Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 29, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Israeli Security Delegation Secretly Visits Cairo to Discuss Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli defense delegation secretly visited Cairo on Monday and discussed the Gaza-Egypt border situation with top Egyptian officials, the London-based Asharq Alawsat reported Tuesday.
    The delegation was reportedly led by Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Military Bureau head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad.

Iran Receives Final Russian Shipment of Nuclear Fuel - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP/Washington Post)
    Iran received the final 5-ton shipment of uranium fuel from Russia on Monday for its first nuclear plant at Bushehr, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
    "With the arrival of the final shipment, all 82 tons of initial fuel needed for the power plant together with peripheral equipment has been shipped from Russia to Iran," IRNA reported.

The Gaza Breakout - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
    Gaza is sovereign Hamas territory, Hamas is the Palestinian branch of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, and Egypt - not Israel - is the country that has most to fear from a statelet that is at once the toehold, sanctuary, and springboard of an Islamist revolution.
    "The situation in Sinai now poses the greatest threat to Egypt's national security," writes one perceptive Egyptian blogger.
    "Any Palestinian crossing the border could take with him weapons and explosives and supply them to al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Sinai."

Abbas Honors Terrorist Leader - Editorial (New York Sun)
    The State Department's annual terrorism report notes that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by George Habash who died this week, had "earned a reputation for spectacular international attacks in the 1960s and 1970s, including airline hijackings that killed at least 20 U.S. citizens."
    PA head Mahmoud Abbas decided to honor the memory of Habash, who rejected the Oslo accords and never disavowed violence or reconciled himself to Israel's existence, by ordering flags in the PA to be flown at half mast for three days.
    How is it that Habash, several years into the so-called Global War on Terrorism, died of apparently natural causes at age 82 in Jordan, often considered an American ally in the war? He belonged in prison - or on the gallows.

Israelis Try to Help Old Friends in Gaza - Josh Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
    It's been more than two years since Amir Efrat last saw the Gazan who helped him maintain the water systems in Kibbutz Kfar Azza.
    But he has talked to him by phone, and about a month ago he wired 500 shekels to an account in Gaza to help his friend support a family of nine children.
    Gaza has grown more isolated since Hamas took charge last June. But that hasn't choked off personal ties between Israelis and Gazans who once worked together daily.
    Transcending the politics that divide them, they reach out as best they can as individuals.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush to Iran: Come Clean on Nukes, Cease Support for Terror
    In his State of the Union speech Monday, President Bush said: "This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem, I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year. The time has come for a Holy Land where a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine live side-by-side in peace.
        Wherever freedom advances in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose it. Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas' efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon.
        Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We...look forward to the day when you have your freedom. Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, cease your support for terror abroad." (White House)
  • Hamas: No Agreement Over Control of Gaza Border - James Hider and David Charter
    The Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday it had reached a deal with Egypt to take control of the Gaza border. Within hours, Hamas officials denied that any such agreement had been reached. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, said: "We have our own vision of how the crossing will be run and we will present our vision to our Egyptian brothers." The border is in effect being controlled by Hamas. (Times-UK)
  • Gaza Border Breach Angers Egyptian Bedouin - Will Rasmussen
    Armed Egyptian Bedouin in the town of al-Joura opened fire in the air to warn away Palestinians, highlighting growing anger over food shortages and price rises triggered by the breaching of the border wall with Gaza. "The stores are empty and what is available is so expensive," said Youssef Ali, a Bedouin in Egyptian Rafah. The emptying of shop shelves and a block by Cairo on new supplies has prompted thousands of Palestinians to go home since Sunday, with some saying it was now easier to shop in Gaza than in Egypt. (Reuters)
        See also Egypt Turns Back 3,000 Palestinians
    Egyptian authorities have turned back around 3,000 Palestinians trying to reach Cairo and other cities after crossing into Sinai from Gaza, a security source said. Egyptian media reported that authorities had raided hotels and rented apartments in Cairo and other large cities in search of Palestinians who may have slipped past security. One security source said a number of Palestinians had been arrested in Taba on the Israeli border and in southern Egypt. (AFP)
  • Gaza Border Crisis Bolsters Egyptian Islamists - Jeffrey Fleishman
    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is strengthening its appeal by using images of Palestinians in Gaza to provoke wider protests against President Mubarak's 26-year-old government. Demonstrations throughout the country by the Muslim Brotherhood ostensibly have been staged to declare Egyptian solidarity with Gaza, but they are also aimed at weakening Mubarak, who is accused of oppression and close ties to Washington. Mubarak's vast intelligence and security forces are attempting to prevent pro-Palestinian protests from erupting into sustained nationwide anti-government rallies. But the Muslim Brotherhood, which has sponsored 80 demonstrations since Wednesday, is determined to make just that happen. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Moves to Thwart Gaza Terrorists in Sinai - Rebecca Anna Stoil
    Terror alerts along the Egyptian border have reached their highest level since the onset of the Second Intifada, a senior IDF officer said Monday, as intelligence information confirmed that terrorists had taken advantage of the open Egypt-Gaza border to stream into the Sinai Peninsula from Gaza. As many as 20 cells may be in Sinai preparing to launch significant attacks on targets in Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • New U.S. Road Map Monitor Arrives - Herb Keinon
    Lt.-Gen. William Fraser, the new road map implementation monitor, arrived Sunday for intensive meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. According to a U.S. Embassy official, the purpose of his visit was to "discuss ways the two parties can move forward on their road map commitments." According to diplomatic officials, Fraser's role will be more as a "coach," pressing the sides to do what they obligated themselves to do under the road map, than as a "referee," publicly pointing out the infractions of either side. During his meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday, she emphasized that implementation of the road map must be applied to Gaza as well. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Nabs Islamic Jihad Leader in Bethlehem - Ali Waked
    Israeli security forces on Monday arrested the Islamic Jihad chief in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Mohammad Abda. Abda commanded numerous Islamic Jihad cells and was involved in planning and financing terror attacks against Israelis. During the operation, a Palestinian who threw a Molotov cocktail at the soldiers was killed. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Blame Hamas for Gaza Suffering - Frida Ghitis
    While news about the suffering of Gazans fills the airwaves, there is a peculiar disinterest in the nightmare that is life for the people of Sderot and its vicinity in Israel. Every day, every few hours, the sirens wail their warning, giving terrified parents and children less than 15 seconds to take cover. The rockets are deliberately aimed at civilians. They fall on schools and streets and day care centers. A recent study shows 56% of Sderot residents have had their home hit by a rocket or shrapnel. More than 90% say their street or an adjacent one has been hit, and almost 50% know someone who was killed in such an attack.
        Every response by Israel draws international condemnation. Other countries have reacted to attacks against their population by pulverizing their opponents. Israel targeted militant leaders and tried economic sanctions. (Miami Herald)
  • Hamas' PR Debacle - Barry Rubin
    Why should anyone say that Hamas won some big public relations victory by shutting off Gaza's electricity and blowing up the border wall with Egypt? Hamas' heads are boiling over with pride at having put one over on Israel, as if this were some huge triumph. But this is pure nonsense. Two years after Hamas' election victory and six months after it seized Gaza, international sanctions show no sign of faltering. Other than Syria, no Arab state is helping Hamas. Egypt may be soft on Hamas at times, but it is very angry at the organization.
        Hamas' radicalism prevents the creation of a Palestinian state and a peace that would benefit Palestinians. Its strategy of the permanent offensive guarantees not only suffering, but also failure. So while Hamas will never give up, it also will never win. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza Buried in Flour - Martin Kramer
    The Boston Globe ran an op-ed on Jan. 26 under the headline "Ending the Stranglehold on Gaza" by Eyad al-Sarraj of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and Sara Roy, a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. The op-ed included the sentence: "Although Gaza daily requires 680,000 tons of flour to feed its population, Israel had cut this to 90 tons per day by November 2007, a reduction of 99%." If Gaza has a population of 1.5 million, as the authors also note, then 680,000 tons of flour a day come out to almost half a ton of flour per Gazan, per day. A typographical error? Hardly. The authors copied it from an article in the Al-Ahram Weekly from last November.
        Note how an absurd and impossible "statistic" has made its way up the media feeding chain. It begins in an Egyptian newspaper, is cycled through a Palestinian activist, is submitted under the shared byline of a Harvard "research scholar," and finally appears in the Boston Globe, whose editors apparently can't do basic math. (
  • Observations:

    Iran Purges Moderate Parliament Members - Amir Taheri (New York Post)

    • Iran's Council of the Guardians of the Constitution last week rejected applications from nearly 4,000 men and women to run in the March 14 general election. Nearly all the denied applicants belong to the 21 groups designated by Western observers as "reformist." In what looks like a massive purge, 103 members of the present Majlis (parliament), all critics of Ahmadinejad, were also declared "unfit" for re-election.
    • To be sure, the so-called reformists have never proposed any reform program. Rafsanjani spent most of his eight years as president building his business empire; Khatami spent his tenure traveling the world and building his image as an amateur philosopher working for "a dialogue of civilizations." More regime opponents were killed or thrown into prison under Rafsanjani and Khatami than under Ahmadinejad. And both "reformers" tried to export the Khomeinist revolution via agents and clients in many Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East.
    • What differentiated the two men from Ahmadinejad was their penchant for taqiyeh (dissimulation) - an old trick of the mullahs who have turned speaking with a forked tongue into a fine art. Ahmadinejad, by contrast, says what he thinks. He firmly believes that his brand of Islam stands on the threshold of victory against a corrupt, weak, fat and cowardly West led by a deeply divided U.S.
    • Rafsanjani and Khatami are the guys that Secretary of State Rice seems to be banking on to bring the Islamic Republic back to reason. With enemies like that, Ahmadinejad needs no friends.

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