Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 10, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Record Number of Jewish Lawmakers Elected in U.S. (Ynet News)
    The number of Jewish senators has risen from 11 to 13, with the addition of former representatives Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vermont) to the Senate.
    The number of Jews elected to the House of Representatives is now 30 thanks to six new Democratic faces: Gabrielle Giffords (Arizona), Ronald Klein (Florida), John Yarmuth (Kentucky), Paul Hodes (New Hampshire), Stephen Cohen (Tennessee), and Steve Kagen (Wisconsin).

Israel HighWay
- November 9, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Post-High School Programs in Israel

Mubarak Warns Against Hanging Saddam - Nadia Abou El-Magd (AP/Washington Post)
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak came out strongly against hanging Saddam Hussein, saying in remarks published Thursday that it could make Iraq explode into more violence.
    Analysts suggested that no matter how much Arab leaders disliked Saddam's regime, they are worried about the precedent an execution would set.

U.S. Grants Lebanon $10.5 Million in Military Aid (Reuters)
    The U.S. signed a deal on Thursday to provide Lebanon with $10.5 million in military aid, part of a U.S. pledge to supply Lebanon with more than $40 million in assistance to include military trucks, Humvees, ammunition, training, and spare parts and repairs for military equipment.
    More than 130 Lebanese servicemen were trained in the U.S. this year.

Israel's Economy Back on Track - Neal Sandler (Business Week)
    Less than three months after a costly war in Lebanon, investors have quickly regained confidence in the Israeli economy, driving the Tel Aviv stock market to all-time highs.
    "We're not only witnessing a recovery but an across the board strengthening in nearly every sector of the economy," says Gil Bufman, chief economist at Bank Leumi. The sole exception is the tourism industry.
    Economists are now predicting growth of 4.5% for 2006, down from pre-war estimates of 5%.
    Capital continues to flow into Israel at record levels, with direct foreign investment expected to top $12 billion this year.

China-Israel Trade Tops $3 Billion (Xinhua-China)
    Zhang Xiao'an, charge d'affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Israel, said Wednesday that China-Israel economic cooperation has enjoyed a high growth rate since 1992.
    "The average annual growth rate of bilateral trade in the past 14 years is 40%. Last year, bilateral trade volume reached $3 billion...[and] we expect the volume to reach $5 billion by 2008."
    Zhang said that Israel had set up more than 200 companies in China by the end of 2005, while 800 Israeli companies are currently doing business in China.

Cruise Lines Return to Israel (JTA)
    The Tourism Ministry in Jerusalem said Tuesday that Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises said they would return to Israel's shores, having last docked there in 2000.

AOL Purchases Israeli Start-Up - Eli Shimoni (Ynet News)
    American Internet giant America On Line announced Wednesday that it has acquired Israeli start-up company Relegence for an amount estimated at $55-65 million.
    Relegence has developed a real-time financial services news engine, serving mainly the financial and business markets.

Permanent Artificial Heart Transplanted in Israel - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    An artificial heart that serves as a permanent pump was inserted successfully into an Israeli patient at Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, it was announced Thursday.
    The pump is designed to keep elderly people who are unsuited for organ transplant alive and functioning.

Israeli Makes Scientific American's Top 50 - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Dr. Shulamit Levenberg, 37, a Technion biomedical engineer and tissue engineering researcher whose work aims toward the creation of lab-manufactured tissues and organs for transplant, has been included in the Scientific American 50 listing, honoring 50 people whose accomplishments demonstrate technological leadership.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel to Pursue Action Against Gaza Rocket Fire - Jonathan Ferziger and Gwen Ackerman
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel will pursue military operations to stop rocket fire from Gaza, even as he expressed regret for the accidental killing of 18 Palestinians. The shell that hit a Palestinian home in the northern Gazan town of Beit Hanoun was "a tragic mistake'' and meant to strike militants in a nearby orange grove who had fired a Kassam rocket into Israel, Olmert said. "Military operations will continue as long as there will be firing of rockets,'' he said. (Bloomberg)
  • Top Hamas Officials: We Want All of Palestine, from the River to the Sea
    In the nine months since it came to power, Hamas has not changed its views. Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Mash'al told the London-based daily Al-Hayat on Oct. 12: "Why am I required to [recognize] the legitimacy of an occupying [entity]?...It is true that there is an entity called Israel, but I do not wish to recognize it."
        Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar stated on Oct. 20 that "Israel is a vile entity that has been planted in our soil, and has no historical, religious, or cultural legitimacy. We cannot normalize our relations with this entity. The history of this region has proven that occupation is temporary. Thousands of years ago, the Romans occupied this land and left. The Persians, Crusaders, and English came and went. The Zionists have come, and they too will leave. [We say] no to recognizing Israel, regardless of the price we may have to pay." Al-Zahar also said: "We [aim to liberate] all our lands....If we have the option, we will establish a state on every inch of land within the 1967 [borders], but this does not by any means imply that we will relinquish our right to all the Palestinian lands. We want all of Palestine from Naqura to Rafah, and from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river." (MEMRI)
  • MI5 Director: More Britons Are Turning to Terror - Michael Evans
    In a stark public warning, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the Director-General of MI5, revealed that the security service's caseload had risen by 80% since January and now involved about 30 "Priority 1" plots. It has identified 200 terrorist networks involving at least 1,600 people, many under the direct control of al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.
        "More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalized or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organized training events here and overseas," she said. Dame Eliza said that she was alarmed by the "scale and speed" of the radicalization, which security sources later said had intensified since the 7/7 bombings. "Young teenagers are being groomed to be suicide bombers....Killing oneself and others in response is an attractive option for some citizens of this country and others around the world. [The] threat is serious, is growing, and will, I believe, be with us for a generation." (Times-UK)
  • Argentina Seeks Arrest of Former Iranian President Rafsanjani
    An Argentine judge ordered international arrest warrants on Thursday for former Iranian president Ali Rafsanjani and eight others in connection with the 1994 bombing of the major Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral issued the order two weeks after Argentine prosecutors formally accused the Iranian government of masterminding the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Inquiry: Radar Malfunction Caused Botched Shelling - Amos Harel
    Maj.-Gen. Meir Kalifi, who headed the IDF inquiry into the Beit Hanoun incident, presented the inquiry's findings Thursday. The inquiry found that a malfunctioning electronic card in the artillery battery's guidance system, which was replaced five days ago, was the cause of the errant fire. The card fed the battery's guidance system with wrong coordinates. The Israeli-developed "Shilem" guidance system has been in use by the IDF for roughly 30 years. It is considered reliable, and IDF inquiries found that this is the first time this particular malfunction has occurred in the system or similar systems used abroad. (Ha'aretz)
  • Security Council Meets on Beit Hanoun Incident - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Danny Carmon, the deputy head of the Israeli delegation to the UN, said during a Security Council meeting Thursday that the escalation in Gaza stems from Palestinian rocket fire on Israel, which is acting "in self-defense." Carmon said that Israel withdrew from Gaza in the hope that the Palestinians would manage it responsibly as a first step to the establishment of a Palestinian state that can live side by side in peace with Israel. But since Israel left Gaza, Palestinians have fired 1,000 rockets at Israel. "Israel is asked again and again to show restraint. But the question is until when. After 1,000 rockets? 2,000 rockets?" Carmon asked.
        He spoke about the need to release the Israeli soldiers while Karnit Goldwasser, the wife of kidnapped soldier Ehud Goldwasser, was present. "She is here to remind members of the Council who voted on Resolution 1701 that they are obliged to fulfill what they voted for and act for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers." (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Attacks Injure Three Israelis - Shmulik Hadad
    Three people sustained injuries from shrapnel and several others suffered from shock Thursday evening when a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed just a few meters from a store in a crowded Sderot shopping center. Earlier Thursday, two rockets landed in the western Negev. (Ynet News)
  • Israel, U.S. Ponder New Ways to Collect Intelligence in Lebanon - Aluf Benn
    Israel and the U.S. are considering different methods for collecting intelligence in Lebanon that would replace the overflights of Lebanese airspace by Israel. "We do not want to embarrass the government of Lebanon and create tensions with the states who deployed, at our request, troops to the United Nations force. If a solution can be found that would not require the overflights, and we could have another means to learn what goes on over there, perfect," a senior political source in Jerusalem said Thursday. Among the possible alternatives are the use of American satellites or intelligence-gathering flights carried out by other countries, with the approval of the government of Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
        See also French Forces Almost Fired on Israeli Jets in Lebanon - Molly Moore
    French peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon came within seconds of firing missiles at Israeli F-15 fighter jets that repeatedly dived on their positions last week, according to French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie. (Washington Post)
  • "Work Accident" Destroys Gaza House - Mijal Grinberg
    An explosion in Gaza City Thursday destroyed the house of Talal Abu Safiyah, a local commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Palestinian security officials said the blast was caused by explosives inside the house. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Murderous Strategies - Marty Peretz
    I am not indifferent to the death of Palestinians. I am especially not indifferent to the death of Palestinians caused by Israeli fire. But I think I do know who is indifferent to the death of Palestinians, and especially ecstatic if they are killed by Israeli fire. And it is Palestinians themselves.
        The 18 killed in Gaza by a fatally awry Israeli artillery attack is nothing less than a great human tragedy. But those now dead were not targets, any more than victims of friendly fire are targets. When Palestinian weapons hit Israeli civilians, it is Israeli civilians who are the designated victims. The Palestinians make no pretense on this matter. The rockets they have been sending into Ashkelon and Sderot are not even aimed at military bases. The Palestinian authorities have civilians in their sights.
        Have pity on the Palestinians. But aim your criticism at those who think killing Jews is a solution to the Palestinian problem. (New Republic)
  • Stopping Palestinian Rockets - Anshel Pfeffer
    Both the efficiency and morality of using "preventative" artillery fire against Palestinian rocket launchers have been debated at length over the last few years. Artillery is still the quickest and cheapest method to harass the rocket teams and minimize their threat. It is also the safest for IDF soldiers. Artillery batteries on a 24-hour alert, well within Israeli territory, are still the fastest and safest rapid-reaction tactic available.
        The Palestinian rocket teams are constantly being hunted down, by all the military and intelligence elements at Israel's disposal. In Gaza there is no job with a lower life-expectancy than a member of a rocket team. Hundreds have already been killed by artillery shelling, manned and unmanned air-strikes, tank cannon, and from ambush by ground forces. And that's not counting dozens more killed by the rockets exploding prematurely on the launching pad or in storage. The IDF can't prevent rockets being fired in almost random directions from any point in the Gaza Strip, but they have managed to make it virtually impossible for the Palestinians to take real aim. (Jerusalem Post)
  • When Bush Meets Olmert - David Makovsky
    Israeli Prime Minister Olmert will meet President Bush at the White House on November 13 as part of a prescheduled visit to address the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Los Angeles. Neither Bush, nor Olmert, has any firm political initiative in mind. Olmert is not coming to Washington with the strategy he had in May, when he obtained Bush's qualified blessing for his West Bank "Convergence" plan. At least for now, Olmert has taken this idea off the table. In the wake of the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war, some Israelis fear that unilateralism has emboldened Hizballah and Hamas radicals. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Human Rights NGOs Neglect Hamas' Use of Human Shields
    The Palestinian use of human shields to protect armed gunmen and rocket launching crews from Israeli responses is widespread but largely unreported. On Nov. 2, amidst the ongoing warfare in Gaza, armed Palestinians entered a mosque in Beit Hanoun to escape from IDF units. A standoff developed and on Nov. 3, Hamas broadcast a radio appeal for women to go to the mosque and act as human shields, providing cover for the gunmen to escape. The use of human shields contravenes Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Convention, article 51 (7), which states that "the parties shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations." (NGO Monitor)
        See also Fact, Fiction, and Fabrication Among NGOs - Ruthie Blum
    NGO Monitor provides "raw facts about what the non-governmental organizations are doing," says associate editor Sarah Mandel. And what many of them are doing, according to Mandel, is using the mandate of their funding - championing international human rights - to pursue political agendas that seek to delegitimize Israel. Which is why NGO Monitor was established in the first place five years ago following the Israel-bashing and underlying anti-Semitism at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. "If human rights standards are applied non-universally, they cease to mean anything. This is not only applicable to Israel; it's applicable to other crises in the world which are neglected because international human rights NGOs are not interested in those crises, or because those crises don't suit their agenda," Mandel said. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features

  • A Liberal Brother at Odds with the Muslim Brotherhood - Michael Slackman
    Gamal al-Banna is 85, and for much of his life he has been overshadowed by his famous brother, Sheik Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political party and antecedent of a host of militant Islamist organizations, from al-Qaeda to Hamas. He is a liberal thinker, a man who would like to see Islamic values and practices interpreted in the context of modern times. Banna says the radicals are guilty of imposing what amounts to their interpretation of the Koran onto other Muslims. (New York Times)
  • Diary of an Arab Woman for a Humanistic Islam - Elham Manea
    We live in a time where a version of Islam, Wahhabi Islam exported from Saudi Arabia, has become dominant in the Arab world. It is dominant in the mosques and the media, and is propagated actively with the support of Saudi oil money. Another version of Islam, Shi'ite Islam, exported from the Islamic Republic of Iran, is also being disseminated in parts of the Islamic world. Both are expressions of a religion that has become politicized. The re-Islamization of secular Arab societies gave ground to the belief that there is indeed only one version of Islam - Najdi Wahhabi Islam from the heart of Saudi Arabia. The writer is a post-doctoral fellow and lecturer at the Political Science Institute, Zurich University. (Middle East Transparent)
  • With Jewish Roots Now Prized, Spain Starts Digging - Renwick McLean
    Now, 500 years after expelling its Jews and moving to hide if not eradicate all traces of their existence, Spain has begun rediscovering the Jewish culture that thrived there for centuries and that scholars say functioned as a second Jerusalem during the Middle Ages. Still, despite the new enthusiasm for Spain's Jewish heritage, intolerance toward Jews is far from a thing of the past, local Jewish leaders say. (New York Times)
  • Israeli Arts and Entertainment Breaks Through to the Big Time - Viva Press
    Israeli musicians, filmmakers, actors, dancers, and artists have been shaking up the international scene in growing numbers over the last five years. The proliferation of Israeli culture throughout North America has succeeded in exposing an overlooked side of Israel and its people. (Israel21c)
  • Israel Sees Shale Replacing Oil - Leah Krauss
    An Israeli process for producing energy from oil shale will cut its oil imports by one-third, and will serve as a guide for other countries with oil shale deposits, according to the Hom Tov company, which presented its oil shale processing method on Tuesday outside Haifa. "Israel is the most advanced in the world in the effort to create energy from oil shale," said Moshe Shahal, a Hom Tov legal representative and a former Israeli energy minister. Shahal estimated that the company's Negev Desert facility would begin full-scale production in three to four years. It would cost about $17 to produce a barrel of synthetic oil at the Hom Tov facility, Shahal said. Israel has 15 billion tons of oil shale reserves. Jordan has about 25 billion tons, and the oil shale is of higher quality. The U.S. also has a giant reserve, mostly in Colorado. (UPI)
  • Observations:

    Expert Views U.S. Middle East Policy Following Elections - Meredith Buel (VOA News)

    • Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argues that even with a new Congress, the chances for an Arab-Israeli peace agreement are slim.
    • He says there is a rising sense among some Arabs that armed resistance is a successful way to change the status quo.
    • Muravchik argues that because the Palestinians have witnessed the insurgency in Iraq, what he calls the perceived defeat of the Israelis by Hizballah in Lebanon, the perception that Israel was forced to withdraw from Gaza, the rise of Iranian influence, and the election of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the chances for a peaceful solution with Israel have gotten worse.
    • "The sense that resistance, jihad, is triumphant and on the upswing is absolutely a killer to any evolution of sentiment among the Palestinians toward being willing to accept the reality of Israel as a permanent reality and to go on and make peace."

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