Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Bush: Terror Leader Plotted Raid on Los Angeles - Edward Alden and Shawn Donnan (Financial Times-UK)
Mohammad Cartoons Published in Egypt Last October - Paul Belien (Brussels Journal)
- February 9, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Tu B'Shvat in Israel and Concern for the Environment
PA Releases Islamic Jihad Prisoners (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Lebanese Druze Leader Accuses Syria of Inciting Riots against Denmark (Al Bawaba-Jordan)
Palestinian Rocket Hits Palestinian Home (Palestinian Center for Human Rights/IMRA)
Islamic Jihad Says It Won't Join Hamas-led PA Government (Reuters/Peninsula-Qatar)
Academic Boycotts Conference Put Off - Talya Halkin (Jerusalem Post)
Third of British Muslims View UK Jews as "Legitimate Target" - Daniella Peled (Jewish Chronicle-UK, 10Feb06)
Norway Used as Terror Base (Aftenposten-Norway)
7th Century Synagogue Discovered by Antiquities Thieves (AP/israelinsider)
6,000-Year-Old Burial Caves Found in Northern Israel - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will invite Hamas leaders to Moscow for talks, following the militant group's victory in Palestinian elections. "We must respect the choice of the Palestinian people," he said during a visit to Spain. Hamas officials said they would be "delighted" to visit Russia. The U.S. and EU - who both classify Hamas as a terrorist group - have ruled out any dealings with the group until it renounces violence against Israel. (BBC)
See also U.S. Says Russia Must Stand Firm on Hamas - Anne Gearan
The U.S. reminded Russia on Thursday that it is on record condemning Hamas' violent tenets, but did not criticize Russia's president for inviting leaders of the militant group to Moscow. Russia is a member of the Quartet, a Mideast peacemaking group that last week urged Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel. The statement that Russia signed also hinges future international aid to the Palestinians on changes in Hamas' behavior. "As a member of the Quartet, we would certainly expect that Russia would deliver that same message," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Hamas Supports Chechen Terrorism
Among the indoctrination materials found in Hamas-influenced institutions in the PA-administered territories were CDs containing posters and movies showing admiration, identification, and support for Chechen and international Islamic terrorism. Chechen terrorist leaders such as Shamil Basayev and "Khattab" are praised, while the Russian Army is held in contempt and its actions are described as "terrorism against the Islamic population of Chechnya." (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
A suspension of attacks on Israel would not induce the Bush administration to abandon its boycott of Hamas. "It doesn't seem to me you can push the pause button on terror," David Welch, the assistant secretary of state for the Near East, said Thursday. If Hamas accepts Israel's right to exist, "perhaps there will be a different situation," he said. "The burden here is on Hamas to take a decision," Welch said. "It is not on the United States, it is not on the Europeans, it is not on Israel," Welch said. (AP/Houston Chronicle)
See also Tokyo Hoping Hamas Will "Take the Hint" on Future Aid Freeze - Shinichi Murakami
"We have conveyed to the Palestinian side...to take the Japanese government's hint" that there could be a freeze on aid in the future, Tatsuo Arima, Japan's special envoy to the Middle East, said Tuesday. The U.S. and EU have already said a freeze on aid is possible unless violence stops, past peace agreements are kept, and Israel is recognized. (Asahi Shimbun-Japan)
Former Vice President of Syria Abdul-Halim Khaddam told the Voice of America in an interview that he is opposed to President Assad's policy of placing Syria in a position to serve the "strategic interests" of Iran. "I was against making Syria an instrument of Iranian policy in the Middle East," Khaddam said, "because it contradicts with Syrian traditions and history and leads to loss of independence." Khaddam is now part of the political opposition calling for changes in Syria and said he is willing to cooperate with any personality or political force that shares his vision of "regime change and the establishment of a democratic system." (VOA News)
The Danish Foreign Ministry urged its citizens to leave Lebanon because of expected demonstrations in the coming days. "We are pulling people out of areas where demonstrations are expected and keeping them away until later," said Helge Kvam, spokesman of the Danish Red Cross which has about 40 Danish staff in Muslim countries. The Danish Refugee Council, which has 90 international staff, said it had pulled staff from Afghanistan and Sudan and halted operations in Chechnya. Danish Church Aid said it had suspended operations in Islamic countries. (Reuters)
See also Norwegian Aid Organizations Suspending Work in Some Muslim Nations
The Red Cross, Norwegian Peoples Aid, Norwegian Church Aid, and the Norwegian Refugee Council are modifying their aid efforts in several countries as a result of the protests over cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports. (Aftenposten-Norway)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinians fired Kassam rockets Thursday into southern Israel north of the Gaza Strip and toward the Israeli town of Sderot. (Ynet News)
Some 200 dunams of greenhouses in Gaza were ransacked recently by dozens of armed Palestinians and residents of Khan Yunis. International donors had purchased the greenhouses for the benefit of the Palestinians. According to Palestinian sources, two militias affiliated with Fatah were hired by the PA to guard the greenhouses, which were all under cultivation. But instead, the guards decided to rob them. They used bulldozers to break the iron supports of the buildings' frames, then swarmed over the equipment inside, which included piping and irrigation computers. The damage to the greenhouses, meant to provide employment for hundreds of Palestinians, is irreparable, the sources said. (Ha'aretz)
See also Theft in the Evacuated Settlements
On Feb 5-6, dozens of civilians, escorted by a number of gunmen, dismantled greenhouses and water pipelines in the evacuated Gan Or settlement. Netzer Hazani, Morag, and Neve Dekalim were also robbed. (Palestinian Center for Human Rights/IMRA)
Hamas now has 80 out of 132 seats in the new Palestinian parliament, after four Hamas-endorsed independents joined the movement's 76 successful candidates. The group has also decided to name Jamal al-Khudairi as its candidate for Palestinian prime minister. Khudairi, a Gaza businessman and chairman of the board of the Islamic University in Gaza, ran for parliament as an independent with Hamas backing.
In talks, Egypt's number two man, Omar Suleiman, head of General Intelligence, made three public demands of Hamas: "One, they should stop the violence. Two, it should become doctrine with them to be committed to all the agreements signed with Israel. Three, they have to recognize Israel." One Arab diplomat told Al-Ahram Weekly: "Any change on the political agenda of Hamas is very unlikely. They are an opposition resistance movement and they know it, and they know they were elected for this, so no way they can give it up that soon." (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A gloomy picture emerges from the internal discussions underway in the Israeli security establishment. They are speaking about four arms coming out of Teheran to take root in our backyard. "Iran is here" - that is the name of the picture described by the security establishment. So the historical eastern front is no longer with us? Greet the new eastern front: Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas. (Maariv-Hebrew)
See also Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi, and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (JCPA)
On February 4, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors finally adopted an action resolution on the issue of Iran's nuclear development. The resolution included a reference to the existence in Iran of a design of uranium metal "hemispheres." Two of these, if made of highly enriched uranium, comprise the core of a nuclear bomb. Thus, the IAEA Secretariat has finally had to admit that there are indications that Iran's nuclear program includes military aspects.
Iran has already denounced the resolution and declared that it will immediately resume full enrichment activities. It has also announced that it will end the IAEA verification activities. Given the difficult birth pangs of the IAEA resolution and in light of Iran's growing oil revenues, there is no reason to expect that the Security Council will take any prompt and truly effective action against Iran's nuclear program.
The only alternative to prevent Iran's eventual emergence as a nuclear weapons state will therefore be determined action by a coalition of like-minded states. In other words, the IAEA's record of procrastination has not only weakened the nuclear non-proliferation regime as a whole; it will also eventually exact a high price from the world by forcing it to resort to more aggressive actions in order to prevent Iran from achieving the military nuclear capability it so ardently desires. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)
The Palestinian people are now becoming aware of the extent to which they have suffered at the hands of their own government. This week, the attorney general for the Palestinian Authority has stepped up an investigation into corruption and the pilfering of aid money and government funds that ought to have been used to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians. The current probe marks the first serious attempt on the part of the government to do something about it.
The widening probe has revealed that billions of dollars were likely stolen from government coffers. Some of the companies being investigated for stealing government money don't even exist, such as an imaginary water pipe company which collected $6 million in PA and Italian funds. On Thursday, prosecutors froze the bank accounts and seized the assets of dozens of senior officials suspected of corruption. The international community ought to insist that Palestinian officials, who have long been enriching themselves at the expense of their people, make a commitment to good governance. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
What additional power will government bring Hamas? What will it be able to do that it can't already do? We must understand that the problem is the threat to everyday life that comes from suicide bombers. Only following a long and painful process did we learn our lesson and begin to build a policy of action that brought about a drastic reduction in the number of suicide attacks in Israel. This policy included extensive diplomatic initiatives, isolating terror commanders, reoccupying the West Bank, widescale arrests, and targeted interceptions of central terror operatives. All these brought about a Hamas decision to declare a unilateral ceasefire - not because they suddenly saw the light of Zionism, but rather because of pressure.
The Palestinians have proven time and again that when faced with a choice between radical ideology and pragmatic compromise, they do not necessarily choose compromise. Hamas' victory in free elections does not represent a change in the Palestinian position or show that they have moved to the extreme. It only reveals their true feelings. Israelis must understand that this is the will of most Palestinians. We must understand this is an ongoing fight that will continue for many years, and the most dangerous enemy we face is not terrorism (we can beat that), but rather self-deception. Gen. (Res.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael is the head of the Security Studies Program at Tel Aviv University. (Ynet News)
Hamas is looking for ways and means to deceive the U.S., Europe, and other donor countries so that they continue sending money to the PA, without Hamas having to give up its ideology that calls for the destruction of Israel. Thus, instead of talking about eliminating Israel, Hamas is speaking ambiguously about erasing the results of 1948. The international community has already come up with the so-called "cohabitation" proposal, which speaks of a government in which Hamas and Fatah act in unison. This is a trap that will allow Hamas to work behind the scenes without changing. Current developments are clearly leading to Hamas control, including control of the Palestinian security services. Instead of Fatah, Hamas officials will be the inspectors at the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza.
The Palestinian public did not elect former finance minister Salam Fayyad, an honest economist who wants peace, but Hamas, which calls for continuing the war. (Ha'aretz)
See also Hamas-Fatah Power-Sharing Likely - Efraim Inbar
It is unlikely that Hamas will succeed in imposing a consolidation of the militias under a united Palestinian command. The Fatah-linked militias have no intention of disarming or accepting the new authority. A full Hamas takeover of the PA is improbable as long as Hamas lacks the military muscle needed to successfully take on the Fatah militias. Rather, the most likely outcome is a tenuous power-sharing arrangement between Hamas and Fatah.
Fatah-Hamas cohabitation will preserve the conditions for chaos and disorder in the PA - the existence of myriad armed gangs with loose central control. Competition among the Palestinian armed factions will assure the continuation of terrorist attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
The notion that Hamas' military, political, and social "wings" are distinct from one another is belied by ample evidence. Hamas meets in the mosques and hospitals it maintains to plan terror attacks, buries caches of arms and explosives under its own schoolyard playgrounds, and transfers and launders funds for terrorist activity through local charity committees. The real Hamas is an organization that threatens peace and security far beyond the borders of the West Bank and Gaza. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also A Vote for Islam - Thanassis Cambanis
The conventional wisdom has it that Palestinians chose Hamas despite its Islamist platform. Conversations with voters in the West Bank, however, reveal that many chose Hamas because of it. (Boston Globe)
The mob is trying to dictate to Western newspapers, indeed Western governments, what is a legitimate subject for discussion and caricature. The point is who decides what can be said and what can be drawn within the precincts of what we quaintly think of as the free world. The mob has turned this into a test case for freedom of speech in the West. What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish the cartoons is not sensitivity but simple fear. They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached. (Washington Post)
If anyone wants to appreciate why the West views with such suspicion the weapons programs of Muslim states such as Iran, they need look no further than the intolerance Muslim regimes exhibit to these cartoons, and what this portends. (Jerusalem Post)
The 12 cartoons that first ran in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten last September are not a barrel of laughs. The only one that seems to have raised a smile portrayed Mohammed at the gates of paradise, waving away some freshly charred suicide bombers, and saying, "Go away - we are running out of virgins."
Threats to kidnap European diplomats and the armed takeover of the EU offices in Gaza are foolish and self-defeating. Those EU offices have disbursed over $3 billion to the Palestinians, and are one of the few life-support systems they have. If a poll were taken among Europeans today, there would probably be a considerable majority for leaving the empty offices to the gunmen and keeping the money for deserving causes in Europe.
One alternative use for those EU funds would be an education campaign to explain carefully to newspapers in the Arab world why their vicious cartoon depictions of Jews, and their now hackneyed way of depicting Ariel Sharon as Adolf Hitler, is in appalling taste. The money might also be spent on holding public debates across Europe asking why sharia law demands the death penalty for any Muslim who abandons the faith, when Muslims are free to proselytize and win converts in Europe. (UPI)
There are those who argue that the collapse of the Arab-Israeli peace process, the war on terror, and the bloodshed in Afghanistan and Iraq have all contributed to the idea that Islam is under siege - providing radicals with fresh ammunition. This is not, however, a wholly convincing case. For one thing, opposition to the Iraq war is not a radical phenomenon in the Middle East, but rather an utterly mainstream one. Almost every government opposed it. Moreover, the rise and fall of Islamic fundamentalism was a broad and deep phenomenon, born over decades. It could hardly reverse itself on the basis of a year's news. Does anyone believe that if there had been no Iraq war, Hamas would have lost? Or that the Danish cartoons would have been published with no response? (Newsweek)
In 1988, the FBI invited Alain Marsaud, then France's top antiterrorist magistrate, to speak about terrorism to the bureau's new recruits. Marsaud, now a conservative lawmaker, told the audience of the deadly threat that radical Islamist terrorist networks posed to Western societies. His talk was an unmitigated flop, he recalls.
France found itself in the crosshairs of Middle Eastern terrorists well before the U.S. did. France was the first to uncover a plot to crash a jetliner into a landmark building (the Eiffel Tower) - a chilling preview of the 9/11 attacks. It was the first to face the reality that its own citizens could become assets of Islamist terrorist groups, long before British nationals bombed the London Underground last July. As a result, it has continuously adapted its judicial system and intelligence services to the terrorist threat that it faces. (Foreign Policy)
There are several pivotal conflicts around the world that animate militant Islamist ideology, from the Caucasus and the Balkans to the southern Philippines and the intractable Kashmir conflict. Radical Islamists want nothing less than the restoration of Islamic sovereignty to all lands where Muslims were once ascendant, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Hungary, Sicily, Spain, and even parts of France. These ambitions are unlikely to be satisfied by an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
There is no evidence of a correlation between social and economic ills and terrorism. In the world's 50 poorest countries, there is little terrorism. In Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, terrorists originate in the some of the wealthiest regions and neighborhoods. A survey of 14 Muslim countries found that respondents who reported having inadequate money for food were the least likely to support terrorism, while individuals with cell phones or computers were more likely to support terrorism. C. Christine Fair is a senior research associate at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Husain Haqqani is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Foreign Policy)
When I was 13 my family had to flee from Turkey, where my father fought for the Kurdish peoples' human rights. We came to Sweden in 1980 and settled in Tensta, a Stockholm suburb. For 25 years Tensta was my home. Unfortunately, the neighborhood has changed and I no longer feel safe. The influence of Islamic fundamentalists has grown so much over the years that it is now impossible for me and my family to live there anymore.
I'm tired of being expected to speak badly of Christians and Jews just because I'm Muslim. I'm tired of the hate preachers. I'm tired of seeing women condemned for the way they dress. I never imagined that in the new millennium, and in Sweden of all places, my five-year-old son would have to defend and explain in his day-care center why his mother doesn't wear a head scarf.
When you have seen Islamists throw acid in the faces of women because they don't wear head scarves, then there is no room for compromise. They want to impose their ideology on the rest of society. We moderate Muslims know better than the rest of the population in Europe what type of threat Muslim fundamentalists are. The writer, a former member of the Swedish parliament, is chairman of Sweden's National Federation of Social Democratic Women. (Wall Street Journal, 30Jan06)
Celebrating Freedom - Interview with Natan Sharansky - Andrew Friedman (Ynet News)
20 years ago today, Anatoly Sharansky was released from a Moscow prison and granted a wish he had made more than a decade before: he was expelled from the Soviet Union and stripped of his citizenship.
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