Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 26, 2008

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In-Depth Issue:

Two Georgian War Wounded Flown to Israel for Treatment - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
��Two young Georgians - a soldier and a civilian - who sustained shrapnel wounds in the recent war with Russia - arrived for treatment at Haifa's Rambam Hospital, Monday. Due to Israel's own wartime experiences, hospital staff have expertise in treating such complex shrapnel wounds.

Israeli Exoskeleton Suit Helps Paralyzed People Walk (Reuters/MSNBC)
��Paralyzed for the past 20 years, former Israeli paratrooper Radi Kaiof now walks down the street with a dim mechanical hum. That is the sound of an electronic exoskeleton moving the 41-year-old's legs and propelling him forward.
��The device, called ReWalk, is the brainchild of engineer Amit Goffer, founder of Argo Medical Technologies, a small Israeli high-tech company. Something of a mix between the exoskeleton of a crustacean and the suit worn by comic hero Iron Man, ReWalk helps paraplegics � people paralyzed below the waist � to stand, walk and climb stairs.

"Serial No. 3817131." Photographic Exhibit of Women in the IDF - Rachel Papo (
��At an age when social, sexual, and educational explorations are at their highest point, the life of an 18-year-old Israeli girl is interrupted. During the next two years, immersed in a regimented and masculine environment, she will be transformed from a girl to a woman, within the framework of an army that is engaged in daily war and conflict.
��Almost 15 years after my mandatory military duty ended, I went back to several Israeli army bases, using the medium of photography as a vehicle to re-enter this world.

Idan Raichel Project Unites the Sounds of Israel - Daniel Harris (Times -- UK)
��When somebody claims �to reflect the social character of Israel through music,� it's hard not to respond with a sad shake of the head. But with 70 members, countless ethnicities, and ages ranging from 16 to 83, Idan Raichel's assertion that his musical Project exemplifies the many faces and facets of Israeli life is nowhere near as outrageous as it first seems. Now, after a world tour that has taken in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas, there's a fervor for an Israeli cultural experience that for once transcends the political.
��"Our project, for example," Raichel explains, "is an Israeli project, not a Jewish project - we have Arab singers and Christian singers, and we make them into role models. In doing that, we introduce people to their neighbors and show them that they're kind of similar.�

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Rice Sees Difficulties in Mideast Talks
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Monday that a broad peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is a long shot before President Bush leaves office, but she rejected the idea of a half-measure now. "I think it's extremely important just to keep making forward progress, rather than trying prematurely to come to some set of conclusions," Rice said, dismissing speculation she wants both sides to sign onto a statement documenting their progress nine months into a secretive and publicly fruitless series of talks.
    ��In contrast to her past upbeat insistence that public silence masked private progress, Rice had a matter-of-fact assessment ahead of two days of meetings with negotiators and leaders on both sides. Rice did offer praise for Israel's release of 198 Palestinian prisoners saying "this is something that matters a lot to the Palestinians" and "it is obviously a sign of good will" from Israel. (AP)
    ����See also The Secretary's Remarks en Route to Israel (State Department)
  • Israel Shuts Gaza Crossings Because of Rocket Fire
    Israel has ordered the Gaza Strip's border crossings closed after militants violated a cease-fire by launching two rockets. The Israeli military says Gaza gunmen launched two rockets Monday evening, causing no damage or casualties. The military says Monday's fire brought to 46 the number of rockets launched by militants since the truce began. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Drought Stricken, Iran Buys U.S. Wheat for First Time in 27 Years
    Wracked by drought, Iran has turned to the United States for wheat for the first time in 27 years, marking a setback for Tehran's search for agricultural self-sufficiency. According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, Iran has bought about 1.18 million tons of U.S. hard wheat since the beginning of the 2008-2009 crop season in June. The last time Iran imported U.S. wheat was in 1981-1982.
    ��Although Iran is subject to a growing number of sanctions imposed by Western countries that want Tehran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program, these U.S. grain exports, like those of medications, are "legal and encouraged," a State Department spokesman, Robert McInturff, said. They require authorization from the Treasury because of a law Congress approved in 2000, the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA), he noted.
    ��For Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a specialist on Iran at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, the U.S. wheat purchase signals "Iran is more interested in showing to its people that it is not restrained by sanctions. The real signal is: look, we're doing fine, we can buy wheat from the U.S.," he said. However, the message for internal politics was grim, he said. "This is a serious setback for Iran from a domestic point of view because they made a big deal about self-sufficiency in grains." (AFP)
  • Israeli Demand Draining Sea of Galilee - Tobias Buck
    This summer both the water level and the mood of Israelis living by the Sea of Galilee are plunging to record lows. The country has suffered four successive seasons of drought, with rainfall no more than half the annual average. At the same time, Israel�s thirst for fresh water means the country continues to pump vast amounts of water from the lake to meet the needs of farmers, gardeners and ordinary citizens as far away as the Negev desert in the south.
    ��The result is visible everywhere on the lake, which is falling by between one and two centimeters a day. The drying-out of the Sea of Galilee has caused alarm far beyond the region. The lake supplies fresh water to the taps of two in five Israelis, but soon the pumps will have to fall silent. The water level has already fallen below the upper and lower red lines, denoting levels below which the lake was previously thought to be at serious risk. (Financial Times -- UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • U.S. Congressman: Advanced Radar to Israel Has "No Quid Pro Quo" Attached - Caroline Glick
    The U.S's willingness to deploy a new radar system in Israel is largely the consequence of ardent lobbying efforts by U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk. Kirk's successful push for the deployment of the X-Band system in Israel is a great boon for the country's defensive capabilities. The X-Band system can detect incoming missiles from 500-600 miles. Currently, Israel's early warning system is only able to detect missiles from 100 miles out.
    ��In response to reports that in exchange for the X-Band system, Israel agreed it will not attack Iran either preemptively or retroactively without U.S. permission, Kirk said, "There is no quid pro quo." "The basic idea is that a U.S. ally getting nuked is a bad thing. The X-Band system increases the likelihood that such an attack would fail," he continued. Moreover, far from sending a message that the U.S. would work to block an Israeli preemptive attack against Iran, Kirk argued that the deployment of the X-Band system manned by a U.S. crew "will send a message to Iran, that Israel has powerful political support from its ally against any Iranian threat." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Report: Terrorists Train to Kidnap Israeli Soldiers - Dudi Cohen
    Islamic Jihad is using the Gaza ceasefire to concentrate on training to kidnap IDF soldiers, in a similar manner to Hizbullah's 2006 attack. "Thousands of Palestinian fighters recently trained in how to kidnap Zionist soldiers," reported the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper on Monday, quoting the conservative Iranian Kayhan newspaper and Quds news agency. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Facing Up to Violence in Iran - Alan Johnson
    The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran is crying out about a wave of repression in Iran. Earlier this month Ya'qub Mehrnahad, a 28-year-old Baluchi journalist, human rights and cultural activist, who criticized the Iranian government's treatment of Baluchi people, was executed alongside another Baluchi man named Abdul Nasser. The execution of Iranian teacher trade unionist Farzad Kamangar, tortured while in detention and denied medical treatment, can still be stopped say Education International. Sousan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi have been sentenced to jail terms and whipping for the "crime" of having participated in a May Day demonstration this year. But where is the murmur of protest from the west? Are we too an abject flock? The eyes of the world are fixed on the nuclear diplomacy but away from our gaze the hangings and jailings and lashings go on. There is something shameful about this inattention. (Guardian - UK)
  • Arabs vs Israel: an Olympic Sport? - Roula Khalaf
    If you thought Israelis were unhappy with the results of their Olympic team then look at the reaction of the Arabs, and how their own commentators are mocking their performance. When, an Arabic news site, asked its audience whether they expected Arab athletes to do well, 88 per cent said no. They were right to keep their expectations down. It is indeed difficult not to see the performance at the Olympics as part of wider failures of this region to nurture its youth and create positive role models. Sadly, the Middle East is a place where the likes of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden can easily inspire fascination and devotion. If you are a young man in many parts of the Arab world today, there is not much for you to look forward to � even less if you are a woman. (Financial Times -- UK)
  • Observations:

    Hizbullah's Role in Attacks against U.S. and British Forces in Iraq - Jonathan Dahoah Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Asharq Alawsat reported on August 18, 2008, that Hizbullah operatives were involved in attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in four Iraqi provinces. In June 2006, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield disclosed that Hizbullah cadres had attacked U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq. Hizbullah units claimed responsibility for operations against coalition forces and Iraqi security personnel as early as the latter part of 2005.
  • A senior U.S. intelligence officer said that activists of the "Special Groups" (Shiite terror cells in Iraq) undergo training and military instruction administered by the Iranian Revolution Guards' Qods Force and Lebanese Hizbullah at training camps in the cities of Qom, Tehran, Ahwaz, and Mashad.
  • The official website of the Hizbullah Brigades in Iraq features scores of video clips depicting the setting off of a number of sabotage charges in one place; the use of two explosive charges in succession in order to harm rescue forces as well; the use of mortars mounted on trucks in order to make a quick getaway, and the launching of a shoulder-fired Strela missile against helicopters.
  • Hizbullah's deep involvement in terror throughout Iraq demonstrates that the organization does not view itself purely as a Lebanese factor with national and local objectives, but as an arm of Iran in spreading the Shiite Islamic Revolution throughout the Middle East and in the long term throughout the entire world. Hizbullah's strategic ties with Iran's Revolutionary Guards for the purpose of operations in Iraq once again illustrate how Iran, in general, and its Revolutionary Guards, in particular, directly promote international terrorism globally.

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