Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 18, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Six Arabs Arrested in Israel for Plotting Attack on Bush - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Police and the Shin Bet Security Service have arrested six Arabs - two of them Israeli citizens and the other four Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem - with alleged links to the al-Qaeda terror network.
    A gag order lifted on Friday revealed that the suspects planned to attack U.S. President Bush's helicopter during one of his recent visits to the region.
    According to an indictment issued at the Jerusalem District Court, the suspects had been in contact with al-Qaeda over the Internet with the purpose of establishing a terror cell in Israel.
    One of the suspects - a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - provided al-Qaeda with photographs from his cellular phone of the U.S. president's planned landing site near the university stadium.
    According to the Shin Bet, the student - Nazareth resident Mohammed Nijam - lived in a college dormitory overlooking the landing pad and sent a message to a Web site linked to al-Qaeda and asked about shooting the helicopter down.
    The Shin Bet said that investigators found bomb-making instructions on the personal computers of several of the suspects.

Kuntar: We Will Free Shebaa, and Beyond Shebaa - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    The five Lebanese prisoners freed by Israel, including Samir Kuntar, took part in a military ceremony at the burial site of Imad Mugniyah, a top Hizbullah commander assassinated in Damascus a few months ago.
    Kuntar told the assembled crowd, "This morning I heard that the enemy has decided to assassinate me....You threaten me with murder, when death is customary for us and a martyr's death is an honor from Allah?"
    Later in the day, in his hometown of Abey, Kuntar said, "The objective of the resistance is the Shebaa farms, and what lies beyond the Shebaa farms."

Palestinians: "Kidnap More Israeli Soldiers" (Maan News-PA)
    The best course of action to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners is the kidnapping of more Israeli soldiers, Abu Yousef, the military spokesman for the An-Nasser Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said Thursday.
    This goes some way to confirming several analysts' predictions that the prisoner exchange deal, executed on Wednesday, would embolden both Palestinian and Lebanese resistance fighters.
    He added that the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped in 2006 by militants from Gaza, should not be released until it was possible to arrange a deal that satisfies the needs of the Palestinian people.

Beilin: EU Should Absorb Palestinian Refugees - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    Former deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin told a group of European ambassadors at a closed-door meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that each of their countries needed to decide what their quota would be for absorbing Palestinian refugees and their descendants as part of any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
    EU spokeswoman Christina Gallach said Thursday that it was premature to respond to such a proposal at this time.

The Company They Keep: Anti-Semitism's Fellow Travellers - Anthony Julius (Z-Word/American Jewish Committee)
    In April 2005, three Jewish members of the National Union of Students (NUS) executive in the United Kingdom resigned from their positions.
    One of them, Luciana Berger, the NUS "anti-racism convenor," explained her position to the union's conference:
    "This year, a comment was made in a Student Union saying that burning down a synagogue is a rational act. When asked to comment, National Executive Committee members could not even bring themselves to condemn that statement."
    "While I accuse no one of anti-Semitism, this year NUS has been a bystander to Jew-hatred."

Why Terrorists Quit: Gaining from Al-Qaeda's Losses - Michael Jacobson (Combating Terrorism Center-West Point)
    There are a number of cases of terrorist "drop-outs," and studying their motivations for turning their backs on their former compatriots is highly useful for creating an effective counter-terrorism strategy.
    The writer, who served as a counsel on the 9/11 Commission, was a senior advisor in the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (2005-2007).

Poll: Almost Half of Egyptian Women Harassed Daily (AFP)
    Almost half of Egyptian women are sexually harassed on a daily basis, the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights said on Thursday after a poll of 2,020 people in Cairo.
    83% of Egyptian women and 98% of foreign women said they had been harassed at some point, while 46% of Egyptian women and 52% of foreign women said they were harassed daily.
    The center's director, Nihad Abul Qomsan, said 62% of Egyptian men admitted harassing women, including those wearing Islamic headscarves.
    "This shows that the belief that harassment is linked to women who wear indecent clothing is false," she said.

Israeli Officials Give Michigan Law Officers Anti-Terror Lessons - Steve Pardo (Detroit News)
    About 200 law enforcement officers from throughout Michigan got anti-terrorism lessons Thursday from Israeli police and military officials.
    "Every given day we have between 50 and 80 immediate terrorist threats," said Simon Perry, a retired brigadier general who spent more than 30 years with the Israeli police department and as an officer in the Israeli military.
    The conference is part of a law enforcement exchange program established by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • European Terrorists Trying to Enter U.S. - Eileen Sullivan
    European terrorists are trying to enter the U.S. with EU passports, and there is no guarantee officials will catch them every time, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. "The terrorists are deliberately focusing on people who have legitimate Western European passports, who don't appear to have records as terrorists," Chertoff told the House Homeland Security Committee. Chertoff reiterated his concern that terrorists could sneak radiological material into the country on small boats or private aircraft to create an explosive device known as a "dirty bomb." (AP)
  • Syria: Alliance with Iran Remains Strong - Albert Aji
    At a joint news conference with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem was asked how his country's indirect peace negotiations with Israel might impact Syria's relations with Iran, whose president has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Al-Moallem said the "strategic alliance" between Syria and Iran was strong and would not be shaken by the possibility of a peace treaty with Israel. (AP)
  • Palestinians: U.S. Plans Peace Talks in Washington
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to host peace talks in Washington with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on July 30, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Thursday. Rice met a Palestinian delegation in Washington on Wednesday and offered to host the three-way meeting between herself, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurie and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Erekat said. (Reuters)
  • Israel and Russia Close to Deal on Mediterranean Pipeline - Orhan Coskun
    Israel is close to an agreement with Russia that would secure natural gas for a planned pipeline project between Turkey and Israel, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Thursday. The project consists of five pipelines that would carry water, natural gas, oil, electricity and fiber optics. Azerbaijan has said it is interested in using the pipeline to ship its oil to eastern markets, Ben-Eliezer said. (Reuters)
        See also Turkey-Israel Agree to Start Work on Pipeline Project (Hurriyet-Turkey)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Ehud Goldwasser Laid to Rest - Tovah Lazaroff
    In July 2006, Karnit Goldwasser's husband, Ehud, was just a regular private citizen heading out for reserve duty. It had not occurred to the young couple, who had been married less than a year, that this was the last time they would see each other, said Karnit as she looked out at the thousands of mourners at Nahariya cemetery on Thursday. "You left smiling. From your perspective, it was just one other day in which you were volunteering to serve your country. You weren't fearful," she said. On July 12, 2006, Hizbullah attacked a reserve patrol along the northern border, killing Ehud, known as "Udi," and Eldad Regev, among others.
        "Now you and I move on to the next journey, the journey of my life. You will be a full partner in it, you will continue to be my inner voice, eternally young, accompanying me throughout my life. It will be lived without you, but forever you will be there," said Karnit. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Mourners Remember Eldad Regev - Abe Selig
    "He was always busy, studying law at Bar-Ilan [University] and running off to reserve duty, but he was a sweet boy, and it tears my heart to think that he's gone," said Julie, near Eldad Regev's home in Kiryat Motzkin. "Eldad was the kind of guy who was a friend to everybody, an exceptional guy. This is a hardworking family, a quiet family, and it's a sad day for them. It's a sad day for the people of Israel," said a man.
        On Wednesday, a group of schoolchildren, led by their teacher from a nearby school, kneeled before a photo of Eldad Regev and began to light memorial candles in his honor. "Why are you bringing children here?" one woman asked from the crowd. "Isn't it too much for them to see?" "Not at all," their teacher replied. "This is part of their country, and they should know that soldiers put their lives on the line to protect them, every day."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Many Lebanese Are Not Celebrating - Nathan Cohen
    Hizbullah's celebrations in Beirut do not reflect the majority of Lebanese popular opinion on the prisoner exchange with Israel, who see the event as a victory for the enemy, Tel Aviv University professor and Mideast expert Eyal Zisser said Thursday. For most Lebanese, the impact of any Hizbullah victory is negative. Hizbullah faced opposition from Sunni Muslims, Christians, Druze and other groups in Lebanon, Zisser noted.
        Why is there a need to celebrate the return of a terrorist known to have killed a child? Meir Litvak, a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University, answered, "When you have an ideology that Zionism is the epitome of evil, when you dehumanize your enemy, you can justify anything. He didn't kill a child. He killed a Zionist." Moshe Maoz, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at Hebrew University, said the need to defeat Israel was deeply entrenched in the Arab culture. "Anything they can recover from the feeling of humiliation [following past losses against Israel] is welcome," Maoz said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Arab Media Mocks Hizbullah "Victory" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hizbullah Moves into "Every Town" in South Lebanon - Yaakov Katz
    Hizbullah is bolstering its presence in south Lebanon villages with non-Shi'ite majorities by buying land and using it to build military positions and store missiles and launchers. The decision to build infrastructure in non-Shi'ite villages - where Hizbullah has less support - is part of the group's post-war strategy under which it has mostly abandoned the "nature reserves," forested areas where it kept most of its Katyusha rocket launchers before the Second Lebanon War. Behind the change is the fact that UNIFIL peacekeeping forces can patrol freely throughout the countryside but cannot enter villages or cities without being accompanied by soldiers from the Lebanese Armed Forces, which regularly tips off Hizbullah ahead of raids. "Hizbullah is moving into every town that it can," a senior defense official said. "This is in order to evade UNIFIL detection."
        On Thursday, Lebanese complained they were receiving recorded phone messages from Israel promising "harsh retaliation" for any future Hizbullah attack. The automated messages also warn against allowing Hizbullah to form "a state within a state" in the country. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Strange Kind of Hero - Editorial
    There is something morally repulsive in the hero's welcome given the most famous - or notorious - of the Lebanese prisoners released by Israel. Samir Kuntar had been sentenced to 542 years in prison for killing four people during a raid in 1979. Kuntar executed a father, Danny Haran, in front of his 4-year-old daughter. Then he killed the little girl by smashing her head against a rock with a rifle butt. This is the creature Nasrallah hailed as a resistance hero, the figure Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called a "huge hero who sacrificed 30 years of his life for the Palestinian issue," the celebrity that Lebanon's president and prime minister saluted as a liberated freedom fighter. All wars are inhumane. But not all warriors lose their humanity. (Boston Globe)
        See also How Do You Welcome a Child Murderer as a Hero? - Gil Troy (Montreal Gazette)
  • What "Bomb Iran" Really Takes - Ralph Peters
    There is no chance that the Israelis could handle Iran on their own. As skilled as their pilots and planners may be, the Israelis lack the capacity to sustain a strategic offensive against Iran - or to deal with the inevitable mess they'd leave behind in the Persian Gulf. Israel's aircraft could do serious damage to Iran's nuke program, but the U.S. military would face the potentially catastrophic aftermath. (New York Post)
  • Ahmadinejad and the Dawning of Messianic Times - Moshe Sharon
    Since the late ninth century, the Shi'ites have been expecting the emergence of the hidden imam-mahdi, armed with divine power and followed by thousands of martyrdom-seeking warriors. He is expected to conquer the world and establish Shi'ism as its supreme religion and system of rule. His appearance would involve terrible war and unusual bloodshed. Ahmadinejad, as mayor of Tehran, built a spectacular boulevard through which the mahdi would enter into the capital. There is no question that Ahmadinejad believes he has been chosen to be the herald of the mahdi.
        Shi'ite Islam differs from Sunni Islam regarding the identity of the mahdi. The Sunni mahdi is essentially an anonymous figure; the Shi'ite mahdi is a divinely inspired person with a real identity. However, both Shi'ites and Sunnis share one particular detail about "the coming of the hour" and the dawning of messianic times: The Jews must all suffer a violent death, to the last one. The writer is a professor emeritus of Islamic studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hizbullah's Military Wing Under Pressure Despite Political Gains - Matthew Levitt
    Two years after surviving a brutal war with Israel, Hizbullah has restocked its military arsenal, achieved new levels of political influence within the Lebanese government, and has now secured the release of prisoners from Israeli jails. Yet over the same period, the group's military and terrorist activities abroad have been increasingly uncovered. Further exposing Hizbullah's global footprint, and the violent and illicit activities in which its operatives are engaged, could help roll back the group's successes at home. According to Nasrallah, a European designation of Hizbullah, following Britain's lead, that would hold the group accountable for its militant and terrorist activities, would "destroy" the organization since "the sources of our funding will dry up and the sources of moral, political, and material support will be destroyed."  (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Saudi Arabia: Interfaith Talks Abroad, Intolerance at Home - Simon Henderson and Jasmine El-Gamal
    The global interfaith conference Saudi Arabia is organizing in Madrid this week, with more than 200 Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist religious leaders from 54 countries expected to attend, could never happen in Saudi Arabia. Crucifixes and Christian bibles are confiscated from arriving visitors. Non-Muslim religious services have to be held in secret, and their participants are in constant fear of disruption, arrest, or deportation by Saudi religious police.
        Even though King Abdullah is considered a liberal, the term is relative; he publicly blamed a 2004 al-Qaeda attack, one that killed six Westerners, as being the work of "Zionists." The 85-year-old king's support for conciliatory policies may die with him. His most likely successor, Crown Prince Sultan, does not appear to share the king's tolerant approach. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Arab States Awash in Oil Money, Will It Destroy Them? - Kenneth M. Pollack
    In the 1970s and '80s, during the first great oil boom, the Middle Eastern producers largely squandered their wealth. This time around, some Middle Eastern oil producers are trying to be smarter. They are investing billions of dollars at home, building industries, repairing roads and factories, and expanding social services. This has led regional elites and many in the international financial community to proclaim a new era in the Middle East. If this sounds unlikely, it's because it almost certainly is. More oil money is being re-invested in the region, but it is not being spent where it is most needed. As a result, it is having little impact on what really matters, and is even creating problems.
        In addition, much of the money is being re-invested in projects intended to produce quick profits for investors rather than long-term political and economic gains. A great deal of it is going into nonproductive sectors like real estate and oil refining. The industries that create lots of new jobs, like tourism, agriculture and construction, import workers from southern and southeastern Asia rather than hire locals. Both the rise in energy prices and the flood of oil revenues have stoked inflation. Qatar's current rate is 14 percent, up from 2.6 percent in the 2002-04 period. The rise in global food prices has also hit the Middle East hard. Bread riots have convulsed Egypt and Yemen. Money pouring in but not trickling down tends to create a dangerous social imbalance. The writer is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. (New York Times)
        See also Saudis Look Beyond Oil to New Economy in Desert - Faiza Saleh Ambah (Washington Post)
  • Peace Will Elude Us Until Arab World Accepts Reality of Israel - Bren Carlill
    The reason Israeli-Palestinian peace seems so elusive is one of simple rejectionism. Much of the Palestinian and wider Arab elite still fundamentally reject Israel's right to exist. Given that Israel has existed for 60 years, this sounds bizarre. But it explains why books, Palestinian television programs and even summer camps for children promote ideas of Israel's supposedly inevitable destruction.
        Yes, the Arab League issued an Arab-Israel peace plan. But its wording made clear Israel was required to effectively dissolve itself as a country by absorbing all Palestinian refugees, plus their descendants. Only then would Arab countries decide whether to enter negotiations with Israel. Absorbing four million non-Jews would remove the Jewish nature of the Jewish state - a non-starter for Israel.
        Anyone who thinks removing Israeli settlements will improve living standards or human rights in the Arab Middle East is dreaming. In 2005, Israel removed its settlements from Gaza, in a voluntary action designed to prompt peaceful Palestinian reciprocation. The result wasn't peaceful reciprocity. The number of rockets fired from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns dramatically increased. Palestinian media portrayed the Israeli withdrawal as a military defeat, urging Palestinian fighters to double their efforts in order to defeat the Zionists once and for all. The writer is an analyst at the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. (The Australian)

    Weekend Features

  • A Survivor of the Munich Olympics and Bergen-Belsen - Neil Amdur
    Even as the Beijing Olympics beckon next month, the renewed threat of terrorism, first exposed in the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli Olympians, now hovers in new forms unspoken through intense security preparations. King of the Road (Gefen), is the autobiography of Israeli race walker Shaul Ladany, 72, the ultimate survivor. In Munich, he managed to escape the wrath of terrorists during the attack in the Olympic village. He also spent months in a Nazi concentration camp (Bergen-Belsen).
        Ladany speaks nine languages and is a professor of industrial engineering with 8 patents, 110 scientific papers, and 13 books. He participated in the recent 7-day, 300-kilometer walk from Schleswig, Germany, to Viborg, Denmark; and will swim 3.5 kilometers across the Sea of Galilee for the 48th time this fall as part of Israel's largest amateur sports event. Two years ago, he became the first 70-year-old to walk 100 miles in 24 hours or less. (New York Times)
  • Book Review: Why the U.S. Cannot Easily Disengage from the Middle East - Bret Stephens
    Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst and member of the Clinton administration's National Security Council, now affiliated with the Brookings Institution, has given us A Path Out of the Desert, billed in its subtitle as a "grand strategy for America in the Middle East." His path requires the U.S. to remain in the desert for decades in order to help sort out the region's myriad problems and set it on a path toward greater democracy, better governance, stronger economic growth, and less cultural insularity.
        Pollack is particularly good at exposing the myth that close U.S. ties to Israel worsen our relations with other Arab governments or explain popular hostility to America: Our patronage of Arab dictators such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has more to do with that. Nor has America's "tilting" toward Israel complicated efforts at Mideast peacemaking. On the contrary, as he writes, U.S. support for the Jewish state "helped convince the Arabs that they did not have a military option against Israel." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Unsung Savior: Salvadoran Diplomat in Nazi Europe Lent His Nation's Protection to Hungarian Jews - David Montgomery
    When Hitler began applying the final solution to the last major Jewish community in Europe, there suddenly appeared in Budapest thousands of Salvadorans who happened to be Jewish. To have been on the side of the angels at one of the darkest moments in history, when other countries stood by, is something a small, relatively poor, geopolitically minor nation can be proud of. Col. Jose Arturo Castellanos, Salvadoran General Consul in Geneva, started a small-scale distribution of Salvadoran visas (against the wishes of Castellanos's own government). This had mushroomed by mid-1944 into the mass production of nationality certificates. The Nazis, strangely legalistic and bureaucratic in their own way, seemed willing to accept the proposition that foreign citizens, even Jews, could be exempt from anti-Jewish edicts.
        Typists in Geneva churned out the Salvadoran papers, shipping them via couriers into Budapest. When photos or biographical information were unavailable, they sent pre-signed papers for Jews to fill in themselves. The Salvadoran government asked the Swiss, as neutral representatives in Budapest, to protect the new Salvadoran citizens. In international safe houses - such as the famous Glass House, a former glass factory - the Swiss harbored thousands of Jews who possessed Salvadoran papers. The Swedish Wallenberg's parallel effort was underway in Budapest at this time. David Kranzler, in The Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz, estimated that, since each document could cover a family, 30,000 or more Jews could have been covered by the papers. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Talking to Terrorists: The Myths, Misconceptions and Misapplication of the Northern Ireland Peace Process - John Bew and Martyn Frampton (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • It has become fashionable to look to the lessons of the peace process in Northern Ireland as holding insights for other areas of conflict in the world. However, this has been done in an uncritical way, often more focused on contemporary agendas than on the core realities unique to the region, which do not necessarily translate elsewhere.
    • In some instances, the willingness of a state to negotiate might encourage the terrorists to believe that their opponents are ready to concede - even when this is not the case. In June-July 1972, for example, top IRA operatives were flown to London in order to meet senior British politicians, leading the IRA to believe its violent campaign had forced the British to the negotiating table. After the talks failed, on 21 July 1972, the IRA exploded 22 bombs in Belfast in the space of 75 minutes - killing 9 and injuring another 130 on what became known as "Bloody Friday."
    • By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Republic of Ireland had become a force for stability and peace in Northern Ireland and worked in close cooperation with the British government in the search for a settlement. The same cannot be said of Israel's neighbors. On the contrary, Iran and Syria continue to support Hamas and encourage its violent campaign, offering it arms, funding, training, and sanctuary.
    • For the British government, formal negotiations with the IRA could only occur in a context in which republican violence had been brought to an end. With the IRA in a position of declining military and political fortunes, it sought to extricate itself via the peace process. The perception of the republican leadership had become - rightly - that IRA violence had held back the political prospects of Sinn Fein.
    • The aims of the IRA posed no existential threat to the British. This is not the case where Israel and Hamas are concerned, however. The objectives of Hamas require the destruction of the State of Israel. Moreover, whereas the political goals of the IRA were confined locally to the future of the island of Ireland, Hamas, by its own admission, is part of a global Islamist movement, known as the Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, diplomatic engagement with Hamas has broader international implications.

      Dr. John Bew is Harris Fellow and Lecturer in Modern British History at Peterhouse in the University of Cambridge, and has published on aspects of British and Irish history from the eighteenth century onwards. Dr. Martyn Frampton is a Research Fellow in History, also at Peterhouse, and an expert on Irish republicanism. Their book, Talking to Terrorists: The Search for Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country, co-written with Inigo Gurruchaga, will be published later this year.

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