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  • Author: Zvi Mazel
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: There has been a significant presence of the Muslim Brothers (also known as the Muslim Brotherhood) in Qatar since the second half of the twentieth century. The first wave came from Egypt in 1954 after Nasser had smashed their organization. The next wave came from Syria in 1982 after Hafez el-Assad bombed their stronghold in Hama. The last group arrived after September 11, 2001 - from Saudi Arabia. In 1995, the present Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, deposed his father in a bloodless palace coup. One of his first steps was to establish the Al Jazeera satellite channel in 1996, which is the most viewed station in the Arab world with an estimated audience of some 60 million. There was never any doubt about the network's political orientation. Al Jazeera immediately launched scathing attacks on Israel during the Second Intifada and went on to incendiary broadcasts against the United States at the time of the Afghanistan conflict and over Iraq. It was later revealed to be in contact with bin Laden, and was the medium of choice for the video and audio cassettes of bin Laden and his men. During the U.S. war in Iraq, the Americans accused the station of being pro-Saddam, and after the war, of presenting the terrorist groups active in the country in a positive light. One of its reporters stationed in Baghdad always seemed to arrive suspiciously quickly, with his camera, at the site of terror attacks. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Al Jazeera behaved as a Hizbullah spokesman. During the Gaza war, a senior Al Jazeera reporter stationed himself at Shifa Hospital, from where he broadcast a stream of carefully selected horror pictures. The Egyptian Maamun Fendi wrote in Asharq Alawsat that some 50 percent of the network's personnel belong to the Muslim Brothers. He believes that Qatar, by embracing the Brothers while hosting American bases, has found the perfect formula against retaliation by Arab leaders and attacks by Islamic extremists. Al Jazeera has become a weapon in the hands of an ambitious emir who may be driven by the Muslim Brothers and who is threatening the stability of the Middle East. With the Muslim Brothers increasingly aligned in recent years with Iran, by repeatedly attacking the Sunni Arab regimes and inciting against them, Al Jazeera is serving as an important instrument for Tehran and its effort to undermine their internal stability.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Mordechai Kedar
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Many in the Arab world felt deep humiliation due to George W. Bush. The Islamic view is that Islam came to the world to replace Judaism and Christianity, and all of the sudden comes a religious Christian president and occupies Iraq, the capital of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate and the beating heart of Arab history. So when Bush left office, this was viewed as a victory for Allah over the modern Crusaders. The core question is to whom does this country belong? According to the Arab narrative, this has been an Arab Islamic state since the days of Omar, the caliph who conquered the country in the seventh century. According to Islamic tradition, he declared that the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is waqf land, meaning it belongs forever to Muslims all over the world, and no one else could ever have it According to Islam, land can only go one way, to become Islamic, and it can never go the other way, just like Spain, Sicily, and parts of the Balkans, which at different stages of history were lands of Islam. This is why Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cannot even begin to consider recognizing the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state on the land of Palestine. At the same time, Jews feel that this country belongs to them. From the Jewish perspective, this country was populated by Jews and two Jewish kingdoms were here until 1900 years ago. We Jews were expelled with no justification and we came back to our country. This is what gives justification to the Jews having our state here and not in Uganda, Argentina or Birobijan. It even appears in the Koran that this country had been given to the Jews. In 2006 a document approved by the Committee of Arab Local Authorities in Israel - entitled: "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel and their Relations with the State" - opened with the statement: "Israel is the outcome of a colonialist action which was initiated by the Jewish-Zionist elites in Europe and in the West." To call Israel a colonialist state means a total denial of Jewish history, and echoes the Islamic approach to Jewish history. According to this approach, since Islam came to the world in the year 622 CE with the hijra of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, all of history before that time lost any meaning or significance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Tamas Berzi
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Many countries such as Italy, Germany, and the Czech Republic showed understanding for Israel and described Israel's actions as self-defense. These countries generally used strong language against Hamas and demanded that it stop the rocket attacks unconditionally. At the time of the start of the Israeli airstrikes, the European presidency was held by France. On December 27, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union condemned both the Israeli air raids and the Palestinian rocket strikes on Israel from Gaza and called for an immediate end to these activities. The statement also condemned the disproportionate use of force. As of January 1, 2009, the Czech Republic took over the role of the Presidency of the European Union. On January 3, the presidency described the Israeli ground operations as an act of self-defense. This drew heavy criticism from many European countries, and the Czechs apologized for the "misunderstanding" and issued a new statement, but one that did not call for an "immediate" ceasefire. In diplomatic language there is a significant difference between "as soon as possible" and "immediate." France has been traditionally the main driving force behind European foreign policy. The separate Sarkozy visit to Israel and his humanitarian ceasefire proposal showed that France was not ready to relinquish its positions to the Czech Republic. The Czech positions during Israel's Gaza operation indicate that the current presidency will work toward a more favorable international environment for Israel. However, Israel should try to make the most of it, since the upcoming Swedish presidency, which starts on July 1, 2009, will most likely be a more difficult time for Israel.
  • Topic: War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Germany, Italy
  • Author: Lenny Ben-David
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The appointment of former Senator George J. Mitchell as Middle East envoy was warmly received in Washington, Jerusalem, and Ramallah. Yet, the Middle East that Mitchell will confront today is much changed from the one he wrestled with eight years ago as chairman of the 2001 Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, which was created to investigate the outbreak of the Second Intifada. The 2001 Mitchell Report was seen as an "even-handed" document, reflecting President Clinton's directive to "strive to steer clear of...finger-pointing. As a result, the committee attempted - even at the risk of straining credibility - to split the blame for the crisis. The Mitchell Committee could not ignore Palestinian terrorism and the Palestinian use of civilians as human shields. Israel's transgression - and there had to be one to balance Palestinian sins - was its settlement activity. The committee recommended a "freeze [of] all settlement activity, including the 'natural growth' of existing settlements." Israelis objected that the freeze - never mandated in the interim stages of the Oslo Accords - would serve to reward the Palestinians' terrorism. The committee was appointed before the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack. Its report came prior to the capture of two weapons-laden ships bound for Gaza - the Santorini in May 2001 and the Karine A in January 2002 - and prior to President Bush's 2004 recognition of "new realities on the ground [in the territories], including already existing major Israeli populations centers." Bush continued: "[I]t is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." The 2001 Mitchell Report was issued years before Hamas' coup in Gaza. Hamas remains dedicated to Israel's destruction. Its alliance with Iran and its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood mark Hamas as an enemy of moderate Arab regimes. Hamas may yet prove to be a fatal flaw to Mitchell's axiom that "there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Gerald M. Steinberg
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The record of formal efforts to negotiate peace in protracted ethno-national conflicts (Balkans, N. Ireland, Sri Lanka, etc.) is not encouraging. Israel needs a serious insurance policy, in the form of unilateral separation, to minimize vulnerability to another and potentially more deadly terror campaign, should the "roadmap" fail. The construction of a separation barrier is supported by over 70 percent of the Israeli public, representing a broad consensus from across the political spectrum that favors a physical barrier blocking access to Israeli cities in order to prevent a resumption of the Palestinian terror campaign of the past three years. Political separation will also promote a two-state solution, allowing Israel to remain a culturally Jewish and democratic society while fostering Palestinian sovereignty. Key policy issues concern the pace of construction and the route to be taken for the remaining sections. While options range from a minimalist 300 km line to a 600 km alternative that would include most Israeli settlements, a pragmatic middle route including settlement blocs like Ariel and Gush Etzion may provide the optimum mix under present circumstances. If the Palestinian security framework proves its capabilities in preventing terror, and political negotiations on borders progress, the barrier can be relocated.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Arabia, Balkans, Ireland
  • Author: Anne Bayefsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The roadmap has significant roots in the UN, an organization long understood as biased against Israeli interests and Jewish well-being in general. Examples include the work of the UN "Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories," established in 1968, and the UN "Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People," created in 1975. There is a pressing need to clarify with the American administration what attributes of sovereignty will not be accorded a Palestinian state with provisional borders prior to final status negotiations. Israel must reassert that its consent is necessary for any decision affecting its essential interests. An American commitment to object to any unilateral declaration of independence should be immediately forthcoming and clearly understood by the parties. The UN and the European Union must be kept out of any monitoring and assessment function. Recognition of a fundamental breach, and the ability to apply the necessary consequences, require that precise and public monitoring by Israel start now.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, United Nations
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Dore Gold
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The quest for defensible borders has been an axiom of Israeli governments since 1967 on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242. Defensible borders for Israel has been explicitly backed by Washington since the Reagan administration. In Rabin's last Knesset address he made clear that Israel "will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines." He insisted on a map including a united Jerusalem, the settlement blocs, and the Jordan Valley. In 2003, Israeli planners will have to operate under the assumption that the dismantling of the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure will be incomplete, and should a Palestinian state nonetheless be established, its complete demilitarization will not be reliable. During the Oslo years, the Palestinian leadership was in material breach of the military clauses of the Interim Agreement, seeking to import illegal weaponry like SA-7 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and manufacturing Qassam rockets. Many of the same security figures who breached Oslo now serve the government of Mahmud Abbas. Moreover, fundamentalist groups like Hamas that mentioned the Islamic term hudna, for cease-fire, understood that it means a truce that is maintained until the balance of power changes. This means they will seek rearmament; Israeli military intelligence was, in fact, reporting that Hamas had accelerated production of Qassam rockets in early July. In their pronouncements, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have even used a weaker term: ta'liq - a temporary cessation of hostilities. In the wake of the decline of the threat from Iraq, Israel will require defensible borders to meet the growing lethality of the Palestinian threat, backed by the assistance of Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration should provide Israel with assurances concerning defensible borders as it seeks Israel's acquiescence to the creation of a Palestinian state.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Justus Reid Weiner
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: In recent decades, municipalities and governments in all parts of the world have struggled with illegal building. However, compared with the incessant denunciation of rather infrequent demolitions by the Jerusalem Municipality, there has been nearly a complete lack of publicity when other governments demolish illegal structures. Those who complain that many Arabs cannot afford housing in Jerusalem ought to recognize economic reality; Jewish residents of Jerusalem who also cannot afford the high cost of housing find it necessary to move to the periphery of the city where housing is more affordable. In New York, nobody would excuse or tolerate people building illegally in Central Park, whatever their attachment to Manhattan or however large their family. Even the Palestinian Authority has demolished houses constructed illegally. Particularly refreshing was PA leader Sari Nusseibeh's statement that the "gangs that build illegally on land that does not belong to them should be thrown into jail," and that "Nobody in their right mind is in favor of illegal building."
  • Topic: Security, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: New York, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Jerusalem
  • Author: Dan Diker
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The impending renewal of Arab-Israeli contacts after the Aqaba summit is an appropriate occasion to reassess one of the weak points of Israel's information effort. At the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, then Deputy Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "broke the ice" with scores of Arab reporters when he provided articulate explanations of Israel's positions. Eytan Bentsur, Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry at the time of Madrid, saw Israel's "paternalistic" approach to the Palestinians at Oslo as contributing to the ultimate collapse of the peace process. The launch of Arab satellite television in 1994 provided Israel with direct access to millions of Arab and Muslim viewers throughout the Middle East. Prime Minister Sharon's foreign media advisor, Raanan Gissin, is regularly interviewed on the leading Arab channels. Despite the high standards of news programming on Israel's new Arabic-language Middle East Satellite Channel, it is not widely viewed in the Arab world because it is recognized as an Israeli government operation. ArabYnet, an Arabic translation of the popular Ynet news website of the Israeli Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot, has become one of the most popular Arabic language websites on the Internet, with nearly a million unique monthly users. It is a commercial site that presents an Israeli point of view but with no particular political agenda.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Irwin J. Mansdorf
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Since 1993, attempts have been made to portray Palestinian-Arab perpetrators of suicide bombings as desperate individuals understandably coping with a difficult situation, in effect, transforming the attackers into victims, and thus diminishing the impact of one's revulsion at such attacks. The use of the “bomber as victim” model has led others to similarly view, and incorrectly justify, the motivations behind Palestinian-Arab suicide bombers. Yet, in fact, individual psychopathology or personal feelings do not appear to play any significant role. Unlike other groups that have used suicide as a political or military tool, only in the case of Palestinian-Arab terror has there been an attempt to personalize the perpetrator as a victim of uncontrollable psychological and motivational forces that forced such extreme behavior. It is actually group dynamics that reinforces behavior within a Palestinian-Arab culture where suicide bombers are viewed as heroes whose faces are prominently displayed on public posters and where families of bombers are showered with both respect and financial reward.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia