Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
Iraqi General: Iraq's WMD Secreted in Syria - Ira Stoll (New York Sun)
- January 26, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Israel's Greatest Export: Medicine
Colombia Busts Hamas, al-Qaeda-Linked Passport Ring (Reuters)
Sunni Clans in Iraq Launch Campaign to Expel Zarqawi's "Foreigners" (Al-Hayat-UK)
Two Get Prison for Exports to Syria, Libya (AP/ABC News)
Security Police to Hunt Terrorists in Sweden (The Local-Sweden)
London Extremists to Hold Jihad Conference - Mohammed Al-Shafey (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Three European Companies Begin Boycott Against Israel (IMEMC)
Israel Joins Venus Space Project - Gadi Golan (Globes)
Foreign Investment in Stock Exchange Quadrupled in 2005 (Globes)
Jews from India Pledge to Strengthen Indo-Israel Ties (Manorama News-India)
Who's Who in Hamas - Sam Knight (Times-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Militant Islam scored one of its biggest victories when election results showed that Hamas had crushed the Fatah party that had ruled Palestinian politics for 40 years. The victory of a group dedicated to Israel's destruction shocked Western leaders and put paid to any hopes of swiftly reviving the Middle East peace process. President Bush, Tony Blair, and other world leaders united in demanding that Hamas, responsible for more than 50 suicide bombings and 430 Israeli deaths in recent years, renounce violence and recognize Israel or face isolation. (Times-UK)
President Bush Thursday said elections in the Palestinian territories delivered a needed "wakeup call to the leadership" there, but he warned, "I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform." "And I know you can't be a partner in peace...if your party has got an armed wing." The U.S. and Israel regard Hamas as a terrorist organization and have refused to deal with it. (Washington Post)
See also Quartet: Hamas Must Recognize Israel
"The Quartet reiterates its view that there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia activities and the building of a democratic state. A two-state solution to the conflict requires all participants in the democratic process to renounce violence and terror, accept Israel's right to exist, and disarm, as outlined in the Road Map." (United Nations)
Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said Israel would now have to maintain control of the Jordan Valley in any final peace agreement to ensure that Hamas does not allow other groups Israel considers terrorist organizations to arrive from Jordan or Iraq. "Hamas cannot be seen as just another Palestinian political party with an Islamic orientation," Gold said. "It must be linked to the larger sources of terror that threaten Israel and the West."
"We are assigning much too much significance to these elections," said Dan Schueftan, deputy director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa. He said Israel already faced a fading partner in Abbas, whose leadership has been undermined by party militias, internal corruption, and the popularity of Hamas. "The choices were between terrorists, impotents, and hooligans," said Schueftan. (Washington Post)
"For Israelis, this is the definitive end of the illusion of a comprehensive peace," said Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. "There is no more credible hope of Palestinian moderation. For Israelis, it will only confirm what the last five years of terror have taught them: that the war is not about settlements, but about Israel's right to exist. The Palestinian Authority as a serious negotiating partner no longer exists for Israel, Halevi said. "Now the era of the pretend peace process is also over."
"Corrupt authorities who have been in power for a long time are usually thrown out in free elections," said Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian analyst at Jerusalem's Al Quds University. "That the opposition came from a radical Islamic group is unfortunate, but there was no other serious opposition." "But now Hamas will have to face reality, and part of reality means dealing with Israel," he said.
Hamas won 76 seats, doing especially well in Gaza, but polling well throughout the West Bank, too. Fatah won 43 seats. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine won three seats, while the Badil list won two seats. The Independent Palestine list led by Mustafa Barghouti won two seats, as did the Third Way list of Salam Fayyad and Hanan Ashrawi. Four other independents won. (New York Times)
The Hamas election victory raises the prospect of the Palestinian Authority losing millions of dollars in funding from the EU and U.S. for salary payments to its vastly overblown public sector. Veteran Israeli statesman Shimon Peres said these funds would cease flowing if Hamas did not change its charter calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. (The Australian)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Speaking during an emergency meeting of the security cabinet in Jerusalem Thursday, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "Should a government be established in the Palestinian Authority with Hamas leading or participating, the PA will become a sponsor of terror. The world and Israel will ignore it and it will become irrelevant." The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement saying, "The State of Israel will not hold negotiations with a Palestinian government led by an armed terror organization that advocates its destruction. Israel will continue to fight terror resolutely." (Ynet News)
Hamas said Thursday it won 60.3% of the vote in the Palestinian parliament elections. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the group will "complete the liberation of other parts of Palestine." Asked about the peace process, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zaher said, "There is no process." (Ynet News)
Almost all senior officers in the Palestinian security services are Fatah members, and it is hard to see these people either giving up their status or giving up their allegiance to Fatah and becoming loyal servants of a Hamas government instead. Many doubt whether an orderly transfer of power is possible and fear that the PA is on the brink of civil war.
Fatah's greatest electoral failure was racked up by its younger generation, headed by Marwan Barghouti. Candidates from this "young guard" lost resoundingly even in districts that were considered Fatah strongholds. Kadoura Fares, a former minister and Barghouti's closest associate, lost in Ramallah; Jibril Rajoub, former head of the West Bank Preventive Security Service, lost in Hebron; parliamentarian Khatem Abdul Kader lost in eastern Jerusalem; former minister Nabil Amr failed to win reelection as well.
Next week, the PA must pay salaries to its more than 150,000 employees, but its coffers are empty. That is Fatah's fault: In the weeks before the election, it added thousands of people to the PA payroll in an effort to win votes. (Ha'aretz)
Thousands of Arab residents of Jerusalem voted overwhelmingly for Hamas in Wednesday's elections, in a city that had always been considered Fatah turf. All four open Jerusalem seats went to Hamas. Two other city seats were reserved for Christians. "The vote is a real surprise because we always felt that the Arab residents of Jerusalem...were closer to Israel and more moderate," said Dr. Yitzhak Reiter, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Outside observers also pointed to the increasingly Islamic lifestyle of Jerusalem Arabs, with the vast majority of women now covering themselves from head to toe, a sight rarely seen a decade ago. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Fourteen Jailed Prisoners Elected - Yigal Grayeff (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza launched a Kassam rocket on Thursday that landed in Israel south of Sderot. (Jerusalem Post)
A mortar shell fired from Gaza on Friday landed in Israel near an IDF base near the security fence. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Hamas win is a huge blow to the peace process. How should the world react? Europe must not settle for a messy verbal compromise on relations with Israel. As the largest provider of funds for the PA, the European Union has, for too long, turned a blind eye to embezzlement. If Hamas can provide cleaner government while abjuring violence, Europe can continue support. If it does neither, both funding and acceptance should be promptly withdrawn. (Times-UK)
Western governments should stick to the principle already articulated by the Bush administration: that "a future Palestinian Authority cabinet should include no member who has not committed to the principles of Israel's right to exist in peace and security and an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism." If Hamas will not meet that condition, then it should be condemned to governing Gaza and the West Bank in diplomatic isolation, without European, U.S., or World Bank aid. The Islamists must be forced to choose between democracy and terrorism; between their ideology and the yearning of Palestinians for security, good government, and a state of their own. (Washington Post)
See also In the Mideast, a Giant Step Back - Editorial
Hamas grew out of a terrorist organization that has undermined every small step toward peace with mass murder. And on Wednesday, Palestinians voted almost two to one to put Hamas in charge of running their government. For there to be any hope of getting out of the impasse in the Middle East, one of those two central facts must change. President Bush was absolutely right when he said, "A political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of its platform is a party with which we will not deal." (New York Times)
See also Hamas Rules - Editorial
The Palestinian vote might turn out to be clarifying - in the sense of showing the world that no Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible until the Palestinians have leaders who really want to live in peace with Israel. It should never be forgotten that in 2002 - under Arafat - Palestinian terrorists were allowed to murder 452 Israelis. That figure later dropped because Israel and the U.S. finally gave up on Arafat as a credible peace partner and turned to a strategy of unilateral separation and military strikes. The obligation of the U.S. is to make it clear to Hamas, and to all Palestinians, that there is no future in terror. (Wall Street Journal)
Palestine under Hamas rule puts an end not only to the roadmap and the Oslo process, but also to the formula embodied by UN Resolution 242: "land for peace" and an accompanying end to the conflict. It reshapes the conflict from Israeli-Palestinian to Jewish-Arab and even Western-Muslim. Such a conflict, backed by the global Jihad movement and Khomeinist Iran, has neither a solution nor an end.
Now Fatah is liable to resume terror attacks in order to compete with Hamas in belligerence. What Hamas ceases to get from other states it will obtain from Iranian oil revenues and Saudi protection money. (Ha'aretz)
By winning, Hamas has to govern, which means they have to tell the world, very soon, a number of things. They will have to say whether they accept the roadmap. They will have to take control over security and decide whether they use it to wage war. Until this week, the PA could hide behind the excuse that they were not directly responsible for rockets fired on Israel or suicide attacks against civilians, and they could not rein in the "militants." Now the "militants" are the militia of the ruling party. Hamas and the PA will be the same.
Hamas will have to tell the Egyptians what the PA under Hamas stands for. Egypt dreads Hamas' twin, the Muslim Brotherhood, at home. This experience will also tell us whether Palestine will become a Sunni Iran. The issue is not whether Europe, the U.S., or Israel should talk to Hamas. The issue is whether there is anything to talk about. (National Review)
For the past two years, America has pursued the idea that democracy is the answer to Islamist terrorism. Now the Palestinian people have spoken clearly - and they have voted for the terrorists.
Other elections have yielded worrying results: the Muslim Brotherhood, the forebear of all radical Sunni movements, did well in Egypt and would have done much better had it not been for the government's crude suppression; a Shia Islamist group with strong ties to Iran is in the driving seat in Iraq; and, in Iran, a radical president with an alarmingly apocalyptic tone has placed his country on a collision course with the West over its nuclear program. If the Syrian regime collapses, it may well be replaced by Islamist radicals. In Saudi Arabia, the alternative to the House of Saud is not Western liberalism but something more akin to the Taliban.
Arab leaders - and not a few Europeans - will be muttering to the Americans: "We told you so. Allowing the ordinary Muslims to vote freely is a bad idea." Yet this would be the wrong lesson to draw. The popularity of political Islam reflects the bankruptcy of the political order that has gone before. When the state fails, as it has done across the Middle East since the end of the colonial era, then Muslims instinctively turn to the mosque.
Palestinian leaders have turned weakness into a diplomatic art-form, telling Israel and the West they needed more concessions in order to have the authority to take on Hamas. With the terrorists in office, there should be no such ambiguity. When the suicide bombs go off, the address for protests will be the office of the Palestinian prime minister. (Telegraph-UK)
Dealing with Israel - in either sense of that term - is not a priority for Hamas, right now, nor will it be for some time to come. Instead, the radical Islamist group will focus on "cleaning the Palestinian house." What this means, concretely, is ridding the PA of rampant corruption, and establishing law and order on the chaotic streets of the West Bank and Gaza. Ironically, that means that a Hamas government may end up carrying out reforms in the PA long demanded by the U.S. and Israel - ensuring accountability and transparency in government, and reining in the militias.
The election victory has added new incentive for Hamas to maintain its current cease-fire with Israel because it is now determined to carry out its promises to the Palestinian electorate which are very much based on local concerns. (TIME)
Wednesday's election outcome was not merely a repudiation of Fatah corruption. It was also a mandate for a shift in Palestinian foreign policy. No one should believe that power will inevitably moderate Hamas; or that Hamas aspires only to focus on local issues; or that Hamas will shortly come around to accepting a two-state solution. Such wishful thinking may be fine for the Western media. But Western political leaders ought to be a bit more realistic. (New Republic)
Those who say war with Iran is unthinkable are right. Military strikes, even limited, targeted, and accurate ones, will have devastating consequences for the region and for the world. There are many fearfully powerful arguments against the use of the military option. But multiplied together, squared, and then cubed, the weight of these arguments does not come close to matching the case for us to stop, by whatever means may be necessary, Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
If Iran gets safely and unmolested to nuclear status, it will be a threshold moment in history, up there with the Bolshevik Revolution and the coming of Hitler. We can reasonably assume that the refusal of the current Iranian leadership to accept the Holocaust as historical fact is simply a recognition of their own plans to redefine the notion as soon as they get a chance ("Now this is what we call a holocaust"). But this threat is only, incredibly, a relatively small part of the problem.
No country in the region will be confident that the U.S. will be able or willing to protect them from a nuclear strike by Iran. Nor will any regional power fear that the U.S. will act to prevent them from emulating Iran. Say hello to a nuclear Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia.
Iran, secure behind its nuclear wall, will surely step up its campaign of terror around the world. Protected by a nuclear-missile-owning state, Iranian terror training camps will become impregnable. (Times-UK)
A nuclear Iran, either out of calculation that it could win a nuclear exchange with Israel, or out of a fanatical derangement, clearly poses an existential threat to Israel. No Israeli leader could risk exposing his country to such a threat, if he could avoid it. While the U.S. shares the Israeli concern, beyond that, the United States as the dominant world power would have primary responsibility for managing a more aggressive, harder to deter Iran that might feel safer in using terrorism to strike the West, armed with a nuclear deterrent.
French President Jacques Chirac last week added a fascinating and unexpected element by his threat that France might use its nuclear weapons against a country that either launched a terrorist attack against France or cut off its "strategic supplies" (i.e., oil). The French press, from left to right, immediately stated that Chirac's target was Iran. Some observers judge (I believe quite plausibly) that Chirac is now alive to the threat of radical Islam in France, and he is prepared to threaten to go nuclear to try to stop its encouragement from outside. (Washington Times)
The threat from Iranian doomsday weapons is not limited to Israel but covers Europe, the Arab Middle East, and the U.S. A UN Security Council resolution approved by Europe, Russia, and China, with substantive measures to isolate Iran, might send enough of a jolt to force some recalculation on the part of the Iranians, even at this late date. And if this approach fails, the precedent for international action will have been set. It's a long shot, but it's the only option short of unilateral military action. (Jerusalem Post)
Academic boycotts against Israel were self-defeating and would only damage its existing relationship with the Palestinians, a conference at Bar-Ilan University entitled "Academic Freedom and the Politics of Boycotts" was told this week. Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, said, "I stand committed to academic cooperation and against boycotts....An international academic boycott of Israel, on pro-Palestinian grounds, is self-defeating: it would only succeed in weakening that strategically important bridge through which the state of war between Israelis and Palestinians could be ended and Palestinian rights could therefore be restored."
Harvard law school professor Alan Dershowitz questioned why Israel was chosen for a boycott, when "per capita, the number of lives saved by Israel is greater than any country in the world" through its contributions to biotechnology and medical research. "The best weapon against any boycott is excellence," he added. "Fighting selective boycotts is very important and, in Israel, is not only good for science and research but also good for the peace process." He added: "Make no mistake: those who advocate boycotts and divestment are encouraging terror." (Guardian-UK)
When Washington first offered to introduce an element of interdependence between the Israeli and Egyptian economies, Cairo balked. But a little over a year ago, Egypt did accept the deal and it has been impressed, not to say astounded, by the impact on its No. 1 manufacturing sector, the garment industry: thousands of jobs created, higher wages, and soaring exports to the U.S. Figures from the Israel Export Institute show that trade between Egypt and Israel, dominated by goods for the garment sector, rose from $58 million in 2004 to $142 million in 2005, a whopping 144% increase in only one year.
Wages in Egypt's textile and garment industry have risen 25% since December 2004, when Egypt, Israel, and the U.S. signed the Qualified Industrial Zone agreement, according to Mohammed Kassim, the vice chairman of the Egyptian Chamber of Textile Industries. At least 15,000 jobs have been created, with 30,000 more to be created this year. (AP/Washington Post)
Most of the weapons that fill Gaza have come through dozens of tunnels dug between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The gunrunning actually slowed somewhat since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in September because weapons flooded across the border immediately after Israel's departure, depressing prices. Since Egypt began cracking down, the tunnels dug from the Palestinian side head several hundred yards into Egyptian territory before surfacing in a pasture or olive grove. The tunnelers send up a pipe for their accomplices in Egypt to locate and break open the tunnel's "eye" at night when the shipment is ready. People involved in the trade say activity will pick up if fighting breaks out between Palestinian factions or if there are renewed conflicts with Israel, as everyone here expects.
Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Israeli Parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, said 12,000 guns, several hundred antitank-rocket launchers, thousands of antitank rockets, tons of explosives, and possibly even some shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles have entered the Gaza Strip over the last year, primarily through the tunnels. "We're not talking about weapons for terrorism but about weapons for an army," he said. (New York Times)
The idea that "One Person Can Make a Difference" is the theme of this year's Holocaust Day, which falls each year on 27 January, coinciding with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. In Berlin, in the years leading up to the outbreak of war, Captain Foley, the British passport control officer, handed out far more emigration certificates and visas than he was entitled to do. He used his imagination to circumvent the rules he was meant to follow. As a result, several thousand German Jews were able to make their way to safety. In Frankfurt, British Consul General Robert Smallbones likewise bent the rules.
Following the anti-Jewish violence of Kristallnacht in November 1938, when more than 1,000 synagogues were destroyed and thousands of shops and homes wrecked, the British government welcomed almost 10,000 German-Jewish children. To find homes for so many refugees, many Christian families opened their homes. Randolph Churchill, who had volunteered to parachute behind German lines in Yugoslavia, suggested to his father that aircraft flying military supplies into areas controlled by Marshal Tito's anti-German partisans should, when they flew back to their bases in southern Italy, take with them Jews who had fled into Yugoslavia in search of a safe haven. Winston Churchill put his son's suggestion to Tito, who agreed. As a result, several hundred Jews were saved. (Observer-UK)
As the Territory of Israel Decreases, Israel Is Perceived as Weaker
Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon addressed the "Defensible Borders for Israel" session of the Herzliya Conference on Monday:
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