Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 4, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah: Large Swaths of Northern Israel Belong to Lebanon - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    A senior Hizbullah official on Monday said large swaths of northern Israel belong to Lebanon.
    "The Zionist terror organizations moved the border from that of 1920 to that of 1923, and Lebanon lost seven villages and twenty farms," said Nawaf Musawi, head of international relations for Hizbullah.
    The official's comments mean that Hizbullah has territorial demands beyond the disputed Shaba Farms and the divided village of Ghajar.

Nobel Laureate: No Financial Crisis in Israel - Adrian Filut (Globes)
    Prof. Robert Aumann, 78, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2005 for his work on game theory economics, said:
    "In Israel there is no financial crisis. There are no banks collapsing here and our situation is different from the U.S. What we have here is a psychological crisis and not an economic one. If they were to intervene here without any need to, they would only endorse the feeling of crisis, while creating a real crisis. It is good that they haven't done so."
    Aumann was critical of U.S. policies. "The save financial institutions wasn't smart. They are just giving incentives to the institutions to again take uncalculated risks and collapse again."

Israel Marks Anniversary of Rabin Assassination (AFP)
    Israel started commemorating the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin Tuesday, while other ceremonies will be held on Nov. 10 in accordance with the Jewish calender.

The Scientist Magazine: Israel's Weizmann Institute, Hebrew University Named Best Places to Work in Academia (Market Watch)
    Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been ranked number 1 and 2 by The Scientist magazine's readers as the Best Place to Work in Academia internationally.
    Overall, analysis showed Australia as the best country in which to do research, with Israel as the next runner-up.

A Solar Revolution Dawns in the Desert - Ehud Zion Waldoks (Jerusalem Post)
    The Arava Power Company (APC) announced Monday an agreement to utilize kibbutz land in the Arava and the Negev for solar fields generating at least 500 MW, and eventually one gigawatt or more - a move which could revolutionize Israel's energy market.
    APC was founded at Kibbutz Ketura, a kibbutz founded 35 years ago by Americans from the Young Judea movement.

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

  • U.S. Efforts Divert Iran-Bound Cargo - Glenn Kessler
    The U.S. thwarted a suspect shipment from North Korea to Iran by persuading the Indian government to deny clearance for the North Korean flight to travel through Indian airspace, U.S. officials said Monday. U.S. officials suspect the North Korean plane, an Ilyushin-62 jet owned by the North Korean state airline, was carrying sophisticated technology - such as ballistic missile parts - that could be used in a program for weapons of mass destruction. (Washington Post)
        See also India Seeks "Velvet Divorce" from Iran - M.K. Bhadrakumar (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • Iran FM on Solidarity Visit to Syria, Condemns U.S. Raid
    Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and denounced last week's U.S. raid on a Syrian village as he made a solidarity visit to Damascus on Monday. (AFP)
        See also American School in Syria Ordered Closed - Albert Aji
    The Damascus Community School, an American school in the Syrian capital, closed its doors and told students to go home Monday after the Syrian government ordered it shut down in response to a U.S. cross-border raid near the Iraqi border. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Iranian Volunteers Recruited for Anti-U.S. Suicide Operations by Hizbullah
    On Nov. 1, 2008, the Iranian website Tabnak, which is identified with Expediency Council Secretary and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai, reported that flyers have recently been circulated in Iran calling on the public, especially young people, to sign up for suicide operations to be carried out by the Lebanese Hizbullah. The flyer promises registrants that they will become "fighters in the worldwide front against the Global Arrogance [i.e. the U.S.]."  (MEMRI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel-Syria Talks Meant to Pressure Iran - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Olmert's intention to push forward indirect talks with Syria is motivated by a desire to keep the heat on Iran, Western diplomatic sources said Sunday. According to the sources, the Turkish-mediated talks between Syria and Israel have caused a degree of concern in Tehran, with the Iranian leaders not completely sure about which direction Damascus was headed. Israel has made clear that any peace agreement with Syria would necessitate a dramatic downgrading of Syria's close ties with Iran. "The indirect talks help isolate Iran," the sources said.
        According to Western diplomatic sources, the U.S. cross-border raid into Syria last week has only heightened Syria's interest in getting Washington to engage with them within the framework of negotiations. The Syrians believe there would be less likelihood of additional attacks if they were involved in negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Prospects for a Palestinian Unity Government - Avi Isaacharoff
    As Hamas and Fatah discuss reconciliation and the formation of a unity government, Fatah certainly does not intend to integrate Hamas into the Palestinian Authority security services - which are currently busy arresting Hamas members throughout the West Bank. Hamas, for its part, seems unenthusiastic about giving up its exclusive rule in Gaza, and it will certainly not agree to dismantle its military wing. Both may sign an Egyptian document which calls for a new unity government ruling both Gaza and the West Bank, early parliamentary and presidential elections, and comprehensive reform of the PA security services. Nevertheless, this program seems unlikely to be implemented anytime soon. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Fatah Clamps Down on Hamas in Hebron - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas officials over the weekend accused the PA security forces in the West Bank of stepping up their arrests of Hamas supporters in the Hebron area, which has long been a Hamas stronghold. Sources in Hebron said PA policemen raided several Hamas-run mosques and confiscated "inflammatory" material and megaphones. Among those taken into custody are imams, university students, teachers and political activists. Abu Obaidah, spokesman for Hamas' armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, said, "Abbas' policemen are traitors. They have become Zionists because they are openly targeting the Palestinian resistance groups." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Modernizing Army - Yaakov Lappin
    Egypt's military is gradually replacing dated Soviet equipment with superior American F-16 fighter jets, Apache combat helicopters and Abrams tanks, according to arms control expert Prof. Yiftah Shapir of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Securities Studies. Egypt has an estimated 470,000 men in its ground forces, 150,000 of them reserves, as well as 3,100 tanks, including more than 1,000 modern M1A1 Abram tanks that were assembled in Egypt. The country's air force includes 211 advanced F-16D jets, and 35 Apaches. Egypt has advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and has been supplied by the U.S. with 16 HAWK missile batteries. Egypt has 27 guided-missile frigates, 12 mine warfare vessels, and 19 gunboats. It is thought to possess 190 Scud-type missiles.
        Nevertheless, "Egypt believes Israel is fully interested in safeguarding the status quo, and Israel believes the same of Egypt," Shapir said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Washington Examining the Military Option to Stop Iran - Carol Giacomo
    Inside Washington's policy circles these days - in studies, commentaries, meetings, Congressional hearings and conferences - reasonable people from both parties are seriously examining the so-called military option to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program, along with new diplomatic initiatives.
        A report by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center, founded by four former senators - Republicans Robert Dole and Howard Baker and Democrats Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, explores such strategies as blockading Iran's gasoline imports, but it also says that "a military strike is a feasible option and must remain a last resort." Ashton Carter, a senior Pentagon official in the Clinton administration, wrote a paper for the Center for a New American Security that asserts military action "is an element of any true option." (New York Times)
  • In Lebanon, Pragmatism Tempers Jihadist Aims - Nicholas Blanford
    Nearly 17 armed factions and 70,000 people are packed into the teeming Palestinian slum of Ein el-Hilweh in Lebanon. The groups - secular, leftist, Islamist, nationalist, jihadist - are mindful of last year's conflict in Nahr al-Bared when the Lebanese Army took on the al-Qaeda-inspired militants of Fatah al-Islam. The Palestinian neighborhood was flattened, more than 200 militants were killed, and 30,000 residents were left homeless. Sheikh Ali al-Yussef, an influential Palestinian cleric who helped mediate between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam, now says, "It is the decision of all Islamic forces in Ein el-Hilweh to avoid another Nahr al-Bared." (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Boycotting Jerusalem's Elections Is Futile for the City's Palestinians - Akram Salhab
    The upcoming Jerusalem elections and the widespread expectation of a continued Palestinian boycott is yet another indication of the lazy thinking that continues to dominate the Palestinian political scene. It is time to consider whether the boycott is hurting more than it is helping.
        Israel has afforded Palestinians a degree of political representation and there is no reason why these democratic structures should not be pushed to their limits. With Palestinians constituting over 30% of the city's population, the Palestinian vote would hold significant sway in how the city is run. The boycott of the elections is indicative of a widespread problem with Palestinian politics, namely, the continued obsession with symbolism. Real political gains are sacrificed in order to maintain a symbolic stance which is only of significance to Palestinians themselves. (Guardian-UK)
  • Observations:

    Nazi Holocaust Began with Leaders' Dangerous Words - Ambassador Gabriela Shalev (Israel Mission to the UN)

    Speaking before the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Israel's ambassador to the UN told the General Assembly on Monday:

    • Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, served as a prelude to the Holocaust. On that night, organized gangs of Nazi rioters and their supporters rampaged throughout Germany, destroying more than a thousand synagogues, as well as thousands of Jewish shops and businesses. In this massive pogrom, Jews were murdered, and many thousands more were sent to concentration camps.
    • Other peoples, cultures and nations also suffered severely from Nazi atrocities. However, let us not forget that no other nation lost such an enormous proportion of its people as did the Jewish people. In the words of Elie Weisel, not every victim was Jewish, but all Jews were victims.
    • Holocaust remembrance must be a dynamic and ongoing effort that requires our commitment to adapt the lessons of the Nazi genocide to evolving threats in our time.
    • Thus, we cannot ignore the troubling reality that today - more than 60 years after the Holocaust - we hear from this very same podium a leader of a member state who calls for the destruction of another member state and denies the historical realities of the Holocaust.
    • In this hall, all member states swore: "never again." It is therefore incumbent upon us not merely to condemn such statements, but to act immediately and with resolve against a member state whose leaders declare such despicable and dangerous words. For in the end, the Nazi Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. That is where it ended. The Nazi Holocaust began with the dangerous words of men.

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