Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 14, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Justice Minister: Humanitarian Delegations to Gaza Should Be Allowed Only If They Meet Captured Israeli Soldier (Jerusalem Post)
    Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann said on Thursday that visits by humanitarian delegations to Gaza should be approved only on the condition that the visitors meet with kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
    Friedmann said the humanitarian delegations should check the conditions of Shalit's captivity, and stress to Hamas that the conditions in which the terror group is holding him constitutes a severe violation of international law.

Israel Developing UAV that Can Tell Missile Warheads from Decoys (Defense News)
    Israel is developing a high-flying, long-endurance unmanned infrared sensor to assist in those white-knuckled minutes when it may be forced to spot incoming nuclear warheads amid dozens of decoys sent to confound national missile defenses.
    A prototype of the long-range, high-resolution target-discrimination sensor has already been tested aboard a business jet under a closely held Israeli-German program called "Bluebird."
    According to U.S. and international government sources, Israel has proposed integrating the unmanned target discriminator into its future national missile defense network.

Russia to Buy Pilotless Aircraft from Israel (RIA Novosti-Russia)
    The Russian General Staff has decided to buy unmanned planes from Israel over the next two to three years, a lawmaker said Thursday.
    Mikhail Musatov quoted General Staff chief Nikolai Makarov as saying: "The General Staff has decided that while we don't have such drones, over the next two to three years, we will buy them from Israel."
    Musatov said the planes were similar to those used by Georgia in August in South Ossetia. "These are unmanned reconnaissance planes, which had performed well in Georgia," he said.

Save A Child's Heart Team Heads to China (Ha'aretz)
    Save A Child's Heart, an Israeli medical organization renowned for enabling and performing heart surgery on thousands of children around the world, will head to China on Sunday for a training and surgical mission.
    This is SACH's eighth mission to China, where Israeli doctors working alongside Chinese colleagues have performed surgery on more than 100 children.
    SACH has also trained six Chinese doctors and eight Chinese nurses in Israel.

Indian Muslims Condemn Terrorism (BBC News)
    A conference attended by more than 6,000 Muslim clerics, scholars and community leaders in India has endorsed a religious ruling against terrorism.
    The ruling said that Islam rejected all kinds of bloodshed and the killing of innocents for selfish and politically motivated gains.
    There are more than 138 million Muslims in India.

Egyptian Lawyer Suggests Arab Men Should Sexually Harass Israeli Women (MEMRI)
    Egyptian woman lawyer Nagla al-Imam, interviewed on Al-Arabiya TV on Oct. 31, 2008, has proposed that young Arab men should sexually harass Israeli girls wherever they may be as a new means in the resistance against Israel.

Bahraini King Would Ease Return of Jews (JTA)
    The king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, met in New York Tuesday with about 50 Bahraini Jews who had immigrated to the U.S., and said he would facilitate the return of Jewish expatriates through restored citizenship and land offers.
    He had reversed a law that banned dual citizenship and was ready to restore the citizenship of Bahrainis who had lost it, and to offer it to their children as well.
    King Hamad has instituted reforms in recent years, including extending the vote to women. He recently named a Jewish woman, Houda Nonoo, ambassador to Washington.

Israeli Scientific Know-How Makes It Snow in Autumn (Independent-UK)
    In mid-November, snow will start falling at the rate of more than 40 cubic meters per hour on the mountainside at Trockener Steg, above the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt - the result of a revolutionary snowmaking machine developed by an Israeli company.
    In summer 2007, the Zermatt ski lift company began discussions with Israel-based IDE about a technology it developed to provide cooling in South African mines.
    The first IDE installation at Zermatt is to be followed by another at Pitztal in Austria.

Myanmar Agriculture Students Attend Training in Israel - Myo Lwin (Myanmar Times)
    134 Myanmar trainees left Yangon last month to study agriculture and livestock husbandry in Israel for eleven months, said Israeli Ambassador to Myanmar Yaron Mayer.
    The special diploma program covers modern methods of agriculture, including computerized irrigation, pest control, post-harvesting, and marketing.
    Nearly 1,200 trainees have finished the program since it started.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel: No Dramatic U.S. Intervention Needed in Peace Talks - Claudia Parsons
    Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinians said on Thursday Israel did not need any "dramatic" intervention in the peace process from U.S. President-elect Obama when he takes office in January. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Jewish leaders in New York the international community should limit itself to backing the talks according to parameters set out at a peace conference in Annapolis nearly a year ago. Livni said she had told a meeting of the Quartet last weekend in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt: "We don't ask you to intervene. Please, this is bilateral. We don't want you to try to bridge gaps between us. Don't put new ideas on the table....We know what we are doing, we are responsible enough." (Reuters)
        See also Olmert and Livni Oppose Rice Initiative to Promote Palestinian Statehood Resolution at UN
    Israel Television Channel One reported Thursday that Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni both oppose plans by U.S. Secretary of State Rice to pass a UN Security Council Resolution that would, among other things, call for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israel is concerned that the wording of such a resolution would ultimately be slanted against Israel's interests in order to pass. (Israel Television-IMRA)
  • Saudis Cool to Israeli Overture - Neil MacFarquhar
    Israel should not parse the Arab peace plan, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said Thursday after a speech by Israel's president, Shimon Peres, during a two-day interfaith dialogue at the UN. Peres addressed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia from the podium and read extracts that he supported from the peace plan first proposed by the kingdom in 2002. But Prince Saud said later that the proposal was "a package deal." Israel has been reluctant to approve parts of the plan that involve handing back the mostly Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and allowing the return of Palestinian refugees. (New York Times)
        See also Peres Lauds Saudi King for Peace Plan (BBC News)
  • Ottawa University Instructor Arrested in 1980 Blast at Paris Synagogue - Ian MacLeod
    Ottawa university instructor Hassan Diab, 54, has been arrested for the terrorist bombing of a Paris synagogue in 1980. The Oct. 3, 1980, bombing of the Copernic Road synagogue was triggered by high explosives planted in the saddlebags of a parked motorcycle outside the building. The blast killed three Frenchmen and a young Israeli woman. France's Le Figaro reported last fall that French authorities suspect Diab was the leader of the team responsible for the attack. The French arrest warrant executed on Thursday accuses him of making and planting the bomb. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • CIA Chief Says Al-Qaeda Is Extending Its Reach - Mark Mazzetti
    Even as al-Qaeda strengthens its hub in the Pakistani mountains, its leaders are building closer ties to regional militant groups in order to launch attacks in North Africa and Europe and on the Arabian Peninsula, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said Thursday. Hayden said Pakistan's tribal areas remained al-Qaeda's most significant operations base, giving militants a sanctuary to plan attacks on Western targets. "Today, virtually every major terrorist threat my agency is aware of has threads back to the tribal areas," he said. The CIA used to focus remotely piloted Predator aircraft attacks on a relatively small number of Arab fighters in the tribal areas, but it has begun striking Pakistani militant leaders as well as convoys bound for Afghanistan to resupply militant fighters there. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Defense Ministry's Amos Gilad: We Won't Let Iran Go Nuclear - David Horovitz
    Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, has stressed to the Jerusalem Post in an interview. Asked about the complexities of any resort to military action, particularly since Iran has built its facilities to withstand a repeat of the 1981 destruction of Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor at Osirak by the Israel Air Force, Gilad replied that critics said the Osirak raid "couldn't be done. And the fact is, it succeeded."
        He said the assessment in the defense establishment, which he shared, was that Israel could not be reconciled to a nuclear Iran - not only because it might press the button, but because the very fact of this regime having that weaponry would constitute an existential threat. "The Iranians are determined to obtain nuclear weaponry," said Gilad. "Iran is controlled by an ideology and a regime that has set itself the goal to be rid of Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Injures Israeli Woman in Sderot - Hanan Greenberg and Ali Waked
    A 70-year-old woman was injured from shrapnel and four people suffered from shock after a Kassam rocket launched from Gaza hit an electric pole near a house in Sderot on Friday. The IDF bombed an Islamic Jihad rocket launching unit in Gaza in response. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Rocket Attack Targets Ashkelon on Friday
    Hamas Islamists fired their longest-range rockets at a southern Israeli city on Friday in the 11th day of skirmishes threatening a five-month-old truce. Hamas said it fired five Soviet-made Grad rockets at the city of Ashkelon. The Grad has a maximum range of 25 km. (Reuters-Financial Times-UK)
        See also Gaza City Blacked Out After Palestinian Rockets Hit Israel - Shmulik Hadad
    Gaza City was dark Thursday night after officials shut down its power plant as Israel canceled plans to ship in diesel fuel because of renewed rocket attacks. Israel said the plant provides less than a quarter of Gaza's electricity, and most of the rest flows in unimpeded on power lines from Israel. (Ynet News)
  • West Bank Product Labeling, Court Threats on IDF Officers Strain UK-Israel Relations - Barak Ravid
    Relations between Israel and Britain remained strained over British insistence on labeling products manufactured in West Bank settlements. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has spoken to British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to try to persuade him to cancel the plan, by equating it to the initiative by UK academics to ban their Israeli counterparts. A few days ago Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor told Miliband that the initiative was an attempt to influence Israeli policy toward the settlements, and that any other explanation was an excuse.
        Meanwhile, British ambassador Tom Phillips was summoned by the Israel Foreign Ministry on Thursday to discuss concerns that former Israel Defense Forces officers will be arrested in the UK for war crimes. Israeli officials told Phillips that they were disappointed that the British government has not changed the law to prevent UK courts from trying Israeli officials. Former IDF generals including Minister of Transportation and former IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz have chosen not to travel to the UK out of fear they will be arrested by local authorities. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Introducing New Legal Code Based on Islamic Religious Law
    The Hamas administration's Legal Advise and Legislation Office in Gaza announced on Nov. 5 that it was drafting penal codes according to the "noble Islamic religious law." The bill will be submitted to the administration which will order the Hamas-controlled Legislative Council to approve it. Since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip (June 2007), radical Islam has become the obligatory way of life, whose influence on the population's daily lives just keeps getting bigger. The enforcement of Islamic penal codes, even if for the time being it will be integrated into civil law rather than replacing it, is yet another step in the Islamization process of Gaza.
        Politically, it is a step toward the disengagement of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, from a broader regional perspective, it is Hamas' way of signaling to its strategic radical Islam supporters (such as Hizbullah, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood) that it is taking its place alongside radical Islam, contrary to Fatah and the PA, which are perceived as being collaborators with Israel and the U.S.
        Hamas, which is basically a radical Islamic movement, cleverly exploited democratic elections to gain control of the PA. Then it took over the Gaza Strip by brutal military force. Ever since, it has been engaged in the establishment of a radical, totalitarian "Islamic Emirate," making mockery of the democratic system. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why Does Syria Insist on Harboring Terrorists? - Lee Smith
    U.S. forces struck Al-Qaeda leader Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih in Syria last month. Syria not only tolerates the presence of terrorists, but encourages them to use the country as a safe-haven, headquarters, and transit point. Why does Syria continue to harbor terrorists, knowing that it places the country squarely in the crosshairs of the Bush administration? Syria's logistical, financial, and political support for the Islamic resistance burnishes Assad's credentials at home, while also earning him respect across the region. The Syrian shows himself to be a citadel of anti-Zionist, anti-Western resistance, and is the most popular Arab leader after Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah.
        Support for terror is also a significant element in Syria's attempt to exert power over its neighbors. In addition to hosting groups that target Israel, like Hamas and Hizbullah, Syria has long maintained a broad portfolio of regional terror outfits, from the Kurdish PKK and Palestinian rivals to Yasser Arafat, to Salafi groups like Shaker al-'Absi's Fatah splinter organization, Fatah al-Islam, and, as the recent U.S. attack on Bou Kamal illustrated, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. (New Republic)
  • Iran Remains a Serious Threat
    The international community's sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's uranium enrichment have failed, and Iran is now within months of having enough enriched uranium to create a nuclear weapon, said Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the UK's International Institute for Strategic Studies, in a speech at Brown University this week. "I harbor no illusions about what Iran's intentions are," said Fitzpatrick, who worked at the State Department for 26 years. Every day, he said, Iran produces 2.5 kilograms of low-enriched uranium and is getting "very close" to the 700 kilograms required for a nuclear weapon.
        Despite Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, he said, there is no link between uranium enrichment and Israel. "I don't think Iran began its program because of Israel. I don't think it continues it because of Israel." Instead, he said, there are strong security reasons for Iran to enrich uranium - especially when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq - as well as a prestige factor. But, he said, the threat to Israel "becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy." Fitzpatrick suggested the possibility of new sanctions, like an embargo on gasoline imports, which make up 40 percent of Iran's consumption. He added, however, that it would require the unlikely cooperation of a dozen countries. (Brown Daily Herald)
  • Toward a New Negotiating Paradigm - Mohammad Yaghi
    Fatah rules the West Bank, but it can barely preserve itself in power despite enormous financial support from the international community. Hamas controls Gaza and enjoys support among many Palestinians in the diaspora. It relies on armed resistance and terrorism and says it would be willing to reach a long-term truce with Israel but that ultimately Palestinians must rule all of historic Palestine. Regardless of the U.S. position, this contention among Palestinians will continue; even if they reach an accord, it will not last.
        The days when the PLO, led by Fatah, could claim to represent all Palestinians are over. Now it lacks both the mandate to sign an accord with Israel and the capacity to implement one. Israel has made progress on security issues a precondition for compromise over permanent status issues. But eight years of violence since the failure of negotiations in 2000 makes it hard to believe the PLO will ever fulfill this condition.
        What has collapsed is not the principle of sharing the land, but the idea that the way to reach this goal is through bilateral negotiations between the PLO and Israel. Rather than continuing the process begun at Annapolis, the new U.S. administration needs to consider a two-track strategy. The first track would aim to empower moderate Palestinians to expand their base of support in order to pave the road for peace and to ensure that an agreement can be implemented. The second track should establish a new paradigm for negotiations in which the Arab countries together would negotiate with Israel to solve the Palestinian question as part of the wider conflict between Israel, on one side, and Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinians, on the other.
        The idea would not be to convince the Arabs to drop their peace initiative of March 2002 or to press Israel to accept it, but rather to begin from the principles that both sides agreed to at the 1991 Madrid conference: land for peace and UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. Under this new approach, Arab countries would substitute for the weak and divided Palestinians. The writer is a columnist for the Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam. (Arab Reform Bulletin-Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
  • The Saudis' Sham UN Faith-Confab Farce - Ali al-Ahmed
    Several Middle Eastern and world leaders met in New York this week under UN auspices to discuss the world state of religious freedom, part of an initiative of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on religious dialogue. Abdullah, an authoritarian ruler, leads one of the most (if not the most) religiously oppressive regimes, which has amply earned its nickname "Hatred's Kingdom." Jews, Christians and all other non-Muslims are not allowed to practice their faith inside the kingdom. Saudi schoolbooks teach that Christians and Jews are the eternal enemies of Islam. The obvious question that the West should be asking these leaders during the conference is: What are they doing in their own countries to stop religious oppression? The writer is director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington. (New York Post)
  • Double Standards on "Occupations" - Gerald Steinberg
    The scale of Islamic (or Arab) occupation, settlement and racism around the world is far greater than anything that Israel is accused of, but this is never mentioned in polite or diplomatic company. The Arab tribes that followed Muhammad spread their conquest and settlement activities throughout the Middle East, and then kept going to central Asia, western Europe (Spain and Portugal), eastern Europe (to Kosovo and Albania), northern Africa, and east to Asia. In these jihads, anyone who didn't accept Islam was simply killed - there was no "resistance," because no one was left to resist.
        The emphasis on Israeli "occupation" and "settlement" should be recognized as simply another form of the ongoing racism and anti-Semitism that seeks to prevent the Jewish people from maintaining sovereign equality among the nations of the world. (Canadian Jewish News)

    Weekend Features

  • Hebrew Renaissance among Israeli Arabs - Aviva Lori
    For students from the Arab and Druze communities, the Hebrew language has become the new business administration - a social and professional catapult to get ahead and succeed in life. The traditional attitude that language is part of national identity and that to study Hebrew is to cross the line, has given way to the quiet conquest of the Hebrew Language Department at the University of Haifa by Arabs from the north and at Ben-Gurion University by Bedouin from the south. The graduates are almost always assured of a teaching job, which brings with it a livelihood, honor and prestige. Hebrew is obligatory in every Arab and Bedouin elementary and high school, and good teachers are in high demand. (Ha'aretz)
  • "Jerusalem: Capital of the Jews": Proving the Historic Jewish Identity of Jerusalem - Rivkah Fishman-Duker
    For ancient Greek and Roman pagan authors, Jerusalem definitely was a Jewish city, as seen in references to Jerusalem from nearly twenty different sources, dating from the third century BCE to the third century CE. These texts indicate unanimous agreement that Jerusalem was Jewish by virtue of the fact that its inhabitants were Jews, it was founded by Jews, and the Temple, located in Jerusalem, was the center of the Jewish religion. Despite the negative views of Jews and Judaism expressed by authors such as Manetho, Apion, Tacitus and Juvenal, the Jewish identity of Jerusalem is always clear and never a subject of dispute. These ancient texts disprove recent attempts by Muslims and others to deny the historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the location of the Temple in Jerusalem through fabrications and lies. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Observations:

    The Problems of Engaging with Iran's Supreme Leader - Mehdi Khalaji (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • The United States has made efforts to reach out to the Islamic Republic's leaders in the past, beginning with Zbigniew Brzezinski's November 1, 1979, meeting with the Iranian prime minister, which led four days later to the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
    • Ayatollah Khamenei as the supreme leader and the commander in chief of the armed forces has the ultimate supervision over the nuclear program, Iran's military strategy in the region, and Iran's foreign policy in general. Any attempt to reach Iran's government is more likely to be successful if it involves the supreme leader.
    • In an Oct. 30 speech, Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that "the Islamic Republic of Iran's differences with America are beyond political differences and more fundamental than that....The hatred and abhorrence of Iran's nation toward America is deep."
    • Although some Iranian diplomats and presidents, whether radicals or reformists, have been interested in opening doors to the U.S. - and this would seem to include President Ahmadinejad, as evidenced by his frequent trips to New York - Ayatollah Khamenei has been able to sabotage any attempt at serious dialogue.
    • Khamenei considers himself not only the leader of the Islamic Republic but also the highest authority on Islamic ideology in the world. Because the Islamic Republic has failed to meet its economic, cultural, and social promises, Khamenei has made anti-Americanism the cornerstone of Islamic ideology. "America" for Khamenei does not refer to a country, but rather to a point of view diametrically opposed to Islamic ideology, on which the Iranian regime relies for its legitimacy. Allowing the level of "hatred" toward the U.S. to diminish is tantamount to recognizing the supremacy of "Western culture."
    • The first step for dealing directly with the Iranian government is to make its supreme leader responsible. Addressing him directly and publicly with a call to initiate a dialogue will close the exit doors available to him and require him to make a decision - either war or peace.

      The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute.

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