Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 16, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

New Calls by Hamas to Target the U.S. - Tim McGirk (TIME)
    Commanders of the military wing of Hamas are locked in a fierce debate over whether to launch terrorist attacks on U.S. targets in the Middle East.
    The radicals gained ground after a visit to the Middle East earlier this month by Secretary of State Rice, who tried to rally "moderate" Arab regimes into a united front against Iran, Hamas, and Hizballah.
    "We shouldn't stand by idly while the Americans are plotting against us," said one Hamas field commander.

Israel Campus Beat
- October 15, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    Is There a Poverty Problem in Israel?

IDF: Hamas Trying to Create Military Balance with Israel - Amos Harel and Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas wants to create the ability to deter the Israel Defense Forces from making a major ground forces incursion into Gaza, IDF officers have concluded on the basis of Hamas' greatly accelerated munitions acquisitions over the past few months.
    Senior IDF officers said Hamas is working to improve its offensive capabilities, with an emphasis on rockets, while at the same time establishing a solid defensive position in order to prevent the IDF from entering built-up areas within Gaza.
    By increasing the range of its missiles, the deadly force of their warheads, and, above all, by using high-quality blast explosives, Hamas hopes to heighten the threat to Israel from Gaza.
    See also Hamas Readying for War - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Recently, Hamas took possession of a shipment of dozens of Russian Concourse antitank missiles. These relatively precise missiles have a range of 4.5 kilometers, similar to those used by Hizballah during the war. IDF officers believe that Hamas will try to smuggle in hundreds more.
    In the IDF's assaults in Gaza since the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit over three months ago, more than 300 Palestinians have been killed, many of them militants. One IDF soldier has died.
    The next stage of IDF operations is expected to include an expanded offensive focused on impeding weapons smuggling from Egypt into Gaza via Rafah.

A Clear Collision Course - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas is now being pushed into a corner, and its leaders are sending out hints, and even threats, of a widespread renewal of terror activity.
    Hamas spokesmen are speaking about "surprises" that Hamas is preparing for Israel. Saeed Seyam, the Hamas interior minister and in charge of the Palestinian security services, will complete a round of visits in Iran and Syria this week, together with his senior commanders.
    One can guess that the conversations there are not about diplomatic recognition of Israel, but rather solely about the option of armed struggle.

Shin Bet: Hamas Beating Fatah in Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
    Deputy Shin Bet Head Y. told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday that in all the recent confrontations in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah, "Hamas has had the upper hand."

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  • Olmert: Palestinians Holding Up Summit - Mark Lavie
    Prime Minister Olmert on Sunday said a planned summit with Mahmoud Abbas has been put on hold because of Abbas' insistence that Israel release large numbers of Palestinian prisoners. "We offered to meet with Abu Mazen (Abbas), but apparently he is not interested," Olmert was quoted as telling a meeting of Kadima party lawmakers. "He is conditioning a meeting on the release of prisoners and we will not release any prisoners until (captured soldier) Gilad Shalit is released." Shalit was captured in June by Hamas-linked militants in a cross-border raid. (AP/Forbes)
  • Iran Should Also Face Sanctions, Israel Says
    "The international community should learn the lessons of what occurred in North Korea," Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman told Israel Army Radio. "North Korea was only the preview. Iran will be the feature film, which, if no one takes serious action, will be projected throughout the whole world." Gillerman called for "much harder sanctions to be imposed on a demented Iranian regime that seeks to destroy a UN member state, and totally denies the Holocaust, while preparing to perpetrate a second Holocaust."  (AFP/Reuters/International Herald Tribune)
  • U.S. to Bolster Hamas Opponents - Adam Entous
    The U.S. has quietly started a campaign, costing up to $42 million, to bolster Hamas' political opponents ahead of possible early Palestinian elections. The plan to promote alternatives to Hamas includes funding to help restructure Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah group and provide training and strategic advice to politicians and secular parties opposed to Hamas Islamists. "This project supports (the) objective to create democratic alternatives to authoritarian or radical Islamist political options," said one official U.S. document. Documents refer repeatedly to new programs that began in recent weeks. (Reuters)
        See also Plan to Boost PA Security Seen as Political Intervention - Joshua Mitnick
    Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the Bush administration's security coordinator with the Palestinians, wants to deploy the Palestinian presidential guard of Mahmoud Abbas at critical crossing points with Israel to enable greater movement of Palestinian civilians and commerce in and out of Gaza. The plan will require an enlargement of the force and a reported $26 million in international aid. But some see the plan as a veiled intervention in the power struggle between the rival Palestinian political factions. (Washington Times)
  • German Navy Takes Over UNIFIL Command Off Lebanese Coast
    The German Navy took over command of UNIFIL peacekeeping activities off the Lebanese coast Sunday. Germany will have ships and troops from Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark under its command. The German Navy makes up the bulk of the contingent with eight ships and about 1,500 German soldiers already in the area. The troops, who will operate 50 miles from the Lebanese coast, are mandated with monitoring the coast to prevent the possible smuggling of arms to Hizballah. (DPA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: Iran Nukes Could Reach Hizballah - Ronny Sofer
    Prime Minister Olmert said Sunday that Iran poses a strategic threat to Israel, warning that the Islamic Republic would transfer nuclear weapons to its Lebanese proxy Hizballah. "If the atomic bomb reaches Iranian hands it will reach other hands. International fears - not only Israel's - are that these weapons reach other players like Hizballah." (Ynet News)
  • Military Intelligence: Hamas Smuggling Anti-Aircraft Weapons into Gaza - Gideon Alon
    Hamas has been smuggling anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza, the head of IDF Military Intelligence's research division, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, told the government on Sunday. He said the movement of these weapons could greatly endanger the lives of Israel Air Force pilots and would require the army to consider a different and stronger approach in Gaza.
        Baidatz also said the army had unequivocal proof that the smuggling of weapons from Syria to Lebanon was continuing with the knowledge of the government in Damascus and against the terms of a UN-brokered cease-fire. He said that Syrian President Assad was preparing his army for possible confrontation with Israel. The Syrian army had not returned to their routine positions since the end of the war in Lebanon. Prime Minister Olmert on Sunday rejected the possibility of talks with Assad, saying the Syrian president was responsible for harboring terrorists and was attempting to destabilize the entire region. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hizballah Showing Signs of Distress? - Roee Nahmias
    Hizballah has decided to cancel the central rally for Jerusalem Day - the last Friday of the month of Ramadan - "in order to ease on our honorable public," officials announced. Hizballah is trying hard to find ways to "ease on the public" as time passes since the war. The school year has just begun, and in Beirut's Dahiya neighborhood students arrived at the ruins which were once their schools. Fears are also rising over the winter which is on its way, especially among those who have been left homeless. In Hizballah's stronghold of Baalbek, demonstrators took to the streets Friday claiming to be on the verge of hunger. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Rocket Sderot, Wound Three - Tova Dadon
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets toward the western Negev city of Sderot Friday night, the eve of the Simchat Torah holiday. One person sustained moderate injuries and two others suffered light wounds when a Kassam rocket landed in the backyard of a Sderot home. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Who's Next to Go Nuclear? - Andrew Grotto
    Over the next decade, keep your eye on certain nations that may go nuclear. If isolated and impoverished North Korea can get away with developing and testing nuclear weapons, better-positioned countries such as Iran may be emboldened to think they can, too. Last month, Gamal Mubarak, son of the Egyptian president and widely viewed as next in line, suggested that Egypt pursue nuclear energy. In a thinly veiled reference to Iran, he noted that Egypt "is not the only country that is thinking about this alternative to save on energy sources."
        Saudi Arabia helped finance Pakistan's nuclear program, and its leaders are rumored to have met with A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb and the mastermind of a global black market in nuclear technology. The Saudis could obtain a weapon from Pakistan or invite Pakistan to station some of its weapons at Saudi bases. This could be legal under the NPT, just as the U.S. stations nuclear weapons at European bases. The writer is a senior national security analyst at the Center for American Progress. (Washington Post)
  • Gaza Has Gotten More Tribal - Mark MacKinnon
    Nabil Kafarneh rarely leaves his home on the west side of Beit Hanoun in Gaza. Kafarneh isn't a wanted militant, or even a key figure in the raging battle between political factions. But he's a senior member of the Kafarneh family, and his clan is at war. Where the last shreds of law and order have disintegrated, Gazans are turning to the last group they can trust - their families. Gaza is less a political entity now than a vast underworld slum, with each street controlled by a different faction or family. Kafarneh can't go to nearby Gaza City, he says, because the Kafarnehs are locked in a bloody honor feud with the Dugmash clan there. Three Dugmashes have been killed so far in the fighting and the Kafarnehs are braced for the inevitable revenge-taking.
        Kafarneh and his son Matar are examples of what's gone wrong in Gaza over the past year. Twelve months ago, Kafarneh was a real estate agent who was planning to open a nightclub in Gaza City. His son was a police officer drawing a salary from the PA. Now both are gunmen, defending their family's interests and living on money paid to them by richer relatives. Matar explained, "I have no choice. Because of the situation, families have to take security into their own hands. There's no police, no government." Mahmoud el-Masri, whose family controls the east side of Beit Hanoun, said that since Hamas took office and the international community turned off the aid taps, Gaza has gotten more tribal. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • Observations:

    The Terror War Is an Honor War - Jonathan Rauch (National Journal, 13Oct06)

    • Today's militant jihadism takes the ethic of honor to extremes, fixating on manly ferocity and glorious vengeance. In a recently published and bracingly original book called Honor: A History, James Bowman - a cultural critic and historian affiliated with the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington - argues that honor remains a potent force in world affairs, perhaps more potent today than in many years, because it is central to the liberal West's confrontation with militant Islam.
    • Bowman writes, "America and its allies are engaged in a battle against an Islamist enemy that is the product of one of the world's great unreconstructed and unreformed honor cultures." Jihadism wages not only a religious war but a cultural one, aiming to redeem, through deeds of bravery and defiance, the honor of an Islam whose glory has shamefully faded. It aims, further, to uphold a masculine honor code that the West's decadent, feminizing influence threatens to undermine.
    • Whether or not Bowman has the whole story right, the prism of honor brings puzzling elements of the current conflict into sharper focus. Americans are baffled that Western appeals to freedom and prosperity get so little traction in the Arab and Muslim worlds. America's example as the "shining city on a hill" inspired liberalizing movements from Eastern Europe to Tiananmen Square; why should the Middle East be different?
    • Most wars are waged between combatants who share similar honor codes or at least comprehend each other's honor codes. This time, there is no communication across the battlefield. To Americans, it is patently clear that the attacks of September 11 were acts of unprovoked aggression; in a traditional honor culture, however, violence to protect one's honor is just as self-defensive as violence to protect one's person.
    • To Hamas and Hizballah militants and their supporters, Israel's continued existence is a standing humiliation, and the debt to honor must be paid, never mind the cost.
    • Nor can militant Islamists settle with the West. When the post-honor West says, "Come, now, give up this foolishness, join our club, be free and rich," they hear something more like, "Be our poodle, sit at our feet, enjoy the fruits of capitulation." Admonitions that bellicosity accomplishes nothing miss the point, which is that the very act of fighting ("resistance") redeems honor and therefore accomplishes what matters most.

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