Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 13, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

PA TV Falsifies Video of Gaza Deaths - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    PA TV has been repeatedly broadcasting a falsified video clip of the events surrounding the deaths of Palestinians on the Gaza beach on Friday.
    PA TV took unrelated video of an Israeli boat firing at Gaza hours before the incident and edited it to create the impression that the boat fired at civilians on the beach.
    See also Israel: Gaza Blast Not From Israeli Shell - Laurie Copans (AP/Washington Post)

Hamas Rocket Squads Resume Israel Attacks - Harvey Morris (Financial Times-UK)
    Hamas resumed rocket fire on Israel for the first time in almost 18 months. In Gaza, the military wing of Hamas said: "We have decided to turn [the Israeli town of] Sderot into a ghost town."
    See also Hamas PM Defends Resumption of Rocket Attacks on Israel (AFP/Yahoo)
    Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya on Monday defended the resumption of anti-Israel rocket attacks by his radical Islamist movement Hamas' armed wing.

Jordan Detains Pro-Zarqawi MPs (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Jordan detained four Islamist deputies on Sunday for allegedly voicing sympathy for the slain al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
    The four members of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and the largest political bloc in parliament, were questioned by the prosecutor-general.

Middle East Wars Flare Up at Yale - Liel Leibovitz (New York Jewish Week)
    Middle East scholar Juan Cole, a tenured professor at the University of Michigan, was tapped earlier this year by a Yale University search committee to teach about the modern Middle East.
    Last week, however, Yale's tenure committee voted down Cole's nomination in a decision described by several faculty members as "highly unusual."
    University insiders say the rebuff may have been influenced by the political commentary Cole writes on his blog, "Informed Comment," where he often favors a pugilistic tone and consistently criticizes Israel's policies.
    See also Juan Cole Doubts that Ahmadinejad Called for Israel to Be Wiped Off the Map - Ethan Bronner (New York Times)
    "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian," remarked Middle East specialist Juan Cole, who has argued that the Iranian president was misquoted. "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse."
    Jonathan Steele, a columnist for the Guardian in London, wrote: "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini."
    But translators who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry in Tehran disagree. All official translations of Ahmadinejad's statement refer to wiping Israel away.
    Sohrab Mahdavi, one of Iran's most prominent translators, and Siamak Namazi, who is bilingual, both say "wipe off" or "wipe away" is more accurate than "vanish" because the Persian verb is active and transitive.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Attacks Fatah with Rockets in Gaza, Fatah Burns Hamas Cabinet Offices in West Bank - Steven Erlanger
    Hundreds of Palestinian security personnel loyal to Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas went on a rampage Monday in the West Bank town of Ramallah, attacking the parliament and cabinet buildings controlled by his rivals in the Hamas-led government. The attack came after Hamas gunmen attacked the Gaza headquarters of the Fatah-dominated security forces with rockets and grenades. At least 2 people were killed and 15 wounded in the fighting in Gaza. In Ramallah, a member of the security forces told AP, "Every time they touch one of ours in Gaza, we will get ten of theirs in the West Bank."
        The Hamas majority in parliament decided Monday to allow dialogue between the factions to continue on a unified political platform, hoping to make a referendum called by Abbas for July 26 unnecessary. In Damascus, Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chief of Hamas' political bureau in Syria, said Hamas would do its best to stop the vote. "Even if it is carried out, Hamas would not recognize it or accept its outcome, whatever it might be," he said. (New York Times)
  • Blair Meets Olmert in London
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who held talks in London on Monday with his visiting Israeli counterpart, Ehud Olmert, said everyone favored a negotiated settlement, but such discussions would only take place if the Palestinians recognized the Jewish state's right to exist, renounced violence, and agreed to follow the international "road map" for peace. "We either put our best effort into making sure that negotiated settlement becomes a reality or we are going to face a different reality," he said. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Probe: Hamas Bomb, Not IDF Shell, Caused Gaza Deaths - Amos Harel
    An Israel Defense Forces committee investigating the deaths of seven Palestinians at a Gaza beach last Friday is close to concluding that the IDF was not responsible. Its tentative conclusion is that the deaths stemmed from a bomb that Hamas planted on the beach in order to ambush Israeli naval commandos operating in northern Gaza. Three people wounded in the blast are now hospitalized in Israel. Shrapnel was apparently removed from their bodies, and this is likely to reinforce the conclusion that the explosion was caused by a bomb rather than a shell.
        Based on photographs, the crater left on the beach by the blast seems to have been made by an explosion from below (a mine), not a hit from above (a shell). Israel has amassed considerable information indicating that over the past few weeks, ever since Israeli commandos infiltrated Gaza and killed a rocket-launching cell, Hamas has been systematically mining the northern Gaza beach in an attempt to keep Israeli commandos from landing there again. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Shrapnel Doesn't Match Artillery Metal
    Israel Television Channel 2 reported Monday that shrapnel in the body of a wounded Palestinian who had been brought to Israel after the Gaza beach incident does not match the metal composition of Israeli artillery shells. (Walla News-Hebrew)
  • Twenty Palestinian Rockets Hit Israel - Yaakov Katz
    Twenty Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza fell on Israel Monday. An Israeli woman was wounded in the shoulder by rocket fragments. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Town Sderot Survives Third Day of Rockets - Tovah Lazaroff
    Women and children screamed "Kassam! Kassam!" as the Red Dawn siren blasted across Sderot on Monday warning of an imminent rocket attack from Gaza. Seven-year-old Yanay fell to the floor and his mother, Hava Gad, fell on top of him to protect him and tried to calm him down as they waited to hear the familiar thud when rockets land. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Border Town Plays Rocket Roulette - Mark MacKinnon (Globe and Mail-Canada)
        See also Video of Rocket Strike on Sderot (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Israel Hits Islamic Jihad Rocket Crew - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    Israel Air Force aircraft fired two missiles in Gaza City Tuesday at the vehicle of an Islamic Jihad crew heading to fire rockets at Israel. Witnesses said they saw rockets in the wreckage of the van. The rockets found in the vehicle were Katyusha rockets, which have a longer range than the Kassam rockets usually fired from Gaza. At least two Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed, along with several civilians. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Chorus of Hypocrites - Amnon Dankner
    We withdrew from the Gaza Strip, down to the last centimeter, in a painful, wrenching step; we shattered communities and families and we are entitled to demand complete quiet from the Palestinian side in Gaza. We are also entitled to respond with force when the lives of Israeli residents are put at risk and to try to remove the harrowing nightmare that is hanging over our heads day and night.
        Once, my lot was with those who thought that if we would only be nicer, show more goodwill, be more humane, and offer more concessions - everything would be just fine. But the lesson that we learned, and which cost us so much blood, is that this approach which thinks that if we just give peace a chance, it will crown us with garlands; if only we do not respond with force and do not stand up for our lives, a warm sun of marvelous tranquility will shine upon us - is so stupid in the perspective of what we have gone through, that the brain bubbles with astonishment at hearing such things. The writer is the editor of Ma'ariv. (Ma'ariv/IMRA)
  • Abbas' Gamble Is Doomed - Shlomo Ben-Ami
    Referenda are supposed to approve peace deals; they are not made in advance of peace negotiations to tie the hands of the negotiators. What may be a potential platform for a Palestinian consensus is clearly a nonstarter from Israel's point of view. The covenant Abbas seeks to have approved by a referendum simply falls short of meeting the requirements of the international community for Hamas to be granted international legitimacy. It contains no explicit recognition of Israel, it does not advance a commitment to stop violent activities, and it does not endorse existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. It also insists on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former lands in Israel. The writer is a former foreign minister of Israel. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Spreading Hate, Destruction, and Terrorism - Anne Bayefsky
    The multibillion-dollar UN system was once largely closed to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as the private playing field of member states. But NGOs have now found their way into the most intimate recesses of the UN. A much darker side to the UN-NGO nexus is the large number of NGOs that have been empowered by UN accreditation to spread anti-Semitism, hate, and encourage terrorism from a UN platform. In January 2006, the NGO called BADIL, Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, won accreditation despite the fact that BADIL advocates Zionism is racism and the end of a Jewish state. (National Review)
  • Zarqawi May Be Dead, But His Terrorist Creed Lives On in the Mosques - Youssef Ibrahim
    Zarqawi and his followers, many Arab pundits opined, were not merely insurgents fighting against Americans, against Shiites, against Kurds, or against Christians. They were fighting for an idea that deserves to die across the Muslim human landscape of 1.1 billion persons. Zarqawi's quest was not only for an Islamic caliphate in Iraq, but also to connect the dots across the Islamic fundamentalist map in Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and much of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. "Let us remember," the executive director of the widely viewed Saudi television network Al Arabiya, Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, wrote on Saturday, "that Zarqawi was not acting out his butcheries alone in the dark, but supported by words, deeds, and sermons and preaches at mosques, in theocratic institutes, and across (the Arab and Muslim world's) media." (New York Sun)
  • Observations:

    Israel Has the Right to Defend Itself - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • When the British government condemned an Israeli missile attack on March 6 that killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander, another terrorist, and two bystanders in Gaza City, its official statement included the phrase: "Israel has the right to defend itself."
    • Tal Becker, the acting director of the Foreign Ministry's international law department, sees the inclusion of that phrase as indicating a significant change in the world's attitude toward how it feels Israel, and indeed other countries, can fight terrorism.
    • "One of the things that has happened because of the enormity of the 9/11 attack and the risk of catastrophic terror worldwide is the realization that sometimes you have to fight terrorism not through a law enforcement, criminal model, but rather through a war model," said Becker, author of a recently released book, Terrorism and the State: Rethinking the Rules of State Responsibility.
    • Slowly, Becker said, people have come to realize that "it is hard to talk about a solely criminal model when the actor is engaged not for a private agenda, but for a public ideological agenda, and when he has the capacity to wreak the kind of devastation we used to think that only states with armies were capable of inflicting."
    • "In the specific context of Israel, time and time again European leaders, and not just European leaders, now say that they recognize Israel's right of self-defense against terror. With that statement they are saying that sometimes an armed-conflict model regulates dealing with terrorism, and that is a dramatic shift."

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