Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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FBI Helped Israel Track Palestinian Terror Cells - Shmuel Rosner (Ha'aretz)
- June 22, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Israel Business, Investment, and Money
Hamas: Islam Will Conquer U.S. and Britain - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
Iranian Death Judge Lands Seat on UN Human Rights Council - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
Fallout from the Jericho Casino - Vernon Silver and Otis Bilodeau (Bloomberg)
Palestinian Youth Seek to Get Locked Up to Get Away - Mark Mackinnon (Globe and Mail-Canada)
Motorola Ventures Invests $25 Million in Israel in '06 - Tova Cohen (Reuters)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
FBI agents in Miami Thursday arrested seven people on terrorism charges in what one law enforcement source called "a homegrown operation" that had among its targets the Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI office in Miami. The suspects were described as supporters of militant Islam but not members of al-Qaeda. At least five are U.S. citizens. (Washington Post)
Tashawn Rose, 29, who lived near the warehouse where the men slept, said, "They would come out late at night and exercise....It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard....They seemed brainwashed. They said they had given their lives to Allah." (Chicago Tribune)
Hamas has blasted PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for suggesting that the Islamic militant group may accept a two-state solution and recognize Israel. A Hamas statement faxed to UPI's Beirut office Thursday said Abbas' declaration "only reflects his views, not those of Hamas." The statement described Abbas' remarks as "strange and unaccepted." Hamas also strongly criticized Abbas for meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jordan this week. (UPI)
Jordan has opened a new domestic battlefront with the main Islamic organization in the country. The Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), claim the government decided to crack down after the election of the Islamic group Hamas in the Palestinian territories in January and ahead of Jordan's own polls next year. Jordan, a key U.S. ally, allows the Muslim Brotherhood to operate as long as it expresses fealty to the king - in contrast to Egypt and Syria, which in the past have brutally suppressed the Islamists.
Underlying the escalating debate is renewed tension over Jordan's identity. A majority of the citizens are of Palestinian origin and many feel outrage over the Western aid boycott, backed by Jordan, of the Hamas-led government. Jordan fears an additional influx of Palestinian refugees if Israel presses ahead unilaterally to set its borders in the West Bank should negotiations fail. Parliament this year is supposed to formulate new laws on media freedom, funding of political parties, and a new national electoral system, which should give more representation to urban areas where many Jordanians of Palestinian origin live. (Financial Times-UK)
Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, accused the Iranian government Thursday of training, equipping, and directing Shiite Muslim insurgents operating in Iraq. Casey said there had been a "noticeable increase" in Iranian-backed attacks this year and implicated Al Quds Army, a covert special operations force within Iran's Republican Guard, as the unit orchestrating the campaign. He said the unit's participation also was a signal that the activity was being directed by the central government in Iran. "They are using surrogates to conduct terrorist operations in Iraq, both against us and against the Iraqi people," Casey said.
Specifically, he said he had seen an increase in the use of shaped charges, which focus the force of an explosion to penetrate armor. U.S. and British intelligence say Iranians are providing the shaped charges and other weapons to Iraqi insurgents. Casey said there also were signs that Iraqi insurgents were being trained in Iran and in Lebanon by Iranian-backed Hizballah militants. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets Friday morning at Israel, causing no injuries or damage. On Thursday afternoon, a rocket damaged some greenhouses. (Ynet News)
Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said in an interview with Ynet Thursday, "Firing 40 Kassam rockets a day on Sderot and trying to intentionally kill civilians is a war crime." "Regretfully, in the war on terror there are some innocent people killed unintentionally," he added. These incidents "can be easily avoided if Israel ceases to be a target of daily terror emanating from the Gaza Strip; and this is taking place after Israel withdrew from the entire Strip and evacuated 8,000 Israelis from the area." (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Palestinian Rocket Fire on Israel
It is possible that Israel will maneuver itself into a unilateral implementation of Prime Minister Olmert's convergence plan. It is important to clarify to the public that the chances are the convergence lines will be Israel's new combat lines. That is what happened with the lines of the disengagement from Gaza: They turned into new combat lines. It is natural that Hamas chalked up a military achievement as the group that employed force and pushed Israel into the withdrawal. That is how things look to the Palestinians. Hamas' election victory only magnified its triumph. The disengagement may have shortened the IDF's lines and saved money, but the savings will be spent on defensive fortification of the communities around Gaza.
With a new unilateral convergence, Israel will give up on the demilitarization of any Palestinian territory from which it retreats. It will give new momentum to Hamas, not to Abbas. And it will endanger Jordan and the Hashemite regime. Jordan is beseeching Israel not to act unilaterally. It understands that unilateralism would mean a continuation of the fighting, and that could increase instability in Jordan.
Once the withdrawal lines turn into new combat lines, it will only be a matter of time until the IDF moves into the towns and cities of the West Bank in full force. All it would take is one Kassam landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Kassam rocket attacks on Israel's coastal towns are a strategic threat. (Ha'aretz)
The message the prime minister has received during his trips abroad obligate Israel to shift from unilateralism to coordination. Otherwise the plan will not enjoy international endorsement, which is crucial. In addition, the flare-up in the Gaza Strip and continued shelling of our southern towns have lent weight to the argument that Israel cannot simply quit most of Judea and Samaria and expect its security situation to improve. The bitter experience of last year's Gaza disengagement teaches us that Israel must work in sync with the Palestinians in order to avoid a repeat of the Gaza aftermath. The answer is to take the road map off the shelf and dust it off. (Ha'aretz)
Dan Ulman, a veteran of Kibbutz Gevim adjacent to Sderot, is a former disciple of restraint who recently has gone over to the other camp. The change occurred last month, a few moments after a Kassam rocket landed on the veranda of his home. (Ha'aretz)
Tory leader David Cameron asked Prime Minister Olmert in London last week a question that - in light of everything happening in Sderot and Gaza - is heavy on the minds of many Israelis: How will Israel be able to prevent similar Kassam attacks from the West Bank after realignment? The realignment plan is still very much a work in progress - intensive staff work on the plan hasn't even begun - and the plan's final form could very well be impacted by how things go now in the southern city of Sderot. The ceaseless pounding of Sderot, and the difficulty Israel is having dealing with it exclusively through the air, may very well have a real impact on the ultimate decision about where the army should redeploy.
Olmert's advisers argue that security is not the only measure of success. They say that the future realignment needs to be judged by different parameters: whether it will improve Israel's demographic situation; whether it furthers the vision of a two-state solution; whether it improve Israel's international standing; whether it improve Israel's strategic relationship with the U.S.; whether it reduces friction and helps Israel separate from the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
Mahmoud Abbas' pursuit of a referendum has been widely interpreted as a power play designed to circumvent the Hamas-led government and force it to implicitly accept Israel's existence. But the actual text of the document to be voted on more closely resembles the political program of Hamas than that of Abbas. Abbas' call for a referendum was intended to exert pressure on Hamas, but it has only handcuffed his negotiating ability and forced him to retreat from several of his prior positions. Conversely, Hamas has benefited from its refusal to sign on to the document as written. Hamas has also legalized its new militia in Gaza. Moreover, by initially rejecting the document but then accepting it as the basis for dialogue, Hamas gained public support as the faction willing to make concessions for the sake of national unity. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also Referendum Document: Peace Plan or "Phased Plan"? - Gilead Ini
If the July 26 Palestinian referendum actually does take place, Palestinians will answer "yes" or "no" to just one question: "Do you agree to the national conciliation document: 'Prisoners Document'?" The Prisoners Document does not explicitly call for recognition of Israel; and it presses for the "right of return," widely understood as a way to destroy the Jewish state via demographic means. The document calls for "clinging to the option of resistance" - a term regularly used by Palestinians to describe terror attacks against Israelis. Yet, many media organizations are incorrectly touting this document as a "peace plan." (CAMERA)
See also Text of Prisoners Document (Al-Quds/Jerusalem Media & Communication Center-PA)
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert wasn't greeted with church bells and parades when he came last week to sell Europe on his plan. He got the cold shoulder. Now why would Europe have second thoughts? The phrase "pre-1967 borders" gives some clues to European resistance. In fact, there never were either pre- or post-1967 borders - only armistice lines following the Arab attempt in 1948 to extinguish newly-created Israel.
At the end of that war, the West Bank and Gaza did not become part of a Palestinian state but were occupied by Jordan and Egypt respectively. Israel conquered these territories only in 1967, which is why it prefers to speak of "disputed" and not "occupied" land. In a legal sense occupation requires that the territory in question was the recognized part of a sovereign state before its conquest.
By getting this history wrong, the EU implies that the complete withdrawal to the 1967 lines would return the region to some previous state of order. Acknowledging that there never were any borders to begin with would make the insistence on the complete withdrawal to arbitrary battle lines appear less than objective. The author is an editorial writer at the Wall Street Journal Europe. (Wall Street Journal, 23Jun06)
In a statement faxed to Reuters after Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike, Hamas said it mourned "brother-fighter Abu Musab...who was martyred at the hands of the savage crusade campaign which targets the Arab homeland, starting in Iraq." Hamas denied the statement but hailed him as a symbol of resistance to occupation. Sami Abu-Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that Hamas "reiterates its supportive position to all liberation movements and foremost the Iraqi liberation movement, for which Zarqawi was one of the symbols in the face of the American occupation."
The regional and global al-Qaeda associates face a challenging situation. Possible directions for al-Qaeda could be to concentrate the main effort on two arenas: Egypt and Gaza. Egypt, because of its regional significance and the difficulty the security authorities seem to have in quelling the local groups in the Sinai and Cairo. Egypt is also an easy gate to penetrate the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. (Institute for Counter-Terrorism/Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya)
See also Zarqawi's Successor: Abu Hamza al-Muhajir
On June 13, 2006, a number of Islamist websites posted the first communique of Zarqawi's successor, who uses the name Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. Abu Hamza promises the Islamic nation that the decisive stage has arrived and that the jihad fighters' victory is assured. He threatens to slit the throats of Sunnis who cooperate with the Iraqi government and with the Americans, and says he will continue fighting the government, which is comprised mainly of Shi'ites, until the Sunnis get the upper hand. Abu Hamza also assures the West that Zarqawi's death will not stop the jihad fighters. (MEMRI)
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's tribe in Jordan, the Al-Khalayleh, claimed last November that they had disowned the man who had sown havoc in Iraq. They made that public declaration in the aftermath of his attack on three Amman hotels. That day, Nov. 9, 2005, was dubbed by the Jordanians as their own 9/11. But blood has its claims, and in truth Zarqawi had been, and remained, a man of high standing in Jordan and in other Arab lands. After his death, the regime in Amman may have announced that his corpse would not "stain Jordan's soil," but his clan held a "martyr's wedding" for him, and four members of Jordan's Parliament turned up at that funeral ceremony.
The extremist is never alone; the terrorist on the fringe of political life always works with the winks and nods of the society that gives him cover. The Jordanians are now eager to claim that they were helpful in the hunt for Zarqawi, that their intelligence had found its way to the Sunni Arab tribes of western and central Iraq. In their recent statements, though, the Jordanians tell us much about the ways of our allies: The collaboration with U.S. intelligence, they add, had begun in earnest in the aftermath of the hotel bombings of last November. But Jordanian jihadists had been at work in Iraq long before they struck Amman. (Wall Street Journal, 22Jun06)
Ten years ago this Sunday, acting under direct orders from senior Iranian government leaders, the Saudi Hizballah detonated a 25,000-pound TNT bomb that killed 19 U.S. airmen in their dormitory at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and grievously wounded hundreds of additional Air Force personnel. Although a federal grand jury handed down indictments in June 2001, two of the primary leaders of the attack, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil and Abdel Hussein Mohamed al-Nasser, are living comfortably in Iran. The Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack, who admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.
The aftermath of the Khobar bombing is just one example of how successive U.S. governments have mishandled Iran and sent the wrong message to Tehran. Almost 13 years before Iran committed its terrorist act of war against America at Khobar, it used its surrogates, the Lebanese Hizballah, to murder 241 Marines in their Beirut barracks. The U.S. response to that 1983 outrage was to pull our military forces out of the region. Such timidity was not lost upon Tehran. As with Beirut, Tehran once again received loud and clear from the U.S. its consistent message that there would be no price to pay for its acts of war against America. The writer was FBI director in 1993-2001. (Wall Street Journal, 23Jun06)
The Middle East today is the "great exception" in terms of societal and political progress. Authoritarian rule, presiding over sluggish development, remains the norm. Almost without exception, the region remains divided between nationalist-military dictatorships and traditional, monarchical forms of government, neither of which have succeeded in developing successful, advanced economies or educated, mobile societies. This article looks at the key factors militating against domestically produced "regime change" in Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. (MERIA Journal)
Ismail Khaldi, a 35-year old Bedouin shepherd from the village of Khawalid in the Zevulun Valley, will soon begin serving as Israeli consul in San Francisco, Israel's first Bedouin diplomat. "The Western democratic world has a lot to learn from Israel about democracy," says Khaldi. "If we've failed once and haven't managed to explain that Israel is a normal country, we have to try again and again and again until this changes. And it will change." "I grew up among Israeli Jews, mostly members of Kibbutz Kfar Hamaccabi. And they never made me feel different. I always felt equal. This is the Jewish state, but I am part of the country, and my identity is Israeli, not Palestinian," he added. (Ynet News)
The central thesis of Efraim Karsh's provocative new book, Islamic Imperialism: A History, is that Islam is a millennarian faith in which politics and religion are inextricably bound together. Although they differ in ideological approach, secular pan-Arabists and the Islamists who now oppose them hold a common imperial outlook. This dream remains at the forefront of the social memory or imagination of the Arab-Muslim world, nurturing irredentist fantasies from Xinjiang to Spain. The terrorist attacks that have destroyed so many lives in cities far removed from its conflicts - in New York, Madrid, London, Istanbul - can indeed be seen as the outcome of a frustrated will-to-power fuelled by apocalyptic fantasies based on an idealized vision of a brilliant imperial past. (Sunday Times-UK)
An Eye for an Eye - Yoel Marcus (Ha'aretz)
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