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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 29, 2008 PAGE 13.A new war By Leslie Susser JERUSALEM (JTA)--In the wake of the assassination two weeks ago of a ch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, there are fears in the region that a massive attack by Hezbol- lah against Israeli interests could spark a new Middle East war. Although Israel denies involvement in the car bomb- ing that killed Mughniyeh in Damascus, the Lebanese Shi'ite militia is threatening vengeance against Israeli or Jewish targets worldwide. Leaders in Israel and Leba- non fear that a new cycle of retaliation and reprisal could escalate into yet another showdown in Lebanon, and perhaps even beyond. "Let it be open war, any- where," declared Hezbollah's secretary-general, Sheik Has- san Nasrallah in the first of a string of chilling threats by Hezbollah and Iranian lead- ers aimed at Israeli interests worldwide. Past Hezbollah- Iranian behavior, which in- cludes bombings of Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina after another assassination, suggests that this rhetoric should be taken seriously. Israel has introduced strin- gent precautions at home and abroad and is helping Jewish communities in the Diaspora beef up their security. Although the situation is explosive, there are a number of restraining factors that could stop Hezbollah and Israel at the brink: Most im- portantly, the memory of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, from which both emerged bruised and battered. Still, the threats by Hezbol- lah and Iran have been un- precedented in their venom. After Nasrallah declared that Israel soon would cease to exist, Ibrahim al-Amin, edi- tor of the Hezbollah-backed al-Akhbar newspaper, warned that the means used to destroy the Jewish state would be dif- ferent from anything used in the past. bombed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. Two years later, with Ira- nian help, Hezbollah blew up the AMIA Jewish community center, also in theArgentinean capital. In those attacks, all masterminded by Mughni- yeh, more than 100 hundred people died. Mussawi was gunned down in broad daylight by Israeli helicopter gunships. But in Mughniyeh's case, it is not clear whether Israel was in- volved in the assassination. Mike McConnell, U.S. direc- tor of national intelligence, suggested that it might have In a condolence message been "internal HezboUah" or to Nasrallah, Mohammed Ali Syria.The Kuwaitinewspaper Jafari, commander of the Ira- nian Revolutiona/y Guards, also predicted Israel's early demise. "In the near future, we will witness the destruction of the aggressor Israel, this cancer- ous cell, at the able hands of the soldiers of the community of Hezbollah," he wrote. After the last assassination ofa anking Hezbollah figure, Secretary-General Abbas Mussawi in 1992, the orga- nization carried out a string of retaliatory actions against Israel over a two-year period. In the immediate aftermath, it launched a five-day long Katyusha attack on north- ern Israel, assassinated an Israeli diplomat in Turkey and al-Rai claimed the killing was perpetrated by people from "an Arab country that shares a border with Syria," presum- ably Lebanon. The London Sunday Times fingered the Mossad. It sug- gested that Mughniyeh was helping Syria plan major retaliation for Israel's mysteri- ous airstrike against a Syrian nuclear facility in September, and that in kiilingMughniyeh, Israel was taking pre-emptive action. But most Israeli experts say the question of who killed Mu- ghniyeh is largely irrelevantas far as the impending cycle of violence is concerned. "It doesn't matter who killed him. Israel is seen as the beneficiary and Israel will pay the price," said Eyal Zisser, head of Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. As it braces for the repri- sal, Israel, for the first time since the 2006 war, has put Patriot anti-missile systems near Haifa on alert to intercept incoming Katyusha rockets. The IDF also has bolstered its forces in northern Israel for quick response to any Katyu- sha barrage. There are two other possible Hezbollah tactics the Israelis are taking seriously: the dis- patch of an unmanned aircraft laden with heavy explosives aimed at a heavily populated civilian area or at a sensitive military target, and the as- sassination of senior Israeli government officials. During the 2006 war, Hezbollah launched three Iranian-made unmanned aircraft; two were shot down, and the third crashed. As for the targeting of Israeli lead- ers, the Shin Bet security service has ordered all Cabinet ministers to retain their full complement of bodyguards, even while on holiday. The Israelis are also taking very seriously the possibility of Hezbollah attacks on Israeli or Jewish targets abroad, Of- ficiais from the Prime Minis- ter's Office, the Defense and Foreign Ministries, and Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Zeev Bielski met Sunday to consider ways of protecting Israeli and Jewish institutions worldwide. The Israelis point to the existence of Hezbollah "sleeper cells" in the United States and elsewhere, ready to go into action at short notice. Could all this lead to war? Hezbollah says yes. It claims to have mobilized 50,000 militiamen and says that both Iranian and Syr- ian officials foresee serious confrontation with Israel in the near future. But for all their rhetorical bluster, Hezbollah and their Iranian backers have good reasons to avoid war with Israel. For one, Nasrallah knows 'now, more than ever, that any major terrorist attack against Israel could cost him his life. It's much easier to get to him in Beirut than it was to get Mu- ghniyeh in Damascus, even though Nasrallah has been in hiding for many months to avoid being targeted by Israel. Nasrallah might also be constrained by a large segment of Lebanese public opinion, which blames him for the huge material losses to Lebanon caused by the war with Israel in 2006. Therefore, says Zisser, "Nas- rallah will need to come up with an act of vengeance that gives him a PR victory in the Arab world, but does not give Israel any excuse to launch another war." The Syrians, meanwhile, have made it clear that even if Hezbollah provokes a new war with Israel, they to not want to be dragged into it. As for Iran, it will not want to get embroiled in anything that endangers its nuclear program. Israeli analysts argue that Iran's primary strategic goal is to develop a nuclear weapon, and any- thing that might compromise that--a further confrontation with international public opinion or direct involvement in an escalating military process--will be avoided. The bottom line is the Iranians will be ready to back any terrorist actions that weaken Israel, as long as they are not directly involved. Ironically, although the 2006 war and the Mughniyeh assassination have sparked a desire for revenge, they also have strengthened Israel's deterrent posture. The fact that Israel went to war over the kidnapping of two soldiers means Nasrallah has to gauge his next moves very carefully. "The lesson of the war for many in the region was 'Don't play games with the Israelis, they are crazy,'" Zisser said. Whether thatwillbe enough to prevent escalation into war this time around remains to be seen. Brian Hendler Yassin Musa, a refugee from Darfur, holds his Israeli identity card on Feb. 12. By Dina Kraft Arab militiamen who have by NGOs, Knesset members, TEL AVIV (JTA)--Yassin Musa, a refugee from Darfur, removes his Israeli identity card from his worn leather wallet and holds it like a prize. Musa is one of more than 600 Sudanese refugees from Darfur who have been granted temporary residency in Israel. He and his fellow Sudanese fled the genocide in Sudan and passed through Egypt on their way to the Jewish state. Their new status here constitutes a major victory for the small Darfuri com- munity in Israel and the non- governmental organizations that have been lobbying for them. "I've now started to feel both Israeli and Darfuri," said Musa, 30, who fled Darfur five years ago after his village was attacked by the Janjaweed, killed an estimated 200,000 people in Darfur over the last few years. During the attack, Musa fled to nearby mountains but was tracked down by the fight- ers. He was arrested, beaten and eventually released, but the Janjaweed shot his fa- ther, brother and a cousin to death. The Darfuris' path to re- ceiving Israeli temporary residency status--the first were granted last month--has not been easy. Most refugees first spent months in prison for entering Israeli illegally and then were released under house arrest to work mostly on kibbutzim, in small towns or at hotels in the Israeli resort city of Eilat. Now they are newly free and are official residents of the Jewish state, thanks in large part to intense lobbying figures like Elie Wiesel and even Aliza Olmert, the prime minister's wife. The Darfuris already have launched a networking and social welfare organization to help each other findwork and places to live. They have also established a soccer league and even started a music group. Musa, who was an archi- tect in Darfur and hopes to continue in his profession in Israel, is the head of the new group, called the Sons of Darfur. For now, the group is based in the one-room library of Hotline for Migrant Workers, one of the NGOs most instru- mental in assisting them, a group that is funded by the New Israel Fund and others. The Sons of Darfur hope soon to find their own space where they can hold workshops, computer classes and meet- ings. For that, Musa says, they need to raise funds. The Darfuris in Israel are mostly men. though there are women and children among them. Some are educated, having studied and worked in Sudan's capital. Khartoum, and speak decent English. Others are uneducated farm- ers from small villages who were never far from home until they were chased out by the Janjaweed. More than 50 of the refugees already are enrolled in ulpan Hebrew language classes in Tel Aviv, and the children are in Israeli schools in different parts of the country. Though many Darfuris come to Tel Aviv, the govern- ment is considering sending them and migrants from other African countries to the country's more rural North and South, where the government says there are more jobs suited to them. Many African immigrants already work in the hotel industry in Israel's south- ernmost city, Eilat. In Tel Aviv, the Darfuris help each other out, offering to together and think about how share small apartments with to rebuild the region." newcomers until they find Musa says he and other work and can pay their own refugees here are also think- rent. They often work nights, ingaboutways tobring Israeli in restaurant kitchens or as refugeereliefto Darfur--both cleaners. They share work to deliver aid to home and to leads and on the weekends boost Israel's reputation in gather to play traditional Sudan. a Muslim country. He Darfuri music, says he's discussed the subject Musa has receivedaschol- with Aliza Olmert. who has arship at a local college to becomeanadvocateonbehalf study an architecture software of the refugees. program that is the basis for Like many Darfur refugees, most architectural work in Musa describes the difficult Israel. He says his goal is to conditions and treatment in return to Darfur one day and Egypt, wheretherefugeesspent rebuild the villages destroyed time before reaching Israel by the Janjaweed. Once in Israel, he said, the But he says he wants to refugees, though they were do it in a "smart" way: to use housed in a prison, were kept better materials and more together in relatively good modernstructuresthatwould conditions in sections of the withstand possible future at- prison normally reserved tacks and generally be more for foreign workers awaiting functional, deportation. At his apartment at night, Musa said he has been Musa sketches drawings of moved by the response of the these homes and buildings. Israeli public to the plight of "All the time I am think- the Darfuris. ingaboutrebuildingDarfur, Here there are really Musatoid JTA."Villages there amazing people," he said. "If still look as they did hundreds I wasn't seeing itwith my own of years ago. I think when eyes it would be difficult to there is peace we need to sit believe it." CT 1,1 IP.E- [- ll-I-Iq f - - - -; "----CUSTOI I Pl I I I I Your i Entire i n Custom I Picture I I Framing I Expires in 2 weeks Order I I ' . I 1/4 Mile North of 436 on 17-92 in Casselberry Acros " L m lW i m im mm lm m m ~ m mm m m m m mm i