Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 11, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Seizing Half of All Fuel Sent to Gaza, Creating False Gas Crisis - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas seizes half the fuel Israel sends to Gaza and uses it in part for its military vehicles, Israeli and PA officials said Thursday.
    Hussein al-Sheikh, a PA official, said Hamas seizes 400,000 of the 800,000 liters of diesel fuel transferred to Gaza weekly and intended for uses such as generators, hospitals, water pumps and sewage pumps.
    Israeli sources said Hamas was preventing gasoline from reaching Gaza gas stations.
    "Hamas is trying to create a false fuel crisis in Gaza," a senior government source said. "The simulated strike by Gaza's gas station owners is also organized by Hamas. They want to create long lines for gas and a feeling that Israel is tightening the siege on Gaza, although this is not the case," he said.
    In addition, Hamas is trying to create the impression of a food shortage, although food supplies were sufficient.

Witness in Hariri Case Disappears - Harvey Morris and Ferry Biedermann (Financial Times-UK)
    Mohammed Zuheir al-Siddiq, a former Syrian intelligence officer and a central witness in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, has disappeared while under house arrest in Paris.
    Siddiq's testimony led to the arrest of four pro-Syrian generals who are being held in Lebanon.

Report: 20 Hizbullah Men Killed During Training in Iran (Jerusalem Post)
    At least 20 Hizbullah fighters have been killed during military training in Iran, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan reported Thursday, quoting the director general of the Islamic Union in Lebanon, Muhammad Ali Husseini.
    "The training in Iran lies at the heart of our connections with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard," said Husseini.

Report: Israel to Transfer Jerusalem Airport to PA (Jerusalem Post)
    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei have agreed on the transfer of Atarot airfield near Jerusalem to the PA as part of their secret negotiations, local Jerusalem newspaper Kol Hazman reported Thursday, quoting senior Foreign Ministry sources.

Danish Intelligence Service Warns of Increased Terror Threat (AP/FOX News)
    The Danish Security and Intelligence Service says it has seen signs of an elevated threat from militant extremists, especially in North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, since the reprinting of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Poll: U.S. Christians Support Israel - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    84% of Protestants (including 89% of evangelicals), as well as 76% of Catholics, said they had a "moral and biblical obligation to love and support Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem," according to a survey released Thursday.
    While evangelical Christians are the strongest supporters of the Jewish state, strong pro-Israel convictions cut across all key Christian denominations, according to the poll carried out on behalf of the Washington-based Joshua Fund.
    Half of the American Christians surveyed opposed Israel dividing Jerusalem with the Palestinians in a peace agreement, 33% were unsure and 17% thought it should be divided.
    49% of American Christians said they were interested in visiting Israel.

Israel Leads the World in Computers per Capita - Yaron Hoffman (TheMarker/Ha'aretz)
    Israel is ranked number one in the world in computers per capita, with seven computers for every 100 people, according to the World Economic Forum's yearly report released Thursday.

Israel Celebrates Booming Tourism (Opodo-UK)
    The Israeli Tourist Office said 380,760 people visited Israel in January and February, an increase of more than 50% over the corresponding period in 2007.

Cancer Patient in California Meets Marrow Donor from Israel - Courtney Perkes (Orange County [Cal.] Register)
    A year and a half ago, Yosef Eliezrie, 21, of Yorba Linda, Cal., was saved from leukemia after he underwent a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous donor at Children's Hospital of Orange County.
    This week Eliezrie met his bone marrow donor from Israel, Moshe Price, 24, and found, "Not only are we a perfect physical match, we're somewhat of a spiritual match." Both are Orthodox Jews and study the Torah as full-time students.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Spy Photos Reveal Secret Launch Site for Iran's Long-Range Missiles - Michael Evans
    The secret site where Iran is suspected of developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets in Europe has been uncovered by new satellite photographs. The imagery has pinpointed the facility, about 230 km. southeast of Tehran, from where the Iranians launched their Kavoshgar 1 "research rocket" on Feb. 4. Analysis of the photographs taken by the Digital Globe QuickBird satellite four days after the launch indicates to experts that it is the same site where Iran is developing a ballistic missile with a range of 4,000 miles (6,000 km.).
        Avital Johanan, the editor of Jane's Proliferation, said analysis of the Iranian site indicated that Tehran may be about five years away from developing a 4,000-mile ballistic missile. (Times-UK)
  • Carter Urged to Shun Hamas
    The State Department said Thursday it had advised former president Jimmy Carter against meeting Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria next week, saying the idea goes against U.S. policy of isolating the militant group. Carter discussed his upcoming trip with the State Department's point person on Israeli-Palestinian issues, David Welch. "We counseled against it," said department spokesman Sean McCormack. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Israeli Leaders to Snub Carter over Hamas Visit - Joshua Mitnick
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu turned down requests for meetings with Jimmy Carter in Israel next week during a tour of the Middle East. "Israeli officials have expressed outrage at the possibility that he'll meet Meshaal....He's the leader of a terrorist organization," said an Israeli official. (Washington Times)
  • Russia Seeking to Include Hamas in Moscow Middle East Parley - Benny Avni
    A senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday that Moscow is seeking to invite Palestinian Arabs who have been excluded from the American-led negotiations - a reference to Hamas - to a Middle East summit in Moscow "in the near future." The inclusion of Hamas, which America considers a terrorist group, is likely to raise further opposition to the Moscow summit in Washington and Jerusalem. (New York Sun)
  • Egypt Beefs Up Gaza Border Force
    Egypt has sent 1,200 extra security personnel to the border area with Gaza, after a senior member of Hamas threatened on Tuesday to repeat a breach of the border with Egypt. Trucks carrying goods to the border have been stopped at the Suez Canal, an official said. (BBC)
  • British Court Faults Government for Halting BAE-Saudi Corruption Investigation - Julia Werdigier and Alan Cowell
    The High Court in Britain on Thursday ruled that officials investigating accusations of corruption in a multibillion-dollar arms deal involving Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems, Britain's biggest weapons maker, acted unlawfully when they dropped the inquiry under pressure from British and Saudi authorities. The ruling renewed pressure on the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to reopen the investigation into the relationship between BAE and the ruling royal family in Saudi Arabia.
        The SFO announced in December 2006 that it was halting the inquiry after Prime Minister Tony Blair said the investigation would threaten thousands of British jobs and affect diplomatic and intelligence ties with Saudi Arabia. Two judges ruled that the government and the SFO had "failed to recognize the rule of law" when bowing to pressure by Saudi officials. Since the inquiry was abandoned, BAE has won a $8.7 billion order from Saudi Arabia for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Two Palestinians Arrested for Plot to Poison Israeli Restaurant Diners - Yuval Azoulay
    Ahmed Abu-Riyal and Mustafa Salum, both 21, from Nablus, who were staying in Israel illegally, were arrested last month for planning to poison diners at Ramat Gan's Grill Express, where they were employed, according to details revealed Thursday. The pair admitted being recruited by an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade cell that received funding and instructions from Hizbullah. The flavorless, odorless poison was supposed to take effect about four hours after ingestion, during which the pair planned to kill as many Israeli diners as possible. Terror organizations have tried a number of times in the past to recruit Palestinian cooks and waiters to poison food at Israeli restaurants. Defense sources said the terror cell that sent them is still operating in Nablus. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Explosives Cache Found in West Bank - Yuval Azoulay
    Israeli security forces on Thursday arrested two Hamas militants in the West Bank town of Kalkilya after uncovering a weapons cache. The forces found barrels containing 100 kg. of gun powder and 100 kg. of fertilizer to be used for preparing explosives, as well as electrical switches and wires. (Ha'aretz)
  • Don't Expect Response to Gaza Attack Ahead of Upcoming Holidays, Bush's Visit - Alex Fishman
    Israel will "swallow" Wednesday's terror attack at Nahal Oz. This is not the right time for harsh responses. The holidays are approaching: Passover, Independence Day, the 60th anniversary celebrations. The American president is on his way to Israel with presents for our birthday and expects in exchange that Israel will present him with something that resembles a document of understandings with the Palestinians. A large-scale military operation in Gaza may ruin Bush's visit, so we will restrain ourselves yet again. The militant bodies in Gaza realize that in the coming month Israel will have one hand tied behind its back, so their attempts to carry out "high quality" attacks will persist. (Ynet News)
  • Lessons of the Nahal Oz Fuel Depot Attack - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    The murder at the fuel depot at Nahal Oz on Wednesday shows that Israel is having a hard time establishing a sufficiently effective deterrent against the terror organizations operating from Gaza. Even if Hamas is not currently firing rockets at Israel itself, it is continuing to clash with the Israel Defense Forces along the Gaza border and is not lifting a finger to rein in the smaller Palestinian factions firing rockets and sending operatives into Israel. There has barely been a single day of quiet on the Gaza border in the last two years.
        In the past, there was an attempt to maintain a buffer zone of about a kilometer west of the fence, where Palestinians were not allowed to enter, but this does not happen today. This is partly because the IDF has reduced its offensive operations in the security zone west of the fence. When its activities were more intensive, the number of incidents along the fence decreased. Without creating depth on the Palestinian side of the border, it is hard to thwart terror attacks. (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Observations: Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (ICA/JCPA)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Shoot at Israeli Bus in West Bank
    Palestinian gunmen fired at an Israeli bus south of Nablus on Thursday, causing damage. Palestinians also hurled three Molotov cocktails at an Israeli vehicle southeast of the town. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Deterring Iran from Attacking a U.S. Ally - Charles Krauthammer
    The latest round of UN Security Council sanctions, which took a year to achieve, is comically weak. It represents the end of the sanctions road. The president's efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program were irreparably undermined by November's National Intelligence Estimate, whose "moderate confidence" that Iran has not restarted nuclear weaponization has promoted the illusion that Iran has given up the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Uranium enrichment, the most difficult step, proceeds apace, as does the development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. The president is going to hand over to his successor an Iran on the verge of going nuclear. This will deeply destabilize the Middle East and threaten the moderate Arabs with Iranian hegemony.
        As there will be no disarming of Iran by preemption or by sanctions, we shall have to rely on deterrence to prevent the mullahs, some of whom are apocalyptic and messianic, from using nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, when we were dealing with rational actors, we were successful in preventing an attack not only on the U.S. but also on America's allies. We did it by extending the American nuclear umbrella - i.e., declaring that any attack on our allies would be considered an attack on the U.S. We should do the same to keep nuclear peace in the Middle East.
        An implacable neighboring power has openly declared genocidal intentions against Israel - in clear violation of the UN Charter - and is defying the international community by pursuing the means to carry out that intent. For those who believe that America stands for something in the world, there can be no more pressing cause than preventing the nuclear annihilation of an allied democracy, the last refuge and hope of an ancient people openly threatened with the final Final Solution. (Washington Post)
  • Basra "Uprising" Was Iranian Operation - Amir Taheri
    Iran's state-run media have confirmed that last month's fighting in Basra, Iraq, was no spontaneous "uprising." Rather, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to seize control of Iraq's second-largest city using local Shiite militias. Tehran spent vast sums persuading local Iraqi security personnel to switch sides or to remain neutral. The Revolutionary Guard's Quds (Jerusalem) unit, which is in charge of "exporting the Islamic Revolution," used units known as Special Groups, consisting of individuals recruited from among the estimated 1.8 million Iraqi refugees who spent more than two decades in Iran during Saddam Hussein's reign and returned to Iraq shortly after his fall.
        After more than a week of fighting, the Iran-backed side lost more than 600 men, with more than 1,000 injured. The Iraqi government's new Iraqi Security Force lost 88 dead and 122 wounded. (New York Post)
  • Iran Persecuting Its Arab Minority - Daniel Brett
    Iran's Ahwazi Arabs are the most deprived and persecuted ethnic group in the Middle East. This week, Iran cut off the supply of drinking water to Arab villages along the left bank of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. This follows forced relocation, land confiscation, cultural repression, state terrorism, mass executions and economic disadvantage, even though their land is one of the most oil-rich regions in the world. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Searching for a New Bond with Israel - Gary Rosenblatt
    There is growing media discussion of how long Israel can last in a hostile environment. Many young Jews today grew up knowing of Israel mostly from the headlines. When these young people see Israel on the defensive on so many fronts, do they want to stand up and be counted among the targeted? For those of us in the diaspora who want to ensure Israel's survival, the first point we should make is that the fate of the Jews of the world is linked to those of our brothers and sisters in Israel. They are on the frontlines, true, but those who would destroy them would come after us next because the issue here is not just land but religion, identity and ideology.
        For militant Muslims, jihad is to be waged against the Jews, not just the Zionists, and against Western culture, especially the U.S. We American Jews must come to realize that our support for Israel stems not just from compassion and connection, but self-preservation. (New York Jewish Week)

    Weekend Features

  • Five Hours at Tel Aviv Airport - Nicolien den Boer
    It's 4 a.m. at Tel Aviv Airport and this is the third time I've been questioned so far. My passport has stamps from various Arab countries: Dubai, Yemen and archenemy Syria. Finally I get my passport back and am allowed to enter. I save my complaint for the government press office in Jerusalem, where I go to pick up my press card the next day. "Security measures," is the explanation I get from the press officer, a tired looking woman by the name of Pnina Aizenman. "What do you think it's like for us, waking up each morning and never knowing what the day will bring?" she says, clearly referring to Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli civilians.
        While Pnina's busy getting my press card ready, I take a look at the photos of children and a newspaper article on the wall behind me. The article is about a woman who lost her mother and her five-year-old child in a Palestinian suicide bombing. The name of the woman is Pnina Aizenman. I get the shivers. "That's you," I stammer. "Yes. Do you understand now what I mean by security measures?" she replies. I suddenly feel ashamed that I've just been complaining about being kept waiting for five hours when this woman's life has been totally wrecked by a bomb. (Radio Netherlands)
  • Solar Balloons to Power Remote Areas? - Ari Rabinovitch
    Giant solar energy balloons floating high in the air may be a cheap way to provide electricity to areas lacking the land and infrastructure needed for traditional power systems, researchers in Israel say. Designed by a team from the Technion Institute of Technology, helium-filled balloons, covered with thin solar panels, hover as high as a few hundred meters in the air, and are connected via a wire cable to an inverter, which converts the electricity into a form households can use. Initial research showed a balloon with a three meter diameter could provide about one kilowatt of energy, the same as 25 square meters of traditional solar panels. While 25 square meters of traditional solar panels may cost $10,000, the target cost of the balloon is less than $4,000, with most of the savings coming from the minimal structural support needed. (Reuters)
  • Gene Bank Preserves Israel's Flora Against Extinction - Ehud Zion Waldoks
    The Israel Gene Bank for Agricultural Crops (IGB) in Beit Dagan has been safeguarding Israel's flora for future generations and for research purposes against the encroaching dangers of modernization, industrialization, and climate change. Preserved for their genetic usefulness as foodstuffs or medicine, the flora are stored in a room that looks and feels like a very cold library. They represent many of the 2,700 species of plants that call Israel home. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) (pdf)

    • Contrary to popular belief, conventional armies can indeed defeat terrorist insurgencies. This study will detail the six basic conditions which, if met, enable an army to fight and win the war against terrorism, among which are control of the ground where the insurgency is being waged, acquiring relevant intelligence for operations against the terrorists themselves, and isolating the insurgency from cross-border reinforcement with manpower or material.
    • It also examines the factors that can help drive a wedge between the local population and the insurgent forces seeking its support.
    • The principles of war are also analyzed in terms of their applicability to asymmetric warfare to show how they still serve as a vital guide for armies in vanquishing terror.
    • Finally, the study warns that if the U.S., Israel, or their Western allies incorrectly conclude that they have no real military option against terrorist insurgencies - out of a fear that these conflicts inevitably result in an unwinnable quagmire - then the war on terrorism will be lost even before it is fully waged.

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