Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 14, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Leader Mashaal: Our Goal - Liberate Jerusalem - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal told a conference in Sudan: "Our mission is to liberate Jerusalem and purify the al-Aqsa Mosque."

Hamas Leader Zahar Rejects "Satanic" U.S. Aid (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar vowed Monday not to bow to American threats to cut aid.
    "I wish America would cut off its aid. We do not need this satanic money," Zahar said in Cairo.
    "Recognizing the state of the Israeli enemy is not on the table," he said.
    "Our program is to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine....The Qassam Brigades will continue to increase in numbers, supplies, and weapons...until the liberation is completed."
    "Anyone who thinks the calm means giving in is mistaken. The calm is in preparation for a new round of resistance and victory."
    He added that Hamas intended to use education to promote a culture of resistance.

Taliban, al-Qaeda Establish "Islamic State" in Northwest Pakistan (Press Trust of India)
    After taking "virtual control" of the entire North Waziristan province of Pakistan, Taliban and al-Qaeda have recently declared the establishment of an "Islamic state" in the area and gained a major base for their operations against the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, the Hong Kong-based Asia Times reports.
    The report said Taliban supporters planted bombs along the routes used by Pakistani security forces and "virtually every day one or two vehicles are blown up. This measure is aimed at keeping security forces away from the actual tribal areas of Waziristan."

Anger in Iran Over German Soccer Cartoon (DPA/Expatica-Netherlands)
    The general secretary of the Iranian press association, Manuchehr Sandi, called Sunday for action over a cartoon printed Friday in Berlin's Tagesspiegelin showing the Iranian national team standing in a World Cup stadium with bomb belts strapped to their jerseys.
    The cartoon also depicts German soldiers in the stadium with the caption, "Why at the World Cup of all places does the German army have to be on duty?"
    View the Cartoon (Tagesspiegelin-Germany)

Shoshana Damari, Queen of Israeli Song, Dies at 83 - Assaf Carmel (Ha'aretz)
    Shoshana Damari had been one of Israel's best-loved singers since the founding of the state, and many of her songs were closely identified with the 1948 War of Independence.

Israel Sends 100 Million Valentine's Day Flowers to Europe, U.S. - Gadi Golan (Globes)
    An air train of 27 cargo jets have delivered 100 million Israeli-grown flowers over the past two weeks for St. Valentine's Day.
    Flower growers, exporters, and airlines have created an efficient network for delivering flowers to Europe within 24-48 hours of being picked.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Gallup Poll: Support for Israel Among Americans Highest Since Gulf War - Jeffrey M. Jones
    Following the election of Hamas, Americans have grown more pessimistic that peace will ever be achieved in the Middle East, and increasingly sympathetic toward the Israelis. Most Americans do not believe the U.S. should give any financial assistance to the PA. By 65% to 32%, Americans now say there will never come a time when Israel and the Arab nations will live in peace. 57% oppose giving any financial aid to the Palestinians while Hamas is in power, while 30% would give aid if the Palestinians recognize Israel.
        Americans are much more likely to sympathize with the Israelis (59%) than with the Palestinians (15%), one of the highest margins in favor of the Israelis ever recorded by Gallup. Gallup also finds that Americans who say they follow news about world affairs "very closely" are more likely to sympathize with the Israelis (66%). The new poll finds 68% of Americans saying they have a favorable opinion of Israel, including 21% who are "very favorable," while 23% view Israel unfavorably. Just 11% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the PA, while 78% have an unfavorable view. (Gallup Poll)
  • Saudi Ambassador to U.S. Justifies Hamas Attacks as "Legitimate" - Nick Wadhams
    Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki al-Faisal told the Council on Foreign Relations Monday that the suicide bombings carried out by Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad against Israel were "legitimate means of war under occupation." (AP/Los Angeles Times)
  • Presbyterian Groups Call for End to Divestment Policy
    Five regional bodies in the Presbyterian Church (USA) are calling for a modification or end to the church's attempt to pull investments from companies working in Israel. The moves come almost two years after the Louisville-based denomination started a process of selectively divesting in multinational corporations operating in Israel. (AP/Lexington [KY] Herald-Leader)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Parliament Expands Powers of Abbas in Final Session - Arnon Regular
    The outgoing Palestinian parliament passed a law at its final session Monday substantially expanding the powers of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in what Hamas said was a last-minute bid to rein it in before it takes over parliament and forms the new government. The outgoing parliament gave Abbas the authority to appoint judges to the Constitutional Law Court that will decide in disputes between the PA chairman and parliament. Hamas's Abdel-Aziz Dweik charged that the law gives full powers to Abbas "to dissolve parliament any time he wishes." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Abbas "Coup" in PA Parliament Outrages Hamas - Orly Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Abbas Takes Control Over Palestinian Media - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In an attempt to prevent Hamas from taking control over the media, PA Chairman Abbas on Monday placed the PA's radio and television stations under his jurisdiction. The decree means that Abbas, not the Information Ministry, will now be directly in charge of the electronic media including the PLO's official news agency, Wafa. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians: China and Spain Will Cooperate with Hamas - Ali Waked
    Palestinian sources said Sunday that in addition to Russia, China and Spain will cooperate and recognize a Hamas-led government. The sources also said the Americans do not reject cooperation with Hamas. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Children Demonstrate in West Bank, Gaza Against Denmark
    About 500 Palestinian schoolchildren stomped on a Danish flag and shouted anti-Danish slogans on Monday in the West Bank in a protest organized by a school affiliated with Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Putin and Hamas - Richard Cohen
    Hamas is no mere anti-Israel or anti-Zionist organization. It is also deeply, indelibly, and quite openly anti-Semitic. Its covenant, adopted Aug. 18, 1988, does not limit itself to the goal of annihilating Israel, but throws in "killing the Jews" for good measure. It mentions Jews over and over again and even cites that notorious anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as proof of what the vile Hebrews are up to. This includes, and I am not making this up, "control of the world media, news agencies, the press," and responsibility for "the French revolution, the Communist revolution, and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about."
        "They [Jews] were behind World War I" and, for good measure, "World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state." This is 100%, non-alloyed, near-perfect, and totally bananas anti-Semitism - not the work of rational minds. It is, though, the work of the very people whom Putin (with French support) would meet with. If Putin can talk with Hamas, why can't others talk to the Chechens? (Washington Post)
  • Hijacking Islam - Amir Taheri
    In a London mosque, discussing the sermons the sheik delivers on Friday, I had asked why God almost never featured in sermons that focused almost exclusively on political issues. The sheik responded that in our Islam, we don't do God - we do Palestine, Kashmir, and Iraq. Here we have a religion without a theology, a secular wolf disguised as a religious lamb, neo-Islam - a political movement masquerading as religion. Neo-Islam pursues a culture of apartheid by dividing the world into "Islam" and "un-Islam." Neo-Islam has as much right to operate in the political field as any other party in a democracy. But it does not have the right to pretend to be a religion - it is not. (New York Post)
  • Lessons from the Cartoon Jihad - Abraham H. Foxman
    Jews can, on one level, empathize with those Muslims who feel insulted by the cartoons. Indeed, the medium of the caricature has been one of anti-Semitism's deadliest weapons. For years, newspapers and broadcasters in the Arab and Islamic countries have fed their audiences a diet of anti-Semitic images, libels, and conspiracy theories. Nazi-style cartoons demonizing Jews, along with references to the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, appear almost every day. Many ordinary Muslims have formed their view of Jews entirely because of such material; they have access to nothing else. Yet protests from Western governments and Jewish organizations have encountered indifference, contempt, or the devious response that government interference would mean restricting press freedom, even though many of these newspapers and broadcasters are state-owned. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iraq's Sectarian Fire - Editorial
    The Sunni Arab regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt have made it plain they see the consequences of regime change in Iraq as a strategic setback for their side. They see in Iraq's turbulence a catalyst for the destabilizing emergence of what King Abdullah of Jordan called a ''Shi'ite crescent" running from Iran through Iraq and extending to Lebanon. The exclusivist Wahhabi doctrines of the Saudi regime stigmatize Shi'ites as heretics. Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia, who make up only about 10% of the population, are concentrated in the oil-rich eastern province.
        Nonetheless, those same regimes bear part of the blame for the dangerous drift toward sectarian war in Iraq. They have been too slow to denounce and help defeat the Sunni Arab jihadists from their countries who have gone to Iraq to wage holy war under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist master who has overtly declared that his primary objective is to kill Shi'ite heretics and provoke a sectarian civil war in Iraq.
        The number one objective of U.S. policy for Iraq - and for the larger Middle East - must be to stamp out the flames of that sectarian war before they consume Iraq and spread outward across the Gulf, into central Asia, and toward the Mediterranean. The conflagration that Zarqawi's jihadists have been stoking could otherwise set the entire region afire. (Boston Globe)
  • Observations:

    We Were Brought Up to Hate - and We Do - Nonie Darwish (Telegraph-UK)

    • Of course, the cartoons are offensive to Muslims, but newspaper cartoons do not warrant the burning of buildings and the killing of innocent people. The cartoons did not cause the disease of hate that we are seeing in the Muslim world.
    • In school in Gaza, I learned hate, vengeance, and retaliation. Peace was never an option. At school we sang songs with verses calling Jews "dogs." Hundreds of millions of other Muslims also have been raised with the same hatred of the West and Israel as a way to distract from the failings of their leaders.
    • Is it any surprise that after decades of indoctrination in a culture of hate, that people actually do hate? Arab society has created a system of relying on fear of a common enemy. It's a system that has brought them much-needed unity, cohesion, and compliance in a region ravaged by tribal feuds, instability, violence, and selfish corruption. So Arab leaders blame Jews and Christians rather than provide good schools, roads, hospitals, housing, jobs, or hope to their people.
    • For 30 years I lived inside this war zone of oppressive dictatorships and police states. Citizens competed to appease and glorify their dictators, but they looked the other way when Muslims tortured and terrorized other Muslims. It's time for Arabs and Muslims to stand up for their families. We must stop allowing our leaders to use the West and Israel as an excuse to distract from their own failed leadership and their citizens' lack of freedoms.
    • Muslims need jobs - not jihad. Unless we recognize that the culture of hate is the true root of the riots surrounding this cartoon controversy, this violent overreaction will only be the start of a clash of civilizations that the world cannot bear.

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