Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Egypt Hosts Emergency Talks on Red Sea Pirates - Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times)
Herod's Lost Tomb Documentary to Air on Sunday, Nov. 23 (National Geographic Channel)
See also The Palace of David (PBS-NOVA)
Forecast by American Intelligence Expects Al-Qaeda's Appeal to Falter - Scott Shane (New York Times)
Turkey to Invest $12 Billion in Iran (Economic Times-India)
Germany Bans Hizbullah Television - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli President Knighted by British Queen - Anshel Pfeffer
Israeli-Developed Blood Test Can Detect Colon Cancer (UPI)
Israel Turns 2,000-Acre Trash Dump into a Park - Brian Merchant (Treehugger)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni demanded in a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday that the world stop ignoring attacks on Israel by Gaza militants. Livni "demanded that the international community stop applying a policy of ignoring acts of terror aimed at hurting innocent people," her office said in a statement. "There is no way where the rocket fire against Israeli citizens can continue without retaliation from the Israeli government," Livni said. (AFP)
See also Inside Gaza's Rocket Factories - Janis Mackey Frayer
Thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel by Palestinians in Gaza. They often crash into homes, schools, cars, shopping malls, and bus stops. Israelis, including the elderly and children, have been killed and wounded and the damage cannot be measured by statistics alone. Day after day lives on the Israeli side of the border are steered by warning sirens and concrete shelters. Kids tend to not play outside.
There are rocket "factories" and storage facilities tucked in alleys across the Gaza Strip, empty rooms or garages in concrete block buildings. The room we were shown bristled with rockets in varying sizes and stages of readiness. We were also shown drum-like roadside bombs stuffed with ball bearings and shrapnel. Abu Abir, a leader in the Al-Nasser Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees, explained, "We show you this to send a message to the Israelis that we are getting stronger." (CTV News-Canada)
Using female police officers in the field is part of the latest PA effort to help Mahmoud Abbas better control the West Bank and Hamas. As part of a new PA security initiative, every Hebron unit that searches houses includes two female officers. "In the past, we never had women in the police, except maybe some working in the office," says Brig.-Gen. Samaeeh el-Safy, who heads the new security campaign in the Hebron area.
"When our forces used to enter houses in the past, before this campaign, the women would hide the weapons in their underclothes, and then they were automatically off limits," says Khitam Farraj, a female police officer with a PhD in psychology. But now women are taking a leading role in many security operations in the West Bank. When police enter a house, the female officers immediately take the women aside, usually to a separate room, and search them in a respectful way, while the men go to work on the men. (Christian Science Monitor)
On a Bekaa Valley playing field, hundreds of young men wearing uniforms and kerchiefs bear aloft the distinctive yellow banner of Hizbullah, the militant Shiite movement. Each of them wears a tiny picture of Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran on his chest. "You are our leader!" the boys chant in unison, as a Hizbullah official walks to a podium. "We are your men!" This is the vanguard of Hizbullah's youth movement, the Mahdi Scouts. Some of the graduates will go on to join Hizbullah's army. Shiite religious schools, in which Hizbullah exercises a dominant influence, have grown over the past two decades from a mere handful into a major national network. (New York Times)
A wealthy arms dealer long suspected of aiding militants in some of the world's bloodiest conflicts was convicted Thursday of conspiring to sell weapons to informants who posed as arms suppliers for terrorists willing to kill Americans. Syrian-born Monzer al-Kassar, 62, and a co-defendant, Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy, were convicted of conspiring to try to sell heavy weaponry to Colombian militants. An indictment said al-Kassar had provided military equipment to known terrorist organizations determined to stage "attacks on United States interests and United States nationals."
Al-Kassar was acquitted in Spain of supplying assault rifles used by Palestinian militants in the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. The hijackers killed 69-year-old New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer, dumping his body and wheelchair overboard. Klinghoffer's daughters were in court for Thursday's conviction. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Russia informed Syria this week that Moscow will not sell Iskander missiles to foreign clients due to production delays. According to the Russian news agency Novosti, the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has decided not to export the missile until the Russian armed forces are fully equipped with the system. The Iskander missile - also known as the SS-26 Stone - is a long-range, solid fuel-propelled, theater quasi-ballistic missile system developed to carry conventional warheads. The missiles are reportedly difficult to intercept. In October, Prime Minister Olmert made a trip to Moscow to urge Russia not to sell advanced missile systems to Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket on Friday morning that landed in the city of Ashkelon's southern industrial zone. In addition, two mortar shells were fired at the Kissufim area. (Ynet News)
A stabbing attack was thwarted at the Beit Iba checkpoint northwest of Nablus on Thursday evening. A Palestinian man arrived at the crossing, pulled out a knife, and lunged at one of the female soldiers at the checkpoint. Soldiers were able to subdue the attacker. A search of the man's belongings uncovered an explosive device. (Ynet News)
Recently, Hizbullah international relations official Nawaf al-Moussawi again raised the issue of the so-called "seven villages," disputing the legitimacy of the Israel-Lebanon international border and the "blue line" (the line agreed upon by the UN and Israel following the IDF's pullout from the security zone on May 23, 2000). The seven villages were Shi'ite villages abandoned during Israel's War of Independence (1948). They were situated inside Israeli territory, south of the international border, in areas populated now by Israeli villages. The international border was the result of an agreement reached in 1923 demarcating the line between the British mandate in Palestine and the French mandate in Syria and Lebanon.
While the Lebanese government accepts the reality that emerged with the signing of the Armistice Agreement in March 23, 1949, Hizbullah uses the issue of the seven villages to create further justification for the existence of its military force and for the continuation of its terrorist and guerrilla activities ("the resistance"). (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hamas used the period after Israel's August 2005 withdrawal to expand its forces to the point where it could prevail over Fatah and emerge as the only serious military and political power in Gaza. With Israel gone and Fatah defeated, Hamas gained control of Gaza's military and intelligence resources and infrastructure once controlled by the PA. The subsequent ceasefire agreement created even better conditions for Hamas' military ambitions by freeing the organization from the threat of Israeli raids and incursions. Egypt's failure to secure its side of the border also facilitated Hamas' buildup.
Hamas aspires to emulate the military capabilities of Hizbullah. According to Israel's director of military intelligence, Hamas' defensive preparations in Gaza are "based on subterranean fortifications, explosive devices, and snipers." In future clashes, the IDF would be confronted with a better organized and trained force with more sophisticated arms, especially antitank weapons, and improved defenses. Despite its military improvements and ambitions, Hamas could not stand up to the IDF in an all-out fight. But there is little likelihood of such a direct conflict. The writer, a defense fellow at The Washington Institute, is a former career intelligence officer. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Libyan democratic dissidents continue to suffer in Gaddafi's dungeon, their plight ignored by the State Department. One of Gaddafi's victims who continues to suffer is my older brother, Fathi Eljahmi. Fathi, 67, is a prisoner of conscience and probably Libya's most prominent democracy activist. He is being held in isolation, under inhumane conditions, in a hospital in Tripoli. Yet under the Bush administration, the State Department continues to engage Arab dictators at the expense of dissidents who support transitions to peaceful, modern societies. Our family hopes that our beloved brother and father survives - and that President-elect Barack Obama brings much-needed change to U.S. policy toward Libya. (Washington Post)
When Obama takes office in two months, he will find a number of difficult foreign policy issues competing for his attention. We believe that the Arab-Israeli peace process is one issue that requires priority attention. Not everyone in the Middle East views the Palestinian issue as the greatest regional challenge, but the deep sense of injustice it stimulates is genuine and pervasive. The president should speak out clearly and forcefully about the fundamental principles of the peace process. That should be followed by the appointment of a high-level dignitary to pursue the process on the president's behalf. Brent Scowcroft was national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. (Washington Post)
See also Obama Will Find Middle East Peace Elusive - Con Coughlin
Already expectations are running high that Obama will dive headlong into negotiating a final settlement of the poisonous Arab-Israeli dispute. President Clinton expended an enormous amount of energy and political capital on trying to reach a deal, starting with the signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House in 1993 and ending at Camp David at his presidency's end. The whole process fell into abeyance during the Bush presidency, not least because Bush was loath to expend his energy on the unattainable. There is a general expectation that Obama will try to pick up where Clinton left off.
Al-Qaeda developed its capability to conduct acts of mass terrorism on Clinton's watch, while Iran made significant strides in the development of its nuclear programs. Clinton failed to take effective action against either of these emerging threats because of his preoccupation with securing a Middle East peace deal. Consequently, the international environment in which Obama will find himself operating will be very different from that of 2000, and he will no longer be able to ignore the threats posed by al-Qaeda and Iran, however much he might want to achieve a historic peace deal. (Telegraph-UK)
Analysis of newly revealed items found at the site of the mausoleum of King Herod at Herodion have provided Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeological researchers with further assurances that this was indeed the site of the famed ruler's 1st century BCE grave. Herod was the Roman-appointed king of Judea from 37 to 4 BCE, who was renowned for his many monumental building projects, including the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the palace at Masada, the harbor and city of Caesarea, as well as the palatial complex at Herodion, 15 km. south of Jerusalem.
The palace was the largest of its kind in the Roman world of that time and must have attracted thousands of guests, says Prof. Ehud Netzer, director of the excavations. A description of Herodion, as well as of Herod's funeral procession there, can be found in the writings of the historian Flavius Josephus. (ScienceDaily)
See also Herod May Have Been Buried Among Lavish Artwork - Steve Weizman (AP)
See also Herod Family Sarcophagi Uncovered - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
Ike Aranne (formerly Yitzhak Aronowicz), now 85, was the captain of the Exodus. On July 11, 1947, the ship set sail from France with a crew of Hagana members who were transporting more than 4,500 Jewish refugees, most of them Holocaust survivors, to Palestine. As it neared its destination, the British rammed and boarded it, resulting in a violent altercation that left three dead and dozens wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
Reda Mansour, who arrived two years ago as the Israeli consul general in Atlanta, is an Arab and a Muslim. He is also a Druze, a sect which broke away from mainstream Islam 1,000 years ago and has often been persecuted by other Muslims since. He is also an award-winning poet who mourns violence, hatred and death. Although Arabic is his first language - he speaks five in all - he writes poetry in Hebrew. Although a combat veteran himself, he is first and foremost a peacemaker.
"Ambassador Mansour is one of the most thoughtful, passionate and eloquent representatives of the State of Israel that I've ever met. He's respected, appreciated and admired," says Steven A. Rakitt, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Mansour is referred to as ambassador since he held that position in Ecuador. There is now a Druze general in the Israeli army, Druze in the intelligence service, and ten Druze in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - including the deputy foreign minister. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Large multinational companies have discovered that setting up shop in Israel - taking advantage of engineers, programmers, and even marketing and sales experts - is a wise move. Companies are expanding their research and development activities in Israel, and are doing business with Israeli firms on an unprecedented level. Google has opened two research and development centers in the past four years. "That's an honor reserved for large countries, like Russia and China," says Google Israel CEO Meir Brand.
Cisco, another worldwide technology powerhouse, also has a huge presence in Israel - with some 750 employees, mostly engineers, working at the company's R&D facility in Netanya, the company's second largest research center outside the U.S. To date, Cisco has acquired nine Israeli companies which have furnished the technology for some of Cisco's most important products. IBM has three research labs, with almost 1,000 employees - including the company's largest research lab outside the U.S., in Haifa. Microsoft also has a large research and development center in Israel and has acquired several Israeli companies. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel's High-Tech Sector Thrives - David Shamah
From processors to software, from innovations in online video to security systems, from cellphone technology to better ways to stay safe on the road, Israel is there - at the forefront, designing and producing the high-tech wizardry that has changed the world. Nearly three-quarters of Israel's $70 billion of exports last year were in the high-tech sector and the country has one of the highest per-capita rates of patents filed. (Jerusalem Post)
The memory of the large pre-war Jewish presence in Eastern Europe is increasingly being destroyed. Part of this process is intentional; part is because of neglect of Jewish sites, monuments, and memorials. The successor states of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia provide a good case study of many aspects of the process of memory destruction. This federation's breakup over the past two decades has accelerated processes that are slower elsewhere. This concerns both attempts to change the collective memory of citizens, as well as the physical degradation of Jewish sites, monuments, and memorials. All successor states are rewriting their histories. Ivan Ceresnjes was the head of the Jewish community of Bosnia-Herzegovina and a vice-chairman of the Yugoslav Federation of Jewish Communities until his emigration to Israel in 1996. (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
International Law and the Disputed Territories - Melanie Phillips (Spectator-UK)
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