Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 30, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Will Not Add Troops on Gaza Border - Amos Harel, Yoav Stern and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Egypt is not going to deploy an additional 5,000 troops along its border with Gaza as announced by Egyptian sources, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday.
    "Beyond the 750 Egyptian border troops deployed in the area, there won't be any additions."

Egypt to Seek Chinese Aid on Nuclear Program (AFP/Yahoo)
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will seek Chinese help for Cairo's planned civil nuclear program during a visit to Beijing next month, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit told the government newspaper Akhbar al-Yom.

Israel Campus Beat
- October 29, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    Should Israel Invade Gaza?

WMD Intercept Exercise Begins in Persian Gulf - Guy Dinmore, Roula Khalaf, and Najmeh Bozorgmehr (Financial Times-UK)
    War games designed to intercept ships carrying weapons of mass destruction begin Monday in the Persian Gulf opposite Iran.
    Australia, France, Italy, the UK, the U.S., and Bahrain are providing vessels and other assets, while Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are sending observers.
    The exercise comes as the U.S. seeks to counter Iran's growing influence in the region by promoting a new "strategic partnership" with the Gulf states.
    See also Naval Exercises Off Bahrain: Preventing Proliferation between North Korea and Iran - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Israel Constructing Nuclear Shelter for Cabinet - Uzi Mahnaimi (Times-UK)
    Amid mounting fears that Iran is planning to obliterate their country, the Israeli government insists the population has little to fear.
    "People building atomic shelters are wasting their money," said a security source. "The Iranians know very well that we'll bomb them back to the Stone Age before they've launched a single missile."
    However, Ephraim Sneh, the deputy defense minister, confirmed that a £300m nuclear shelter is being constructed in the Jerusalem hills for the Israeli war cabinet.
    "This will be a command and control center that will be able to run the State of Israel during a war, even after a nuclear strike," he said.

Beheadings Continue in Saudi Arabia (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Saudi Arabia on Sunday beheaded two foreign nationals - a Nigerian and an Afghan - on charges they smuggled heroin and cocaine into the country, the Interior Ministry said.
    Their execution in Riyadh, the capital, brought to 18 the number of people beheaded in the kingdom this year.
    The kingdom beheaded 83 people in 2005 and 35 people in 2004.
    Saudi executions are performed with a sword and in public as a deterrent.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hizballah Demands More Government Power in Lebanon - Thanassis Cambanis
    Emboldened by this summer's war with Israel, the radical Islamist Hizballah has gone on the political offensive inside Lebanon, determined either to replace or to bring down the pro-American government. Hizballah and an allied Christian political party led by Gen. Michel Aoun are demanding a government reshuffle that would give them more positions - and would in effect give Hizballah veto power over any legislation. They have threatened to boycott the government or try to bring it down through strikes and street demonstrations if they don't get more posts. U.S. officials say that by gaining veto power, Hizballah would paralyze the government, extend Syrian influence over Lebanon, and ruin Lebanon's prospects to rebuild. (Boston Globe)
        See also Rice Presses for Hizballah's Disarmament - Hussein Dakroub
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stepped up international pressure on Hizballah to disarm, saying the group must surrender its weapons if it wants to remain part of Lebanon's political process. In an interview with Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. aired Friday, Rice urged Hizballah to lay down its arms according to the Aug. 14 cease-fire that ended its 34-day war with Israel. "If Hizballah wants to be in politics....Hizballah should be disarmed. You cannot have one foot in terror and the use of violence and the other foot in politics. It just doesn't work that way," Rice said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Hizballah Could Take Power within Five Years - Roee Nahmias
    "Hizballah could definitely take power in Lebanon within a few years...even within five years," said Dr. Boaz Ganor, deputy dean of the Lauder School of Government and Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and executive director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism. (Ynet News)
  • On Israeli Border, a Surprising Optimism - Matti Friedman
    For years, whenever Asher Greenberg left his home in the frontier town of Metulla to work in the orchards along the Lebanon border, he took his M-16 rifle in case Hizballah attacked. Since the war ended in August, Greenberg's rifle hasn't left his closet once. At Zarit, a nearby farming village, farmers are beginning to return to orchards they abandoned during the years when Hizballah controlled the Lebanese side of the line. More than two months after the war, many of those Israelis who live closest to Lebanon say it altered their lives dramatically for the better. "The war erased a threat we lived with for years,'' Greenberg said. "We aren't afraid of snipers or kidnappings anymore. We can breathe.''
        The army sometimes has to deal with Hizballah supporters throwing stones over the fence at soldiers, but Lt. Col. Ishai Efroni, a senior army officer in an Israeli border unit, said he only has to call a UN liaison officer and "within half an hour'' UN or Lebanese troops arrive. (AP/Washington Post)
  • France Sends Riot Police to Marseille - Michel Allione
    France's interior minister sent riot police to patrol the southern port city of Marseille on Sunday after a group of marauding teenagers torched a bus, gravely burning a young woman. Though youths have burned other buses during the flare-up of violence, passengers have generally escaped before the vehicles went up in flames. Another bus was burned Saturday in Trappes, outside Paris, but its passengers fled unharmed, police said. Youths set fire to about 200 vehicles Saturday, police said. But even on ordinary nights, the number of cars burned often reaches 100. (AP/Yahoo)
        See also Two Buses Torched in Paris Suburb Friday - Elaine Ganley (AP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Lands Near Ashkelon Strategic Facility - Shmulik Hadad
    A Kassam rocket fired Monday by Palestinians in northern Gaza landed south of Ashkelon near a sensitive strategic facility, causing slight damage. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel Sunday that landed at a sheep farm, injuring some of the sheep. Two other rockets landed near the hothouses of a western Negev community. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Has Taken Over Gaza - Yoav Stern, Amos Harel, and Avi Issacharoff
    Two weeks ago, PA Chairman Abbas' office asked Israel to permit the transfer of the Badr Brigade, an armed Palestine Liberation Organization brigade based in Jordan, to the northern Gaza Strip to bolster Fatah against Hamas in Gaza. Israel turned down a number of Palestinian requests to deploy the brigade in the West Bank during the past two years and it appears the chances that the proposal will be accepted are very slim. Senior military sources said Sunday that "Hamas has already taken over the Gaza Strip in practice. Fatah in the Gaza Strip looks quite pathetic. It is clear which one of the two sides is more powerful here."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Islam, Terror, and the Second Nuclear Age - Noah Feldman
    When the Arab League's secretary general, Amr Moussa, called for "a Middle East free of nuclear weapons" this past May, he was worried about Iran, whose self-declared ambition to become a nuclear power has been steadily approaching realization. A nuclear Iran could potentially mean a historic shift in the position of the long-subordinated Shiite minority relative to the power and prestige of the Sunni majority, which traditionally dominated the Muslim world.
        The marriage of Islamism and anti-Americanism will probably be considered by history as the most significant consequence of the Iranian revolution. The U.S. therefore has strong reason to block its enemy Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons - not simply because Iran will seek to become a greater regional power, but because the Islamic Republic of Iran as currently constituted is definitionally anti-American. A nuclear Iran will be a stronger and more effective enemy in pursuing anti-American policies under the banner of Islam. If and when Iran does have the bomb, its enhanced power and prestige will certainly be lent to policies that it conceives as promoting the Islamic interest. The writer is a law professor at New York University and adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (New York Times Magazine)
  • False Hope on Hamas - Editorial
    It is dismaying to recognize the degree to which the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, views some of our realities in this region differently from the way they are perceived not only by most Israelis but by many informed outsiders, too. Solana was adamant that Hamas could yet recognize Israel, and was not prepared to countenance that the perceived Islamist imperative of the likes of Hamas and Ahmadinejad's Iran preclude such a shift. He said he could not "imagine" that any religion could impel anybody to try and destroy another nation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Spokesman: Are the Palestinians a Violent Society?
    Palestinian government spokesman Dr. Ghazi Hamad wrote in Al-Ayyam on October 17, 2006: "Are we really a violent society?...It has become the master that we obey everywhere - in the home, in the neighborhood, in the family....Our celebrations have no point or meaning, unless during them we fire a volley of bullets that echoes alongside the women's ululations of joy. Under sad circumstances and at funerals, our heroes volunteer to 'puncture' the air with hundreds of shots from their rifles. It is inconceivable for our marches - whatever their goals and political color - not to have dozens of rifles and armed gangs climbing on cars and aiming rifles, and youths leaning out of car windows waving the barrels of the Kalashnikovs and roaring with joy."
        "When we are angry at the electric company, we have no solution but to shatter its [equipment] and break its furniture. When we are angry at the municipality or at the governor, we call in a group of masked gunmen - the heroes of our age - to climb on the rooftop and draw their weapons in front of the satellite TV [reporters]." (MEMRI)
  • Observations:

    Questioning the Number of Civilian Casualties in Lebanon - Steven Stotsky (CAMERA)

    • The perception that Israel's response to Hizballah attacks was disproportionate was largely a result of media reports on the casualty breakdown in Lebanon. Throughout the hostilities and after the fighting stopped, many news outlets unquestioningly accepted Lebanese claims that almost all Lebanese casualties were civilians, at the same time ignoring Israel's assertion that some 500-600 of the Lebanese fatalities were Hizballah fighters.
    • Because of the distinct possibility that Hizballah exaggerated the number of civilian casualties, the media's uncritical acceptance of Lebanese claims about the proportion of civilians killed demands a closer look. On August 25, the Lebanese Higher Relief Council, an official government agency, estimated 1,187 Lebanese deaths in total resulting from the conflict.
    • If, as AP reported, only 68 Hizballah were killed, then it would be true that "an overwhelming majority" of the Lebanese casualties were civilians. But the number of Hizballah fighters among the total dead is clearly much higher. Israel has a list of 532 Hizballah fighters, identified by name, who were killed in fighting through Aug. 6, and at the same time estimates an additional 200 fighters were killed beyond those listed.
    • Con Coughlin reported in the Daily Telegraph on Aug. 4: "Lebanese officials estimate that up to 500 [Hizballah] fighters have been killed in the past three weeks of hostilities with Israel, and another 1,500 injured. Lebanese officials have also disclosed that many of Hizballah's wounded are being treated in hospitals in Syria to conceal the true extent of the casualties."
    • These different assessments suggest that Hizballah losses may have been comparable in number to the civilian losses in Lebanon. Allegations that Israel used indiscriminate force and even targeted civilians should be viewed warily in light of this evidence.

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