Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 5, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Considering Skyshield Air Defense - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Defense Ministry has asked U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin to run tests and make adjustments to a high-powered, rapid-fire cannon it has developed to intercept incoming aerial targets.
    The Skyshield 35 Air Defense System is a cannon that fires a unique shell that ejects 152 sub-projectiles to prevent an incoming rocket from striking its target.
    The Skyshield system is seen as more suitable than Northrop Grumman's Skyguard air-defense system - also known as the Nautilus.

Europe Nixes Landing Rights for El Al Planes with IDF Cargo - Zohar Blumenkrantz (Ha'aretz)
    A number of European states are refusing to allow El Al cargo planes carrying Israel Defense Forces equipment from stopover landings in their airports, including Britain, Germany, and Italy.
    "As a result, cargo planes are taking off from the U.S. with much lighter weight, and are reaching Israel with significantly fewer munitions than needed," said Captain Etai Regev, chairman of El Al's pilots' union.

How Popular Is Ahmadinejad in Iran? - Maziar Bahari (Newsweek International)
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad took office a year ago promising to improve the lives of ordinary citizens by distributing the country's oil wealth more fairly. So far, he has failed to deliver.
    Tehran is awash in money - an extra $25 billion last year alone. But ordinary Iranians are seeing little of it. Per capita incomes have failed to keep pace with rising living costs; rents are skyrocketing.
    In interviews, Iranians of all political hues and classes have described Ahmadinejad's economic plans as well intentioned but unsophisticated and unlikely to yield their promised benefits. Many fear they may end in outright disaster.

Versatile Israeli Violinist Has Hip-Hop Hit - Loolwa Khazzoom (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    Perusing the hot R & B/Rap Billboard charts, one does not expect to see a red-headed Israeli artist represented by the No. 3 song - a violin-dominated musical number with no singing, rapping, or music sampling whatsoever.
    Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari's new single, "Symphony of Brotherhood" (featuring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech weaving in and out of an extended string solo), topped the charts just one month after its radio release.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Gunman Fires at Foreign Tourists in Amman: 1 Dead, 7 Wounded - Yasmine Mousa
    A gunman fired more than a dozen bullets at a group of foreign tourists visiting an ancient Roman amphitheater in Amman, Jordan, on Monday, killing a British man and wounding seven others. Two British women, two Australian women, a Dutch man, a New Zealander, and a Jordanian policeman were also hit. The attacker was identified as Nabeel Ahmed Issa Jaourah, a Jordanian from Zarqa province, the home region of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "I saw someone pull out a pistol from his pocket and start shouting 'Allahu akbar' [God is greatest] and fire repeatedly," said a witness. (Washington Post)
  • Khatami Arrives as U.S. Weighs Sanctions on Iran - Robin Wright
    Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami arrived in Washington to begin a five-city U.S. tour this week as the State Department presses for punitive action for Iran's failure to meet a UN deadline to suspend uranium enrichment. Foreign policy analysts say the administration is signaling that it will not close the door on reformers such as Khatami who favor a freer press, political openings, and dialogue with the world, while it will isolate hard-liners such as President Ahmadinejad for violating UN resolutions and talking about wiping Israel off the map. But human rights groups say Khatami's government also violated human rights and supported extremist groups. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert Aides to Tell U.S. that Unilateral Withdrawal from West Bank Is Off the Table - Sheera Claire Frenkel
    Prime Minister Olmert's chief of staff Yoram Turbovich and diplomatic advisor Shalom Turgeman left for the U.S. on Monday to notify Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Advisor Steve Hadley that Olmert's realignment plan for unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank is off the table. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arab Stabs Jewish Man near Jerusalem - Etgar Lefkovitz
    A 60-year-old Jewish factory worker was stabbed and seriously wounded Tuesday by an Arab assailant in the Atarot Industrial Zone north of Jerusalem in a terror-related attack, police and rescue officials said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Officials Refuse to Meet Sinn Fein Head - Amir Mizroch and Hilary Leila Krieger
    Israeli government officials will refuse to meet Gerry Adams, leader of the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party, when he arrives Tuesday at the invitation of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, because Adams was also meeting with Hamas members. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev confirmed that "foreign visitors who are going to meet with Hamas officials don't get meetings on our side." Regev reiterated Israel's position that Hamas must renounce violence, disarm, and adhere to past agreements between Israel and the PA. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Khatami at Harvard - Editorial
    The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, fresh from having established itself as a headwater of anti-Israel agitation, is choosing to mark the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by hosting Mohammad Khatami, a former president of Iran, an enemy state levying a terrorist war against America. Khatami has been invited to speak on, of all things, "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence." The title insults the intelligence of all those who would attend. What in the world is a man who presided over the July 9, 1999, crackdown on Tehran University, where hundreds of students were arrested and tortured, doing speaking about "tolerance" at a university? (New York Sun)
  • Five Years On, This War Must Intensify - Editorial
    The West has only two choices: to appease the terrorists or to fight them. No negotiation is possible with al-Qaeda or the fanatical Islamist organizations affiliated to it. Their goal is to destroy liberal, tolerant, secular society in all its forms, and replace it with a rigid theocratic dictatorship that enforces a medieval interpretation of the most barbaric elements of Islamic law. There is nothing to talk about: they are not interested in compromise or negotiation, and there is no common ground between their vision of the future and ours. The terrorists themselves have stated clearly: "We are not trying to exact concessions from you. We are trying to eliminate you." (Telegraph-UK)
  • The West Needs to Fight Islamofascists with Big Ideas - Youssef Ibrahim
    It isn't enough to get the guys with the bombs or beards but to alter the environment that produces them. The war on terror must combine the force of arms with the power of ideas. The West needs strategies conveying to the vast majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims that acquiescence to jihadists and their ideologies means a rupture with Western civilization - which still represents the bulk of progress as we define it in today's world.
        Islamic states including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Indonesia should dismantle the infrastructure of terror at home - in mosques, schools, theocratic institutions, and inside government itself. This would include total elimination of the madrassa rote systems, the restructuring of religious teachings, and the outlawing of political groups such as Hizballah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which adopt religion as political vehicles. (New York Sun)
  • Syria's Assad's Answer to the United States - David Schenker
    On August 15, Syrian President Bashar Assad gave a lengthy speech to the Syrian Journalists Association condemning the Bush administration, disparaging the UN, declaring support for Hizballah and regional "resistance," and calling for the removal of the democratically elected government of Lebanon. The address and subsequent interviews with Assad in the Arab press highlight the absence of any foundation for fruitful discussions with Damascus. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Optimism about Confronting Israel Growing among Arab Moderates after Lebanon War - Uriel Heilman (New York Post)

    • Israel's war with Hizballah in Lebanon has aroused great hope in the Arab world - that Israel can be defeated. "We had given up on the military option," said Hani Hourani, director general of the Al-Urdun Al-Jadid ("New Jordan") Research Center. "By taking the initiative, Hizballah created a new way of thinking about the whole conflict in the region." "Even people like me, the moderate people, who never liked or supported Hizballah, we began to think twice about how we were wrong," Hourani said.
    • Renewed optimism about confronting Israel by force of arms is growing among the Arab world's moderates, who share the view that Israel is a Western imposition on the region.
    • Why are Arabs with business and political ties to the West, and even to Israel, jumping on the Hizballah bandwagon? Because their moderation derives not so much from an acceptance of the Jews' historical right to a homeland in the Middle East, but from the Arabs' repeated inability to defeat Israel. But if Israel can be beaten, then the whole equation changes.
    • Moderation may be giving way to the hope that the clock in the Middle East can be turned back not just to 1967 but to 1948, when Israel did not exist. "The Arabs want the 1967 border for the moment," said Abdel Mahdi al-Soudi, a sociology professor at the University of Jordan. The Arabs may sign peace treaties, but "nobody will sign on to end the conflict. Nobody will sign something saying Israel will be Israel forever."
    • It is this lack of acceptance of Israel, not Israeli actions or its disputes with the Palestinians, that perpetuates this endless conflict. Until the Arab world accepts Israel's place on this small strip of land, this conflict will not end.

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