Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 23, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

France Authorizes Troops to Fire at Israeli Jets over Lebanon - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    French soldiers in Lebanon who feel threatened by aggressive Israeli overflights are permitted to shoot at IAF fighter jets, a high-ranking French military officer told the Jerusalem Post.
    Last weekend, Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, head of the IDF Planning Directorate, traveled to Paris and met with military officials to explain that Israel was conducting the flights to collect intelligence on Hizballah positions in southern Lebanon.
    France's furor at the overflights was not divorced from French domestic political considerations, government officials in Jerusalem said Wednesday.
    Taking a tough stance toward Israel on the issue - a position that grabs headlines in France - has helped raise the public profile of Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, who is considering running in France's presidential elections in April.

Saudis Return in Record Numbers to U.S. Universities (Saudi Gazette-Saudi Arabia)
    Saudi students studying in the U.S. have reached 11,000 after several years that witnessed a drop in their numbers following the September 11 attacks, Asharq Al-Awsat, the London-based Arabic-language daily, reported Sunday.
    In 2001, for several months after the attacks, no Saudi national was granted a student visa.
    According to the State Department, 9,471 Saudi nationals received student visas in the academic year ending Sept. 30, compared with 2,383 in the previous year.

FBI Struggles to Win Trust of Muslim, Arab Communities - Marisa Taylor (McClatchy)
    Beginning almost immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the FBI began to root out suspected terrorists, and Arab and Muslim communities became the bureau's top targets.
    More than 260 defendants have been convicted of terrorism-related charges in the U.S. and trials are pending for 150 more, according to the Justice Department's latest estimates released in June.
    But agents also recognize that alienation of Muslims and Arabs could undermine the bureau's hunt for domestic terrorists.
    To regain the trust of Muslim and Arab-Americans, the FBI has embarked on an aggressive national outreach program.
    The bureau's efforts, which include mosque visits and one-on-one meetings, have become so pervasive in certain cities that some young Muslim-Americans refer to the agency as the "Friendly Brotherhood of Islam."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abbas, Hamas Build Forces Despite Unity Talks - Adam Entous
    The new concrete barriers at the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza are a clear sign of a U.S.-backed plan to assert Mahmoud Abbas' control in the Hamas stronghold. They precede deployment next month of Abbas' presidential guard to replace forces under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry, currently held by Hamas. "The Americans want to build up Abbas militarily and politically to eventually be able to constrain Hamas," said one senior Israeli official. Western diplomats said the U.S. had so far raised $5 million of the $20 million it hopes to get from donors for expanding Abbas' guard and increasing security at Karni. U.S. congressional restrictions have forced the Americans to turn to European and Arab states to provide the bulk of money and equipment for the plan. (Reuters)
  • Security Council to Help Lebanon Probe - Edith M. Lederer
    The Security Council gave quick approval late Wednesday to Lebanon's request for UN assistance in investigating the assassination of anti-Syrian cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Former IDF Chief of Staff: War on Terror is WWIII
    Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, who was Israel Defense Forces chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, said in Canberra Tuesday that the West must wake up and understand it is fighting World War III against a movement of global jihadists. "We are under attack, we are in defense, they are on the offense so far," he said. Iran had become the headquarters of a global movement that wanted to impose a strict form of Islam on the rest of the world. The West should confront the threat through diplomatic and even military action if necessary, and Iran and Syria must be held responsible for their support of militants in Iraq, he said. (The Australian)
  • Allah Blessed Me, Says Killer of British Tourist in Jordan - Harry de Quetteville
    The self-confessed killer of a British tourist in Jordan claimed Wednesday that, "Allah gave me the strength to kill the Briton." Nabil Ahmad Issa al-Jaaoura, 38, is on trial for the murder of Christopher Stokes, 30, who was shot dead in September during a visit to a Roman amphitheater popular with tourists in the capital Amman. At a military court, the defendant said he was "a soldier of Allah" and that killing a "despicable crusader" was "the closest to winning Allah's acceptance."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Security Cabinet Approves Greater Response to Palestinian Rocket Fire - Aluf Benn
    The security cabinet decided Wednesday to intensify Israel's response to rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza. The ministers approved a series of measures, including attacks on Hamas institutions. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sderot Elementary School: Twenty Seconds to Take Cover - Moran Zelikovich
    Eti Azran, principal of the Sderot elementary school which was hit by a Palestinian rocket Wednesday morning, is used to seeing children running to take cover. According to Azran, "The biggest danger as far as we are concerned is when the children get off the ride at the beginning of the day or get on the bus at the end....Once the siren is heard we have to take cover within 20 seconds. It's a problematic mission when you are in the exposed street." On Wednesday, Azran continued, "We all ran to the fortified rooms. After the first fall I wanted to go outside to see if the children were alright, but the blast of the second fall threw me back into the class. That's when I knew the second fall was very close to us." She believed that a miracle is what saved the children's lives, and the force of habit that the children have to run directly to fortified areas and cling to the walls when an alarm is sounded. (Ynet News)
  • Defense Minister Caught in Palestinian Rocket Alert
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets at Israel Thursday morning. Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who was in his hometown of Sderot, was caught by a Channel 10 Television camera crew running with his bodyguards for cover after the Red Alert system sounded. On Wednesday, ten Kassam rockets fell on Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah Official Survives Palestinian Assassin in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Efforts to resume coalition talks between Fatah and Hamas suffered a major setback on Wednesday when an attempt was made to assassinate senior Fatah leader Abu Ali Shaheen in Gaza. Shaheen was moderately wounded when unidentified gunmen shot him shortly after he left a local radio station where he had strongly criticized Hamas in an interview. Shaheen recently staged a protest in the streets of Gaza City in which he carried a placard condemning Hamas' executive force as a "black militia responsible for intimidation and terror." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Another Killing in Lebanon - Editorial
    In a Middle East plagued by constant tragedy and defeat, Lebanon's Cedar Revolution and the ousting of Syrian troops last year was a rare and precious victory. The U.S. and the international community must now rally to support Prime Minister Fouad Siniora - with cash, security advisers, and anything that might help him and his government survive. Damascus must also be told that it will pay a high price - in scorn, isolation, and sanctions - if it is found to have ordered Mr. Gemayel's death, or the deaths or maiming of a half-dozen other anti-Syrian politicians and journalists. Hizballah must be told that it will be shunned if it tries to grab power through further violence or intimidation.
        The UN took an important step this week, approving the creation of a tribunal to prosecute the killers of Rafik Hariri, a former prime minister. The only question there is which top Syrian official gave the order. (New York Times)
  • So How Does "Engaging with Syria" Look Now? - Michael Young
    In recent weeks the idea that the U.S. and the UK should "engage" Syria, but also Iran, to stabilize Iraq has been all the rage. On Tuesday, in an east Beirut suburb, Lebanon's industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, showed what the cost of engagement might be when he was assassinated in broad daylight. Gemayel's allies quickly accused Syria or its allies of the crime, and it's difficult to disagree.
         Developments in Lebanon make the idea of engaging Syria at best premature. The Hariri investigation is continuing, and until the UN releases its final report on the assassination, it makes no sense to talk to a Syrian regime that may find itself in the dock. Realists must prove that a country that has ignored successive UN resolutions demanding Syrian non-interference in Lebanon could somehow be a force for stability in Iraq, to which it has funneled hundreds of foreign fighters. (Times-UK)
  • Hamas Media Backs Terrorists, Incites Violence - Jonathan L. Snow
    The web of Hamas media properties includes newspapers, magazines, Internet sites, and radio and television stations. Hamas' television station, called al-Aqsa, began broadcasting in January. The station, modeled after Hizballah's al-Manar television, uses "news reports," music videos, and fiery speeches to inspire acts of violence and inculcate hate against Jews and the West. Just as the U.S. government designated al-Manar as a terrorist organization, it should do the same for al-Aqsa. The proliferation of terrorist-controlled media outlets represents a direct threat to any country that it reaches. Taking them off the international airwaves is not an assault on free speech, but rather a legitimate effort to save lives. The writer is manager of research for the Coalition Against Terrorist Media, a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Observations:

    Report on Settlement Land: Less than Meets the Eye - Alex Safian (CAMERA)

    • The advocacy group Peace Now has issued a new report claiming that "a large proportion of the settlements built on the West Bank are built on privately owned Palestinian land," in direct contradiction to claims by numerous Israeli governments that settlements were built only on state (that is, public) land. Yet others who looked at the same data seemed to reach very different conclusions.
    • Absolutely key to the questions raised is the legal definition of what is state land, and what is private land. Much of what the report terms "private Palestinian land" is in fact state land and has been considered so for generations.
    • The report charged, for example, that 86.4% of Ma'ale Adumim's land was "privately owned Palestinian land." Yet the land on which Ma'ale Adumim was built is more than a mile and a half from the built-up area of the closest Arab village; the land is also rocky and on a ridge, and had never been inhabited or cultivated.
    • There can be no doubt that the majority of land called "private Palestinian land" is in fact wasteland, and therefore permanently in the public domain.

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