Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 8, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Gaza Land Operation Inevitable - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Since the IDF has been unable to eradicate the firing of Kassam rockets into Israel, senior IDF officers said Tuesday that Israel would have no choice but to launch a massive ground operation into the Gaza Strip in the near future.
    While artillery fire on launch sites, as well as targeted interceptions of key terror figures, did deter attacks to some degree, it was "only a matter of time" before the IDF would need to reenter Gaza which it left last summer under the disengagement plan.
    "The exact timing depends on...when we will be fed up with the rocket attacks," one officer said.
    "Most of the Kassams are fired at the Ashkelon power station," the officer said. "They look up and see the two smoke stacks and do all they can to try and hit them."
    Former Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon last month called to "escalate military action against the Kassam launchers, even if it means entering the Gaza Strip."
    See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket Wednesday that landed in the western Negev.

Rumsfeld: Iran Sending Revolutionary Guard into Iraq (Bloomberg)
    U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Tuesday accused Iran of sending its Revolutionary Guards into Iraq to foment violence.
    Iran is "putting people into Iraq to do things that are harmful to the future of Iraq,'' Rumsfeld said.
    When asked if the infiltration is backed by Iran's central government, he said, "of course,'' adding, "The Revolutionary Guard doesn't go milling around willy-nilly.''
    Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt.-Gen. Michael Maples told the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 28 that "Iran has provided lethal aid to the Iraqi Shia insurgents.''

Pro-Taliban Rebel Holdouts Give Pakistanis a Fierce Fight (Reuters/Washington Post)
    Pakistani security forces battled pro-Taliban rebels near the Afghan border on Monday, killing 19 as the toll from three days of clashes rose to more than 120, the military said.

Google Israel Launches Hebrew News Site (UPI)
    Visit News Google in Hebrew

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The Hamas Charter (MEMRI)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Cheney: U.S. Won't Support Terrorist PA State, Won't Allow Iran to Have Nuclear Weapons
    Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2006 Policy Conference Tuesday, Vice President Cheney said: "All of us share a fundamental belief - that the freedom and security of Israel are vital interests to the United States of America....We are, as President Bush has said, natural allies."
        "If the leaders of Hamas desire the help of America and the international community to build an independent, prosperous Palestinian state, then the way forward is very clear. The Palestinian government must recognize Israel's right to exist. And Hamas must renounce terror and dismantle the infrastructure of terror. One thing is certain: The United States will not be a party to the establishment of a Palestinian state that sponsors terror and violence."
        "The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences. For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime. And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."  (White House/Washington Post)
  • World Bank Donates $42 Million to Bail Out Palestinian Authority
    The World Bank released $42 million on Tuesday to help the debt-ridden Palestinian Authority pay salaries until the radical Islamic group Hamas forms the next government. The money is part of $60 million withheld from the Palestinians last December because they failed to meet commitments to fiscal responsibility. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abbas Reconciled to a Hamas Government - Herb Keinon
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has reconciled himself to a Hamas government. Abbas has made it clear in recent days that he had no intention of standing in Hamas' way, and was even defending Hamas in the international arena. Furthermore, he has not made his "soft" line conditional on Hamas recognizing Israel or accepting previous PA-Israel agreements. Abbas' new approach was evident in his decision to place the entire PA security apparatus, with the exception of a key intelligence agency, in Hamas' hands. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Is Not Relevant - Yossi Alpher
    Some people of good will want to make Abbas "relevant" in the hope that this will render an Israeli-Palestinian peace process possible. They point out that Hamas did not get a majority of Palestinian votes, merely a majority of Legislative Council mandates, hence Abbas still represents the Palestinian majority. They note that most Palestinians, including many Hamas voters, continue to support immediate negotiations toward a two-state solution.
        But Abbas is not relevant to the current situation, and for now a peace process is not possible. Abbas is a good person with noble sentiments. But he is incapable of acting decisively, and unable to deliver on his commitments. He promised to disarm the militias - those of Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad - and could not. Even if he had a mandate to negotiate and the capacity to do so, peace talks with him would likely fail. In the unlikely event that they succeeded, Abbas would not be able to deliver, because he does not have a mandate. Hamas does. The writer is a former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Muslims Began This War - Wafa Sultan
    On February 21, 2006, Arab-American psychologist Wafa Sultan told Al-Jazeera television: "The clash we are a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings."
        "The Jews have come from the tragedy [of the Holocaust], and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. Fifteen million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church....Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies."  (MEMRI)
        View the video (MEMRI)
  • Judicious Double Standards - Richard Cohen
    The invocation of the term "double standard'' is often applied where Israel is concerned. Israel is presumed to have a nuclear arsenal. Why should the U.S. look the other way at Israel's bomb and go nuts over Iran's effort to get one? The answer ought to be clear: Because Israel has not threatened to blow Iran off the map, because it is vastly outnumbered in a tough, belligerent neighborhood, and because it is a lone democracy in a region run mostly by thugs.
        The Israeli bomb threatens nobody. An Iranian bomb does. India has transferred its nuclear technology to no one. Pakistan has. No one worries about India or Israel making the technology available to terrorists. Everyone worries about Iran doing that. To apply a single standard to both friend and enemy may be fair - but it is singularly stupid. (Washington Post)
  • Sharon's Policy - Uri Dan
    Sharon agreed to accept the road map because he believed that, despite its many drawbacks, it would serve as Israel's best international line of political defense, especially in light of the rise and strengthening of Hamas, a possibility he took into account. President Bush completely supported Sharon regarding the first obligation of the Palestinian Authority: It must first put an end to terror in all forms and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. This section of the agreement is particularly suitable for Hamas - it fits like a glove. From my close acquaintance with Sharon spanning over 50 years, I have no doubt that at this time he would not agree to depart a millimeter from any of the articles of the road map.
        It is exactly at this time that Sharon would make sure to honor his public commitment: "There will be no further unilateral disengagements." Those who favor uprooting additional settlements in Judea and Samaria in the context of another disengagement are not only undermining Sharon's ironclad policy, they are also making a grave tactical error vis-a-vis the Palestinians. With Israel living in the shadow of a Hamas government and fighting against it, to uproot more settlements is tantamount to awarding Hamas a prize. A promise of further withdrawals only encourages Hamas to intensify its extremist positions. Sharon himself repeatedly said that additional Israeli settlements would be uprooted from Judea and Samaria only in the context of negotiations over a final settlement, in accordance with the road map. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Islam's Coming Crusade - Martin Kramer
    (Jerusalem Report/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas abroad, has demanded that Europe repent for the Danish cartoons. "Tomorrow, our nation will sit on the throne of the world....Apologize today, before remorse will do you no good....Since God is greater, and He supports us, we will be victorious."
    • The secular West had flattered itself, believing it had pulled the Muslim world into modernity. Yes, Islam has sent forth suicide bombers and terrorist insurgents. But they and their sympathizers were in the minority - so the pollsters and analysts told us: "Don't judge Islam by the acts of a misguided few." This faith in the pragmatic Muslim majority has underpinned every Western policy, from the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" to the Bush administration's democracy promotion. The Muslim masses, the assumption goes, will choose peace and freedom, if given the chance.
    • But they haven't. 9/11 could be attributed to a fanatic minority. Not so the Danish cartoon protests: Millions have taken part. Hundreds of millions of Muslims who live alongside us and among us inhabit another mental world.
    • Our elites have spent a decade denying the truth at the core of Samuel Huntington's thesis: that the Islamic world and the West are bound to collide. There is a clash of civilizations, but there isn't yet a war of the worlds. They lack power, resources and weapons. Today they burn flags; a united West can still deny them the means to burn more if it acts swiftly and resolutely, to keep nuclear fire out of Iran's hands, and to assure that Hamas fails.

      The writer is the Wexler-Fromer fellow at the Washington Institute.

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