Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 10, 2006

To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
Rally for Captured Israeli Soldier on Monday (Conference of Presidents)
    On July 10, at 12:00 noon, across from the Syrian Mission to the UN, 820 2nd Ave., NYC.

In-Depth Issues:

Gaza Group Shares Al-Qaeda's Agenda - Michael Slackman and Souad Mekhennet (New York Times)
    The Army of Islam is one of three Palestinian groups who say they are holding captured Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
    Marwan Shahadeh and Hasan Abu Hanieh, two Jordanian researchers with long-established contacts among jihadist adherents, say the Army of Islam represents the first time a Palestinian group has adopted the agenda of al-Qaeda, and that the group had been central in planning the operation.
    The researchers point to statements and videos posted by the Army of Islam on a website serving as a primary forum for al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.
    The group says it is not fighting "for a piece of land" but waging a religious war aimed at restoring a religious caliphate, or government, throughout the Muslim world.
    The researchers said that the group's logo and name indicated that it was attempting to transform the Palestinian militant movement into an operation akin to al-Qaeda.
    The logo is a symbol of a globe, a sword, and a Koran. There is nothing about Palestine.

Poll: Majority of Palestinians Back Kidnappings, Rocket Fire - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    According to a new poll by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Center released Sunday, 67% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza expressed support for further kidnappings of Israeli civilians, while 77% backed the kidnapping of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
    60% support continued rocket fire into Israel as opposed to 36% who disagree.

Ahmadinejad: Work to Remove Zionist Regime (AFP/Times of Oman)
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Islamic countries last week to mobilize against Israel and "remove" the "Zionist regime."
    "The waves of fury of Muslim nations will not be confined within the boundaries of the region, and the people who close their ears to the cries of the Palestinians and blindly support this regime will be responsible for the consequences," he warned.

Israel Eyes Laser, Cannon for Downing Gaza Rockets - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    A super-heating laser beam and radar-activated heavy machinegun are among technologies Israel is considering for shooting down Palestinian rockets launched from Gaza, but such counter-measures are months or years away, Israeli security sources said Sunday.
    The Phalanx, deployed among U.S. forces in Iraq last year, is a U.S.-made cannon that automatically locks on to rockets or mortars and shreds them with explosive 20 mm bullets.
    The system also relays the location of launch crews so they can be bombed from the air.
    Israel had voiced interest in buying Phalanx, though its protective radius is limited and the prospect of heavy machineguns nestled in populated areas and firing into the air with little warning has raised eyebrows.
    "As long as we cannot reliably stop the rockets before they land, we will have no choice but to go in and prevent them from being launched in the first place," a security source said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel to Fight Until Soldier's Release - Steven Erlanger
    Israel will continue its military offensive in the Gaza Strip at its own pace until Palestinian militants release a captured Israeli soldier and halt their rocket attacks, Prime Minister Olmert told the cabinet on Sunday. Releasing prisoners to Hamas in response to a kidnapping would damage Palestinian moderates and reward extremism, he said. (New York Times)
        See also Israel: "No Possible Justification" for Palestinian Rocket Attacks - Greg Myre
    Israel describes Palestinian rocket attacks as terrorism and argues that any rationale for firing the rockets evaporated when the government withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza last summer. "We left Gaza," Brig.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan said. "There can be no possible justification for launching these rockets, and we cannot tolerate a situation where they are being fired at our citizens every day." The Palestinians have not yet fired any rockets from the West Bank - a development that would cause even greater alarm in Israel because they could be launched within a few miles of several main cities. (New York Times)
        See also Failed Palestinian Rocket Attack from West Bank - Hanan Greenberg
    Palestinians in the Tulkarem area of the West Bank failed in an attempt to fire a rocket at Israel over the weekend, Israeli security sources said. "There is no doubt that terror organizations are trying to copy the technology and knowledge in the Gaza Strip in terms of high-trajectory fire in a bid to threaten the Sharon [greater Tel Aviv] region," a senior officer said. "There is no doubt that these attempts will continue," the officer added. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Anti-Tank Missile Kills Four Palestinians - Steven Erlanger
    Four Palestinians, three from the same family, were killed Saturday night in Shijaia neighborhood in an explosion at a house. An Israeli military official said intelligence information developed later, presumably from a source within Gaza, "clearly says that it was a Palestinian anti-tank missile" that hit the house. (New York Times)
  • FBI Foils New York Terror Plot - Jerry Seper
    Federal agents, working with security officials in Lebanon, have disrupted a terrorist network planning to attack train tunnels between New York and New Jersey, authorities said Friday. Lebanese security officials, acting on a U.S. request, have arrested Assem Hammoud, 31, a Beirut native, and said he admitted belonging to an "extremist organization" planning to carry out "a significant act of terrorism." Mark Mershon, who heads the FBI's New York field office, said the attacks were scheduled for October or November. FBI agents who monitored Internet chat rooms and e-mail messages discovered the scheme. Five suspects remain at large. (Washington Times)
        See also Suspect in NY Tunnel Plot Said to Visit U.S.
    Lebanese authorities found maps and bombing plans on the personal computer of Assem Hammoud, an al-Qaeda loyalist accused of plotting to attack New York train tunnels, and a U.S. official disclosed he had visited the country at least once. (AP/New York Times)
        See also Andalusi: What's in a Name? - Shelomo Alfassa
    Assem Hammoud's nom de guerre was Emir Andalusi, which immediately gives away his ideology. It refers to the Arab name for parts of the Iberian Peninsula that were governed by Muslims from 711 to 1492, a reference increasing common among jihadists. (israelinsider)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Hits House in Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in northern Gaza continued firing rockets at Israel Sunday. One rocket hit a house in Sderot, and one person sustained moderate injuries after being hit by shrapnel in the torso and limbs. Three people suffered shock as a result of the attack. More than 20 rockets were fired at Israel over the weekend. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Decries Abbas' Call to Stop Kassam Fire
    Hamas decried on Sunday a recent call by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to stop Kassam rocket fire on Israel and release kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza - Yaakov Katz
    "The situation in Gaza is not even close to developing into a humanitarian crisis," said head of the Gaza Liaison Administration Col. Nir Press. Last week, Israel reopened the Karni crossing into the Gaza Strip. Eighty trucks loaded with medicine and food passed through before it was closed Thursday after Israel received intelligence indicating Palestinians were planning to attack the crossing. Press said the merchandise ordered by the Palestinians included thousands of boxes of cherries. "Judging by what the Palestinians order you can tell that there is not a crisis there," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • As Israel Fights, Europe Starts to Squirm - Herb Keinon
    While Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the cabinet Sunday that Israel has maintained "a level of understanding and support" abroad for its military actions, the words "disproportionate use of force" and "collective punishment" are increasingly seeping into foreign statements on the situation. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Olmert Rejects EU Criticism of Israel's Gaza Raids
    Israeli Prime Minister Olmert on Monday rejected EU criticism of Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip, saying the EU should focus instead on Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. "When was the last time that the European Union condemned this shooting and suggested effective measures to stop it?" Olmert asked. (Reuters)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • End of Illusions - Rich Lowry
    Anyone who imagined that leaving Gaza would transform Palestinian politics or Israel's security for the better has watched those comforting notions sink after the election of a Hamas government to run the PA, rocket attacks into Israel, and a crisis over the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. The hope was that withdrawing from Gaza and creating a security fence around the Palestinian territories would basically allow the Israelis to wash their hands of the Palestinians. Except Palestinian radicals can routinely jump the security fence, in the form of the Kassam rockets they are pouring into Israel from Gaza. If Israel were to pull out unilaterally from the West Bank, major Israeli population centers would be within Hamas rocket range.
        Roughly speaking, Palestinian politics is dominated by terrorists - as represented by Hamas - and corrupt, terrorist-enabling incompetents - as represented by Fatah, the late Yasser Arafat's organization. Pity the Palestinians if Fatah is their best hope for rational government. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • U.S. Would Not Tolerate Rocket Fire on San Diego - Editorial
    Israel has embarked upon a campaign to: 1) uproot the Palestinian terror networks that have embedded themselves in Gaza and the West Bank, with the active support of Iran and Syria; and 2) destabilize what Israel accurately terms a terrorist government run by Hamas, which has made Gaza a haven for jihadists much as Afghanistan was under Taliban rule. The campaign is in part meant to deal with the consequences that followed Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last summer, such as the complete collapse of security on the Gaza/Egypt border, which permitted terrorists and weapons to cross unimpeded. Given Israel's desire not to reoccupy Gaza permanently, it must re-examine establishing a zero-tolerance policy to deal with terrorist rocket attacks from Gaza. The U.S. would not tolerate terrorists firing rockets across the Mexican border at San Diego, and Israel cannot and should not accept any rocket firings at Sderot and Ashkelon.
        The Palestinians continue to refuse to permit their Jewish neighbors to live in peace. Ever since the ascendancy of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti during the 1920s (who would later become a collaborator with Hitler's Final Solution), the Palestinians have had the wrong kind of leaders. Hamas, which responded to Israel's complete withdrawal from Gaza by stepping up rocket attacks on Israeli towns, behaves very much in the genocidal tradition of the Mufti. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Dear Brethren, the War with Israel Is Over - Youssef Ibrahim (New York Sun)

    • As Israel continues its incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few months ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading. The new views are stunning in their maturity. This is what they are saying:
    • Dear Palestinian Arab brethren: The war with Israel is over. You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children. We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the "eternal struggle" with Israel.
    • The Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness. It isn't going to get better.
    • You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem. You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel.
    • Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and the UN. Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.
    • We, your Arab brothers, have moved on. Those of us who share borders with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join you in liberating Palestine. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last Palestinian Arab. The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

      The writer is an Egyptian-born American reporter serving for 24 years as a senior Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

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