Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 24, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Rebuilding South of the Litani - Jonathan Spyer (Jerusalem Post)
    On June 27, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued his latest report on the implementation of Resolution 1701, adopted after the 2006 war with Hizbullah.
    The report noted Israeli claims that Hizbullah was in the process of rebuilding its military capacity in the south, but found "no evidence of new military infrastructure in the area of operations."
    A possible explanation is to be found by observing UNIFIL's patterns of deployment. A visitor to southern Lebanon will be immediately struck by the absence of international and Lebanese army forces in populated areas. UNIFIL carries out patrols exclusively along recognized patrol paths and in rural areas.
    Given the physical absence of UN forces from any of the areas where evidence of Hizbullah infrastructure-building has emerged, it is not surprising that UNIFIL reports "no evidence" that such activity is taking place.
    In general, the two sides appear to do their best to stay out of each other's way.
    The infrastructure for the next war is currently being built, woven into the fabric of civilian life, a few miles north of Israel's border.
    The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.

Nine Islamists Convicted in Paris Terror Trial - Pierre-Antoine Souchard (AP/Washington Post)
    A Paris criminal court convicted nine people on Thursday including a French-Algerian former prison inmate who admitted establishing an Islamic group that called for armed jihad in France.
    Safe Bourada, 38, was sentenced to 15 years in prison while eight others received penalties of one to nine years on charges linked to financing of and association with a terror group.
    Bourada admitted in court to creating a militant group called "Ansar al-Fath," or Partisans of Victory.
    The group was suspected of planning attacks on the Paris Metro and Orly airport.

Swedes Relocate West Bank Firm to Within "Green Line" - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Assa Abloy, a Swedish-based locksmith company that operates the Mul-T-Lock factory in the West Bank's Barkan Industrial Park, announced this week that it was relocating to within the "green line" for political reasons.
    The factory, which first opened in 1984 and was acquired by the Swedish company in 2000, employs 100 people.
    Gershon Mesika, head of the Samaria Regional Council, which operates the Barkan industrial site, home to 120 businesses, said there was a waiting list of 30 companies that wanted to move in.
    His spokesman, David Ha'ivri, said the businesses are an important source of employment for both Israelis and Palestinians in the area, noting that out of the 6,000 workers in the park, some 3,500 are Palestinians.
    "Jews and Arabs are working together, and this is the true meaning of coexistence," he said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Egyptian, Israeli Presidents Meet on Mideast Peace Process - Lin Liyu
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks on Thursday with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The two leaders discussed means of advancing peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. (Xinhua-China)
        See also Peres, Mubarak Discuss Saudi Plan - Yoav Stern
    At a meeting with Egypt's President in Sharm el-Sheikh, Israeli President Shimon Peres discussed a 2002 Saudi peace proposal. Peres said that while he doesn't "accept all of the Saudi plan and it needs to be negotiated further, its spirit is correct." However, Egyptian President Mubarak replied that "the Saudi initiative is not open for negotiations." Mubarak said Palestinians and Israelis should first reach an agreement through bilateral talks, before all Arab states normalize relations with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Diplomatic Efforts on Iran Going Nowhere, Israelis Say - Oakland Ross
    Diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons are going nowhere, say several top Israeli security experts. "No serious action is being taken," said Emily Landau, senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies. "It's difficult to avoid the disturbing conclusion that Iran will not be deterred by the international community."
        Even though Iranian President Ahmadinejad regularly rails against the Jewish state and has mused several times about its eradication, Landau and other experts say an attack on Israel is not the main reason for Tehran's pursuit of a nuclear bomb. "Iran is seeking to achieve a nuclear capability in order to enhance its regional influence," Landau said. "Israel is not Iran's primary concern. It's fourth or fifth." In a briefing Thursday for foreign journalists, Landau stressed that a nuclear-empowered Tehran would fundamentally alter the geopolitical landscape, not just in the Middle East but around the globe. "The Persian Gulf states are already in a state of near panic," she said. "In a very real sense, this is a global problem." (Toronto Star)
  • Hamas Lawmakers Call for Executing PA Security Chiefs for Liaison with Israel - Sun Yunlong
    Hamas lawmakers in Gaza on Thursday called for executing PA security chiefs for their security liaison with Israel in West Bank. They considered security liaison as "high treason that requires the death penalty." Hamas lawmaker Mohammed Shehab called for Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whose government controls the West Bank, to "stand trial for their systematic crimes against the Palestinian resistance." (Xinhua-China)
  • Iran Imprisons American Student
    Esha Momeni, an American university student in Iran to visit family and research women's rights, has been arrested and held for more than a week in Evin prison, the Tehran facility notorious for holding political prisoners, rights group Amnesty International said. Dozens of supporters of the Change for Equality campaign, launched by Iranian women activists in September 2006, have been arrested in Iran. The campaign is seeking to collect a million signatures in support of changing laws that deny women in Iran equal rights. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Wounded Policeman Who Shot Jerusalem Terrorist Hailed
    Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Thursday visited Daniel Motza, the policeman wounded in the terror attack in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood. Dichter said: "When you see Daniel, you really see how in spite of the severe wounds he sustained, he managed to fire at the terrorist and wound him. There is no doubt that the attacker's wounds significantly lessened the harm he could have caused, but unfortunately, after he was injured, and despite his wounds, the terrorist still managed to murder an elderly man, an 86-year-old man, just because he was Jewish. He was then subdued by a civilian before police arrived, but Daniel's fire was a very significant contribution to the eventual arrest of the terrorist." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Family Mourns Jerusalem Stabbing Victim - Nadav Shragai
    Friends and family of Avraham Ozeri, 86, murdered in Thursday's stabbing attack in Jerusalem, voiced sorrow and anger at the killing of the man they described as "salt of the earth." "My father was a man whom everyone loved and who never wronged a single person. To stab a man such as this, at this age, is an animal-like act," said Ozeri's son, Amos.
        Ozeri was born in the capital's Bukharan Quarter to parents who had immigrated from Yemen. In 1942 he enlisted in the British Mandate police force, and fought in the 1948 War of Independence in Jerusalem. He volunteered in the 1956 Sinai Campaign and 1967 Six-Day War, working on Israel Defense Forces fortifications, and worked for 35 years as a customs official. Ozeri's grandson related that his grandfather had planned to participate in a 10-kilometer run in Tel Aviv on Saturday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas' Vicious AqsaTube - Amir Mizroch
    Last week the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli intelligence think-tank, released a report detailing the establishment by Hamas of AqsaTube, a video-sharing web platform closely modeled on YouTube, but filled with videos praising suicide martyrdom and showing how to build bombs and carry out attacks. Following publication of the story in the Jerusalem Post, Google removed its AdSense program from the website, and one day later, AqsaTube's French Internet service provider OVH took the Islamist site off-line.
        On Wednesday, AqsaTube was back up, bigger than before, hosted by the Russian service provider 2X4. On Thursday, the ITIC released a second report on AqsaTube, detailing its return and highlighting a video praising deceased Chechen terrorist Kuttab, one of the main figures behind the fighting against Russian soldiers. Several hours after ITIC's report was released, AqsaTube was again off-line.
        ITIC director Reuven Erlich said, "The fight has no end, but it makes Hamas' life harder, and that's the value of taking them on. For technical reasons, Hamas prefers to make use of Western Internet service providers....Sure, they could just go from one provider to another, and they could end up with a Malaysian provider for example, who won't feel the need to kick them off, but Hamas wants Western providers, and while they do, they are vulnerable." Furthermore, AqsaTube is not a website that can be ignored, Erlich said, pointing to the increasing use of on-line video to train terrorists. "These kinds of sites are like pedophile sites, and the fight against them needs to be coordinated internationally, just like authorities do against pedophiles," Erlich said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also AqsaTube Returns on a Russian Server (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Election Limbo - Aluf Benn
    The U.S. presidential election is taking place against the backdrop of an ongoing decline in the importance of Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict for American foreign policy. The paramount task of the newly elected president will be to rescue the American and global economy. Next on the agenda will be the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Iranian nuclear program.
        In the present circumstances, it's hard to see how either presidential candidate might achieve an accord between Israel and the Palestinians. The PA in the West Bank is weak and its future is uncertain, while Hamas in Gaza refuses to recognize Israel and to enter into negotiations. The next administration will not force Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, and thereby expose Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to rocket fire and suicide bombings. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Shares Responsibility for Gaza "Blockade"
    Two countries border the Gaza Strip - Israel and Egypt. Both strictly limit the passage of goods and people into and out of the Strip. But when describing the effect of these border restrictions, some journalists inaccurately and unfairly attribute responsibility to only one of the countries - Israel. Except for humanitarian cases, Israel has mostly closed its own border with Gaza to human traffic after repeated attacks from that territory (including attacks targeting crossing points) and after an organization sworn to Israel's destruction took control of Gaza.
        But an essential component of the current situation is Egypt's closure of the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and Gaza. The occasional bilateral opening of the crossing by Egypt and Hamas shows who exercises control of this passage into and out of Gaza. It is not too late for the media to fulfill their professional responsibilities; that means correcting misrepresentations of the so-called Gaza "blockade." (CAMERA)
  • Saudi Arabia and the Struggle Against Al-Qaeda
    The Saudi kingdom has long been a fountainhead of jihadist radicalism, with martyrdom-seekers going on one-way tickets to such places as Chechnya, Iraq and the Twin Towers in America. At first rather complacent about Islamist terror, the Saudi rulers rumbled into active opposition only after their own cities came under fire, starting with a series of bombings in their capital, Riyadh, in May 2003.
        Now Saudi courts have begun procedures to try 991 prisoners held on terrorism charges. The trials will take place under Islamic law before a panel of judges schooled in the strict Wahhabist interpretation that has helped to inspire the ideology of groups such as al-Qaeda itself. As often as not, state-anointed scholars attack the radicals not on the grounds that bigotry and killing are wicked, but because their jihad makes Islam look bad. (Economist-UK)
  • The Muhammad Al-Dura Blood Libel: A Case Analysis - Interview with Richard Landes by Manfred Gerstenfeld
    After eight years the Muhammad al-Dura affair will be independently investigated in France starting next month. Analyzing the eight-year process shows the impact of the media on soiling Israel's image. This goes much farther than the extremely negative impact of the affair itself. Falsely accusing the IDF of murdering a defenseless Palestinian boy led to mass demonstrations against Israel and the Jews around the world. It also contributed to riots by Arabs in Israel in October 2000. It also opened the door to the mainstreaming of comparing Israelis to Nazis. Prof. Richard Landes teaches in the history department at Boston University. (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
        See also Expose the Muhammad al-Dura Hoax - Philippe Karsenty (Middle East Quarterly)
  • "Directory of Jewish Residents in Germany 1933-1945" Given to Israel's Holocaust Center - Aron Heller
    The German government on Thursday handed Israel's national Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, the personal details of 600,000 Jewish residents of Nazi Germany. The new directory includes the names and addresses of the Jewish residents and classifies them into those who survived, those who perished and those whose fate remains unknown. The list includes details on emigration, detention and deportation, as well as where and when people died.
        With this latest list, Yad Vashem has essentially completed its database on German Jewry during the Nazi era, said Yad Vashem director Avner Shalev. Its focus will now turn to compiling a similar database on the Jews who lived in Poland and eastern Europe, an extremely difficult task because of poor record-keeping, large-scale executions and mass destruction of villages.
        It took 20 German scientists four years to compile the directory and cost $2.24 million. "It is a memorial to those murdered and those forced into exile. The shame for the crimes committed by the Germans is mixed with grief for the loss that Germany inflicted upon itself," said Martin Salm, the chairman of "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future," the German foundation that produced the directory together with the German federal archives. (AP)
  • Observations:

    Failure to Disarm Hizbullah Makes Future Violence Inevitable - Oded Eran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • UN Security Council Resolution 1701, an agreement that ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah, did not end the conflict, and its failure to disarm Hizbullah makes future violence between the two sides inevitable. Resolution 1701 does not allow UNIFIL to fulfill the resolution's mission to assist the Lebanese government in disarming all armed Lebanese groups.
    • As a result, Hizbullah has more than doubled its prewar arsenal of long- and short-range missiles and rockets by way of the porous Syrian-Lebanese border. In less than two years, Hizbullah has recovered from its losses and depletion of weapons stocks. Whatever was destroyed during the war has been reconstructed and fortified in the past two years.
    • The absence of any Hizbullah military offensive against Israel since 2006 comes from the policy decision of Hizbullah's leaders to focus on the domestic agenda and solidify its political position in Lebanon.

      The writer, a former senior Israeli diplomat and ambassador, is director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

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