Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 15, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Hard Facts about the Threats Facing Israel - Ehud Ya'ari (Jerusalem Report/Jerusalem Post)
    Over the coming year, there is no doubt that Hamas in Gaza will be producing Kassam-type rockets with a range of 20-25 kms., bringing all of Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat, Netivot, Ofakim and the many kibbutzim and moshavim that surround them into the line of fire.
    Over a quarter of a million Israelis will be in range. Moreover, Hamas will be able to fire the rockets from the heart of Gaza, without having to send launch teams to the open areas close to the border fence.
    This means that unless there's a miracle, the Israeli government, lacking any alternative, will have to order the army to carry out a major operation to clean up Gaza, along the lines of the successful Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in 2002.
    In the West Bank, the Fatah movement has in fact ceased to exist, and there is no meaningful process of resuscitation or reform under way in either the PA or Fatah. Instead of gaining strength after the debacle in Gaza, Fatah on the West Bank is growing weaker.
    It is becoming clear to all parties involved in the pre-Annapolis conference negotiations that there is no chance of agreement on a declaration that will herald even a hint of a breakthrough.

EU Annual Aid to PA Surpasses $1 Billion - Rasheed Hilal (IMEMC-PA)
    PA Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Ahmad Subuh on Wednesday announced that the EU had donated aid to the PA over the past year totaling $1,080 million.
    He said the amount had increased significantly from last year's $980 million and the previous year's $880 million.

Hebrew Has Never Been So Popular in Egypt, Israelis Themselves Are Not - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Every year around 2,000 Egyptian students enroll in Hebrew courses. Some 500 Hebrew students graduate annually.
    All the universities in Cairo, including the Muslim Al-Azhar University, teach Hebrew.
    But the political situation and atmosphere in Egypt prohibit Egyptians from visiting Israel or maintaining ties with Israelis.

Fundamentalist Islam Finds Fertile Ground in Bosnia - Renate Flottau (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    The Dayton Peace Accords called for the removal of foreign combatants from Bosnia after the Balkans war.
    But hundreds of mujahedeen fighters stayed, and today they are successfully spreading their fundamentalist Islamist views.
    Terrorism experts fear Bosnia could become a base for extremists, since many Bosnian Muslims have become radicalized through the influence of foreign combatants as well as the charitable Islamic organizations that spread their beliefs with money.
    Wahhabism is quickly gaining ground in the country, financed primarily by Saudi Arabian backers, who have invested well over a half-billion euros in Bosnia's development - especially in the construction of over 150 mosques.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Knesset Moves to Block the Division of Jerusalem - Isabel Kershner
    The Israeli Parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to a bill intended to hinder any division of Jerusalem in a future deal with the Palestinians, by stipulating that any change in the city’s status would require approval by two-thirds of the 120-seat legislature, or 80 votes, instead of a simple majority of 61. Senior members of Prime Minister Olmert's coalition voted in favor of the bill - which passed by 54 to 24 - as did four members of his own Kadima Party. The Jerusalem bill has a long way to go before it becomes law, having to pass through a committee and three votes in the full Knesset first. (New York Times)
  • French Court Screens Al-Durah Video Footage - Melanie Phillips
    I attended the Court of Appeal special session in Paris called to witness hitherto unseen footage of the "killing" of Mohammed al-Durah which the court had required France 2 to produce. The iconic image of the child served to incite terrorist violence around the world at the beginning of the second intifada. It is clear to anyone looking at this in detail that the whole thing was staged, not least from the devastating evidence which shows the boy raising his arm and peeping through his fingers seconds after France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin said he had been shot dead. From this footage, there is no evidence that anyone at all was killed or injured - including Mohammed al-Durah, who by the end of the frames in which he figured seemed to be still very much alive and unmarked by any wound whatsoever.
        Professor Richard Landes, one of the people who had already seen the contested footage, said that two scenes had been cut out which clearly showed that the violence had been staged. Although the footage shown was supposed to have been filmed during continuous firing by the Israelis for 45 minutes, one child was pictured riding a bicycle through the melee. When it came to the footage of the "killing" of Mohammed al-Durah, the sequence was not a continuous narrative but was repeatedly broken up and spliced onto footage of other scenes. (Spectator-UK)
        See also Reaction from the Paris Courtroom - Tom Gross and Richard Landes (Honest Reporting/YouTube)
  • Iran's Former Nuclear Negotiator Charged with Spying for UK - Michael Theodoulou and Michael Evans
    Hossein Mousavian, Tehran's former top nuclear negotiator, was accused Wednesday by Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie, Iran's intelligence minister, of passing classified material to the British Embassy in Tehran. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Harden Refusal to Accept a "Jewish State"
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated on Wednesday that there could be no substantive peace negotiations without explicit Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat told Al-Arabiya Wednesday that "the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity." PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad was also quoted by Israel Radio as rejecting Olmert's demand. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Confidence-Building Measures Toward the Palestinians
    Israel has recently taken practical steps to assist the Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas. Approximately $250 million in withheld PA tax and customs revenue has already been transferred to the PA, with the remaining $250 million to be transferred by the end of the year. 25 roadblocks and checkpoints were removed in the West Bank. About 170 wanted Fatah terrorists were offered amnesty in exchange for renunciation of terrorism and surrendering of weapons. About 350 prisoners were released on 20 July and 1 October, with a third release now being contemplated. Israel recently consented to the transfer of supplies and equipment to the PA Security Forces, above and beyond that called for in the Israel-Palestinian agreements. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • IDF Soldier Shot by Palestinians on Gaza Border - Yuval Azoulay
    An Israel Defense Forces soldier was lightly wounded Wednesday by Palestinian gunfire near the Erez Crossing on the Gaza-Israel border. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that struck Israel's western Negev Thursday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Is Israel a Jewish State? - Jeff Jacoby
    Israeli Prime Minister Olmert announced that he expects the Palestinian Authority to finally acknowledge Israel's existence as a Jewish state. If the more than 55 countries that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference are entitled to recognition as Muslim states, and if the 22 members of the Arab League are universally accepted as Arab states, why should anyone balk at acknowledging Israel as the world's lone Jewish state? There are many countries in which national identity and religion are linked. Argentinian law mandates government support for the Roman Catholic faith. Queen Elizabeth II is the supreme governor of the Church of England. In the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the constitution proclaims Buddhism the nation's "spiritual heritage." "The prevailing religion in Greece," declares Section II of the Greek Constitution, "is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ."
        In no region of the world do countries so routinely link their national character to a specific religion as in the Muslim Middle East. The flag of Saudi Arabia features the Islamic declaration of faith; on the Iranian flag, the Islamic phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is great") appears 22 times. In the Palestinian Authority's Basic Law, Article 4 provides that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine." The refusal of the Palestinian Authority to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate Jewish state isn't a denial of reality; it is a sign of their determination to change that reality. Like Arab leaders going back a century, they seek not to live in peace with the Jewish state, but in place of the Jewish state. (Boston Globe)
  • The Recognition Sham - Editorial
    The Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state suggests that all their solemn and myriad expressions of Israel's right to exist did not mean anything. They did not mean that the Palestinians accepted the Jews as a people (as Palestinians expect to be accepted), or that Israel is the legitimate expression of the Jewish people's right to self-determination. If Israel is not a Jewish state, it is Palestine, which is exactly the point.
        There is no way for Israelis to understand the refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state other than as a rejection of the two-state solution and the embrace of the "strategy of stages," whereby a Palestinian state is not an end of claims against Israel, but a down-payment toward Israel's destruction. As Olmert says, there is no point in entering a "peace process" on this basis. Without mutual recognition, there is no basis for negotiation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Who Are Iran's Revolutionary Guards? - Amir Taheri
    The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is an army answerable to no one but the "Supreme Leader" of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is also a business conglomerate that controls over 500 companies active in a wide range of industries - from nuclear power to banking, life insurance to holiday resorts and shopping centers. While the IRGC is the dominant force within the ruling establishment in Tehran, it is not a monolith.
        The IRGC is not a revolutionary army in the sense that the ALN was in Algeria or the Vietcong in Vietnam, which were born during revolutionary wars. The IRGC was created after the Khomeinist revolution had succeeded and the majority of those who joined it were opportunists. The IRGC "exports" revolution through the Quds (Jerusalem) Force: 15,000 highly trained men and women specializing in "martyrdom operations," a code word for guerrilla war, armed insurgency and terrorism.
        Some IRGC former commanders who did not share the Islamic Republic's goals have already defected to the U.S. Hundreds of others have gone into low-profile exile, mostly as businessmen in the UAE, Malaysia and Turkey. Many prominent IRGC commanders may be regarded as businessmen first and military leaders second. A few IRGC commanders, including some at the top, do not relish a conflict with the U.S. that could destroy their business empires. Indeed, there is no guarantee that, in case of a major war, all parts of the IRGC would show the same degree of commitment. While many Iranians see the IRGC as a monster protecting an evil regime, others believe that, when the crunch comes, it will side with the people against an increasingly repressive and unpopular regime. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    No Aid to PA Without Performance - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Shelley Berkley (Jerusalem Post)

    • Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly pledged to stop terrorism without making good on his word. Meanwhile, foreign aid to Abbas has entered Hamas' coffers. The U.S. has spent, and continues to spend, millions of dollars to help Abbas implement reforms aimed at eradicating incitement, providing security assistance to Palestinian entities, and promoting accountability and transparency of government institutions.
    • Despite these efforts, Abbas and his corrupt Fatah party failed miserably at curbing terrorism and implementing government reforms. Yet, the U.S. counsels patience and offers further aid. This only encourages a culture of victimhood and unaccountability among the Palestinians, a culture feeding terror and perpetuating and deepening the present conflict. Therefore, the Administration's recent proposal to hand Abbas hundreds of millions in additional funding is simply wrong.
    • Instead of disbursing millions to Palestinian leaders in the hope they will change their ways, we must link each disbursement of funds to tangible progress, consistent with the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, in purging from its security services individuals with ties to terrorism, dismantling all terrorist infrastructure within its jurisdiction, and fully cooperating with Israel's security services.

      The writers are U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.).

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