Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 29, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Lebanese Television Airs New Pictures of Missing Israeli Airman Ron Arad - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Lebanese television channel LBC displayed new footage Monday of missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, who disappeared in 1986 when his plane was shot down over Lebanon.
    The previously unseen still photographs and video footage of Arad appeared in a trailer promoting a program that will air on the station in the coming days.
    The promo also includes images from Hizballah's abduction of three Israel Defense Forces troops in October 2000.

Is Hizballah Money Counterfeit? - David Frum (National Post-Canada/American Enterprise Institute)
    The Reuters photo showed Hizballah members handing out bundles of cash on Friday to people whose homes were wrecked by Israeli bombing.
    Only one thing was missing - the thin wire security strip that runs from top to bottom of a genuine U.S. $100 bill. Was the money Hizballah was passing counterfeit?
    Hizballah has a history of counterfeiting: In June, 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department cited Hizballah as one of the planet's leading forgers of U.S. currency.

12,000 Buildings in Israel Hit by Rocket Attack (Ynet News)
    Some 12,000 buildings, including 4,000 public structures, were damaged by rocket attacks waged by Hizballah from Lebanon during 35 days of confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces, a report by the Ministry for the Environment showed.
    The Prime Minister's Office estimates that 2,000 buildings and apartments were destroyed during the war.

America's Muslims Aren't as Assimilated as You Think - Geneive Abdo (Washington Post)
    The approximately 6 million Muslims in the U.S. are often portrayed as well-assimilated and willing to leave their religion and culture behind in pursuit of American values and lifestyle.
    But the real story of American Muslims is one of accelerating alienation from the mainstream of U.S. life, with Muslims in the U.S. choosing their Islamic identity over their American one.
    From schools to language to religion, American Muslims are becoming a people apart.
    Young, first-generation American Muslim women are wearing head scarves even if their mothers had left them behind; increasing numbers of young Muslims are attending Islamic schools and lectures; Muslim student associations in high schools and at colleges are proliferating; and the role of the mosque has evolved to become a center for socializing and for learning Arabic.

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  • Lebanon Insists It Can Control the Syrian Border by Itself - Warren Hoge
    Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Monday that Lebanon could control its border with Syria without the assistance of international troops and had already confiscated illegal arms in the south. Siniora said he had deployed 8,600 Lebanese Army soldiers along the border and that he had accepted an offer from Germany for technical equipment and training to help prevent the entry of unauthorized weapons into Lebanon.
        The control of the border has emerged as a major concern in the international effort to dismantle Hizballah in southern Lebanon and to prevent its rearmament with weaponry coming in from Syria. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who arrived in Beirut on Monday at the start of an 11-day trip to the Middle East, said, "It is important that the borders are protected and there are no attempts to rearm." (New York Times)
  • Hizballah's Rise Fuels Rifts Inside Lebanon - Thanassis Cambanis
    In Beirut's battered Shi'ite Muslim neighborhoods, Hizballah supporters crow about their "divine victory" over Israel amid piles of rubble. Across town, Christians are lining up for American and Canadian visas, while Sunni Muslims and members of the Druze sect say they need weapons of their own to counter Hizballah's. Sectarian groups that grumbled about Hizballah before the conflict now talk openly about civil war. Since the war, angry Lebanese have begun blaming Hizballah for reopening dangerous sectarian rifts. (Boston Globe)
  • Mearsheimer and Walt Appear with CAIR to Pronounce Blame on Israel Lobby - Dana Milbank
    On Monday, at the invitation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School and University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer held a forum at the National Press Club in Washington to expand on their allegations about the Israel lobby. Blurring the line between academics and activism, they accepted a button proclaiming "Fight the Israel Lobby" and won cheers from the Muslim group for their denunciation of Israel and its friends in the U.S.
        Clenching the lectern so tightly his knuckles whitened, Mearsheimer accused Israel of using the kidnapping of its soldiers by Hizballah as a convenient excuse to attack Lebanon. Whatever motivated the performance, the result wasn't exactly scholarly. Walt singled out two Jews who worked at the Pentagon for their pro-Israel views. But why single out Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith and not their non-Jewish boss, Donald Rumsfeld? Mearsheimer cited two Jews in the White House, Elliott Abrams and David Wurmser, as "fervent supporters of Israel." Never mind that others in the White House, such as national security adviser Stephen Hadley, Vice President Cheney, and President Bush have been just as fervent. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Four Israelis Wounded in Turkey Bomb Blast - Relly Sa'ar
    A bomb exploded in the tourist city of Antalya in southern Turkey on Monday, killing three and injuring a large number of people including four Israelis, local police said. The attack was the fifth bomb to hit Turkey in less than 24 hours. (Ha'aretz)
  • Muslim Women in Israel Having Fewer Children - Gad Lior
    Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reports a significant decrease in the fertility rate among Muslim women from 4.7 in 2000 to 4 in 2005. In the Druze community, the average fertility rate dropped from 4.1 children in 1990 to 2.6 in 2005. Among Christian Israeli Arab women, the rate fell from 2.7 in 1996 to 2.2 in 2005. Among Jewish Israeli women, fertility has remained relatively stable, wavering between 2.6 and 2.7 children over the past decade. (Ynet News)
  • Jihad Summer Camp: Sand, Soccer, and the Zionist Enemy - Avi Issacharoff
    At an Islamic Jihad summer camp, Hisham, one of the camp directors, explains: "We teach the children the truth. How the Jews persecuted the prophets and tortured them. We stress that the Jews killed and slaughtered Arabs and Palestinians every chance they got. Most important, the children understand that the conflict with the Jews is not over land, but rather over religion. As long as Jews remain here, between the [Jordan] river and the sea, they will be our enemy and we will continue to pursue and kill them."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Is Kofi Annan Doing for the Kidnapped Israeli Soldiers? - Judea Pearl and Ruth Pearl
    As the parents of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Pakistan in 2002, we share the anguish of the families of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, and their frustration with the international community for failing to secure the release of their loved ones. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for the unconditional release of these soldiers has been ignored. So now the families of Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev, and Gilad Shalit are asking to meet with Kofi Annan, to ask him to mobilize and intensify the efforts of the international community. The time has come for Mr. Annan to personally and aggressively intervene, and to insist publicly that, at the minimum, the Red Cross, or his personal humanitarian representatives, be given immediate access to these soldiers. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Annan Urges Release of Captured Israelis - Edward Cody (Washington Post)
  • Hizballah Executes 18 Lebanese - David Pryce Jones
    A German news agency has reported that Hizballah men have executed 18 Lebanese accused of spying for Israel. Lebanon has a judicial process, but it was not involved. Hizballah alone directed and carried out the process of putting these 18 to death. I have no idea if any of them were spies for Israel, but it seems most unlikely. Eighteen? All caught at work in the short time-frame of the fighting? And how come Hizballah is allowed to take what here is laughably called the law into its own hands? My suspicion is that the 18 merely expressed what many, even most, Lebanese think but dare not say, that Hizballah has brought calamity down on the country, and is likely to make matters even worse in the future. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Achievements in the War - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)

    • While the war did indeed reveal serious flaws, especially at the tactical level, the war did produce some achievements for Israel too. The air force demonstrated impressive capabilities; the intelligence community provided information about the storage locations of the long-range missiles and their launchers and enabled the air force to destroy them.
    • The razing of Hizballah's headquarters in southern Beirut undermined the organization's command and control capabilities and dented Nasrallah's pride. Commando raids mounted by elite Israel Defense Forces units deep in enemy territory sowed fear among Hizballah. In several cases, Hizballah fighters fled and left their equipment behind, fearing face-to-face combat with IDF soldiers.
    • The Lebanese Army will deploy along the border, a large multinational force will back it up, Hizballah will no longer be encamped along the border, and its members will not bear arms openly. Hizballah's fortifications along the border have been destroyed; about half of its missiles, especially the long-range ones, have been destroyed; support for the organization has diminished; and it is perceived as having brought destruction upon Lebanon.
    • The claim that Iran initiated the crisis with the aim of diverting world public opinion away from its nuclear program has been proved baseless. It is difficult to believe that Tehran gave Hizballah such massive aid, worth several billions of dollars, only for the purpose of spending it on the abduction of Israeli soldiers. It is more reasonable to assume that Hizballah was prepared as a reserve, intended to be brought into the fray if Iran itself were attacked. In the wake of the war, the strength of this reserve has dwindled.
    • A public opinion survey published in Beirut this week showed that two-thirds of the non-Shia public in Lebanon believes that Hizballah was defeated in the war.

          See also This Is a Victory? - Barry Rubin
      The Arab world professes to be amazed that Hizballah soldiers did not drop their guns and run away but actually managed to kill some Israelis before suffering far more casualties and having their operational area overrun. If this is defined as victory, obviously expectations are rather low. What truly counts is this: Israel will get an anti-rocket system, improve its tanks' defenses, and fix other shortcomings. It will rebuild the north quickly without foreign aid.
          As bizarre as it seems, we are now in the phase of the united front against fascism. All Arab regimes but Syria now have parallel interests to Israel and the West in opposing the Iranian-Syrian axis of Ahmadinejad and Assad. (Jerusalem Post)
          See also Could This War Produce a Sunni-Israeli Alliance? - Chemi Shalev (Ha'aretz)

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