Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Israel Ranks Highest in Political Freedom in Middle East (BBC News)
EU Monitors Ignore Ban on Hamas - Daniel Dombey (Financial Times-UK)
Interpol: Bio-Terror Strike "Inevitable"
Egyptians Kill Three Bombing Suspects - Ashraf Sweilam (AP/Washington Post)
SAS Snipers Kill Baghdad Suicide Squad - Sean Rayment (Telegraph-UK)
Guide for the Perplexed: The End of the 16th Knesset - Dan Izenberg (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran has built, with the help of North Korea, dozens of underground tunnels and facilities for the construction of nuclear-capable missiles, Alireza Jafardazeh, a former spokesman for the Iranian opposition National Council of the Resistance of Iran, said Monday in Washington. Jafarzadeh described an "extensive large-scale operation" for the development of nuclear-capable missiles "in the most sophisticated, hidden way" in tunnels in a mountain range east of Tehran. (ABC News)
See also Europe Moves Toward Delay of Iran Referral - Steven R. Weisman
There were growing indications that the leading countries of Europe would not move later this week to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program. China, Russia, and India have all said they oppose a referral to the Security Council at this time. If Iran's case is not referred to the Security Council on Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, its next opportunity would be well into next year. (New York Times)
The banned Muslim Brotherhood locked up about one-quarter of the parliamentary seats open in two rounds of balloting, according to results released Monday - an unexpectedly strong sign of Egypt's increasing turn toward conservative Islam. Candidates affiliated with the Brotherhood held only 15 seats in the outgoing 454-seat People's Assembly. Of the 308 seats open in the first and second rounds, the Brotherhood took 81 outright and has sent 41 candidates to a second-round run-off on Saturday. (AP/Washington Post)
EU foreign ministers have approved a European police mission to monitor the Egypt-Gaza Strip border crossing. The EU is to provide about 70 people, with up to 20 set to be in place for the crossing's scheduled opening on Friday. It will be the EU's first major role on the ground in the Middle East. (BBC News)
Israel threatened to walk out of the Euro-Mediterranean parliamentary assembly (EuroMed) meeting in Morocco. "We are fed up with being used as a punching bag for Arab members while the Europeans just sit and watch," said Israeli Deputy Education Minister Majali Wahabi. (AFP/Yahoo)
On the occasion of the visit of the president of Israel, Moshe Katsav, to the Vatican last Thursday, the vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, Father Artemio Vitores, said: "Help us keep Bethlehem, where Christians are ever fewer." According to Father Vitores, Christians were the majority in 1965. "Today we are less than 12%. In recent years, impoverished by economic, social, and religious difficulties, at least 3,000 Christians have left Bethlehem in search of better prospects. There is a danger that Christians may disappear from Bethlehem altogether." (Zenit-Italy)
See also Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society - Justus Reid Weiner (JCPA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
At least four Hizballah terrorists were killed Monday trying to kidnap soldiers from IDF outposts on the Lebanese border, and seven soldiers and four civilians were wounded in a series of clashes. Hizballah launched simultaneous attacks on several areas along the northern border. With artillery fire as a diversion, Hizballah cells infiltrated the village of Ghajar, part of which is inside Israeli territory, and attacked a post manned by Israeli soldiers at the southern entrance to the village. The soldiers killed four gunmen. In the firefight, several IDF soldiers and four Israeli citizens, residents of Ghajar, were wounded.
The Hizballah shelling continued throughout the afternoon, as a large number of Katyusha rockets and mortar shells fell in Kiryat Shmona, Metula and other northern settlements. Galilee panhandle and Western Galilee residents spent several hours in bomb shelters for the first time since the Israeli military withdrew from Lebanon in May 2000. Defense Minister Mofaz said, "We believe the Syrians and the Iranians are behind the Hizballah fire, using the escalation on the border to direct the spotlight on Israel and away from Syria, which is under tremendous international pressure." (Ha'aretz)
Police on Monday revealed that last month they caught three Palestinian terrorists from Gaza and an Egyptian citizen, members of Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who had infiltrated into Israel from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in an attempt to build terror infrastructures and kidnap an Israeli. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In Paris a rich diversity of brands of Islam exist side by side in freedom and security. These include sects banned in almost all Muslim nations, where their members are persecuted, imprisoned, and sometimes executed as "deviants." In this French haven of peace, you can live and practice your Islam the way you understand it - a gift rarely available in any officially Islamic country. Such a gift exists because French society keeps the private space distinct from the public one. Yet the idea of religion as a private affair is abhorrent to most Muslims, for Islam aims to rule every single aspect of individual and collective life.
Groups that claim to represent Muslims never use the adjective "French." Rather, they call themselves an Association of Muslims in France or Council of Muslims of France. You are a Muslim who happens to live in France, never a Frenchman who happens to be a Muslim. The West is the only place where all Muslim schools freely propagate their ideas and maintain their places of worship and seminaries without restriction. In Muslim-majority countries, the dominant school of Islam bans all other schools. (New York Post)
Twenty-five years of demonizing America has sent the Great Satan's popularity skyrocketing among young Iranians. In similar fashion, the passion for the Palestinian cause is cooling, and the average Iranian is beginning to look at Israel with new interest. Iranian bloggers are expressing their exhaustion with the regime's embrace of the Palestinian cause at the expense of Iranians' welfare.
Fifty years after it was first spoken, Martin Niemoeller's famous warning proved true in Iran: First they came for the Baha'is, then the Jews, then the women, until they came for the average Iranian who, by then, had no choice but to subject himself to the dark rule of theocracy. (Washington Post)
Across all of Russia, Islamic faith is on the rise. So is Islamic militancy, and fear of such militancy. In the Caucasus, Islamic-inspired violence has killed far more people than terrorists have in Western Europe. The paradox is that in today's Russia, Muslims have never been freer. Islam is officially recognized as one of Russia's four principal religions, along with Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, and Judaism. Russia has applied to join the Organization of Islamic States.
However, believers outside of the state's Muslim departments are increasingly viewed with suspicion because of the radicalization of Chechnya and other republics. They are denounced as Wahhabis, followers of the puritanical sect from Saudi Arabia, a word that has become Russian shorthand for any Islamic militant. (New York Times)
An Underwater Response to the Iranian Nuclear Program - Reuven Pedatzur (Ha'aretz)
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