Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 18, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Thwarts Islamic Jihad Plan to Bomb Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Railroad - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli security forces thwarted an Islamic Jihad cell's plan to place a bomb on the railroad tracks leading from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem near the Palestinian village of Batir, according to information made public Thursday.
    The members of the cell were captured a month ago near Bethlehem. The investigation revealed that the suspects learned to make bombs via the Internet.

EU Deputies Slam Egypt over Rights Despite Cairo Threats - Yann Ollivier (AFP/Yahoo)
    EU lawmakers Thursday adopted a resolution criticizing Egypt's human rights record, as Cairo threatened to sever ties with the assembly and summoned EU ambassadors to complain.
    "If we have to criticize the rights situation in Egypt or Guantanamo or anywhere else, we're going to do it. I couldn't care less what they think in the Egyptian capital," Greens leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit said in Strasbourg.
    The resolution criticizes Egypt over the status of religious minorities, alleged torture practices, and the decades-long state of emergency.
    It also calls for the immediate release of jailed dissident Ayman Nur, who ran against Hosni Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections.

Israel Successfully Tests New Rocket System - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    Israel held a successful rocket systems test at the Palmachim Air Force Base Thursday.
    "The IDF conducted a rocket propulsion test at Palmachim as part of its missile development program," an official said.

Israeli University Lecturers Strike Ends (Jerusalem Post)
    The 88-day senior lecturers strike at Israeli universities appeared to be at its end on Friday.

Israeli Muslim Bedouin Named Consul General to Alexandria - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Hassan Ka'bia, a Muslim-Bedouin, was named consul general of the Israeli consulate in Alexandria, Egypt.
    Ka'bia, a former IDF Lt.-Col., began his service in the Foreign Ministry in the Middle East Division and was later stationed in Cairo.

Hamas Police Force Recruits Women in Gaza - Taghreed el-Khodary (New York Times)
    Since mid-August, 60 women have been accepted into the Hamas police force, working mostly on cases that involve dealing with women, like drugs and prostitution, and helping out at police headquarters and the central jail.

Two Palestinians Killed by Weapons Misuse in Gaza (Maan News-PA)
    The Gaza police said Thursday that Hamza Al-Arqan was killed and his brother was injured when gunmen were shooting into the air during a wedding party in the Shujaiyya neighborhood in Gaza City.
    Separately, Nawal As-Sarhi, 19, from the Zeitoun neighborhood, was killed by a gunshot while she was playing with her father's pistol.

New Jersey Recluse Helps Make the Negev Bloom - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
    Mack Ness lived as a poor farmer in central New Jersey, yet when he died in 2004 he left $15 million to Israel.
    The Ness Loan Fund for the Negev has disbursed more than 85 business loans, mostly to people who were unable to get loans from a bank.

A Jewish Military Chaplain in Iraq - Anna Badkhen (Boston Globe)
    Mortar and rocket attacks occasionally jolt Camp Victory, the American military complex around Baghdad International Airport where U.S. Army Captain Andrew Shulman, 41, lives.
    An Orthodox Jew from Malden, Mass., he has been stationed there since May, counseling soldiers of all faiths, holding Jewish holiday services, and providing spiritual guidance to Jewish service members all over Iraq.
    Most of the troops he counsels are Christians from the Third Infantry Division, grappling with family lives disrupted by lengthy deployments.
    Shulman seems to revel in the paradoxes that accompany his deployment, like the time the Catholic chaplain ordered kosher Manischewitz wine for Communion - apparently, it keeps well.

Tourism Arrivals Hit Seven-Year High (Bloomberg/Jerusalem Post)
    The number of foreign tourists visiting Israel jumped 25% in 2007 to 2.3 million, the highest figure since 2000 brought a record 2.7 million tourists, the Tourism Ministry said Wednesday.
    About 24% of the tourists came from the U.S.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Rockets Hit Israel - Isabel Kershner
    Rockets fired by Palestinians slammed into the Israeli town of Sderot in quick succession Thursday evening on a third day of heightened hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza. Hamas and other militant factions launched about 40 Kassam rockets throughout the day, Israeli Army officials said. Four Israelis were wounded and a dozen were treated for shock.
        Eliyahu Cohen, 65, was surveying the damage to his home, which was struck during an early barrage about 8 a.m. His wife, Marcelle, had been alone in the house at the time, and had managed to reach a fortified basement room, escaping injury. At best, the municipal alert system gives residents about 20 seconds to find shelter from incoming rockets. The rocket crashed through an outside wall into the Cohens' kitchen, sending the refrigerator flying across the room and blasting off its door, which lodged in the ceiling. The ground floor was covered with broken glass and debris.
        The house next door, where the Cohens' daughter, Nofit, lives, was also carpeted with glass and debris. "I'm happy that everyone was miraculously saved," said Mr. Cohen. As he spoke, another alert sounded, and about a dozen friends, relatives and local officials who had been standing outside tramped through the daughter's house, glass crunching underfoot, and crammed into a tiny fortified room. Thirteen Israelis have been killed since the rocket attacks started seven years ago, eight of them in Sderot. (New York Times)
        See also below Observations: Escalation of Terror in Gaza (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Responding to Palestinian Rocket Fire, Israel Locks Down Gaza - Adel Zaanoun
    Israel locked down Gaza on Thursday in a bid to halt daily Palestinian rocket fire. Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the closure of all border crossings to commercial traffic and individual travelers except for "exceptional humanitarian needs." The U.S. urged Israel to avoid the loss of innocent life in Gaza, but defended Israel's right to strike against rocket and mortar attacks from Islamic militants. Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said, "There is no need to negotiate with Hamas. If the rocket firings stop, we will cease operating in Gaza." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Israel Concerned as Russia Sends Nuclear Fuel to Iran
    Russia last month delivered the first shipments of nuclear fuel to Iran's first nuclear power plant in Bushehr. But Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said during a visit to Russia Thursday that the fuel might help Iran develop its nuclear weapons program. "Now Russia has started delivering nuclear fuel to Bushehr, (Iran's) uranium enrichment may serve military goals," Russian news agencies quoted Livni as saying. Israel, Washington's staunchest ally in the Middle East, says Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2010 and says an Iranian nuclear weapon would threaten the existence of the Jewish state. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Seeking Escalation to Force Israel into Truce - Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay
    Palestinians said they believe the escalation in rocket fire is part of a new Hamas policy aimed at forcing Israel into a ceasefire. Since Tuesday, Palestinians have fired more than 130 rockets and dozens of mortar shells at Israel. Hamas was responsible for most of Thursday's launches, and senior IDF officers believe that unless the situation calms down soon, Israel will have to further escalate its military operations.
        Hamas has upgraded its launching capabilities: Some of the rockets that hit Israel this week were fired by remote control from buried launchers, which makes it hard for Israeli forces to attack the launch crews. Hizbullah used this tactic extensively during the Second Lebanon War. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Will Act to End Palestinian Rocket Attacks - Yaakov Katz
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday, "The IDF will continue in its ongoing operation [in Gaza] and deepen it in order to strike at the perpetrators, until the [rocket] firing stops....It won't be easy, it won't happen this weekend, but we will bring an end to Kassam attacks on Sderot." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "We are not looking to fight in Gaza, we do not want to harm its residents...but we will not and we cannot continue to suffer this relentless Kassam rocket fire."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Only a Military Operation in Gaza Will Stop the Palestinian Rocket Fire - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
    There are only two ways to stop the rocket barrages on Sderot and Ashkelon. One way is to negotiate with Hamas and reach a cease-fire. However, this would mean that Israel could not act against Hamas, which will be free to prepare for the next war at a time when it feels ready. The second way is a military operation like Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in 2002 - meaning Israel reconquers all those areas that are important to control. The area of Gaza used for firing rockets on Sderot is not particularly large and the threat can be neutralized in a few days. Such an operation would not only prevent rocket fire on Sderot, but also would prevent the continued strengthening of Hamas. Nevertheless, the price to be paid during such an operation will not be small, nor can it even be predicted. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
  • Israeli Motorist Wounded in Drive-By Shooting Attack in West Bank - Yuval Azoulay
    A 40-year-old Israeli man sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder while driving on Route 446 near Modi'in, when Palestinian terrorists opened fire on his vehicle from a passing car Thursday evening. The attack is the latest in a number of West Bank shootings in the past few months. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Elusive Mideast Peace - Mortimer Zuckerman
    All past Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have gone nowhere primarily because of the manifest Palestinian refusal to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. The record is of almost a century of rejection, beginning with the 1917 Balfour Declaration of the right to a Jewish homeland in Palestine and continuing today. Even when Israel pulled out of Gaza in September 2005, removing its own citizens by force, the Palestinians did not get on with building their own society. They began rocket and mortar attacks on adjacent Jewish communities, to date killing 18 innocent civilians and wounding some 600. More killings and maimings are in prospect with more powerful, more accurate rockets.
        What incentive has Israel to withdraw from the West Bank when it could become a launching pad for rocket attacks on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Ben-Gurion Airport - a situation that would render Israel virtually uninhabitable? (U.S. News)
  • Culpable Egypt - Editorial
    It is Egypt's failure to prevent, and sometimes even open facilitation of, the flow of weapons and trained terrorists into Gaza that has led to the current escalation. It should be obvious that the first step to be taken against Hamas in Gaza must be to shut down, as much as possible, the flow of weapons, terrorists and funds that are the lifelines of that regime. But this will not happen so long as Egypt acts as Hamas' gateway to its terrorist allies, much as Syria does for Hizbullah in Lebanon.
        Who trained the terrorist who murdered Carlos Chavez, the volunteer from Ecuador who was shot dead by a Hamas sniper on Tuesday at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, about 100 meters from the Gaza border fence? Over which border did his gun come? Most importantly, which supposed ally of peace refuses to sever the lifelines that keep the regime alive that sent him? (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arab Nations Must Recognize Israel - Editorial
    Let's remember who attacked whom in 1967. Arab nations gathered forces in an attempt to wipe Israel from the face of the Earth. But they underestimated the capabilities of the Israeli armed forces, and six days after they attacked the Arab forces were vanquished and Israel had captured buffer territory necessary to preserve its security. Forty years later, Israel still needs those buffers. And to suggest revisiting events of decades ago and conjure up reparations of some sort in the name of a "peace process" is the height of foolishness.
        The problem of peace is quite simply about Israel's neighbors recognizing that it has a right to exist. If and when Middle Eastern powers unequivocally recognize that right in all its implications - among them lifting restrictions on trade and ending their funding and material support of terrorist organizations, then maybe it would be appropriate to reexamine borders. Until then, however, neither Bush nor any future president will serve the cause of peace by implying that Israel is wrong to err on the side of caution regarding its slender territory. Israel never has waged a war of aggression against its neighbors, but they have waged open and covert war against Israel since its founding. (The Intelligencer-Wheeling, W.Va.)
  • Lt.-Gen. Moshe Levi (1936-2008)
    Lt.-Gen. Moshe Levi, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (1983-87), was born in Tel Aviv to parents who had moved there from Baghdad, Iraq. Levi was popular with the Israeli public for his straightforward manner and reputation for visiting bases and chatting with low-ranking soldiers. He served in the Six-Day War of 1967 as commanding officer of the Paratroopers Brigade. In 1981 he became Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations, posts he held during the 1982 Lebanon war. The standard move for top military brass in Israel is into politics, but Levi went back to plowing the wheat fields with a tractor on his kibbutz. Later he headed a committee to build Israel's first toll road spanning the country from north to south - Highway 6. (Times-UK)
  • Bush Trip Revives Israeli Push for Pardon of Jonathan Pollard - Jonathan Finer
    A balding, bearded visage loomed during President Bush's visit to Jerusalem last week, peering down from banners and from posters on buses. The face was that of Jonathan Pollard, an American who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing top-secret information to Israel. Israeli supporters seeking his release were rebuffed by President Bill Clinton during the last period of extended negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Pollard has remained a cause celebre in Israel, perceived in some quarters as a Jewish patriot whose spying was intended to strengthen Israel, an American ally, rather than weaken the U.S. Israel granted him citizenship in 1998. (Washington Post)
  • Why Wasn't Auschwitz Bombed? - Michael Berenbaum
    When President George W. Bush visited Yad Vashem last Friday, he paused before a photograph of Auschwitz, called over Secretary of State Rice and said, "We should have bombed Auschwitz." Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?
        The question of bombing Auschwitz arose only in the summer of 1944, more than two years after the gassing of Jews had begun. By July, information about Auschwitz and its function was available, German air defenses were weakened, and the accuracy of Allied bombing was increasing. By July, officials of the Jewish Agency in London were forcefully calling for the bombing. All that was required was the political will.
        As early as May 1944, the U.S. Air Force had the capability to strike Auschwitz at will. The rail lines from Hungary were also well within range. Between May 15 and July 8, 437,402 Jews were deported from Hungary, overwhelmingly to Birkenau, the death camp of Auschwitz. On July 7, 1944, American bombers flew over the railway lines to Auschwitz. On August 20, 127 Flying Fortresses dropped 1,336 500-pound bombs on the I.G. Farben synthetic oil factory less than five miles east of Birkenau. The death camp remained untouched. (Ha'aretz)

    Weekend Features

  • Second Life Israel - Megan Jacobs
    Virtual world "Second Life" opened a virtual Israeli community for its "Residents" on Sunday, allowing over 11 million users worldwide to teleport into a vibrant 3-dimensional Internet version of the country. "The purpose of Second Life Israel is to present Israel to a global audience beyond traditional media," said SL Israel founder Chaim Landau. "This is a concept of Israel as a fun, entertaining, thriving and diverse community for Jews and non-Jews, and a home for Israelis on Second Life."
        As a Legacy Heritage Fellow at the European Union of Jewish Students in 2007, Landau initiated the Second Life Israel island with Beth Brown, a building and design manager. Users can walk through the Old City in Jerusalem, visiting the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Dome of the Rock as easily as they can venture down the promenade in Tel Aviv and weave through the Mahaneh Yehuda marketplace in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Light at the End of the Tunnel - Murray Richtel
    Sixteen law students were celebrating the start of 2008 at a party in my apartment. While all the students were Jerusalemites whose discourse was in fluent English, half were Palestinians enrolled at Al Quds, a Palestinian university, and half were Israeli Jews enrolled at Hebrew University. I teach these students Criminal Procedure at a neutral site, the American Colony Hotel. For the first ten weeks of class the students had been cautiously polite and cordial to each other.
        At the New Year's Eve Party these students were not focused on their differences. Instead, they talked and listened non-judgmentally, asking respectful questions, genuinely interested in the responses. Nada told me as she was leaving for her home in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa: "This was the best night of my life. We were really like friends. If they left it to us, we could make peace." I am generally pessimistic about things here in Israel. Not only do I not see the light at the end of the tunnel, I don't see the tunnel. Still, I believe there is a very large core of both the Palestinian and Israeli societies, like my students, who are desperate to learn what the other side really wants, thinks, and feels. The writer was a district court judge in Boulder from 1977 to 1996. (Boulder Daily Camera)
  • Israel's Technology Creates an Investment Goliath - Donald Snyder
    Israel, with fewer than 7 million people, has become a Goliath in the world of technology and medicine. It is third only to America and Canada in the number of companies listed on the Nasdaq, ahead of economic powerhouses like Germany, England and China. Bruce Aust, executive vice president of Nasdaq , said 75 Israeli companies worth a total of $60 billion are listed.
        American troops use Israeli portable digital x-ray machines in Iraq and Afghanistan that don't require film for developing and are used in battlefield situations. "The quality of their post-doctorates in medicine, nanotechnology and software development is rather incredible," said Marc Stanley, a technology official at the U.S. Department of Commerce who is involved with fostering collaboration between American and Israeli technology companies. Experts attribute the nation's success to a confluence of cultural and systemic factors, such as Israel's highly educated and motivated immigrant population. (FOXBusiness)
  • Israel's Winemaking Revolution in the Golan Heights - Stacy Perman
    Established in 1983, the Golan Heights Winery is credited with remaking the Israeli wine industry and slowly transforming Israel's reputation as a producer of world-class, award-winning wines that appeal to sophisticated international consumers. Its three labels, Yarden, Gamla, and Golan, produce some 17 different varieties and are the most widely exported Israeli wines in the world. In 2007 the winery's 1,600 acres of vineyards produced 430,000 cases, up from 420,000 in 2006, and generated sales of $30 million. Today, says the head winemaker, California-born Victor Schoenfeld, "We have wine shortages. Our demand outstrips our supply."
        In 1972, Cornelius Ough, a renowned oenologist from the University of California at Davis, visited and surveyed Israel. He concluded that the Golan Heights was an obvious place to produce high-quality wine because of its volcanic soil, cool climate, altitudes, and water available through drip irrigation systems. Four years later, the area's first vineyards were planted. (Business Week)
  • Observations:

    Escalation of Terror in Gaza (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • Beginning on Jan. 15 and over the next 24 hours, more than 100 rockets and mortars were fired by Palestinians from Gaza on the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon - indiscriminate fire raining down on Israeli civilians. A Hamas sniper murdered 20-year-old volunteer Carlos Chavez from Ecuador in the fields of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha using a special .50 caliber sniper rifle.
    • More than two years ago, Israel removed all of its civilians, soldiers and settlements from Gaza and redeployed behind the recognized border in order to promote a peaceful solution - yet in return received Hamas-backed terror.
    • Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June, approximately 1,500 rockets and mortars have been launched at Israel. Israel has suffered dozens of casualties, hundreds of shock victims, thousands of traumatized children, and severe disruption of daily life. No democracy would watch its civilian population being targeted on a daily basis without responding. Every country is obliged to protect its citizens and would act as Israel to defend them.
    • A clear distinction must be made between Palestinian terror attacks against Israel and Israel's defensive response. Palestinian terrorists directly target Israeli civilians and use their own civilians as human shields. Israel does not view the people of Gaza as its enemy and is doing everything possible to prevent harm to innocent Palestinian civilians. Israel targets only the armed militants directly involved in the violence, rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli citizens.
    • Israel accepts the idea of two nation states living side by side in peace. Unfortunately, the Islamic extremists in Gaza are the greatest obstacle to a two-state solution. The armed Palestinian militants targeted by Israel are not just enemies of the Israeli people, they are enemies of peace. The world does not need another terrorist state. There can be no peace when the Hamas leadership in Gaza is more interested in the obliteration of Israel than in the two-state solution.

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