Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

May 26, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Islamist Gang "Plotted to Bomb Biggest Nightclub in London" - Nicola Woolcock (Times-UK)
    Two Islamic extremists plotted to blow up one of Britain's biggest nightclubs, the Old Bailey was told Thursday.
    Omar Khyam, 24, and Jawad Akbar, 22, did not realize they were being recorded by MI5 as they discussed taking jobs at a bar or club and detonating a fertilizer bomb on a Saturday night.
    In particular, they spoke about blowing up the Ministry of Sound in South London, frequented by up to 2,000 clubbers.
    Akbar and Khyam were also recorded discussing attacks on electricity, gas or water supplies, or phone lines.


Israel HighWay
- May 25, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Protecting the Unity of Jerusalem

Islamic Jihad Member Killed in Lebanon Car Bomb (Reuters/ Washington Post)
    A car bomb wounded senior Islamic Jihad official Mahmoud Majzoub, known as Abu Hamze, and killed his brother Nidal - also an Islamic Jihad member - in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon on Friday.


Iranians Pledge to Become Suicide Bombers - Brian Murphy (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
    Under a banner showing coffins draped with American, British, and Israeli flags, more than 100 Iranian men and women pledged Thursday to become suicide bombers - if necessary - to defend their country and Islam.
    The ceremony was organized by a group believed to have links to the Basiji paramilitary group that is backed by Iran's Islamic regime.
    "Hizballah, Hizballah," the crowd chanted as a singing group began songs calling for Islamic resistance.


Zarqawi Backers Lay Down Sharia Rules - Sharon Behn (Washington Times)
    Imams loyal to terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi have issued threats in mosques in a western Baghdad neighborhood against anyone who does not follow Islamic law, terrified residents are saying.
    Zarqawi supporters reportedly killed six men for wearing knee-length shorts in another Baghdad neighborhood on Tuesday, despite the 106-degree weather.
    Other rules laid down by the Zarqawi supporters forbid men from wearing orange or red clothes or using gel in their hair. Women no longer are allowed to work, and girls cannot study.


Hospital Shootout in Gaza Power Struggle - Stephen Farrell (Times-UK)
    After Nabil Hodhod, a Palestinian security services commander in Gaza, died in an explosion in his car earlier this week, his body was taken to Shifa hospital where a gun battle broke out, with gunmen on hospital balconies firing at others outside.


Palestinians Testing Gaza Fence Security - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    Around 20 Palestinian arrived at the Gaza border fence on Sunday near Kibbutz Nir Am. They crossed one fence and approached the electronic sensor fence.
    Despite requests by soldiers, the Palestinians refused to leave the area and began rioting. In an attempt to disperse the rioters, IDF soldiers fired in the air, but the Palestinians did not disperse.
    One of the Palestinians approached the fence, and in response soldiers fired at his legs.
    Last Wednesday, a few dozen Palestinians arrived at the border in northern Gaza, burned tires, threw rocks, and even climbed the electronic fence.
    Attempts by the IDF to disperse the rioters by firing in the air failed, and eventually the soldiers fired at their legs.


Teaching Johnny About Islam (Investors.com)
    California's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it's OK to put public-school kids through Muslim role-playing exercises, including:
    Memorizing the Muslim profession of faith: "Allah is the only true God and Muhammad is his messenger."
    Chanting "Praise be to Allah" in response to teacher prompts.
    Giving up candy and TV to demonstrate Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
    Designing prayer rugs, taking an Arabic name, and essentially "becoming a Muslim" for two full weeks.


European NGOs Against Israel - Interview with Gerald Steinberg (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Many in European politics, academia, the media, and the NGOs use almost identical semantics. These four elements of society parallel each other, and work together as well, reinforcing each other in the overall attack on Israel.
    The key anti-Israeli policies are emphasized by powerful European NGOs.


Tucson Doctors Explore Disaster Medicine in Israel - Phyllis Braun (Arizona Jewish Post)
    For 23 local physicians who participated in the Tucson Maimonides Mission to Israel in March, the chance to see the Israeli emergency medical system in action was invaluable.
    Jeff Katz, an ophthalmologist, was fascinated by the simulation center at Sheba Medical Center/Tel Hashomer Hospital, which features computer-driven models of bodies or body parts for disaster medicine training.
    Hillel Baldwin, a neurosurgeon, said Israelis use a "scoop and run" approach, providing only basic airway management and life support because the transport time to the emergency room is relatively short.


Trash Treatment Plant Makes Clean Energy - Leah Krauss (UPI)
    ArrowBio Waste Management Technologies' on-site generator just outside Tel Aviv is powered by biogas, the rich methane gas mixture released when organic trash decomposes.
    About 25% of this energy goes to power the machinery at the site. The other 75% of the non-polluting power goes back onto the national grid, and the Israel Electric Corp. credits the company for it.
    With rising oil prices and a growing concern for the environment, Israel, like other countries all over the world, is making a push to rely on more sources of alternative energy.


Jamaica, Israel Partner in New Transshipment Center - Julian Richardson (Jamaica Observer)
    A logistic center that will consolidate in Jamaica containers shipped from across the globe and destined for the Americas, was officially launched last week.
    The center, a key element in the Israeli company Zim's global logistic network, will be involved in the stripping, repackaging, and redistribution of containers transported by Zim to Kingston from several countries.
    Zim is the world's 12th largest shipping line.


Israeli Archaeologists Find Underground Tunnels (AP/Albuquerque Tribune)
    Underground chambers and tunnels used during a Jewish revolt against the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago have been uncovered in the Israeli Arab village of Kfar Kana in northern Israel, archaeologists said.
    Yardenna Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority said the find shows the ancient Jews planned and prepared for the uprising, contrary to the common perception that the revolt began spontaneously.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abbas Says He'd Put Peace Plan to a Vote - Greg Myre
    Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he would call a referendum on a proposal for a Palestinian state that would recognize Israel, if the governing Hamas party failed to accept the plan within ten days. Abbas seems to be gambling that he can force his Fatah party and Hamas to agree on a broad framework for dealing with Israel, which Hamas now refuses to recognize. But he runs the risk of provoking a political showdown. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, described Abbas' announcement as an internal Palestinian matter. In the past Israel has strongly rejected two of the plan's provisions: returning to pre-1967 borders and giving Palestinian refugees the right to return to lands they left in 1948. (New York Times)
  • Syria Launches Crackdown on Dissent - Rhonda Roumani
    Syria has jailed writers, activists, and intellectuals over the past week in the largest crackdown on internal dissent since 2001. The crackdown is aimed mostly at signatories of a declaration demanding that Syria improve relations with Lebanon. "The government wants to forbid any kind of dissent or opposition so when the results of the international investigation [into last year's assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister] come out, the regime will have complete control of the country," says Yassin Haj-Saleh, an opposition figure who also signed the declaration but has not yet been arrested. With international pressure now focused on Iran and on Hamas, some believe the arrests are a sign that the Syrian government has weathered the storm. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Israelis Celebrate Jerusalem Day - Robert Berger
    Thousands of Israelis waving national flags marched through the streets of Jerusalem Thursday, celebrating the 39th anniversary of the reunification of the city during the Six-Day War in 1967. The message of Jerusalem Day is that the city is Jewish. "Jerusalem was born Jewish," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at a ceremony on a Six-Day War battlefield, and today, more than ever, it is Jewish, complete, and united. (Voice of America News)
        See also Prime Minister's Speech at Jerusalem Day Ceremony (Prime Minister's Office)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Agrees on Arms Transfer to Abbas' Presidential Guard - Amos Harel
    Israel has agreed to the transfer of a limited amount of weapons and ammunition to the PA's presidential guard in light of growing threats to Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' life. Senior defense sources said Thursday that the arms will be delivered by either Egypt or Jordan. (Ha'aretz)
  • Four Armed Palestinians Killed in Ramallah - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Undercover IDF soldiers entered Ramallah Wednesday to arrest Mahmoud Shubaki, head of the Islamic Jihad in Kalkilya, who had moved to Ramallah at the beginning of the year to establish a terror network. Shubaki did not resist arrest. However IDF forces in the city were attacked by Palestinians. The IDF said five armed Palestinians shot at them and the soldiers returned fire killing four men, all in their 20s. IDF sources said, "Clearly we would have preferred for the operation to go smoothly, without Palestinian casualties. But innocent people or children were not hit. The soldiers were shot at and returned fire."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also UK Foreign Office Condemns IDF Operation in Ramallah - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Attack IDF Patrol at Gaza Security Fence - Joshua Brannon
    Palestinians detonated a roadside bomb against an IDF patrol along the Gaza security fence Thursday evening near Kerem Shalom. No soldiers were hurt. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas-Fatah Shootout in Gaza Leaves One Dead, Four Injured
    A gunfight between Palestinian security forces and the newly established Hamas militia Thursday left one police officer dead and four others wounded in the latest outbreak of internal Palestinian fighting. (AP/Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Militia Ordered Off Gaza Streets - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    The Hamas-led Palestinian government ordered its militia off Gaza's streets on Friday in the wake of clashes with Mahmoud Abbas' rival Fatah movement. Youssef al-Zahar, a leader of the Hamas force, said the interior minister had ordered the pullback. "We have received orders to withdraw from the streets and to concentrate in certain locations to be ready to rush to the scene when needed to confront chaos," Zahar said. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Balance of Forces in Gaza - Amos Harel
    In Gaza, while most of the Palestinian public backs Hamas, the advantage of weaponry goes to Fatah, which has tens of thousands of armed men at its disposal. In the West Bank, an Israeli security official says, the news about establishment of the Hamas government is barely a rumor. Hamas has not been able to enforce its authority on the military forces there and its ministers do not dare tour neighborhoods that are considered Fatah strongholds. Israel's office for coordination of activities in the territories describes the economic situation in Gaza as a severe recession, but not hunger. Goods are still available on the shelves and there is a six-week stock of flour. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Differing Perspectives on Israeli Prime Minister's Visit to Washington

  • Israel's "Realignment" - Editorial
    Though they paid lip service to continued Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in effect inaugurated an entirely different process at their White House meeting Tuesday - one in which Israel will parley with the U.S. about the new borders it intends to draw for itself. Despite his promise to pursue talks with Mahmoud Abbas, Olmert has made clear that he doesn't believe Israel will be able to work with the Palestinian Authority anytime soon.
        Olmert has now won Bush's de facto consent to pursue a unilateral "realignment," in which Israel would draw a border of its own choosing in the West Bank, dismantle some of the settlements that lie beyond it, and thereby "guarantee Israel's security as a Jewish state with the borders it desires." But as Olmert acknowledged, there is one crucial condition: Israel cannot successfully impose its plan on the Palestinians unless it has "the comprehensive support of the United States and the international community."  (Washington Post)
  • What Olmert Heard - Editorial
    As usual, it was in Olmert's private talks with Bush, Rice, Hadley, and Rumsfeld that the important understandings were reached - or not reached. Hints point to a cooperative atmosphere but also a healthy administration skepticism about Olmert's still-preliminary proposal to draw Israel's final borders unilaterally. Olmert cannot come to Washington to negotiate a final-status agreement. The road map that Bush continues to commend to Israel as the unaltered basis of U.S. policy requires Israel to negotiate its permanent borders only with Palestinians, not with Americans. (Boston Globe)
  • Two Cheers for Olmert in Washington - Steven Erlanger
    Bush hailed Olmert's "bold ideas," but those around Olmert were a little disappointed that the American embrace of "realignment" was so tepid and conditional. Bush insisted first on a sincere effort to restart serious negotiations toward peace with Mahmoud Abbas, and of course Olmert said that was what he wanted, too. The U.S. wants to boost Abbas and is therefore insisting that Olmert treat him with respect, as a negotiating partner, rather than treat him with the indifference and contempt shown by the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. At the same time, senior American officials have few expectations that Abbas can deliver. (New York Times)
  • Now, It Is Olmert's Turn - Aluf Benn
    The Americans made it clear that they will not recognize the borders that Israel sets for itself without Palestinian approval. In exchange, Olmert softened his statements. The "permanent borders" he promised to shape have been turned into "defense borders." The settlement blocs will be annexed to Israel only as part of the final-status agreement. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Palestinian Charade - Editorial
    In their dealings with the Palestinians, the U.S. and Israel are engaged in a charade. The reality is that the road map has been in tatters since it was first agreed upon in 2003. In the face of unremitting hostility by Hamas to the existence of a Jewish state, Israel's prime minister has said he will attempt to negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas. But Abbas is a busted flush, unable to deliver anything. (Telegraph-UK)
  • No Favors - Shmuel Rosner
    Not long ago Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, and apart from applause it has not yet received anything in return. Did the move justify the expectations? Martin Indyk and Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy wrote: No American president can seriously consider rejecting an Israeli proposal for withdrawal and evacuation of settlements. This will ensure Israel applause, but not much more than that.
        It is not American money that will take Israel out of there, nor a vague promise of ending the demands - which in any case would be a promise written in the sand in an unstable region. Israel will evacuate settlements of its own accord, taking into consideration the costs and the benefits. Or it will decide not to. This is a sign of a mature state, with the ability to decide alone and take responsibility for its actions - even if Uncle Sam is not available at the moment to nod his head and approve. (Ha'aretz)

    The Palestinians

  • Leader in Last-Chance Saloon Risks Big Gamble - Richard Beeston
    Abbas' shock proposal to hold a referendum on creating a Palestinian state is a desperate gamble to save his weakened position. Declaring statehood in this manner would be popular with Palestinians, and opinion polls suggest that the plan would win 80% support. If Hamas was forced to honor that decision by popular mandate, it would de facto recognize Israel's right to exist. It would also endorse a "two-state solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict and probably open the way to lifting the U.S.-led financial embargo against the Palestinian Authority.
        If rival Palestinian movements can build a unity government, recognize Israel's existence, and restore credibility to Abbas' leadership, the whole political landscape in the region will change. That is a big "if." "This is a high-risk strategy for Abbas," said a Western diplomat. "If it fails, that's it for him."  (Times-UK)
  • A Two-State Disaster - Youssef Ibrahim
    A new Palestinian state, carved out of Gaza and the West Bank and governed by Palestinian Arab jihadists, would be a recipe for disaster. Indeed, drawing up a two-state solution now would be tantamount to opening the gates to barbarians. A hastened pullout would unleash a wave of Islamic fundamentalist terror on Israel as well as Arab lands, without resolving anything for Palestinian Arabs. Palestinian Arabs are far from ready to run anything - let alone a country in the tinderbox that is the Middle East.
        A few days ago, Egypt asserted that the perpetrators of the most recent deadly bombings of tourist resorts in the Red Sea were trained, equipped, and "weaponized" ideologically as well as physically by Muslim Palestinian jihadists in Gaza and the West Bank. The last thing anyone wants to do is give such folks a green light to widen the scope of their operations. No responsible party can give such people an area of operation under the name of Palestine.
        Should anyone allow this, Israel will be the last to suffer from it. With superb intelligence and technology, it will take care of itself. The question should instead be about the Arabs who live in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and beyond. Most of them are governed by failed regimes, teetering on the brink of collapse with jihadists nipping at their heels and corruption eating their entrails. Giving Muslim fundamentalists a base in Palestine from which to operate and finish off these dying regimes would be unconscionable.
        A two-state Palestinian-Israeli solution may be possible one day. But not today. The Palestinian Arabs, who just elected a radical, mindless, bloody Islamic fundamentalist regime, Hamas, as their first freely elected government, have not demonstrated they deserve further indulgence. (New York Sun)
  • The Squeeze on Hamas - Editorial
    Hamas is a terrorist organization that promised to wipe Israel from the map. When a suicide bomb exploded in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago, Hamas applauded. Hamas is standing firm in its hatred: It will not recognize Israel, renounce violence, or hew to previous agreements. No one argues with sending medicine to the Palestinians. But Western governments must be careful that the trickle doesn't become a surge of money that would spill into salaries for security forces.
        The elected representatives of the Palestinians can feed their hatred of Israel and stand proud in their celebration of violence and their refusal to negotiate. If so, they can watch their people sink further into poverty and desperation. Unfortunately, Hamas seems only too willing to exploit the suffering of its people for political purposes. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Diplomacy Is the Only Way to Reach Palestinian Statehood - Editorial
    In the early days of Lebanon's Civil War, Palestinian leaders in Beirut famously argued that "the road to Jerusalem passes through Jounieh," implying that it was necessary for the Palestinians to trample and destroy Lebanese Christian militias before they could create a Palestinian state. The irony that Jounieh is a Christian town to the north of Beirut - in the opposite direction as Palestine - was as lost on as many Palestinian leaders then as it is now. A Palestinian state cannot be created through the elimination of any other entity. If the Palestinians fail to rally behind a single, peaceful agenda, they will be closing off the only path - diplomacy - that will lead to the creation of a viable Palestinian state. (Daily Star-Lebanon)

    Other Issues

  • Say No to Tehran's Gambit - Charles Krauthammer
    All of a sudden, revolutionary Iran has offered direct talks with the United States. It is not rare to see a regime such as Iran's - despotic, internally weak, feeling the world closing in - attempt so transparent a ploy to relieve pressure on itself. Concerted sanctions by America, Europe, and other economic powers could have devastating effects on Iran and its shaky clerical dictatorship, which is why the mullahs launched this recent initiative. The very fact that Iran is desperately trying to change the venue and shift the burden onto the U.S. shows how close the mullahs believe we are to achieving major international pressure on them. Pushing Washington to abandon the multilateral process and enter negotiations alone would short-circuit the process that, after years of dithering, is about to yield its first fruits: sanctions that Tehran fears. (Washington Post)
        See also It's Time to Engage with Iran - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
  • Syrian Subversion by Proxy - Editorial
    Syria continues to occupy the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Lebanese who visited the Bekaa several weeks ago said they saw Syrian military forces on Lebanese territory. Last week, the Lebanese Army clashed with members of Fatah Uprising, a Palestinian rejectionist group based in Damascus. After the fighting began, Palestinians based in Syria sent 50 fighters, as well as trucks, jeeps, and an anti-aircraft gun, across the border to aid the Fatah group in combating the Lebanese Army. Syria, in short, is subverting Lebanon by proxy. (Washington Times)
  • The Protocols, 21st Century-Style - Benjamin Neuberger
    Another academic boycott of Israel is being organized in Britain. The organizers are not a majority but clearly rather a small minority. However, there are no initiatives for boycotts against other countries: not against Iran, which is denying the Holocaust and threatening to destroy Israel; not against Sudan, which is committing genocide in Darfur; not against Saudi Arabia, where people are executed for religious infractions; and not against China, which is carrying out oppression in Tibet and Shenzhen. Nor is the hated United States being boycotted.
        When I was on sabbatical at Oxford University in 2003-2005, I was astonished to see how many professors and students identified Zionism with racism, imperialism, and colonialism. In these circles there is no understanding at all of the Jewish history of pogroms, persecution, and deportations, or of the meaning of the Holocaust. They do not know, and they do not want to know, that we have historical roots in this country, that our language is non-European, that half of the Jews in Israel did not come from Europe, that those who did come from Europe were considered alien and shunned "Semites" there, and that the Zionists had no colonialist mother country. The writer is a professor of political science at the Open University. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Stop the British Academic Boycott of Israel - Colin Shindler
    The writer lectures in Israeli Studies at the University of London. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egyptian-Italian Journalist: Hamas Terror Is Not a Reaction to Occupation - Assaf Uni
    "Israel's right to exist is today the international criterion for distinguishing between the terrorist camp and the camp of life," says Magdi Allam, the Egyptian-Italian journalist and writer who is now visiting Israel. "On one side, there is the Hamas government, Iran, fundamentalist Islam and even parts of the extreme left and right in Europe." On the other side, he says, are Western countries and "supporters of the right to live." The West, he believes, does not understand that it is under attack, and is trying to conduct a dialogue with the Muslims attacking it. Allam, 54, immigrated to Italy some 30 years ago and is today the deputy editor of Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest newspaper. (Ha'aretz)

    Weekend Features

  • Presenting... Israel "Lite" - Nathan Guttman
    Whenever Donna Rosenthal, on a tour of the U.S. to talk about her book The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land, arrives at a TV studio, she carries a cassette to provide viewers with a new experience of Israel, pictures of an Ethiopian-born Israeli serving as a pilot, or high-tech Israeli industrial plants. Whenever she speaks about Israel's Arab population, she shows a copy of an Arab-language lifestyle magazine with photos of beautiful, young Arab-Israeli women.
        At one Ivy League university, a student was surprised to learn that it was not Israelis who carry out suicide attacks; at a rabbinical school, not one was aware that Muslims and Christians serve in the IDF; in Silicon Valley, a group of students was amazed to hear that Israel has a flourishing hi-tech industry; and everywhere, audiences expressed little or no understanding of Israel's ethnic and racial diversity.
        The stereotypical way in which outsiders view Israel was evident during the designing of the book's jacket, the first draft of which portrayed a haredi man holding a shofar and a Muslim wearing a keffiyeh. It took some persuading on Rosenthal's part to replace the archaic images with young, Western-looking girls, a teenager chewing bubble gum, and a woman soldier. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel's Economy Leaving Palestinians Far Behind - Joshua Mitnick
    At a time when the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza are teetering on the brink of a collapse, Israeli growth - with a 6.6% GDP rise in the first quarter of 2006 - has returned to the torrid pace set before the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising. It's also a recognition of a growing separation between the Israeli and Palestinian economies. Per-capita income - a measure of the standard of living - is 17 times higher in Israel than among its neighbors from the West Bank and Gaza. Now the possibility of full economic disengagement looms. (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Israeli Business Sector Shines Despite Dangers - Abraham Rabinovich
    Sever Plotzker, economics editor of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, noted that Israel's business-sector GDP growth rate of 10.6% outpaced even China's, as did the industrial sector's 27% annualized growth. (Washington Times)
  • Private Jihad - Benjamin Wallace-Wells
    Rita Katz, who was born in Iraq and speaks fluent Arabic, spends hours each day monitoring the password-protected online chat rooms in which Islamic terrorists discuss politics and trade tips: how to disperse botulinum toxin or transfer funds, which suicide vests work best. Katz, who is the head of the Search for International Terrorist Entities, or SITE Institute, and her researchers mine online sources for intelligence. She has worked with prosecutors on more than a dozen terrorism investigations, and many American officers in Iraq rely on Katz's e-mails to brief their troops on the designs for explosives that are passed around terrorist websites. (New Yorker)
  • Book Review: Terrorism on the Internet - Joshua Sina
    Today's terrorists have access to computers, the Internet, and cyberspace's myriad technological benefits in conducting communications and warfare. Gabriel Weimann's groundbreaking book, Terror on the Internet, published by the U.S. Institute of Peace, points to the exponential growth in such use since 1998, when less than half of the world's 30 active terrorist organizations had established a presence on the Net, compared to today when the 40 active groups have more than 4,300 websites serving them and their supporters. (Washington Times)
  • New Stamp To Honor U.S. Envoy in WWII Who Helped Jews Escape - Christopher Lee
    66 years ago, Hiram Bingham IV, a blue-blood American diplomat in France, defied U.S. policy by helping Jews escape the Nazis in the early years of World War II. Bingham's actions cost him his Foreign Service career but won him the undying gratitude of the more than 2,000 refugees he helped save by issuing them travel visas and false passports, and even at times sheltering them in his home. The Yale-educated son of a former U.S. senator, Bingham died in 1988 at age 84. His own children did not learn the extent of his wartime deeds until 1996, when a son found a cache of old journals and correspondence stashed in a hidden closet in the family's Connecticut home. The U.S. Postal Service issues a stamp next Wednesday in his honor. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    The Islamist Threat to Jordan - Nibras Kazimi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The elusiveness of a unifying Jordanian identity now provides a window of opportunity for the jihadists, for whom Jordan is to be the "Land of Mobilization and Fortitude" - the staging ground for the liberation of Palestine and the destruction of Israel. Alienated Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin (who form the majority of the population according to most estimates) will always be vulnerable to an agenda that politically agitates for a return to the Palestinian homeland through armed struggle.
    • For an increasing number of Palestinians, Hamas has ceased to be militant enough, and they will seek out an alternative organization through which to channel their militancy. This trend will probably be mirrored among Palestinians in Jordan as well, with many finding their way to al-Qaeda, or setting up home-grown and organizationally-independent (and thus harder to track) al-Qaeda affiliates.
    • There is a historical precedent for this: young Palestinian Muslim Brothers - such as Abu Iyad, Yasser Arafat, and Abu Jihad - left the organization to train and fight under the auspices of new groups like Fatah in the 1960s that gave vent to their militancy.
    • The convergence of the "global jihad," conducted by organizations such as al-Qaeda, with the concept of "local jihad," that was the niche of homegrown militants such as Hamas, is something of a homecoming for the traditional presence of Palestinians within the ranks of Islamic extremists fighting far beyond their borders. Palestinians now have the opportunity to serve their own cause - the convenience of being a "good" global jihadist and a "good" Palestinian nationalist both at once.
    • Zarqawi has vowed to cut off the head of King Abdullah II. The Iraq phase has taught many Palestinians and Jordanians fighting skills, who may have returned to Jordan. Today, these experienced elements pose the most direct threat to Jordan's security.

      The author is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.


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