He Won't Return to Office - Tamara Traubman, Ran Reznick, and Aluf Benn
    Sharon's doctors acknowledged Thursday that Sharon has probably suffered irreversible brain damage that would preclude his ever resuming office. An official statement released Thursday by Hadassah Hospital said Sharon is likely to remain under sedation for up to 72 hours, and that it is impossible to know what his condition really is until he emerges from sedation. However, the fact that doctors at Hadassah operated on Sharon for about nine hours indicates that they had great difficulty stopping the bleeding and that the damage was extensive, senior doctors said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iraqi Insurgents Kill 140, Five U.S. Troops Among Dead - Nelson Hernandez and Saad Sarhan
    More than 140 people were killed in attacks Thursday in Iraq, including a bomb blast at a police recruiting station in Ramadi that killed at least 80 Sunni Arabs and a suicide bombing in Karbala that killed 54. Five American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. On Wednesday, insurgents killed 42 people at a funeral in Muqdadiyah. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Has Votes on Iran, Rice Says - Glenn Kessler
    Secretary of State Rice said Thursday that the U.S. and its European allies have the votes to bring Iran before the UN Security Council for possible censure over its nuclear ambitions. "The Iranians are digging their own hole of isolation deeper and deeper," Rice said, referring to Iran's announcement this week that it will resume nuclear fuel research. Iranian officials failed to appear Thursday at a planned meeting to explain their decision to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "The European-American consensus is very strong. Others are coming to that consensus," Rice said. "That's not saber rattling. That's diplomacy." (Washington Post)
  • Assad Told Hariri: "Whoever Resists Will be Taken Out!" - Hassan M. Fattah
    Former Syrian vice president Abdel-Halim Khaddam ratcheted up his allegations against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Thursday and said that Assad's rule might not survive the political crisis. In an interview in his home in Paris, Khaddam, 73, recounted how in 2004 he was summoned to Assad's office after Assad had met with Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. Khaddam said Assad appeared tense and agitated as he recounted what he had said. "'You are working against us!' Assad said he had told Hariri. 'You want to be the boss, but I decide things. And whoever resists will be taken out!'" (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Defense Minister Affirms Continuity - Herb Keinon
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated in a press conference on Thursday that the Defense Ministry and security forces would not be weakened by Prime Minister Sharon's hospitalization. He reaffirmed that heading Israel's security system is a group of responsible, experienced people who are doing everything necessary to ensure Israel's safety. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Chaos, Anarchy, and Politics in the Palestinian Authority - Ali Waked
    At midnight on December 31, all Palestinian organizations announced that the truce was over, and most marked the occasion by firing rockets towards Israel. Hamas has continued arming itself over the past few months and even supplied ammunition to other groups. Why the anarchy? There are hundreds of independent units in the different apparatuses; in Fatah there are quite a few non-obedient factions; there is direct Iranian influence or through Hizballah on the ground. There is also a Palestinian leadership residing abroad, mostly in Damascus, that pulls the strings mostly towards an escalation (like Khaled Mashal, for example). (Ynet News)
  • Turkey to Manage Industrial Zone on Israel-Gaza Border - Hilary Leila Krieger
    Israel and Turkey signed an agreement Thursday under which Turkey will manage the Erez industrial zone. Under the new agreement, the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) will manage Erez, while Turkey will provide substantial investments in building plants in the area. Goods manufactured in the zone should be able to enter the EU, U.S., and Persian Gulf countries duty-free. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • In the Shadow of Sharon - Benny Morris
    Sharon will be remembered as one of Israel's great field commanders, the wily, bulldozing general who cracked the Egyptian bastion at Um Katef-Abu Awgeila in 1967 and led the crossing of the Suez Canal in 1973, turning the tables in the Yom Kippur War. His defeat of the second Palestinian intifada will doubtless be carefully studied, once the hysteria and hype die down, as a model of a relatively clean, successful counterinsurgency.
        Sharon believed (as I do) that there was and is no viable Palestinian peace partner. The Palestinian national movement, he believed, still, in the deepest, immutable recesses of its heart, aspires to Israel's destruction and replacement by an Arab-majority state, a "one-state solution." That aspiration is why Arafat rejected the two-state compromise proposed by Sharon's predecessor, Ehud Barak, and President Bill Clinton in 2000, and it is why, from the militant Islamic members of Hamas through Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian national movement refuses to give up the "right of return" of the refugees, the demographic battering ram with which it hopes, ultimately, to bring Israel down. (New York Times)
  • Ariel Sharon Personified Israel's Formative Era - Michael B. Oren
    Ariel Sharon has clearly ended his term as Israel's prime minister. His passing from public life represents not only the fall of the pre-eminent figure in Israeli politics but, more fundamentally, the conclusion of the formative era in Israel's history - a period he personified.
        Sharon has been intimately identified with every major event in that history. An infantry officer in the desperate battle for the Jerusalem corridor in the 1948 War of Independence, leader of the paratroopers in the 1956 Sinai campaign, he rose to the rank of general and commanded divisions in the Six-Day War of 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. As a government minister, he was the architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the primary force behind the settlement movement. With the sole exception of Shimon Peres, he has been a member of the Knesset longer than any other Israeli. Sharon, more than any single Israeli, represented the finest ideals of the Jewish state - its heroism, resilience, and versatility. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Olmert's Tests - Ze'ev Schiff
    The most immediate security problems facing Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are the war on Palestinian terror, including Kassam rocket launches, and the threat of al-Qaeda terror. The immediate worry is that Palestinian terrorist organizations may decide to give Israel's new leadership a "test of strength." Precisely because of the anarchy in the PA, they can take extreme steps that would escalate the conflict.
        Olmert must be alert to any attempts by al-Qaeda to penetrate Lebanon and use it as a base for attacking Israel or Israelis. Al-Qaeda has already penetrated Sinai and Jordan, and it is clear that the organization has also recently penetrated Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, where it has joined forces with the extremist Palestinians who recently launched Katyushas at Kiryat Shmona and Shlomi. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mideast Democracy - Lisa Anderson
    There were more elections held in the Middle East in the past year than ever before. But are liberty and democracy really served by elections mounted largely to please an international patron like the U.S.? Certainly by most standards, none of the elections included all, or even most, of the possible participants. Moreover, across the region, the more free and fair the elections were, the less successful were ostensibly democratic parties; in both Palestinian and Egyptian elections, Islamist parties did far better than expected.
        For many of the governments, elections are a necessary evil, an expensive spectacle produced for the benefit of eager audiences in Washington. Most of the participants in these spectacles know perfectly well what the outcome will be, but they go to the polls anyway. Despite this voter willingness, the U.S. needs to be careful about what it calls a successful democratic election in the Middle East. Too many dashed expectations run the risk of creating a generation of disenchanted, cynical ex-voters who thought the candidates, and their Western backers, were going to deliver real goods. The writer is the dean at the School of International Public Affairs at Columbia University. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • "Democrats" for Jihad - Andrew G. Bostom
    Even frank apologists for Hamas, quick to stress how past "liberation" movements were incorporated into electoral processes, will be forced to grapple with the organization's open pronouncements espousing an endless, annihilationist jihad against Israel. In a Hamas pre-election video from December 12, 2005, the terror organization reiterated that it will not give up its armed struggle until Israel is destroyed entirely. The Hamas message also celebrates its love of death as being superior to Israel's love of life, while expressing support for those Israeli Arabs who wish to destroy Israel "from within." Democracy - mere popular rule - should not be our primary objective for the Muslim world, but rather Muslim societies and governments who share our values, so we can safely share this planet. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • The Lie of Palestine - Bradley Burston
    To my Palestinian friends: The dreamer's disease breeds on lies, the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves and about the other side. The lie of Palestine holds that the pre-1967 borders are somehow sacred, and that there cannot be peace unless the refugees are allowed to return to their homes. The lie of Palestine holds that the Palestinians have sacrificed more than enough, conceded more than enough, suffered more than is humanly possible, and that now and forever it's the Jews' turn.
        Every Kassam rocket from your liberated Gaza makes sure that a Palestinian state is that much farther off into the future. Every move of terror on your part makes the world understand less why it is that you really should have a state of your own, or that you'll have any idea what to do with it when you get one. (Ha'aretz)

    Weekend Features

  • Restoring Identity Goes Online: Holocaust Databases Aid Search for History - James Hannah
    When Malka Shaham began taking care of her ailing father at her home in Israel during the final years of his life - when he no longer had full control of his words and thoughts - for the first time he began speaking of the Holocaust, which he had survived. Sometimes the revelations came during nightmares. "In his sleep he was shouting that the Nazis were beating and degrading him," she said. Shaham decided to find out everything she could about what her parents had endured in Poland during World War II, finding clues in an online database of survivors and victims of the genocide that killed some 6 million Jews, compiled by a Wittenberg University music professor in Springfield, Ohio.
        In 2003, Dan Kazez founded the Czestochowa-Radomsko Area Research Group, which locates, types, and indexes records of survivors and victims, using survivor lists, slave labor lists, ghetto registrations, real-estate indexes, and census data. (AP/Indianapolis Star)
  • Amr Khaled: Islam's Billy Graham - David Hardaker
    Amr Khaled is the Arab world's first Islamic tele-evangelist, who has fashioned himself into the anti-Bin Laden, using satellite TV to turn around a generation of lost Muslim youth. He offers a tough message about the destructive force of self-pity. "We Muslims are living as parasites on the world. Our problem is that we have got used to taking without ever giving," he says. "Don't tell us it is a Western conspiracy against us, it is not."
        Khaled's remedy is a tough personal regime of self-renewal, based on what he says are real Islamic values, drawn from the Koran. But while the preacher might be hip, he is deeply conservative. He is commonly held to be the single major force behind young women taking the veil. "We don't want to lead lives like the West," he says. "He is very close in style to the Muslim Brotherhood," says Hala Mustafa, one of Cairo's prominent liberals. (Independent-UK)
  • Observations:

    Change Agent - Robert Satloff
    (New Republic/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Ariel Sharon has already accomplished more than enough to earn a place among Israel's giants.
    • Sharon came to office in February 2001 while Israel was engulfed in a wave of Palestinian terror following the collapse of the Camp David peace negotiations the previous summer. At the time, conventional wisdom had it that Sharon had himself provoked the Palestinian outburst when, as opposition leader, he had visited the area of the Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount. In fact, as mountains of evidence now show, that uprising reflected the well-organized planning of Yasser Arafat.
    • Sharon's first great achievement was to defeat the uprising, with new military strategies (retaking territory inside the Palestinian Authority, isolating Arafat, targeting terrorists and their political leaders), but also with skillful diplomacy (reaching a meeting of the minds with the new American president, George W. Bush).
    • The cumulative impact of Israel's counterterrorist strategy raised the price of terrorism so high that many Palestinians began to yearn for the normalcy of life before the uprising. And Israel's relentless attacks against terrorist groups forced so many terrorist leaders to spend their waking hours moving from hideout to hideout that actual operations were left in chaos and disarray.
    • By the time Sharon came to power, after Arafat had rejected Barak's generous peace offer and launched the violent uprising, he was convinced that the strategy of bilateral peacemaking had run its course - that Israel could no longer tie its fate to finding a responsible Arab partner. Israel, he concluded, would have to act on its own to determine its future. So was born the policy of unilateralism.
    • To be sure, unilateralism is a risky and controversial policy. In the eyes of some Arabs, it reflects Israeli weakness, not strength. Moreover, the fact that Israel left Gaza without demanding any commitment to peace or security from the Palestinians is a precedent that could come to haunt Israel in the future.
    • In recent years Israelis of all political inclinations have begun to wonder whether they would be stuck forever waiting for a Palestinian leader with whom they could deal. (An example: The Palestinian legislative election later this month pits the terrorist organization Hamas against the Fatah list, which is headed by a man serving five life sentences for his role in the murder of Israelis. Evidently, a dozen years after Oslo, killing Israelis remains the prime source of bona fides for Palestinian political aspirants.)
    • Which pieces of this remarkable legacy will survive Sharon? My guess is that the shift in military thinking that enabled Israel to shrink the threat of terrorism is now an integral part of defense planning. Similarly, the shift from bilateralism to unilateralism is likely to last too, because it reflects both the deepest mood of the Israeli people and the sad realities of Palestinian politics.

      The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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