Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
"Al-Qaeda Strike on Israel Looming" - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
See also Al-Qaeda's New Direction (BBC News)
- November 10, 2005
Issue of the Week:
The Red Cross Does Wonderful Work, But Where's the Red Star?
No Truth to Report of Israeli Evacuations Before Amman Bombs - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
Mubarak's Party Ousts Rival Leader in Egypt Vote - Tom Perry (Reuters)
Australia to Operate Israeli-Made Drones in Iraq - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
See also Israel Sells UAVs to India (Defense Industry Daily)
Russia Interested in Israeli Unmanned Aircraft (MosNews-Russia)
Weizmann Institute Chosen World's Top University for Life Scientists - Sharon Kanon (Israel21c)
Israel's Trade with Palestinians Back to Pre-Intifada Level - Hadas Manor (Globes)
Disney to Invest in Israel - Tova Cohen (Reuters)
Tourism Up 26% (Ha'aretz)
Georgia Governor's Trip to Israel Bearing Fruit (The Weekly-GA)
Life is Good in Israel, Say Israelis - Noga Martin (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Over the last two years, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has risen to prominence on the front lines of the anti-American fight in Iraq. But American intelligence officials say that Zarqawi, a Jordanian, long ago set his sights more broadly on an Islamic jihad extending to the Mediterranean. The American officials said Thursday they had no reason to doubt a claim of responsibility for Wednesday's bombings in Jordan issued by Zarqawi's organization, Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Zarqawi has seen a widening insurgency as an opportunity, and American intelligence officials say it is one that he has carefully nurtured.
Zarqawi has long harbored deep hatred for Jordan's Hashemite monarchy, and his organization has maintained roots there. An American counterterrorism official said that Zarqawi's longstanding goals include the establishment of a single Islamic state throughout the Levant. Zarqawi himself outlined those goals in a 2004 letter to top al-Qaeda leaders that was intercepted by the American military. "We know from God's religion that the true, decisive battle between infidelity and Islam is in this land," Zarqawi said, referring to what he called "Greater Syria."
Zarqawi has succeeded in enlisting support from Iraqi militants as well as foreigners, and he has benefited from an influx of jihadists from Saudi Arabia, other Persian Gulf countries, and, increasingly, from North African countries including Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. (New York Times)
See also Al-Qaeda: Three Iraqi Men, Woman Behind Jordan Attacks (Reuters)
In a rare, televised public address, President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday characterized a UN investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri of Lebanon as part of a U.S. attack on Syria. Assad struck a defiant note, telling Syrians that they must remain strong in the face of "cultural and psychological warfare" that aimed to weaken Syrian unity. "If someone in Syria raises his voice in tandem with foreigners, he is being controlled by foreigners," he said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli dismissed Assad's speech as "appalling" and "outrageous." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was just another stalling tactic. "I don't think this constitutes cooperation," she said. (New York Times)
See also Text of Speech of President Bashar al-Assad at Damascus University (Syrian News Agency)
The White House expressed "deep concern" Thursday over the detention of Syrian opposition leader Kamal Labwani. Labwani was arrested in Damascus earlier this week after returning to Syria from a trip abroad that included a meeting at the White House. "The Syrian government must cease its harassment of Syrians peacefully seeking to bring democratic reform to their country," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a written statement. "We stress that the United States stands with the Syrian people in their desire for freedom and democracy." (UPI)
The House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure supporting Israel's membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Supporters said the measure, approved by a vote of 391 to 0, would help reposition Israel's economy from an emerging market to a developed one.
"This resolution is a very important statement by the House of Representatives that we support equal treatment for our democratic ally, the State of Israel, which too often has been the target of unequal treatment in international bodies, including the United Nations," said Steny Hoyer, a top Democrat in the House. "Israel has been trying to join the OECD since 2000, and it meets the economic and institutional criteria necessary to join this body. The bottom line is, Israeli officials believe that joining the OECD will help Israel attract foreign investment, and could enhance its status as a global market and within international financial institutions," Hoyer said. (AFX/Forbes)
A soaring number of Dutch academics, lawmakers, and other public figures have been forced to accept 24-hour protection or go into hiding after receiving death threats from Islamic extremists. In a country with a tradition of robust public debate and an anything-goes culture, the fear of assassination has rattled society and forced people to reassess whether it's worth it to express opinions that could endanger their lives. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Israel Foreign Ministry said Husam Fathi Mahajna, 40, from the Arab-Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm, was killed in the terror offensive in Jordan's capital on Wednesday. (AP/Ynet News)
Many Palestinians continue to regard Arafat as a unique and legendary symbol of their cause, but the general feeling is that his memory is rapidly fading away - a mere year after his death. Rasha Shaheen, a university student from Ramallah, explained: "We loved Arafat as a symbol, but more and more people are beginning to realize that this is a man who led us from one disaster to another over the past 40 years." (Jerusalem Post)
"Bilateral trade between Israel and Muslim countries that have no formal ties with Israel amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars annually," Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute Chairman David Arzi said Thursday. "The scale of this trade is due to Israeli exports of software and components to factories of multinational companies located in Muslim countries." (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Terror Attack in Jordan
Jordan has its strategic problems, surrounded, as it is, by hostile Saudis to the south, Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank, and Syrians to the north. The current king, Abdullah II, has at times shown good intentions as an ally of the West. Abdullah recently canceled a virulently anti-Semitic television series that had been scheduled to air during Ramadan. The king has maintained a peace with Israel. But until America works with the forces of freedom and democracy to create change for the better in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the West Bank, Jordan will be a dangerous place.
There's discussion of writing off Jordan's Hashemite monarchy and letting the Palestinian Arabs take over. But the Jordanian monarchy isn't particularly high up on our list of regimes that need changing; as far as rulers-for-life go, the Jordanian kings have been more benevolent than the Saudis or the Assads of Syria or Arafat or Mubarak or Khamenei in Iran. If America and Israel want a king in Jordan and a friendly one, they will need to manage the rest of the region in a way that makes it possible for him to survive. (New York Sun)
Jordan is a vital regional ally of the U.S., which promotes and bolsters the country as a showpiece of economic and political progress and globalization. With only 5m people and wedged between Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia ("the neighbors from hell," as the king has privately called them), Jordan is now the world's fourth-biggest recipient of American aid. But despite the consequent increase in American largesse, most of Jordan's so-called East Bankers (those who are not Palestinian) are hostile to American policy, sympathizing strongly with the "resistance" by their Sunni co-religionists against the new Shia-dominated order in Iraq.
For all the talk of modernization and political pluralism, Jordan is still a politely authoritarian state run by a king whose near-absolute power is underpinned by a ruthless and watchful security service. (Economist-UK)
A flood of Iraqi refugees and their money have fueled an economic boom in the Hashemite kingdom. The combustible mix of refugees, hot money, and terror is part of a broader convulsion throughout the region, radiating out of Baghdad. Since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, Amman's population has grown by a third. Jordan's economy grew nearly 8% in the first half of this year, double the pace before the war. The market capitalization of the Amman Stock Exchange has more than tripled to $37 billion in just two years. U.S. authorities worry that Amman has become a money-laundering center for ill-gotten Iraqi wealth, to the tune of billions of dollars. (Wall Street Journal)
Riots in France
The outbreak began in England. At first there were signs of increasing extremism and incitement in declarations by Muslim clergy; then weapons were found, including poison; and then young Pakistani men who grew up in England performed acts of terror. German intelligence discovered that Pakistanis were responsible for the suicide bombing in Djerba, Tunisia in 2002, where German tourists were killed. Meanwhile, Moroccan citizens were involved in the two major terror attacks in Spain.
What French governments were ready to grant immigrants who came to the country was enough to satisfy the first generation. The second generation of French Muslims is demanding more than citizenship, a French education, and welfare. The French government apparently does not have and nor do other European countries a comprehensive answer to the problem of Islamization and the ensuing violence it brings. (Ha'aretz)
Most alarming is the prospect of Muslim secessionist violence in the UK as in Kosovo, the Philippines, Thailand, and elsewhere. Now this is happening - apparently - in France. A radical Muslim preaching at Hyde Park Corner on 6 November called for what had happened in France to be repeated in Britain. He urged all Muslims to move into Muslim areas, after which any churches would be expelled. He told his audience that Europe had once been Muslim and called on them to make it Muslim again. (Spectator-UK)
See also The Crescent of Fear - Rod Liddle
Muslims now account for 10% of the French population (compared with about 3 or 5% in Britain). What should be a genuine worry is the extremely high Muslim populations transnationally in northwestern Europe and their demands for separation. There are a string of towns and cities, from Rennes in the south, through Lille, Brussels, Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Bremen to Aarhus in Denmark in the far north, where the Muslim population approaches or exceeds 20% (and in some cases constitutes a majority). Drawn on a map, these urban conurbations fittingly describe an almost perfect crescent across the North Sea seaboard of Europe, a crescent of growing Islamic influence. (Spectator-UK)
"Everyone in the family was worried about our security when we moved to Israel last year," says Lionel Levi, who made aliyah from the suburbs of Paris, "and now here in Netanya we're all worried about the family we left behind in France." "They've been burning cars all over my old neighborhood," said Valerie Boutboub, who moved to Netanya three months ago from Aubervilliers, a Paris suburb. "I think I left for Israel just in time." (JTA)
The Islamic Republic of Iran is facing a new wave of domestic violence, with multiple bombings in the provinces of Khuzistan and Baluchistan in the past six months. While the recent terrorism may have some ethnic or sectarian component, Iranian nationalism trumps ethnic separatism. When Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, Saddam Hussein sought to play the ethnic card. The Iraqi leader portrayed himself as the liberator of the Khuzistani Arabs. His rhetoric backfired. Rather than divide Iran, he unified it. Any U.S. or Western attempt to play an ethnic card in Iran will backfire and betray not only the Iranian people, but also long-term Western interests.
All data suggest that the majority of Iran's youth long for the freedom enjoyed in the West. This does not suggest that they are not patriotic; Iranian nationalism is a strong force. When the Islamic Republic collapses, a strong unified Iran will be a force for stability and a regional bulwark against the Islamism under which the Iranian people now chafe. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/JCPA)
See also Iran's Intelligence Chief Blames UK for October Bombings in Iran
Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ezhei, a radical Shiite cleric who runs Iran's dreaded secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), said that all those responsible for carrying out a spate of deadly bombings in the southwestern city of Ahwaz in October had been arrested and had direct links to Britain. (Iran Focus)
The Bible is full of praise for Persia (today's Iran) and for its rulers. In 1941, as Hitler was beginning to put in motion his murderous "final solution," the Iranian government convinced Nazi "race experts" that Iranian Jews had lived in Iran for 2,500 years, were fully assimilated members of the Persian nation, and must be afforded all the rights of Iranian citizens. The Nazis accepted the argument, and the lives of Iranian Jews residing in Europe were saved. Ahmadinejad's shameful pronouncement about wiping the State of Israel off the map is the continuation of a policy that does not reflect Iranian history and character but caters to the lunatic fringe of Iranian politics and of the Muslim world.
The captive people of Iran, or the millions forced into exile by the regime, must not be held responsible for the sins of the ruling cabal. Instead we must try to find ways to help the Iranian people achieve their hundred-year-old dream of democracy. The writer is director of the Iranian studies program at Stanford University and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. (International Herald Tribune)
Iran has been a consistent and unapologetic sponsor of terrorist groups and has steadily pursued an ambitious program of development in ballistic-missile and nuclear technology. Its human rights record is appalling and its theocratic clerics have sought to crush internal reform movements and have ruthlessly suppressed dissent. In Tehran Rising: Iran's Challenge to the United States, Ilan Berman documents the charge that Iran is an outlaw state that deserves regime change. "Iran has emerged as a cardinal threat to international peace and security. Its nuclear advances, its rising adventurism in the Persian Gulf, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and its support for the Iraqi insurgency have put Tehran on a collision course with American policy in the greater Middle East," writes Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council. (Washington Times)
The most intriguing question, now that the UN report on the assassination of former Lebanese premier al-Hariri has exposed Damascus's responsibility, is whether senior members of the Syrian leadership will try to shed themselves of President Assad and his family in the hope of saving themselves and the Baath regime. A palace coup would require an alliance of forces from the army, the security services, and leaders of the Alawite community. In addition, the Sunni merchant class would have to give its quiet blessing and the Druse minority would have to turn a blind eye. It will be difficult for such a coalition to form in the shadow of the ubiquitous informer system.
International pressures on Syria are aimed, it seems, at encouraging the formation of an anti-Assad coalition from within his own court - the kind of process that would essentially try to produce a Baath Lite regime, and minimize the risk of implosion in the case of a sudden collapse. (Jerusalem Report)
Thirty years ago the UN General Assembly adopted its infamous resolution equating Zionism with racism. Israel's standing in the UN had reached a new low at the hands of the automatic majority enjoyed by the Arab and Islamic bloc together with the Non-Aligned Movement. Last week, the same General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Israel - and co-sponsored by over 100 countries, led by the U.S. and the world's leading democracies - promoting Holocaust remembrance and education across the globe. This is unprecedented stuff. This is the first instance that a resolution proposed by Israel has ever been adopted by the General Assembly, and it is the first resolution ever adopted by the Assembly regarding the Holocaust. The writer is director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
The U.S. has been lobbying the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution about reinforcing Lebanon's sovereignty, building on the October 25, 2005, report by UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. As Roed-Larsen reported, "A variety of recent reports has suggested that there has been an increasing influx of weaponry and personnel from Syria" to Palestinian militias in Lebanon, especially the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). This reported interference is compounded and complicated by the inability of the UN to confirm unequivocally that all Syrian troops and military assets and its entire intelligence apparatus have been withdrawn from Lebanon. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The biggest question in the upcoming elections for the Palestinian legislature is not how many seats Hamas will win, but who will represent the leading Palestinian party, Fatah, which is witnessing a serious crisis. It is not just a struggle between older and younger leaders, not just between Tunis-based leaders and those who have never left the territories. The real crisis stems from the lack of any attractive leadership. In Ramallah, the head of the pro-Fatah lawyers union, Ahmad Sayyad, said, "The only issue we have decided on is that we don't want to reelect any of the existing members of the Palestine Legislative Council." (Jordan Times)
In the past, France's policies have hurt the West, and in particular Israel and the Jewish people, in several ways. Before the 1967 Six-Day War, France had been a supporter of the Jewish state; after the war France increasingly opposed Israel on crucial matters. Since then, France has been kept outside the crucial decisions in the Middle East. Paris missed historic opportunities on almost every occasion. France also bears major responsibilities for the development of radical Islam in the world. The writer is a former Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Israel's embassies in Paris and in Brussels. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
On a hill east of Jerusalem stands the settlement of Maale Adumim, home to 30,000. When Israeli Prime Minister Sharon unveiled his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, he made clear that part of that plan would involve strengthening the major settlement blocs in the West Bank - of which Maale Adumim is the largest. "These will be an integral part of the State of Israel in any future agreement [with the Palestinians]," he said in December 2003, a position endorsed by President Bush some months later.
Official spokesman Mark Regev denies that construction work in Maale Adumim is a violation of the roadmap peace plan. "Israel takes our roadmap commitments very seriously and is acting in accordance with them. We have a policy not to build new settlements or outwardly expand existing settlements," he said. (BBC News)
Abdel Rahman once headed a large car theft ring in Gaza. He said stealing Israeli cars and smuggling them to Gaza emerged notably after the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993 and the inception of the PA in 1994. The accords created what car thieves describe as a safe haven for them to retreat with their bounty. "We started in early 1994," he said, "when Palestinians flooded freely into Israel with the prospects of peace. We brought back a steady stream of late-model vehicles, for personal use, for resale, for chop shops, and - for the luxury cars at least - shiny limos for [Palestinian] VIPs." The PA found itself providing the legal cover for these cars - though clearly labeling them as stolen on the license plates.
After the violence broke out in September 2000, "borders were closed shut...and we were unable to smuggle anything through....We were suddenly out of work." (Scoop-New Zealand)
In the 10th century BCE, in the hill country south of Jerusalem, a scribe carved his A B C's on a limestone boulder - actually, his aleph-beth-gimel's. Archaeologists digging in July at Tel Zayit found the inscribed stone in the wall of an ancient building and concluded that this was the earliest known specimen of the Hebrew alphabet. (New York Times)
See also Has the Biblical Goliath Been Found? - Elana Oberlander
A small ceramic shard unearthed by Bar-Ilan University archaeologists digging at Tel es-Safi, the biblical city "Gath of the Philistines," may hold a clue into the history of the biblical figure Goliath. The shard, which contains the earliest known Philistine inscription, mentions two names that are remarkably similar to the name "Goliath." (Bar-Ilan University/IMRA)
Whose New Middle East? - Amir Taheri (Jerusalem Post)
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