Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Palestinian Rockets on Ashkelon Pose Grave Threat - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
- February 16, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Countdown to Israel's Election
Russia May Sell Helicopters to PA (Ynet News)
Iraq's WMD Secrets - Andy Soltis (New York Post)
With Rise of Hamas, Abbas' Fatah Brigades Vow to Become Primary Attackers of Israelis (WorldNetDaily)
New Islamist Alliance Alters Mideast Dynamic - Mark MacKinnon (Globe and Mail-Canada)
BBC Spooked by Al-Qaeda - Thomas Whitaker and Sara Nathan (Sun-UK)
Indian Tennis Star Refuses to Play with Israeli - Miki Sagy (Ynet News)
Europe: The New Pipeline to Jihad - Sandro Contenta (Toronto Star)
South Korea to Buy Israeli Surveillance Equipment (AFX/Forbes)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
A trip to the Middle East next week by Secretary of State Rice is intended in part to make sure that Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations do not try to make up the difference if the West cuts off its portion of the $1 billion a year of outside assistance that has kept the Palestinian Authority afloat. Not only has the administration warned that it would cut off aid; it has demanded that the Palestinians return $50 million in American aid for reconstruction projects run by Palestinian ministries this year if Hamas does not renounce its anti-Israel positions, American officials said Thursday. (New York Times)
See also Rice: "Any Palestinian Government Will Have to Meet International Standards"
Secretary of State Rice told the House International Relations Committee Thursday: "In the Palestinian territories...an election that was free of violence, that was free and fair...brought to power Hamas, an organization that is a terrorist organization that has killed thousands of innocent people in its quest. There is now a responsibility, first and foremost, of the international community to make it very clear that a Palestinian government, any Palestinian government, will have to meet international standards set out in the Quartet statement of the recognition of Israel's right to exist, disarming militias, renouncing violence, because it is not possible to pursue a peaceful life for your people on the one hand in the political process and to have a foot in the camp of terrorism on the other. And so the United States will stand strong in its determination that the next Palestinian government will have to live up to those standards." (State Department)
Condoleezza Rice used a meeting with Jewish leaders this week to make one of her toughest statements to date on the use of force to contain Iran's nuclear program. "No options are off the table, no one is ready for a nuclear Iran, the Iranians must understand that," the U.S. secretary of state said Wednesday, according to notes from three people attending the meeting at the State Department. "Accomplishing that goal is not in their interests. The United States and this president do not have a credibility issue when it comes to the use of force," she said. (JTA)
See also Russia Warns U.S. Against Striking Iran - Vladimir Isachenkov
Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the chief of Russia's general staff, on Thursday warned the U.S. against launching a military strike against Iran. (AP/Washington Post)
Extremist Muslim groups who "glorify" terrorism are likely to be banned in Britain as early as this summer after MPs voted by 327 to 279 Wednesday to impose new laws designed to clamp down on the celebration of terrorism in speech, placards, or on the Internet, reinstating the laws banning the glorification of terrorism. Tony Blair said passage of the law means that any repeat of the offensive placards celebrating the July 7 bombings exhibited at a demonstration a fortnight ago in London will lead to prosecutions. Two groups likely to be banned are Hizb ut-Tahrir and Omar Bakri's al-Muhajiroun, groups already named by Blair. (Guardian-UK)
The Saudi ambassador to the U.S. blamed both sides Wednesday for inflaming the dispute over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and urged them to calm the furor by using ''reason to overcome passion." ''These cartoons are totally unacceptable," Prince Turki al-Faisal told the Boston Globe. Separately, Turki urged nations to engage the Palestinian group Hamas rather than ostracize the militant Islamic movement as it prepares to take control of the Palestinian legislature on Saturday. (Boston Globe)
The former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy helped write a memorandum of law calling for dismissal of Espionage Act charges against two pro-Israel lobbyists, arguing that, in receiving leaked classified information and relaying it to others, they were doing what reporters, think-tank experts, and congressional staffers "do perhaps hundreds of times every day." Viet D. Dinh, who helped draft the USA Patriot Act after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has joined with lawyers defending Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who last year became the first non-U.S. government employees to be indicted for allegedly violating provisions of the Espionage Act.
"Never has a lobbyist, reporter, or any other non-government employee been charged...for receiving oral information the government alleges to be national defense material as part of that person's normal First Amendment protected activities," the defense memorandum states. The defense memorandum was filed under seal in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 19 and, according to Rosen's attorney, Abbe D. Lowell, was unsealed last Thursday. "Prosecuting the leakee for an oral presentation... presents a novel case because the listener has no evident indicia for knowing what relates to national defense," Dinh said.
The memorandum notes that the statute contemplates the passing of physical evidence, such as documents with classification stamped not just on each page but also alongside each paragraph. Another reason for dismissing the case, according to the memorandum, is that "if the instant indictment and theory of prosecution are allowed to stand, lobbyists who seek information prior to its official publication date and reporters publishing what they learn can be charged with violating section 793" of the espionage statute. Lowell said that his client and Weissman "have been indicted as felons for doing far less than for what reporters have been awarded Pulitzer Prizes." (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Thursday approved a list of economic sanctions ranging from a ban on Palestinian workers entering Israel to an immediate halt of money transfers to the PA, to be implemented in response to the swearing-in of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament on Saturday. "As of Saturday, all the rules of the game change," said Haim Ramon.
Israel transfers to the Palestinians about $600 million annually in taxes and customs duties Israel collects on behalf of Palestinian merchants and laborers. The transfers are mostly used to pay the salaries of 140,000 government workers - 40% of whom work for the security forces. Honoring the transfer agreement after Hamas takes power makes no sense, Ramon said. "Is it even conceivable that we would collect money and hand it over to the terrorist organization?" he asked.
Senior security officials asserted that Hamas was still involved in anti-Israel terror despite the group's attempts to present itself as terror-free. Hamas' goal is to mislead the public while it is busy building up its forces for a violent showdown with Israel, the officials said. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel May Reduce Ties with PA as of Sunday - Aluf Benn and Amos Harel
The defense establishment recommends taking steps to reduce Israel's ties with the PA as of Sunday. According to the proposal, Israel would announce: a freeze on further transfers of the tax revenues; a ban on the entry of workers from the Gaza Strip into Israel; a ban on the movement of Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank; freezing a plan to upgrade the crossing points between the territories and Israel; freezing plans to build a port and airport in Gaza; and preventing transfers of military equipment to the PA from foreign countries, such as donations of armored personnel carriers and communications gear. However, Defense Minister Mofaz said none of these steps should interfere with humanitarian activity by international organizations or with the supply of water, electricity, or medical equipment. (Ha'aretz)
If relations deteriorate between Israel and the Palestinian government under Hamas control, the point of conflict which will determine the PA's economic fate will be the border crossings between Gaza and Israel. The Palestinians are boycotting the new passage that Israel opened at Kerem Shalom. It already is clear that under the current situation, there will be no talk about operating the passage between Gaza and the West Bank as had been promised to Condoleezza Rice.
The Quartet's representative, James Wolfensohn, is behaving as if nothing happened. He presents Israel with ridiculous proposals for removing most of the security measures at the passages as if they were between Canada and the U.S., demanding the transfer of goods with nearly no security check. Movement at the passages could be affected if Hamas moves to abrogate the agreements signed with Israel and continues to claim that it is in a state of war with the country. (Ha'aretz)
Hamas has been making efforts recently to receive funding from Iran, as well as instructions as to how to lead the Palestinian Authority, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the EU's Representative Javier Solana Friday. "It's easy to understand the type of state Hamas wishes to establish here," he added. (Ynet News)
The new Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council is seen by many Palestinians as marking the beginning of a bitter power struggle between the Islamic movement and the ruling Fatah party. The new PLC, as well as the cabinet that is expected to be formed in the next few weeks, will make life extremely difficult for Abbas and many lawmakers are convinced he eventually will be forced to resign. Hamas has already announced that it would cancel laws that were passed by the PLC after the elections. Moreover, Hamas said it would not accept any decisions taken by Abbas in the past few days, such as the appointment or promotion of officials.
"One authority, headed by Abbas, will sit in the Mukata in Ramallah," said an independent legislator, "while the other one, led by Hamas, will be based in the Gaza Strip. Hamas may have won the election, but Fatah has no intention of handing it the victory on a silver platter." Ismail Haniyeh, 46, a close associate of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and a leader of the more pragmatic wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is the group's choice for prime minister, a Hamas official said Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinian Factions Vie for Spoils - Joshua Mitnick
How will authority be divvied up between the Hamas prime minister's cabinet and the higher-ranking post held by Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas? "We will have a power struggle from now on from these two heads of government," says Bassem Ezbidi, a political science professor at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah. One of the most sensitive points of tension is who will control the 60,000-strong Palestinian paramilitary police. The ranks of the police are almost exclusively made up by Fatah, as are other parts of the Palestinian government. "Those people have been exposed to the Fatah political culture, and Hamas knows to change the composition will take time. I don't rule out Hamas facing these challenges directly, and getting into clashes and arm twisting," says Ezbidi. (Christian Science Monitor)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A terrorist organization has won the right to rule the Palestinian Authority, while still refusing to recognize the State of Israel, abandon its armed struggle, or renew the peace process. Khalid Mash'al, head of Hamas' political bureau, said on Jan. 28: "We believe in operating in stages, gradually and realistically. We can achieve our rights step by step and establish our state."
Mash'al noted earlier that Hamas is ready to unite the various military wings of all organizations into one Palestinian army, "as exists in other countries." This army will operate, according to him, to liberate the rest of the Palestinian territories, to defend the Palestinian people, and to return the Palestinians' rights. Mash'al noted that the establishment of a Palestinian army will not interfere with the role of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, that "will continue to defend the Palestinian people."
Hamas' call for a "hudna" with Israel is a maneuver commonly used by radical Islamic organizations to reestablish and strengthen their power without being exposed to danger from their adversaries. The "hudna" is intended to serve the step-by-step program that Hamas advocates for the liberation of all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. (Institute for Counter-Terrorism)
See also Profile of the Hamas Movement (pdf file) (Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center)
For years, the international community has been funneling vast sums to the Palestinian Authority, hoping for a magical transformation leading to economic growth, self-sufficiency, and even peace. It is clear that the aid has fueled corruption and terror, but very little development. Many donor countries have demanded that Hamas renounce violence and accept Israel's right to exist as a condition for continued aid. These terms were rejected by Hamas leaders who realize that many donors are reluctant to implement their conditions.
Some European diplomats have discussed routing development funds through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in human rights and humanitarian work. Unfortunately, this solution is based on wishful thinking. The hundreds of NGOs that work with the Palestinians in the region are part of the problem, having become parties to the conflict, and not neutral engines of development. Many of the international "superpower" NGOs such as Christian Aid, World Vision, War on Want, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have used their multimillion-dollar budgets on political campaigns that repeat the Palestinian version of history. (Jerusalem Post)
The reality shown by Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections is this: If fully free elections were held today in the rest of the Arab world, Islamist parties would win in most states. Even with intensive international efforts to support "civil society" and nongovernmental organizations, elections in five years would probably yield the same results. The notion that American programs and efforts can help build a third alternative to both current governments and Islamists is simply a delusion.
In Arab politics there are primarily two organized power groups: Islamic organizations, drawing their support from a disenfranchised public mobilized by the mosque, and governing elites. Islamists remain the most well-organized alternative to governments, a situation that is unlikely to change soon. The writer, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, is a senior fellow at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution. (Washington Post)
"The rise of Hamas has made [further] unilateral withdrawal even more complicated," said Yossi Klein Halevy, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center. "On the one hand, the logic of unilateralism, that there is no partner for peace, has been confirmed, but so have the security warnings of the opponents of unilateralism. We're not going to be withdrawing from the West Bank and leaving a void behind. We're going to be withdrawing and bringing Iran up to our borders." The prospect of an Iranian-allied Hamas army sitting within Katyusha range of all the major Israeli population centers, and shoulder rocket firing range of airplanes landing at Ben-Gurion Airport, is a major reason for the precipitous fall in support for unilateral disengagements.
But there are many other factors. The West Bank was never viewed in the same light as Gaza by many Israelis. Only 8,000 Jews lived among 1.3 million Arabs. Moreover, Gaza was not the crucial security corridor that the West Bank is, nor were its sand dunes once home to the tribes of Israel, as were the hills of Judea and Samaria. (Jerusalem Post)
The democratic election of an Islamist government in the West Bank and Gaza was sensational enough. Imagine the impact of the same thing happening in Egypt, a sovereign nation with the largest population (70 million) and economy in the Arab world. President Hosni Mubarak decreed last month that local elections be postponed for two years, a decision which completed its passage through parliament on Tuesday. That forestalls the further immediate advance of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas' success will incline Western governments to treat the postponement with more indulgence than they might otherwise have done. Yet they might usefully reflect that fear of democracy is a damning indictment of a quarter of a century of corrupt and repressive stagnation under Mubarak. (Telegraph-UK)
It is one thing to be offended by the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper last September and it is quite another to hold all Danes responsible for them. For years, Muslims have complained that they are held collectively to blame for the violent actions of a few, particularly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The vilification of an entire people because of the actions of a few is indeed similar. It is hypocritical for Muslims not to acknowledge that. The threats made against Danes are an embarrassment and a shame that must be utterly condemned by the Muslim world. Syrian-born Naser Khader, the first immigrant member of the Danish parliament, has launched a group of moderate Muslims in Denmark to speak out against the exploitation of the cartoon issue by radical Muslims. (Asharq Alawsat-UK)
"When my cousin entered university in Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabis offered him 200 euros a month and an apartment if he would spread their customs back in Macedonia," says Blerim, a young ethnic Albanian and Muslim. "He accepted, and my uncle is quite concerned." Tensions are being felt throughout Macedonia's growing Muslim community ahead of its elections later this month for a new national leader. Tapping into young Muslims' disdain for the older generation, which many see as corrupt, bureaucratic, and uneducated, fundamentalists - pejoratively referred to as Wahhabis - are turning some in the younger generation toward more conservative interpretations of Islam. "We, and our foreign colleagues also, don't consider Macedonia a terrorist target," says one Macedonian intelligence officer. "We are more worried about being used as a logistics or recruitment base for attacks in the West. We are monitoring some of these Wahhabis closely." (Christian Science Monitor)
See also Wahhabi Schools Mushrooming in Bulgaria - Risto Karajkov
The Bulgarian Islamic community has also been experiencing divisions. One wing, led by the former head of the community, Nedim Gendzev, has been accusing its opponents (led by Fikri Sali) of spreading Wahhabism and having tight connections with the Netherlands-based Al-Waqf al-Islami Foundation, often accused of having links with al-Qaeda. Semi-legal Islamic schools are mushrooming throughout the country, delivering more radical teachings that differ from the traditional Islam practiced by Bulgaria's large Turkish minority.
Kosovo's leading daily, Koha Ditore, wrote in November, "the phenomenon of 'Wahhabism' has assumed big and alarming proportions in all Albanian lands and in the Albanian diaspora in the West." The paper condemned recent acts of vandalism and desecration of graves aimed to eliminate inscriptions of names and photographic images, which is counter to Wahhabi religious doctrine. (Focus News-Bulgaria)
On the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Europeans primarily remembered the Jews' victimhood. The commemorations followed an ongoing period of public verbal hostility toward Israel and the Jewish communities. The European discourse on "the Shoah's memory" is a delusion that conceals the nonrecognition of the Jewish people's legitimacy to exist. Explanations for Europe's unwillingness to recognize the political dimension of the Jewish people and its suffering involve ancient Christian origins and a modern inability to accept the identity of a collective such as the Jewish people. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
In August 2002, a congressional delegation was traveling around Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of the 19 al-Qaeda hijackers who less than a year earlier had launched the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former FBI agent, asked the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, in light of how the Sept. 11 attacks had revealed the Saudis' role in nurturing al-Qaeda-connected charities and religious schools, whether Jordan, a big-time Houston oil and gas lawyer, would be the first U.S. ambassador to not go to work for the Saudis after leaving his post. Jordan in 2003 joined the long list of U.S. ambassadors and other former American officials working directly or indirectly for the Saudi royal family.
They are sprinkled all over Washington, particularly in such well-known Saudi-supported think tanks as the Middle East Institute. Two former American ambassadors to Saudi Arabia lead the institute - Wyche Fowler Jr., chairman, and Edward Walker, president. Former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and deputy assistant secretary for the Near East David Mack is the institute's vice president. Also at the institute is Richard Parker, former ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco, and Michael Sterner, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and deputy assistant secretary of Near Eastern Affairs. Chas. Freeman Jr., another former U.S. ambassador to the kingdom, is president of the Saudi-backed Middle East Policy Council. Another ambassador, Walter Cutler, leads the Saudi-backed Meridian International Center. (San Francisco Chronicle)
What would you like to be when you grow up? A Hamas children's magazine has a clear answer: a terrorist. A children's story it published calls upon small children and encourages them to commit terrorist acts and sacrifice their souls for Allah. Western politicians who delude themselves in the belief that Hamas will change have only to consider what Hamas leaders say. On Feb. 3, Hamas chief Khaled Mash'al declared in Damascus: "Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded."
The children's magazine named Fatah in its last two issues carried an illustrated story about the heroism of a very young but courageous Palestinian child, who is determined to be a jihad fighter like his older brothers. The story demonstrates the indoctrination and "education" to which even the youngest of Palestinian children are exposed by Hamas in schools and publications. The story, translated by Jonathan D. Halevi of the Orient Research Group in Toronto, begins when the child Basaal (meaning the "brave," in Arabic) is exposed to jihad activities while watching television, reading newspapers, and at meetings his brothers hold with their friends to plan attacks on Israeli convoys. This is how "peaceful" Hamas brings the message of Khaled Mash'al alive for Palestinian children. (Washington Times)
Walid Jumblatt, the hereditary leader of the Druze religious sect in Lebanon, deserves not only our attention but our hearts. Jumblatt has taken a stand so far out in front of other Lebanese politicians, and so far beyond anything Washington is willing to commit to publicly, that it's not surprising his admirers think he'll be killed in the next few days or weeks or months. Jumblatt is calling not only for freedom in Lebanon, but in effect for the overthrow of "the terrorist tyrant Bashar al-Assad." "Jumblatt knows that whatever he does, the Syrian regime will not forgive him," says a mutual friend. "He figures that since there is no forgiveness, he's a dead man walking - and that's why he can say what he says." (Newsweek)
Israel's first lady of song, Shoshana Damari, died on Tuesday in Tel Aviv; reportedly her best-loved ballad, "Kalaniyot" ("Anemones"), played in her room as she passed away. Damari, whose life began in a humble Yemeni village, helped through her music to revive the modern Hebrew language. Four generations of Jews, reenfranchised in their historic homeland, both fell in love and fought for their lives to the stirring sound of her voice. (New Republic)
Preventive Measures - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
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