Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 5, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Fears Al-Qaeda Threat from Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Egyptian President Mubarak's biggest fear is that Gaza, which is entirely under the control of armed militias, could turn into a major base for global jihad and other terrorist groups.
    Al-Qaeda terrorists, working in cooperation with elements in Egypt's banned but powerful Muslim Brotherhood, are said to be very active among the Bedouin population in Sinai.
    Mubarak's crackdown on al-Qaeda cells in Sinai has forced some of the terrorists to flee to Gaza, where they have been welcome to use the training camps established on the ruins of some former settlements.
    The Egyptians fear that these terrorists will eventually return to Egypt to carry out attacks.
    The absence of IDF troops along the Philadelphi Corridor, the border between Gaza and Egypt, has put Mubarak's regime at risk.
    According to some PA security commanders, the main reason the Egyptians are not doing enough to combat smuggling is Mubarak's fear that the weapons, including tons of explosives, could end up in Cairo if they don't make their way to Gaza.

Israel HighWay
- January 4, 2007

Issue of the Week:
    What Can Be Done about Iran?

PBS Documentary Explores Reappearance of Anti-Semitism - Tom Tugend (Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)
    The PBS documentary, "Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence," will discomfit viewers of all stripes.
    Airing Jan. 8, the film will annoy those who believe that rising anti-Semitism is a myth.

Sharon Still in Coma in Tel Aviv - Amy Teibel (AP/Washington Post)
    One year after a stroke felled Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he is still in a coma in a Tel Aviv hospital and is not expected to recover.
    Sharon confidant Raanan Gissin felt Sharon's aura would have deterred Palestinian militants and Hizbullah guerrillas in Lebanon from provoking Israel.
    "He himself was a deterrent element in Israel's strategic posture," said Gissin, Sharon's former spokesman. "They respected him, they feared him in the Arab world."

Reactions to Saddam's Execution: Indifference Among Arab Regimes (MEMRI)
    The Arab world's response to the execution of Saddam Hussein was largely limited to minor diplomatic reactions focusing mostly on the timing of the execution - the first day of the Feast of the Sacrifice in the Sunni tradition - and not on the execution itself.
    There were no statements on the matter from Arab leaders, except from Libyan ruler Qaddafi who declared three days of mourning.

Israel Mulls Bolstering Arrow Anti-Missile System with U.S. Missile - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    Sources in Washington say Israeli Ministry of Defense official Aryeh Herzog has asked the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to approve the bolstering of Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system with terminal high-altitude area (THAAD) interceptor missiles manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
    The sources stressed that the initiative was designed to diversify and strengthen Israel's array of anti-ballistic weaponry, which consists at present of the Arrow and Patriot missiles.
    It does not aim to replace the Arrow missile system.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Helps Rescue Israeli Arabs Stuck in Saudi Desert (Israel Today)
    The Israeli Foreign Ministry was able to assist in the rescue of 47 Israeli Arabs who got stuck in the vast desert of Saudi Arabia when their bus broke down on their way back to Israel after the Hajj pilgrimage.
    After hours of waiting, one of the travelers called the tour operator in Israel, who called the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. The Foreign Ministry phoned the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan, which contacted the Jordanian royal palace.
    The Jordanians called the Saudi royal palace in Riyadh, and two hours after the initial phone call to Israel, Saudi police forces arrived on the scene in the middle of the desert and rescued the Israeli pilgrims.

Indiana Officials Look to Israel in Preparing for Emergencies - Lesley Stedman Weidenbener (Louisville Courier-Journal)
    Judith Monroe, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Health, trekked to Israel last month with officials from other states to see how that country's hospitals and health systems deal with emergencies.
    Monroe found the visit inspirational and came home brimming with ideas about the way Indiana and the U.S. can prepare for threats, from terrorism to natural disasters.
    Monroe said she was struck by the Israelis' intense focus on drills to make sure that hospitals, their staffs, and support services were ready for emergencies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. to Give Abbas Forces $86 Million Amid Power Struggle - Adam Entous
    The Bush administration will provide $86 million to help security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, expanding U.S. involvement in his struggle with Hamas, according to documents seen on Friday. The U.S. money will be used to "assist the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the road map (peace plan) to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza," according to a U.S. government document. It said Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator in the region, would implement the program "to strengthen and reform elements of the Palestinian security sector controlled by the PA presidency." Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri accused Washington of helping to mount a "coup" against the Hamas-led government. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Imposes Financial Restrictions on Syrian Institutions for Weapons Proliferation
    The U.S. Treasury Department Thursday imposed financial restrictions on three Syrian institutions suspected of proliferating weapons of mass destruction. The Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology, the Electronics Institute, and the National Standards and Calibration Laboratory were targeted because of their affiliation with the previously designated Scientific Studies and Research Center. A treasury official, Stuart Levey, said Syria is using official government organizations to develop unconventional weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The Treasury Department has the power to freeze any bank accounts or financial assets belonging to the designated entities in the U.S. (VOA News)
  • Saudi King Holds Talks with Hizbullah - Leila Bassam
    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah held talks on Lebanon's political crisis with Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Kassem on Dec. 26 in Jeddah, his first such contact with the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim group, a Lebanese political source said on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia is a major backer of current Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. The two sides discussed rising Sunni-Shi'ite tension in Lebanon, the source said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Mubarak Hints: Egypt Will Develop Nukes - Roee Nahmias
    "We don't want nuclear weapons," Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stated Thursday at a meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Sharm e-Sheikh in Egypt. "But since they appear highly present in the area, we must defend ourselves." It now appears that if Iran develops nuclear power, Egypt will no longer be satisfied with devoting its nuclear resources to peaceful purposes alone. "We don't want nuclear arms in the area but we are obligated to defend ourselves. We will have to have the appropriate weapons. It is irrational that we sit and watch from the sidelines when we might be attacked at any moment," Mubarak stated. (Ynet News)
  • Civil War in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    "Civil war" is an apt description for what is now taking place between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza. On Thursday Hamas gunmen assaulted the home of Col. Mohammed Gharib, leader of the Preventive Security force in northern Gaza. Using automatic weapons, missiles, and grenade launchers, the Hamas attackers killed everyone in the house. Hamas gunmen also raided the home of Sufian Abu Zeida, a senior Fatah official and former minister, but he and his family were not home. The attackers were members of Hamas' Executive Force, which answers to Hamas Interior Minister Saeed Sayam. The head of the Executive Force, Yusef al-Zahar, is the brother of Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Attacks Fatah - Live on PA TV - Ali Waked
    Gharib was on the phone to Palestine TV just moments before his death and appealed for help as his house came under attack. "They are killers," he said of the Hamas gunmen. "They are targeting the house, children are dying, they are bleeding. For God's sake, send an ambulance." The battle outside the house raged for much of the day and killed four of Gharib's guards and a Hamas gunman. About three dozen people, including eight children, were wounded. (Ynet News)
        Gharib's body was found riddled with bullets and mutilated by stab wounds. His two daughters were also killed during the fighting. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Four Palestinians Killed in Ramallah Arrest Raid - Ali Waked
    Four Palestinian civilians were killed and 18 were wounded during an IDF operation in Ramallah Thursday afternoon. A special IDF force surrounded a building in which wanted Palestinians were hiding. During the operation, as four wanted Palestinians were arrested, Palestinians fired at the soldiers and hurled stones and Molotov cocktails. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues Friday - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians from Gaza launched two Kassam rockets toward Israel Friday morning. One rocket landed inside the town of Sderot and caused damage to a few homes. The second rocket landed near a kibbutz in the western Negev. (Ynet News)
  • Easing Roadblocks Depends on Completing Security Barrier - Dan Izenberg and Yaakov Katz
    As former adviser to the defense minister on humanitarian and quality of life issues relating to the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Baruch Spiegel prepared a master plan for reducing the number of military checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank. Earlier this week, the government approved the first stage of the plan, which calls for the removal of 27 roadblocks. "Ultimately, only when the [security] barrier is completed...can we ease up. Everyone must understand that one of the reasons there are no terror attacks these days is that they are under pressure inside [the West Bank]."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Loses a Friend - Yariv Nornberg
    Last year, I had the privilege to join President Carter's conflict resolution task team to assist it in the worthy goal of "waging peace." The opportunity to facilitate dialogues between warring parties in conflicts outside of the scope of the Israeli-Arab conflict was a tremendous experience. It convinced me that a goodwill ambassador could actually play a constructive role in facilitating the reconciliation of two enemies. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter's last publication is in total contradiction to this notion. The book completely contradicts all that I was taught about conflict resolution at the Carter Center.
        By entirely ignoring the countless examples of Palestinian rejection of Israel, inadmissible involvement in terror, and the culture of hatred promoted by the Palestinian Authority, the reader is expected to see Israel as the key party responsible for the conflict. Carter chooses to ignore the fact that the Palestinians have never implemented the first point of the road map agreement, which said that a two-state solution "will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty." The PA has consistently said it has no intention to fulfill its promise to dismantle terrorist organizations or to confiscate illegal weapons.
        I was especially offended when Mr. Carter equated the "ejection" of Palestinians from their homes to the Indians in Georgia being forced out to make room for "our white ancestors." Mr. Carter deliberately chose to ignore that Jews, unlike his ancestors, were always living in their homeland and that the Palestinians were not ejected, but rather most fled during the battles of the 1947-49 war provoked by the Arab rejection of UN partition Resolution 181. (Washington Times)
  • Rice Comes Up Short - Ike Seamans
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is making another trip to the Middle East seeking a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian tussle. Her influence and expertise are so minimal, there's not a snowball's chance in Gaza she can do it. Rice has nothing to show for her infrequent forays into the Holy Land. ''How long have American secretaries of state been shuttling back and forth trying to get a Palestinian state?'' she ponders. "Has it ever worked?'' In November, while President Bush conferred with Arab leaders in Amman, on his orders Rice dashed over to Israel where she spent a half hour with Abbas, praising him as one ''who supports resolving the conflict peacefully'' at the very moment Palestinian terrorists rained rockets on southern Israel. (Miami Herald)
  • A Reporter in Beirut - Michael Totten
    Even though it has been years since Hizbullah has kidnapped or physically harmed Western journalists, some may be afraid to rile up an Iranian proxy militia that is listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. Hizbullah informed me that I'm officially blacklisted (meaning they will no longer give me interviews or even quotes) for what I have written about them in the past. The contrast between average Lebanese and Hizbullah's official party members and elite is extraordinary. Most of the people of Lebanon are instinctively decent on a personal level no matter their political views or ideology. Hizbullah itself, though, is instinctively menacing and hostile and belligerent. Their ideology is an alien one, imported from the East, from the extremist regime in Tehran. If they ever end up as rulers of Lebanon - and it will surely mean war if they try - Lebanon will no longer be recognizable. The writer is based in Beirut, Lebanon. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Reason, LA Weekly, Beirut's Daily Star and Tech Central Station. (

    Weekend Features

  • On the Wailing Wall, Kassam Rockets and Hummus (or Why Everything You Think You Know about Israel Is Likely Wrong) - Adam Daifallah
    30 Quebec university students traveled from one end of Israel to the other in ten days. We talked with scholars, journalists, students, politicians and activists from all corners of the Israeli political spectrum. Israel is a fascinating country. Its people are friendly, knowledgeable, Westernized - and most of all, tolerant. They have an amazing sense of purpose and resilience in the face of daily threats to their very existence.
        Israel must be supported. I have no problem saying this as someone who is of partly Palestinian ancestry. Israel is a democratic, pluralistic Western outpost in the middle of a cesspool of tyranny and despair. After all the terror and the two intifadas, it was amazing to see and hear so many Israelis still so committed to peace and willing to do just about anything to achieve it. If the Palestinians and their leadership would truly recognize Israel's right to exist tomorrow, I have little doubt a state would follow very soon. This is the sense I got from almost every Israeli we talked to. Everyone wants peace, but it takes two to tango. The peace partner on the other side is simply not there.
        If more people visited Israel, I think more people would understand the need for vigilance and to stand up to wrongness and evil. War is ugly, but there are situations in the world in which no other option exists. Sometimes war is necessary to bring peace. The writer, a Canadian author and journalist, is currently studying law at Laval University in Quebec City. (
  • From Far Beneath the Israeli Desert, Water Sustains a Fertile Enterprise - Dina Kraft
    Fish farming in the desert may at first sound like an anomaly, but in Israel over the last decade a scientific hunch has turned into a bustling business. Israeli scientists found that brackish water drilled from underground desert aquifers hundreds of feet deep could be used to raise warm-water fish. The geothermal water, less than one-tenth as saline as sea water, free of pollutants and a toasty 98 degrees on average, proved an ideal match. "We should consider arid land where subsurface water exists as land that has great opportunities," said Professor Samuel Appelbaum, a fish biologist at the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who pioneered the concept of desert aquaculture in Israel in the late 1980s.
        Farmers use the water in which the fish are raised to irrigate their crops. The organic waste produced by the fish acts as fertilizer for the crops. Fields watered by brackish water dot Israel's Negev and Arava Deserts in the south, where they spread out like green blankets against a landscape of sand dunes and rocky outcrops. (New York Times)
  • How the Status of American Jewish Women Has Changed - Interview with Rela Mintz Geffen
    There have been major developments in the role of Jewish women in the U.S. over the past four decades in many areas of Jewish life. The study of rabbinics and classical Jewish texts is open to women. Women have risen to public leadership of the Jewish community more completely. The enfranchisement of Jewish women has greatly enriched American Jewish life. Prof. Rela Mintz Geffen is president of Baltimore Hebrew University and served as dean for academic affairs at Gratz College in Philadelphia. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Bringing Ahmadinejad to Justice - Irwin Cotler (Ha'aretz)

    • The outrage over Iran's hosting of a Holocaust denial conference has tended to overshadow what should be a greater outrage: Iran's state-sanctioned incitement to commit genocide. Simply put, the denial of genocide became a media event, but incitement to genocide in violation of the prohibition against the "direct and public incitement to commit genocide" in the Genocide Convention, the "never again" convention, is greeted with a yawn.
    • We are witnessing - and have been witnessing for some time - the emergence of state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, whose epicenter is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran. Ahmadinejad has presided over the parading of a Shihab-3 missile draped in the emblem that Israel be "wiped off the map," while exhorting assembled thousands in their chants declaring "Death to Israel."
    • The answer is for the international community to act now, as mandated under the Genocide Convention, to prevent this clear and present danger, not only to Israel and the Jewish people, but to international peace and security.
    • The "responsibility to prevent" obligation in international law requires that the following actions be undertaken with all deliberate speed:
      1. State parties to the Genocide Convention, whose responsibility is to enforce the convention, should refer the genocidal incitement by President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders to the appropriate UN agencies for account. It is astonishing that this genocidal incitement has yet to be addressed by any body or agency of the United Nations.
      2. State parties should initiate in the International Court of Justice an inter-state complaint against Iran for its criminal violation of the Genocide Treaty.
      3. The international criminality of President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders should be referred by the UN Security Council to the special prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for investigation and prosecution.
      4. State parties to the Genocide Convention should prepare criminal indictments for President Ahmadinejad, former president Rafsanjani, and other Iranian leaders on the basis of the "universal jurisdiction" principle embodied in the Genocide Convention.
      5. NGOs should prepare an indictment of President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders for the violation of the prohibition in both the Genocide Convention and the International Criminal Court Treaty against the "public and direct incitement to genocide."
      6. The new secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who seeks to "lead by example," should refer the genocidal incitement of President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders to the UN Security Council, as a matter threatening international peace and security, pursuant to Article 99 of the UN Charter.
    • It is time that these juridical options be initiated, which might also embolden progressive forces within Iran, while holding the responsible individuals accountable. Indeed, recent history has taught us that sustained international juridical remedies can bring about the indictment of seemingly immune dictators, such as Slobodan Milosevic and Augusto Pinochet. This is an opportunity for countries to exercise juridical leadership in regard to one of the most important threats confronting the international community.

      The writer is a former Canadian minister of justice and attorney general.

          See also The Iranian Who Wants an Apocalypse - Michael Burleigh (Telegraph-UK)

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