Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 11, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Syria Preparing for War with Israel, Al-Qaeda in Lebanon May Attack Foreign Peacekeepers - Gideon Alon and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, told the Cabinet Sunday that Syrian President Bashar Assad is preparing for a war with Israel.
    Assad has ordered increased production of long-range missiles and instructed the Syrian army to position its anti-tank missiles closer to the Syrian border with Israel, on the Golan Heights.
    Baidatz also said Iran is continuously operating in Lebanon to reinforce Hizballah, while also working to strengthen Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories.
    He also noted, "There are major signs of a Global Jihad [al-Qaeda] presence in Lebanon, especially the refugee camps, and one of their intentions is to attack the foreign peacekeepers.... They see the peacekeepers as symbols of the West."
    See also IDF: Syria Not Planning for War This Summer - Amos Harel and Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Defense Forces announced Saturday night it has no intelligence regarding Syrian plans to initiate a war against Israel next summer.

Israel Campus Beat
- December 10, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    How the Unrest in Lebanon Could Affect Israel

Report: Hamas to Join with Hizballah in Prisoner Release Talks - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas has decided to link any deal for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit with Hizballah's negotiations for the release of two IDF reservists kidnapped in a July raid, a senior Palestinian source said Sunday.
    Until now, Hamas has negotiated separately with Israel through Egyptian intermediaries.
    The source, who is close to PA Chairman Abbas, claimed Hamas decided to link its efforts with those of Hizballah following Syrian and Iranian pressure.

Arab States Study Shared Nuclear Program - Abdullah Shihri and Diana Elias (AP/Washington Post)
    The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council that includes Saudi Arabia said Sunday it will consider starting a joint nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
    The announcement was sure to ratchet up concerns about a regional nuclear arms race.

Sharansky to Receive U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    Former Israeli minister and statesman Natan Sharansky will be awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony this Friday, the White House announced.

Anti-Semitism on the Rise in Germany - Bjorn Hengst and Jan Friedmann (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    Right-wing adolescents and young Muslims are displaying levels of anti-Semitism that were long considered unthinkable in Germany.
    The Jewish High School in Berlin's central Mitte district resembles a high-security ward. The building is surrounded by a fence several meters high, video cameras register every move, and policemen stand guard in front of the building.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran's Denial of Holocaust Harms Arab Cause, Palestinian Activist Tells Ahmadinejad - Angus McDowall
    On the eve of the conference on the Holocaust starting Monday in Tehran, Mahmoud al-Safadi, a Palestinian recently freed after 18 years in an Israeli jail, wrote an open letter to Iranian President Ahmadinejad calling his stance on the Holocaust a "great disservice to popular struggles the world over." "Perhaps you see Holocaust denial as an expression of support for the Palestinians," he writes. "Here, too, you are wrong....Our success and our independence will not be gained by denying the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people." Safadi says that reading the works of Arab intellectuals helped convince him that the Holocaust was a historical fact. (Independent-UK)
        See also Holocaust Deniers Ban Dissenting Voice - Michael Theodoulou
    An outspoken Palestinian lawyer was hoping to challenge Holocaust deniers during a provocative conference that opens in Iran Monday. But Sunday Khaled Kasab Mahameed learned from the Iranian Foreign Ministry - which had invited him to speak - that he would not receive a visa. Mahameed lives in Israel, where he has established the Arab Institute for Holocaust Research and Education, the Arab world's first Holocaust museum, in Nazareth. (Times-UK)
  • Protest Crowds Surge in Beirut - Anthony Shadid
    Hizballah and its allies turned out the biggest crowds yet in downtown Beirut, sending hundreds of thousands of followers to the gates of the government headquarters Sunday in a feat of mobilization and discipline described by some leaders as the last mass protest before the 10-day campaign escalates. (Washington Post)
        See also Lebanon's Shiites Grapple with New Feeling of Power - Anthony Shadid (Washington Post)
  • Jordanian Islamists: Baker Report Indicative of Fading U.S. Influence
    Secretary General Zaki Bani Ershaid of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), Jordan's largest political party, on Saturday said the Baker Commission report "is indicative of the fading U.S. influence in the region." He urged the U.S. "to withdraw from the region, stop meddling in its internal affairs, and compensate the victims for their sufferings as a result of the U.S. occupation."  (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
        See also Talabani Lashes Out at "Dangerous" Baker Report on U.S. Role in Iraq - Michael Howard
    Iraq's president Jalal Talabani Sunday delivered a thunderous rejection of the Iraq Study Group, describing its findings as "dangerous" and saying its recommendations were "dead in the water." "We can smell the attitude of James Baker in 1991 when he liberated Kuwait but left Saddam in power," he said. (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Iranian President Urges Hamas Leader to Keep Fighting - Dudi Cohen
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad urged visiting Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh on Saturday not to bow to pressure to recognize Israel and to keep fighting the Jewish state. Haniyeh, on a four-day visit to one of the strongest backers of his Hamas government, thanked Iran for its support and vowed not to cede to Western demands that it renounce violence, recognize existing interim peace accords, and recognize Israel.
        "The Iranian nation will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Palestinian people until Jerusalem is liberated," Ahmadinejad told Haniyeh. "America as the main supporter of this fake regime (Israel) is deteriorating and becoming weak and the conspiracies of the enemies of Islam to break the resistance of the Palestinian nation will fail," he said. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas PM in Tehran: Iran Gives Us "Strategic Depth" - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
        See also Haniyeh: This Generation Will Liberate Palestine - Dudi Cohen (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Kill PA Official's Children at Gaza City School
    Palestinian gunmen killed three sons of a Palestinian intelligence chief loyal to PA Chairman Abbas in Gaza on Monday after shooting at a car dropping the children off at an elementary school, police and hospital officials said. An adult bystander was also killed. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
        See also Armed Mourners Storm Gaza Parliament Compound
    Mourners firing automatic weapons stormed into the compound of the Palestinian parliament in Gaza on Monday during a funeral procession for three boys who were earlier shot dead by unidentified gunmen. (Reuters)
        See also PA Police in Gaza March on Parliament
    On Saturday, more than 2,500 members of the PA security forces, many loyal to Abbas' Fatah movement, marched on the parliament building in Gaza City, firing in the air. The marchers alleged that Hamas was paying its own militia while neglecting the members of the regular security forces. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas' Election Threat - Danny Rubinstein
    The possibility of holding new elections has been raised often recently by associates of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as a way to get rid of the Hamas government. According to Abbas loyalists, the chairman can dissolve the government, resign himself, and then call new elections at the earliest opportunity, which is March 2007. But according to Hamas spokesmen, the chairman cannot dissolve parliament, and most Palestinian legal experts concur. In other words, Abbas can only dismiss himself, and then elections would be held only for the presidency.
        The idea of holding new elections is Abbas' way of threatening Hamas, on the assumption that the Hamas government is weak. But Hamas leaders are not frightened; they feel strong. The money arrives in suitcases, mainly from Iran, to pay some salaries; Hamas organized a large demonstration in Gaza this weekend that urged Haniyeh not to resign; and the Palestinian public talks about how the rest of the world is getting used to the PA's government of Islamic zealots. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Threatens Violence If Abbas Calls Early Election - Eric Silver
    Hamas has threatened to resort to violence if Mahmoud Abbas calls early elections. Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, said during a visit to Iran: "Holding early elections is the start of the creation of disorder in Palestine. They do not want the formation of a national-unity government. They want to expel Hamas from the government. They want the authority and government to be entirely in the hands of non-Hamas people." The Hamas leader added after meeting hardline Iranian President Ahmadinejad: "We support the Palestinian people's right to resistance and its right to cancel the cruel agreements that we signed in the past with the occupation regime."  (Independent-UK)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Tryst with Destiny - Yehuda Avner
    Politically and diplomatically we are very much back in the 1930s as we watch a focused, defiant, and fanatic Teheranian dictator, fired by a nihilistic ideology, facing down the mumbling, shuffling, and procrastinating appeasers of the EU and the UN. Just as the enlightened world didn't take the Nazis seriously then, enlightened Europe is largely not taking the Islamists seriously now. Where is the sense of irrepressible outrage, the uncontainable fury emanating from the deepest depths of a people's soul, bled white century after century, and threatened now, once more, with obliteration by an insane foe?
        It must be hammered home to the Iranian people by means fair and foul that the distance from Tel Aviv to Teheran is exactly the same as that from Teheran to Tel Aviv, with all that that implies. Governments must be convinced of Israel's incalculable unpredictability if pushed too far, so that their own best interests are better served by counter actions initiated by themselves first. The writer, a veteran diplomat, was a member of staff for five prime ministers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Educated Palestinians Leaving PA - Sarah El Deeb
    Driven by fear of civil war and increasingly bleak economic prospects, Palestinians are fleeing their violence-wracked lands in growing numbers. Many are skilled and educated, and are leaving behind an increasingly impoverished and fundamentalist society. The brain drain reverses a trend of the 1990s when, fueled by peace hopes, thousands of well-to-do Palestinians returned from the diaspora to the West Bank and Gaza, building homes and setting up businesses. More than 20 factories have moved out of Gaza in recent months.
        Some 10,000 Palestinians emigrated between June and October and another 45,000 have made preparations to leave, said Ahmed Suboh, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry official. A recent poll indicated that the number of young Palestinians willing to leave if given a chance has jumped from 25% to 44% over two years. Two popular destinations for Gazans are Canada and Cuba. Those with tourist visas to Cuba often get off in transit at a European airport. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Whose War Crimes? Evidence from Lebanon about How Terrorists Use Civilians - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

    • Mohammad Abd al-Hamid Srour moved missiles across southern Lebanon under cover of a white flag. Hussein Ali Mahmoud Suleiman used the porch of a private home to fire rockets. Maher Hassan Mahmoud Kourani dressed in civilian clothes, hid his Kalashnikov in a tote bag, and stored anti-aircraft missiles in the back of a green unmarked Volvo. The three men, all members of Hizballah, were captured by Israel during last summer's war.
    • Their videotaped interviews form part of a remarkable report by retired Lt.-Col. Reuven Erlich of Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Relying heavily on first-hand evidence, the report shows how Hizballah put innocent civilians at risk by deliberately deploying its forces in towns and often private homes. It is Hizballah, not Israel, that is guilty of war crimes here.
    • Beyond the war in Lebanon, these images suggest how Islamists seek to use the restraint of Western powers against them. They shoot at our civilians from the safety of their own civilian enclaves that they know we are reluctant to attack. Then if by chance their civilians are killed, they call in CNN and al-Jazeera cameras and wait for the likes of Human Rights Watch to denounce America or Israel for war crimes.
    • None of this means the U.S. shouldn't continue to fight with discrimination and avoid civilian casualties. But it means our political leadership needs to speak as candidly as Israelis now are speaking about this enemy strategy, so the American people can understand and be steeled against this new civilian battleground.

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    The Conference of Presidents joins in inviting
    leaders of the member organizations to a special symposium:

    Bring Ahmadinejad to Justice for Incitement to Genocide!

    Featuring important national and international legal scholars who will discuss the repeated threats by President Ahmadinejad of Iran in violation of the 1949 Genocide Convention. Among those who will address this timely and critical issue are:

    Amb. Dore Gold, Former Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations
    Professor Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School
    MP Irwin Cotler, Former Minister of Justice of Canada
    Amb. Meir Rosenne, Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States
    Amb. Eytan Bentsur, Former Director General, Israel Foreign Ministery
    MK Danny Naveh, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

    Thursday, December 14
    10:00 am - 12:00 noon

    New York County Lawyers' Association
    14 Vesey Street, (between Broadway and Church Street)
    Lower Manhattan

    Seating is limited so please respond immediately to (212) 339-6993 or [email protected]