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
Hamas Prepares for War - Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen (FrontPageMagazine)
- March 9, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Theater in Israel
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood MPs: "Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Al-Zarqawi Are Not Terrorists" (MEMRI)
Lebanese Leader: No Need for Anti-Israeli Militia - Evelyn Leopold (Reuters)
New Saudi Islamic TV Channel Launched - Javid Hassan and Naif Al-Shehri (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Russia Shuts Down Fatah.Net Website Promoting Suicide Bombings to Children (MosNews-Russia)
How Close Did We Come to Bin Laden? - Michael Smerconish (Philadelphia Daily News)
South America's Terror Connection - Trish Regan (CBS News)
1.2M Israeli Households Connected to Internet - Guy Hadass (Globes)
Israeli Firm Plans Gigawatt-Capable Solar Plants - Leah Krauss (UPI)
Haman, Ahmadinejad, and Us - Avi Shafran (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran's president warned Thursday the West will suffer more than his country if it tries to stop Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments came as Tehran struck an increasingly threatening tone, with the top Iranian delegate to the UN nuclear agency warning a day earlier that the U.S. will face "harm and pain" if the Security Council becomes involved. Some diplomats saw the comments as a veiled threat to use oil as a weapon, though Iran's oil minister ruled out any decrease in production. Iran also has leverage with extremist groups in the Middle East that could harm U.S. interests. (AP)
See also Ayatollah Enters Iran Nuclear Row - Mike Theodoulou
Iran's supreme leader Thursday publicly backed the defiant stand of the country's hardline president on Tehran's nuclear program. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran's ultimate arbiter of power, told Iranian officials not to yield to Western pressure as he prepared Iranians for a possibly "painful" showdown with the U.S. (Scotsman-UK)
Britain claimed Thursday that Tehran could acquire the technological capability to build a bomb by the end of the year. A day after the International Atomic Energy Agency referred the dispute to the UN Security Council, British officials also indicated that London would back Washington's efforts to impose a UN deadline of about 30 days for Iran's compliance with international demands. A senior Foreign Office official said that while it could take Iran several years to build a serviceable nuclear weapon, it might gain the technical knowhow within months. "By the end of the year is a...realistic period," said the official. "It would be really damaging to regional security if Iran even acquired the technology to enable it to develop a nuclear weapon."
Iran has 85 tons of uranium gas stockpiled for enrichment at its Isfahan facility, held under UN seals. American officials say this is enough for 10 bombs. (Guardian-UK)
See also UN "Has Less Than a Year" to Stop Iran Going Nuclear - Bronwen Maddox
A British official warned the UN Security Council Thursday that it should move fast as it was "reasonable" to think that Iran could acquire the technology to make nuclear weapons "within a year." An official added: "We will be looking to impede ways that Iran might develop nuclear technology, and to bring home to the Iranian leadership that it cannot defy international community without some penalty."
On Wednesday, the Iranian paper Keyhan ran an analysis of the strength of Iran's position which may well reflect President Ahmadinejad's thinking: "What we have is worth [all the trouble], because an Iran that possesses nuclear capability would be an unrivalled regional power." "One cannot put a price on such an advantage....This is not something that any rational politician would like to give up as soon as he hears some hue and cry or faces some empty threats." (Times-UK)
Secretary of State Rice told the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday: "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be 180 degrees different than the Middle East that we would like to see develop. This is a country that is determined, it seems, to develop a nuclear weapon in defiance of the international community that is determined that they should not get one. It is the country that is the central banker for terrorism, whether that terrorism is in southern Iraq or in the Palestinian territories or in Lebanon." (State Department)
The state-owned Dubai company seeking to manage terminal operations at six American ports dropped out of the deal on Thursday, bowing to an unrelenting bipartisan attack in Congress. (New York Times)
The radical Islamic Hamas movement is likely to present its cabinet next week and it seems the nationalist Fatah, which led the PA in the last decade, is not going to join it, said a senior Hamas source. The PA security services might formally come under a Hamas minister of interior, but 82% of its 70,000 members voted Fatah. "They are loyal to Fatah, not Hamas," Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki told the Dayan Center in Tel Aviv. Some 70,000 bureaucrats, including the PA's senior bureaucracy, include Fatah loyalists and any Hamas attempt to dismiss them would "most likely be confronted by violence from Fatah," he added. Nor can Hamas dissolve Fatah's militia, he noted. (UPI)
See also Hamas Will Ask Saudi Arabia to Continue Support
A delegation of Hamas leaders led by Khaled Meshaal will begin a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday to seek aid for a Palestinian government headed by the Islamic militant group. Saudi Arabia has been one of the PA's biggest financial backers. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal publicly spurned a U.S. call to isolate Hamas during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Rice last month. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia may be breaking the promise it made when it entered the World Trade Organization last year by hosting a meeting next week on the Arab economic boycott of Israel. "I think this is a bit too much," said Itzhak Levanon, Israel's ambassador to the WTO, noting it has been only three months since Saudi Arabia was admitted to the organization on terms that require it to treat Israel like any other WTO member. (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon told the Hudson Institute in Washington that Israel has a military option against Iran, and that the use of such an option could significantly damage Iran's nuclear program and set it back a number of years. However, Yaalon said Iran is expected to respond with Shihab missiles, as well as missiles from Lebanon and Kassam rockets from the territories. "There will be a need to attack a few dozen sites. The air forces of Israel, the United States, and Europe can carry this out," he said. He added that Iran "would have nuclear technology within a year and a half, and will have the bomb within 3-5 years."
"Israel has the ability to disrupt the Iranian air defense system. Israel can strike Iran through a number of ways, not only though an aerial attack." "Just as we succeed in striking a lone terrorist, we can also strike a nuclear site without causing major damage to the environment and harming innocents." (Ynet News)
See also Responding to the Iranian Threat - David Horovitz
Former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle, now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told the AIPAC conference in Washington on Monday that, while he hoped it wouldn't come to this, Iran's prime nuclear facilities could be devastated on a single night, in a single strike, by a small fleet of U.S. B-2 bombers. (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli security forces foiled six suicide terror bombings in Jerusalem in 2005, Jerusalem District police commander Ilan Franco said Thursday. Two of the bombings were foiled once the terrorists had already infiltrated the city. (Ha'aretz)
The fear that West Bank terror groups will eventually succeed in manufacturing Kassam rockets that will threaten the heart of Israel is a real one, Haruv Battalion commander Lt.-Col. Arik Hen said Thursday. Since disengagement, terror organizations in the Gaza Strip have intensified their attempts to transfer knowledge, funds, and directives to those operating in the West Bank, he said.
"Until now we have witnessed preliminary attempts by terrorists to build rockets, but I would like to remind you that that is how it started in Gaza. The first rocket had a 500-meter range and the second reached a kilometer, and from there it progressed," he said. Once the terror groups attain the capability, it will force the army to change its deployment and adopt a different strategy, and possibly intensify its presence in West Bank cities, Hen said. "It is a situation that we will be unable to accept." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hamas is weaved of the Muslim Brotherhood cloth. But hatred can bring Israel-haters together opportunistically. Even before Fatah's humiliating defeat in the Palestinian elections, Shia help had been trickling into Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and also to the "Marxist" factions of the revolution. But it is difficult to imagine a stable alliance between Sunni extremists and the perfervid Shia in Lebanon and Iran. The blood between them is not very rich. Too much of it has been shed. Still, Hamas seems to assume that it will be drawing on a substantial bank account in Tehran. Will Hamas allow itself to become as dependent and pliant as the optometrist in Damascus? The Sunni-Shia rift is very deep, and even hatred of the Jews will not bridge it in the long run. (New Republic)
Iran is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC, holding about 10% of the world's crude oil reserves. Iran is second only to Russia in natural gas reserves. The ability of China and India to manufacture cheap goods and services is dependent on affordable Iranian oil. Any severe disruption to Iran's economy would have significant economic repercussions on the Chinese and Indian economies. Thus, China and India are sure to protect Iran against any Western attempt to impose sanctions.
On the other hand, Iran is neither an economic nor a military superpower. International sanctions would hamper Iranian technological progress, and its oil industry is not in good shape. In fact, Iran is a net importer of refined oil products, including gasoline. Oil wealth by itself cannot guarantee Iran's 70 million citizens a high standard of living without developing downstream industries. Iran's other allies certainly cannot compensate for decreased European investment. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)
Menashe Amir, an Iranian affairs expert from Israel Radio's Persian broadcasts, discussed what he is hearing from Iranian listeners on Israel Radio Tuesday: "Iran is really afraid of its case being brought before the Security Council. Iran is afraid that this will become a snowball that will continually grow and that will place the current government in danger and lead to sanctions on Iran." "All Iranians want to have a nuclear bomb...but many have said not under this type of government....They fear that a nuclear bomb will give this brutal government a certificate of security."
"I would not say that the Iranians chose Ahmadinejad. Those elections were planned and their outcome was determined ahead of time. And certainly Ahmadinejad does not represent the Iranians. He represents the governing authority." "I hear this from people who listen to Voice of Israel Radio in Persian, who call in to the station and have expressed their opinions that they don't want nuclear bombs under the leadership of Ahmadinejad." (TMC.net)
The UN Human Rights Commission is set to begin its annual meeting in Geneva next Monday, drawing together some of the most oppressive nations on Earth. No, not to haul them up on charges. They'll be welcomed as members of the commission. (Chicago Tribune)
The son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and a group of close associates have moved into key political positions. Last month, Gamal Mubarak was named one of three deputy secretaries general of the governing National Democratic Party, whose grass-roots organization underpins his father's rule, and 20 of his associates took other high-ranking posts in the party. Mubarak had served as head of the party's policies committee, which helped fashion economic reforms. Political observers saw in the move a shift toward putting the NDP at the service of the president's son. (Washington Post)
See also Egypt's Brotherhood Discovers Cost of Free Speech - Christine Spola
The Muslim Brotherhood, with sizable numbers in parliament for the first time, is exercising free speech so freely that some of its activists are being locked up. The Brotherhood in Egypt is a strain of Islamist politics intent on presenting itself as a mainstream political alternative. Last week Egyptian security forces arrested 15 Brotherhood members - none members of parliament - in what analysts and Brotherhood leaders have described as political retaliation for talk about government corruption and ineptitude.
The Brotherhood and Hamas are brethren in Islamist politics, and Brotherhood leaders support Hamas' fight against Israel. Recently, leaders in Cairo pledged to raise money to help the new Hamas government. (Chicago Tribune)
In an important political development, the Kurds in Iraq have switched sides. In the first parliament, they allied themselves with the Shiite slate to produce the current Shiite-dominated government. Now the Kurds have joined with the opposition Sunni and secular parties to oppose the Shiite bloc. The result is two large competing coalitions: (a) the Kurd-Sunni-secular bloc, which controls about 140 seats in the 275-seat parliament, and (b) the Shiite bloc, which itself is a coalition of seven not-always-friendly parties and controls 130 seats. (Washington Post)
When the EU has to chose between its Arab interests and its Israeli ones, it clearly favors the Arab side. In 1973 the Arabs frightened the Europeans with the major oil embargo during the Yom Kippur War. Europe realized how dependent it was on the Arab world. Europe today wants peace and quiet, and does not want anything to interfere. The depth of ignorance in Europe creates misconceived ideas about Israel's aims and policies. Avi Pazner is a former Israeli ambassador to Italy and France. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Al-Qaeda sympathizers are using Orkut, a popular, worldwide Internet service owned by Google, to rally support for bin Laden, share videos and Web links promoting terrorism, and recruit non-Arabic-speaking Westerners, according to terrorism experts. On Orkut, at least 10 communities are devoted to praising bin Laden, al-Qaeda, or jihad against the U.S. The largest bin Laden community has more than 2,000 members. Visitors to the sites can find videos of attacks, see pictures of dead U.S. soldiers, and read an English translation of the Iraq-based wing of al-Qaeda's latest communique before it is available in English anywhere else, says Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute in Washington.
"You are creating what I call a virtual community of hatred and seeding these ideas very early," says Jerrold Post, director of the political psychology program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. However, Bruce Hoffman, director of the RAND Institute's counterterrorism center, says, "The jihadists are already using the Internet. The real issue is how we counter these messages of hate and radicalism." (USA Today)
A make-believe suicide bomber stood amid an imaginary crowd of commuters, poised to "detonate" his weapon and sow tragedy and terror, when a BART police SWAT team officer sneaked up from behind and yanked his legs out from under him. Then the counterterrorism officer straddled his back and pinned his arms outward, preventing the hands from setting off the charge. After last year's bombings of London's transit system and the previous year's bombings of Madrid's commuter trains, BART ratcheted up its counterterrorism training, said BART spokesman Jim Allison.
"Weaponless takedown," the title of a demonstration for the news media, came on the last day of a four-day seminar for the 18-member BART SWAT team conducted by Los Angeles native Aaron Cohen, who said he served in a counterterrorist unit with the Israel Defense Forces. Today, Cohen runs IMS Security, an anti-terrorist institute that he said has consulted for U.S. government agencies.
Reporters were not privy to all that went on during the four-day class. "We're selective about what we tell the media," said Sgt. Paul Garcia. "We don't want it to become training material for our opponents." Cohen also taught about "red flags" that can give away a bomber, such as profuse sweating, white knuckles (from gripping a package hard), clothing that does not match the season, a glazed look, and avoidance of security measures or personnel. (Contra Costa Times)
Swastikas fluttered over Berlin Monday, German soldiers raised stiff arms in the Hitler salute, and hundreds of bedraggled spectators shouted approval as the Nazi leader delivered a faltering speech. Nazi symbols and Hitler salutes are banned in Germany, yet the Finance Ministry - once Hermann Goering's Luftwaffe headquarters - was draped in huge red and black swastikas. "My God," said Benny Zimmerman, a tourist from St. Louis, "They're back!" Dani Levi, an Israeli director, was attempting to recapture the atmosphere of Nazi Germany for a new comedy about Adolf Hitler. "The film is to be called 'Mein Fuhrer,'" said a spokeswoman for Levi. (Times-UK)
Iran Military Options Open - Interview with Martin Indyk by Tony Jones (ABC-Australia)
Martin Indyk served as assistant secretary of state and was Bill Clinton's Middle East advisor at the National Security Council. He is currently director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
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