Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 17, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Ahmadinejad: God Told Me We Would Win - Dudi Cohen (Ynet News)
    While the West is preparing to impose sanctions on Iran, President Ahmadinejad told the Iranian media on Monday: "We shall win," adding: "One day I will be asked whether I have been in touch with someone who told me we would win, and I will respond: 'Yes, I have been in touch with God'."

Leader of a Georgia Mosque Pleads Guilty to Aiding Hamas - Brenda Goodman (New York Times)
    In a case kept secret for nearly two months, the religious leader of a mosque in Rome, Ga., Mohamed Shorbagi, 42, has pleaded guilty to providing financial support to the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, federal prosecutors said Friday.
    Shorbagi was a Georgia representative for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an Islamic charity shut down by federal authorities in 2001.
    In pleading guilty to material support of terrorism, he agreed to serve a maximum prison term of 15 years and pay restitution of at least $240,000 to unidentified victims of that support.

Israel Marks 20 Years Since Air Force Officer Was Captured in Lebanon - (AP/Boston Herald)
    Israel on Monday marked 20 years since the capture of air force navigator Ron Arad in Lebanon on October 16, 1986, after his aircraft was brought down.
    Arad was seen being taken alive by Lebanese guerrillas, but he has not been heard from since the mid-1980s.

Israel to Support NATO Counter-Terrorism Patrols (Reuters)
    Israel will provide support for NATO counter-terrorism patrols in the Mediterranean under a cooperation pact agreed with the alliance on Monday.
    NATO has sought since the end of the Cold War to bolster its presence in the Middle East, and the accord is the first one to be finalized since the 26-member alliance offered in 2004 to forge closer ties with Israel and six Arab states.
    "Israel is the first one to have agreed to the details of what cooperation should entail," said a NATO official.

UK Eurofighters to Use Israeli Pod (Middle East Newsline)
    The British Royal Air Force has decided to procure the Litening-3 navigation and targeting pod manufactured by Rafael in Israel for the country's new Eurofighter fleet.
    See also Israeli Arms Deal Catches Flak in Switzerland (Defence Talk)
    The Swiss defense ministry has been criticized by an anti-war group and the Green Party for striking a new deal to buy military hardware from Israel to modernize cockpits for its Super Puma helicopters.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Olmert Speech Signals End of West Bank Pullback
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert laid out his agenda for the coming year in a policy speech to parliament Monday, but he made no mention of the key issue that brought him to power: a unilateral pullback from the West Bank. (AP/MSNBC)
        See also below Observations: Prime Minister Outlines Policy at Opening of Knesset Session (Prime Minister's Office)
  • EU to Admit Iran Nuclear Talks Have Failed
    The European Union will acknowledge Tuesday at a foreign ministers' meeting that nuclear talks with Iran have failed and support a return to the UN Security Council to prepare sanctions. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Foreign Donations to Islamic Aid Groups Help Hamas Endure - Joshua Mitnick
    Even though the Western boycott has rendered the Hamas government impotent, it hasn't stopped foreign money from reaching the militant group's network of social welfare affiliates such as schools, hospitals, and alms societies. Islamist charities continue to get money from Muslim groups in the Persian Gulf, Europe, and the U.S., filling the vacuum of government services and preserving a core of support for political Islam. But domestic critics charge that Hamas is using the charities to protect its own during the crisis. "There is a lot of money in Hamas," says Abdel Nasser Najjar, a columnist for Al Ayyam, a newspaper of the opposition Fatah party. "The problem now is that Hamas is only giving to their own people." (Christian Science Monitor)
  • France's Intifada - Arnaud de Borchgrave
    Anti-Semitic incidents have proliferated in France in recent times, but the news seldom makes it across the Atlantic. A Jewish sports club in Toulouse attacked with Molotov cocktails; in Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish soccer team with metal bars and sticks; a bus that takes Jewish children to school in Aubervilliers attacked three times in the last 14 months; synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseilles and a Jewish school in Creteil firebombed in recent weeks; in Toulouse, a gunman opened fire - all ignored in mainstream U.S. media. The metropolitan Paris police tabulated 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents per day in the last 30 days throughout the country. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • French UNIFIL Commanders Say They May Fire at Israel Air Force Overflights - Gideon Alon
    Commanders of the French contingent of the UN force in Lebanon have warned that they might have to open fire if Israel Air Force planes continue their overflights in Lebanon, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. He said Israel would continue to patrol the skies over Lebanon as long as UN Security Council Resolution 1701 remained unfulfilled, adding that such operations were critical for the country's security. Israel had gathered clear evidence that Syria was transferring arms and ammunition to Lebanon, he added. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire from Gaza Continues - Gideon Alon
    Palestinian militants in Gaza fired at least two Kassam rockets at Israel Monday, one of which landed next to a home in the town of Sderot, wounding a woman in the leg. Another rocket landed near Kibbutz Nir-Am. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ending the Palestinian Political Stalemate: Abbas' Electoral Option - Mohammed Yaghi and Ben Fishman
    If there is to be any hope of salvaging the Palestinian political system now, a bold political initiative is required to end the current state of paralysis and restore direction and capability to the PA. If Abbas seeks to change Palestinian political prospects through legal and democratic means, his only effective option may be to resign and call for an early presidential election.
        Abbas has no legal authority to call for a national referendum that would enable the public to ratify a particular political program. If Abbas wants to challenge Hamas' authority, his options range from declaring a state of emergency to disbanding the Hamas government. But Palestinian law is clear that such measures require legislative consent, giving Hamas an effective veto on Abbas unless he is willing to act beyond the legal limits of his authority. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Is Self-Defense a War Crime? - Alan Dershowitz
    Michael Ignatieff, current candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, characterized "what happened in Qana" during Hizballah's recent war against Israel as "a war crime." It is possible that he believes that even if the Israeli killing of Lebanese civilians was an unintended consequence of its efforts to prevent rocket attacks against its own civilians, it was still a war crime. Such a view would reflect a perverse and dangerous approach to international law that would make it nearly impossible for democracies to protect their civilians from terrorists who launch rockets from civilian population centers. It would also encourage other terrorist groups to emulate the tactic employed by Hizballah: to use local civilians as human shields behind whom the terrorists fire their rockets at enemy civilians. (National Post)
  • Wayne State University Won't Divest - Irvin D. Reid
    As a public institution that encourages learning, free expression, and the exchange of ideas, Wayne State University recently was the site of a speech and protest by individuals opposed to the university's investment in Israel. Wayne State opposes divestiture and has no intention of divesting itself of stocks in companies doing business with Israel or any other legitimate state. We encourage our students to use their right to free speech, but accusations, acrimony, and demands such as divestiture are counter to the intelligent dialogue and free discourse for which this university stands. In a complex, international economy, divestiture is by no means a responsible approach to influence political or economic policy. Rather, it is my obligation to pursue legal, rational, and productive investments on behalf of the institution. The writer is president of Wayne State University. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Europe's Mindset Toward Israel as Accentuated by the Lebanon War - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    The European Union has for many years announced its ambition to be a global political actor - to act as a counterweight to the U.S. on the world scene. The summer war in Lebanon could have been a major opportunity for the EU to show that it could move rapidly to stop a conflict in its tracks by offering a solution in which it would make a major contribution. Yet the discrepancy in the EU's pretensions and its capability to play a major role gradually became clear during the war. Israel's policy-makers should understand that many Europeans will always support the Arabs against it. They have long since lost the ability to discern between criminals and victims, democrats and terrorists. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Prime Minister Outlines Policy at Opening of Knesset Session
    - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Prime Minister's Office)

    The Prime Minister of Israel addressed the opening of the Knesset winter session on Monday:

    • A Hamas government is currently ruling the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, this government does not fulfill the minimal preconditions outlined by the international community, which would enable it to become a possible partner for negotiations. As long as the Hamas government fails to recognize the State of Israel, accept and implement the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and act to terminate violence and eradicate terrorism, including attacks on our southern communities, we cannot conduct dialogue with it.
    • The State of Israel has demonstrated many times its willingness to live in peace and good neighborly relations with the Palestinian people. We do not wish the Palestinian people to continue suffering. On the contrary. We prefer a thriving Palestinian society, free of humanitarian hardship - a society which enjoys economic welfare and which operates in cooperation with the State of Israel....We have no desire and no intention to rule over the Palestinians forever. If the day comes when the Palestinian government accepts the preconditions which will make it a legitimate player, it will allow the opening of a comprehensive political horizon, which will change the reality in the region.
    • I wish to use this podium to call upon the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fuad Siniora, to meet with me directly, not through mediators, in order to make peace between us and Lebanon....Israel can be a natural and serious partner to a peace-seeking government in Lebanon.
    • Iran is deceiving the international community. It is dragging its feet and trying to buy time in order to complete its dangerous nuclear program. The Iranian threat is an existential threat to Israel; it is an existential threat to world peace....The world must make certain that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons.

          See also Lebanon Rejects Israeli Call for Peace Talks (Reuters)

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