Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 5, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Obama Sends Condolences to Habad (JTA)
    President-elect Barack Obama sent condolences to the Habad-Lubavitch community on the slayings of its emissaries in Mumbai.
    Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg "were taken from us by terrorists with no regard for human life, and we must remain steadfast in support of efforts to bring the perpetrators of these acts to justice," he wrote to Habad of Illinois.
    "So many Americans share your grief and pain," Obama wrote. "May their memories be a blessing."

Israel Takes Part in NATO Intelligence Discussions - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
    Israel's military cooperation with NATO is deepening: Israel took part in the formation of two intelligence reports prepared by NATO on missile development and the nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
    Simultaneously, Israel is extending its ties with NATO in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons in the Middle East, and to deal with roadside explosive charges and the war on terror.
    Senior officials stressed that Israel has added value in the military field, which NATO plans to use.
    NATO sources emphasized that they have no plans for a military presence in the Middle East.
    NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Thursday that the organization would consider the issue if three conditions are met: A UN resolution is adopted, a stable and durable agreement is signed, and all elements involved in the matter make an appeal.

Would-Be LAX Bomber Resentenced to 22 Years - Kim Murphy (Los Angeles Times)
    Ahmed Ressam, the "millennium bomber" convicted of plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport, was resentenced to 22 years in prison Wednesday after a federal judge found that solitary confinement and repeated interrogations had helped cause him to stop cooperating in 2003 in other terrorism prosecutions.
    The substantial help that the Algerian provided to U.S. officials before his change of heart - coupled with the relatively shorter sentences handed out in other terrorism cases - merited no harsher a penalty than the 22-year sentence first imposed in 2005, the judge said.
    Jeffrey Sullivan, the U.S. attorney in Seattle, said he would seek permission to appeal Ressam's sentence. "He told the court today in front of the judge, 'I'm a terrorist, I'm trained as a terrorist, I'm going to do it again when I get out.'...He deserves to stay in jail until he dies."

Anti-Semitism Is Not the Same as Islamophobia - Clemens Heni (Jerusalem Post)
    While some see a moral equivalence between garden-variety prejudice (such as "Islamophobia") and anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism is different from other forms of prejudice or racism.
    It is the anti-Semitic worldview that distinguishes anti-Semitism from racism. Anti-Semites think Jews are planning to rule the world.
    While there are some Islamicists who openly advocate the takeover of Europe, the West and the world, the Jews have never had or claimed such a goal, the nonsense in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery notwithstanding.

London Gallery Shows Anti-Semitism in Arab Media - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
    An exhibition documenting "Cartoons and Extremism: Israel and the Jews in Arab and Western Media" opened at the Political Cartoon Gallery in London on Tuesday.
    The exhibition shows the frequent use of classic anti-Semitism to demonize the State of Israel in publications across the Arab world.
    See also Major Anti-Semitic Motifs in Arab Cartoons - Interview with Joel Kotek (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)

Trade Union and Other Boycotts of Israel in Great Britain and Ireland - Ronnie Fraser (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    The United Kingdom more than any other country in the world has embraced the Palestinian call for academic, trade union, media, medical, architectural, and cultural boycotts of Israel.
    The driving force for this campaign is Britain's trade union movement and its anti-Zionist activists, such as the Socialist Workers Party.
    The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) actively works for a general boycott of Israeli goods as well as a cultural and sports boycott of Israel.
    All the major UK trade unions are affiliated to the PSC and several actively promote PSC policies and literature.

The Shop Protest No One Bought - Marcus Dysch (London Jewish Chronicle)
    Protesters from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign received a cool reception last week in London as they appealed for shoppers to boycott goods produced in West Bank settlements.
    Ten protestors carried placards and handed out leaflets outside a branch of Waitrose supermarket as shoppers hurried past them into the store.
    A variety of herbs sold by Waitrose are labeled as being of "West Bank" origin.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Mumbai Terror Attacks Traced to Two from Pakistan - Jane Perlez and Robert F. Worth
    Fresh evidence unearthed Thursday by investigators in India indicated that the Mumbai attacks were stage-managed from Pakistan by top leaders of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Indian and American intelligence officials have already identified Lashkar operative Yusuf Muzammil as a mastermind of the attacks. On Thursday, Indian investigators named senior Lashkar figure Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Both men were in contact with their charges as they sailed to Mumbai from Karachi, and then continued guiding the attacks as they unfolded, directing the assaults.
        Deven Barthi, a deputy commissioner on the Mumbai police force, said the weapons used in the attacks came from a factory in Punjab province in Pakistan that is under contract to the Pakistani military. The attackers left a trail of evidence in a satellite phone they left behind on a hijacked fishing trawler, which contained the telephone numbers of Muzammil, Lakhvi and a number of other Lashkar operatives.
        Some of the six people killed at Habad house in Mumbai had been treated particularly savagely, the police said, with bodies bearing what appeared to be strangulation marks and other wounds that did not come from gunshots or grenades. The Washington Post reported that Rakesh Maria, India's joint commissioner of police, said Thursday that the bodies of those killed at the Jewish center showed they were "beaten badly. There was heavy assault there." (New York Times)
        See also Rice Calls on Pakistanis to Act Quickly on Terrorists - Candace Rondeaux
    During a visit to Pakistan on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rice urged the country's leaders to move forcefully against groups linked to the deadly attack last week in Mumbai. Pakistani President Zardari has asked India to refrain from blaming his government and has vowed to cooperate in a joint investigation. The Pakistani government banned Lashkar following a deadly 2001 assault on India's Parliament in New Delhi. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: Mumbai Nanny Says She's No Hero (CNN)
  • Tense Egypt-Hamas Relations Take a Turn for the Worse
    Already tense relations between Egypt and Hamas have soured after Cairo for the first time openly accused the Islamists of torpedoing Palestinian reconciliation talks. Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit was quoted as saying on Thursday that months of Egyptian-mediated talks between Hamas and Fatah failed in November because of "Hamas' lack of enthusiasm toward reconciliation." (AFP)
  • With Abbas' Clampdown, Reports of Torture Grow - Adam Entous and Alastair Macdonald
    Forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas are rounding up suspected Islamist activists and allegations of torture and abuse of legal procedure are mounting sharply. One man recounted an ordeal last month in a Palestinian prison in Hebron where he was forced to hang or stand for hours in "stress positions." The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights logged 28 alleged cases of torture and ill-treatment in November in the West Bank, compared to 26 cases in the first half of 2008 and 40 from July to October. Hamas says 700 of its members are being held in the West Bank. Fatah says 100 of its members are currently being held by Hamas in Gaza.
        Rights groups say most complaints of abuse involve Preventive Security and General Intelligence, which operate jails separate from the EU-trained police and U.S.-trained Presidential Guard and National Security force. Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal, the EU envoy to Israel, dismissed suggestions the West Bank was turning into a police state and offered high praise for what he termed Abbas' "counterterrorist" forces, saying: "They are doing great." (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Training Local Officials to Respond to Home Front Attacks - Gail Lichtman
    "The home front will be the main front of the [next] war, whether it is missiles from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or Iran," says Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i. Vilna'i is setting up a special security school to train mayors and regional and local council heads how to manage in the event of a war. In accordance with a plan drawn up by the National Emergency Administration (a newly created agency set up to coordinate the various emergency services), by the end of this year every municipality and council will have to have an approved emergency plan for their community during wartime. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Throw Stones at Car in West Bank, Wound Mother and Baby - Raanan Ben-Zur
    A 45-year-old woman and her two-month-old baby girl were injured Thursday by stones hurled at vehicles traveling on the Nablus bypass road in the West Bank. When the car reached a junction near Hawara, a large stone smashed the windshield. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Ilana Curiel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed near Sderot on Thursday evening, after firing a mortar shell that landed near a kibbutz earlier in the day. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Despite Financial Setbacks, Hamas Still Raising Substantial Funds - Matthew Levitt
    Hamas' international financial support network suffered a series of recent setbacks, most notably the U.S. federal court conviction of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its leaders on charges of providing material support to Hamas. Yet the group is still able to raise substantial funds. As the governing party in Gaza, Hamas has access to new sources of funding, including taxes and customs fees. Furthermore, foreign donations account for most of Hamas' revenue, primarily from Iran and Qatar.
        To disrupt Hamas financing further, the U.S. and the international community together must continue to crack down on the group's fraudulent fundraising and press Egypt to do more to shut the smuggling tunnels that funnel funds and goods to Hamas in Gaza. The writer is director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Judges in Boim Appeal Slam Distinctions Between Hamas Charitable and Violent Wings - Steven Emerson
    The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Wednesday that eliminated the distinction between supporting the violent and social wings of a terrorist group. "If you give money to an organization that you know to be engaged in terrorism, the fact that you earmark it for the organization's nonterrorist activities does not get you off the liability hook," Judge Richard Posner wrote for the majority. The ruling favors Joyce and Stanley Boim, whose son David was shot and killed by Hamas terrorists in 1996, upholding a $156 million damages judgment against the Quranic Literacy Institute and the American Muslim Society. Attorney Stephen Landes hailed the decision as an important precedent for families of people killed by terrorists because it helps "victims of terror make the people paying the terrorists pay the victims."  (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
  • Egypt's Jew Haters Deserve Ostracism in the West - Amr Bargisi
    The Egyptian media is rife with anti-Semitism. There are few places where Jews are blamed for so many of the world's ills, from carcinogenic pesticides to the war in Iraq. More distressing is that much of the blaming is being done by Egypt's self-described liberals - the pro-democratic and anti-Islamist crowd on which the country's hopes for a more tolerant future supposedly rest. The new, "liberal" Egyptian weekly Al-Youm As-Sabi headlined a recent report: "Jews are the principal suspect in the financial crisis." In October, Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt's largest independent newspaper and widely regarded as the country's only serious tribune for liberalism, ran a column baldly titled "The Jewish Conspiracy."
        These and other examples are especially notable because they have nothing to do with Israel or Zionism. They expose the falsehood - popular with prominent scholars like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt - that hatred of Jews is not one of the great motivating factors in the Arab world's overall objections to Israel. Over the past eight years, the U.S. has invested huge resources in attempting to bring democracy to the Middle East. But it's not clear whether that project will succeed as long as America's natural allies in the region remain themselves so profoundly irrational and illiberal. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Pakistan: Asia's Islamism Engine - Greg Sheridan
    U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has suggested appointing a special presidential negotiator on Kashmir. This is a very dangerous move indeed. In light of the Mumbai attacks it would be a pure political reward for terror outrages. The message such a move would send would be: You murder enough civilians and we'll start making concessions. As the epicenter of global terrorism shifts from the Middle East to South Asia, you can see the effort to transform the Kashmir dispute into the equivalent of the Palestinian dispute; that is, the fountainhead, all-purpose grievance that can be used to explain, if not justify, every act of Islamist butchery and murder in the region.
        The Pakistan government denies all involvement in the Mumbai attacks and most senior Indians I speak to do not think the ineffectual Pakistani civilian government was directly involved. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that an operation of such scale and sophistication, mounted by Pakistanis from within Pakistan, had no involvement from the Pakistani military or some element of its Inter Services Intelligence agency. The ISI founded Lashkar-e-Taiba to prosecute its low-level war against India in Kashmir, just as the ISI founded the Taliban to ensure a government in Afghanistan sympathetic to Pakistani interests.
        The parallel with the behavior of Pakistan in the A.Q. Khan scandal is instructive. The Pakistanis expect us to believe they are a responsible nuclear power, yet have no responsibility or even knowledge when their chief nuclear scientist sells nuclear weapons technology to rogue regimes across the world, often using Pakistani military transports in the process. There is no obvious path forward with Pakistan, which occupies that diabolical category of divided state, where part of the state fights terrorism and part of it enables and helps terrorism. (The Australian)
  • The U.S. and Iran: A New Approach, No Illusions - Volker Perthes
    Whether a peaceful resolution of the nuclear conflict with Iran is possible hinges on three factors: an international consensus that Iran should not acquire a nuclear weapon; the willingness of the U.S. and the West to communicate to Iran and others that the conflict is about proliferation, not about the character of the regime; and domestic politics in Iran.
        The incoming American president has stated that he is prepared to talk to Iran directly and, in principle, without preconditions. However, high-level bilateral talks between Washington and Tehran would not begin before the fall of 2009. And they should not, unless Iran responds to Obama's inauguration with a considerable confidence-building measure, such as the suspension of enrichment or improving the IAEA's access to Iranian nuclear installations. The prospect of re-opening diplomatic relations between the two countries would boost Ahmadinejad's domestic popularity tremendously before Iran's presidential elections next summer. But there is little reason to help him win re-election, if he does not show that he wants to do business.
        After the Iranian presidential elections, Washington and Tehran may be prepared to hold serious bilateral talks, though we should not have too many illusions. Most probably, the West will have to realize that Iran, with or without Ahmadinejad, will not be prepared to give up its nuclear "achievement" - the 4,000 or more centrifuges that will be installed by that time. The writer is executive chairman of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin. (International Herald Tribune)
  • The UN's Obsession with Demonizing Israel - Jeff Jacoby
    The president of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, last week called for Israel to be shunned as a pariah and strangled economically. His call came on the UN's Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an annual occasion devoted to lamenting the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in the 20th century, denouncing the national liberation movement - Zionism - that made that rebirth possible, and championing the cause of the Palestinian Arabs. Unmentioned is the fact that Palestine's Arabs would have had their state 60 years ago had they and the Arab League not rejected the UN's decision and chosen instead to declare war on the Jewish state.
        More than one million Israeli Arabs enjoy civil and political rights unmatched in the Arab world - yet Israel is accused of repression and human-rights abuse. Successive Israeli governments have endorsed a "two-state solution" - yet Israel is blasted as the obstacle to peace. The Palestinian Authority oversees the vilest culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich, and wants all Jews expelled from the land it claims for itself - yet Israel is labeled an "apartheid state" and singled out for condemnation and ostracism. (Boston Globe)
        See also The UN's Racist Conference on Racism - Claudia Rosett (Forbes)

    Weekend Features

  • The Vatican Archive Holds the Answers on Pope Pius XII's Wartime Behavior - Martin Gilbert
    The proposed canonization of Pope Pius XII is an internal Roman Catholic theological issue. Yet if the Vatican feels today that the Pope's behavior during the Holocaust merits particular recognition, I have suggested that it send the notarized evidence in the Vatican archives to the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem and apply for him to be made a Righteous Gentile. To date more than 21,000 Righteous Gentiles, almost all of them Christians, many of them Roman Catholics, have been recognized by Yad Vashem, which makes extraordinary efforts to give honor where honor is due. At the moment only archival material up to 1939 is accessible to scholars; for later material, they will have to wait until 2013.
        There are many historical episodes in which the evidence of the Pope's positive involvement will be confirmed or negated by the documents in the Vatican archives. One is the refuge given to 477 Jews in Vatican City and its enclaves on the eve of the German roundup of Jews in Rome in 1943. A further 4,238 Jews were saved when they were given sanctuary in monasteries and convents throughout the city. Among those in Rome at that time already recognized by Yad Vashem was Father Pietro Palazzini, later a cardinal. Only the Vatican archives can reveal what part the Pope himself played in these two acts of rescue, which saved four-fifths of the Jews of Rome. (Ha'aretz)
  • West Bank Project Unites Former Foes - Oakland Ross
    Qadoura Musa spent 12 years in Israeli jails on security-related charges. Today Musa is a champion of cooperation with the Israelis. "I have decided to work with the Israelis, rather than fight with them," said Musa, now a grey-haired elder who serves as Palestinian governor of the region around the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Relations are especially good between Musa and Dani Atar, head of the regional council of Gilboa, the neighboring part of Israel. The current focus of both men is a plan to develop a large industrial park on the Palestinian side of the boundary between the West Bank and Israel, a project that could eventually provide jobs for 15,000 Palestinians and 2,000 Israelis. Germany is underwriting the construction of a connecting road as well as preliminary work on the park itself. (Toronto Star)
  • Israelis Can't Escape Troubles in World Travels - Aron Heller
    For young Israeli men and women, a post-army sojourn overseas has become so common it is seen almost as much a rite of passage as military service itself. The beaches of Goa, India, are so immersed with Israeli backpackers that restaurants offer Hebrew-language menus. But with the recent unrest in India, the number of places safe for Israelis is rapidly shrinking. Much of the Middle East and the Arab world is already off limits and the government warns that the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt has been infiltrated by al-Qaeda. Even when traveling to safer venues, the government advises Israelis to keep a low profile.
        "If it's not attacks, it's anti-Semitism. It's not safe anywhere but that's no reason not to go," said Shiran Yousef, 20, who is about to depart to India. "If there are tourists there, there is no reason why we shouldn't go there." Arbel Altschuler, 21, who plans to head to India next week, said he would shy away from speaking Hebrew and would refrain from any outward symbols - such as Israeli markings on his backpack - that would identify him in touchy places. He said he would take the basic precautionary steps he has honed so well at home. "There is a price to being Israeli," he said. "It seems normal to me already, though. We have to be more careful than others, and we have to accept that." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Mumbai Nanny Says She's No Hero - Paula Hancocks (CNN)

    • The world knows her as the daring nanny who, clutching a 2-year-old boy, pushed past the havoc in a terrorized Mumbai and risked her life to keep the toddler safe. But Sandra Samuel sees no heroism in her actions amid last week's terror attacks that killed 180 people - including baby Moshe's parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. She only wishes she could have done more.
    • Samuel says she came face to face with a gunman late Wednesday, the first night of the siege. "I saw one man was shooting at me." She slammed a door and hid in a first-floor storage room and attempted to reach the rabbi and the others on the second floor.
    • Samuel says she emerged the next afternoon when she heard Moshe calling for her. She found the child crying as he stood between his parents, who she says appeared unconscious but still alive. "This baby is something very precious to me and that's what made me just not think anything - just pick up the baby and run," Samuel said. "I'm a mother of two children so I just pick up the baby and run. Does anyone think of dying at the moment when there's a small, precious baby?"
    • Ultimately, she and Moshe reached safety at the home of an Israeli consul before arriving in Israel, where she is considered a hero. Samuel, a non-Jew and native of India, said she will stay in Israel for as long as Moshe needs her.

          See also A Family Destroyed, a Little Boy Orphaned - Paula Hancocks (CNN)
      Within minutes you feel this woman's inner strength and her utter devotion to the two-year-old whose life she saved. One thing that clearly disturbs her is that she knows Moshe was asleep on the fifth floor of the Jewish Center when the gunmen entered. She found him on the second floor and with a perfect handprint mark on his back. The thought of a gunman carrying him down the stairs and hitting him is too much for her.
          Moshe is surrounded by a lot of people who adore him, he will never want for help, financial or emotional. But the worry is he will never know his parents. For the first few days, he constantly cried for his mother and was inconsolable. He cries less now, but Sandra knows the difficult and heart-breaking questions are still to come. A family is destroyed; a little boy orphaned. The utter waste is heart-breaking.

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