Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Palestinian FM: "Israel Should Move to Canada" - (Al-Bawaba-Jordan)
Iran Schools Feed Pupils "War Curriculum" - Mark John (Reuters)
PA Received $130 Million in January - Mu Xuequan (Xinhua-China)
Religiosity Growing Among Young British Muslims - Michael Holden (Reuters)
U.S. Military: Afghan Leaders Steal Half of All Aid - Gethin Chamberlain (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Dozens of al-Qaeda suicide bombers from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Sudan are crossing into Iraq from Syria every month, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday. The official said that 75-80% of the estimated 75 suicide bombings a month were carried out by foreigners, with the vast majority of suicide bombers coming across the border from Syria. They receive training for their task within Syria as well as inside Iraq itself.
The U.S. says outside actors - chiefly Syria and Iran - are still one of the biggest factors determining the level of violence in Iraq. "We have been wholly unsuccessful in affecting Syrian behavior with regard to the passage of these elements," the official said, adding that the countries of the region wanted to isolate Syria further. (Financial Times-UK)
Investigators say attackers who used American-style uniforms and weapons to infiltrate a secure compound and kill five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20 may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents, according to American and Iraqi officials. The sophistication of the attack astonished investigators. A senior Iraqi official said the attackers had carried forged American identity cards and American-style M-4 rifles and had thrown stun grenades of a kind used only by American forces. (New York Times)
See also New Type of IED Comes Via Iran, Say U.S. Officials - Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today)
Israelis and other foreign nationals can pursue in U.S. courts claims accusing the Jordan-based Arab Bank of promoting Palestinian suicide attacks by funneling Saudi money to bombers' families, Judge Nina Gershon ruled Monday in federal court in Brooklyn. "In light of the universal condemnation of organized and systematic suicide bombings and other murderous acts intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, this court finds that such conduct violates an established norm of international law," Gershon wrote. "The court further finds that the conduct alleged by plaintiffs is sufficiently specific and well-defined to be recognized as a claim."
The ruling allows thousands of suicide bombing victims and their families to seek damages, said Michael Elsner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. Banks and private individuals that aid and abet acts of terrorism "may be held civilly liable in the U.S., even if those acts occur outside the U.S.," he said. (AP/Forbes)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel Defense officials said Egypt could do more to prevent Palestinian infiltrations into Sinai from Gaza and then into Israel, and IDF liaison officers have asked their Egyptian counterparts to increase efforts to stop the terror flow. "The Egyptians can do more," said one defense official on Tuesday. "It is just a matter of whether they want to." A diplomatic official said Israel had been pressing the Egyptians for years to take more effective action on their side of the border to prevent arms smuggling and the infiltration of terrorists, but some in Sinai were making a lot of money through smuggling. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel-Egypt Border in Sinai Is Wide Open - Shelly Paz
Hours before a terrorist entered from Egypt on Sunday to carry out a suicide bombing in Eilat, 23 people from Georgia, Turkey, the Ivory Coast and Uganda were caught trying to illegally enter Israel via that same border. "The border between Israel and Egypt is easy to cross, there is no real barrier, just a low fence," said Yossi Edelstein, supervisor of the Foreigners Enforcement Department in the Interior Ministry. (Jerusalem Post)
Emil Almaliakh, 32, is survived by his wife, Keren, and two-year-old daughter, Jan. He served in the Golani Brigade's reconnaissance unit and performed reserve duty with the Alpinist unit on Mount Hermon. Almaliakh opened the Lehamim bakery eight months ago. Michael Ben-Sa'adon, 27, joined him as a partner in the bakery three months ago. Ben-Sa'adon is survived by his wife, Shani, and eight-month-old son, Nahorai. Israel Samolia, 26, known to all as Izzy, worked at the bakery. Originally from Peru, he immigrated to Israel from Miami several years ago. (Jerusalem Post)
The Eilat attack illustrates that Palestinian terror, despite being restrained, still exists and is dangerous. The Palestinian motivation to target Israel and Israelis has not decreased in light of the economic and international pressure exerted on the Hamas government and the intra-Palestinian clashes; the opposite is true. Moreover, even if a Palestinian national unity government is formed and a compromise is reached on the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, there would still be powerful elements on the Palestinian street that would continue to target Israel with outside encouragement. Israel's government and citizens must prepare for a situation where we have to defend ourselves over a long period of time against radical Palestinian and Islamic terrorism. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Currently there is a civil war among Palestinian religious and political movements, along with bloody feuds between extended families and criminal gangs. Outsiders are not good in solving the problems that cause the civil war and enforcing peace among the fighters. Egypt and Jordan might be able to use their own violence to repress violence among the Palestinians, but there is no sign that they want to threaten their own regimes with what is likely to come from the effort. They would be inviting rebellion from their own restive populations.
Israel may be able to do nothing more than minimize the Palestinian violence that spills over to its people. That means controlling the movement of Palestinians that threaten Israelis, operating intelligence networks, and entering Palestinian areas in order to neutralize whatever is being planned against Israelis. Until they can solve their own problems and demonstrate a capacity to control violence, neither Israel, Jordan, Egypt, nor other well meaning outsiders can make Palestine a better place. The writer is professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
Ahmadinejad's popularity with the Iranian electorate seems to be falling. His casual dismissal of UN sanctions has apparently earned him an unprecedented rebuke from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei - reflecting growing concerns among the political elite, including many conservatives, who are increasingly anxious at Iran's worsening international situation. His critics argue that not only has he courted the anger of the U.S., but his economic mismanagement and political nepotism have weakened the internal integrity of Iran.
Ahmadinejad appeared to follow the dictum of his mentor, Ayatollah Khomeini - "Economics is for donkeys." So the oil reserve fund was spent on cash handouts to the grateful poor, and the central bank was instructed to cut interest rates for small businesses. These had the effect of pushing up inflation, hurting the poor. Richer Iranians, worried about rising international tension, decided to ship their money abroad, which added to inflationary pressure. Ahmadinejad's demise, if it comes, will have less to do with the international environment and more with his own political incompetence. The writer is director of the Iranian Institute at the University of St Andrews. (Guardian-UK)
On Jan. 26, former Sen. Jim Abourezk wrote an opinion piece, "The Hidden Cost of Free Congressional Trips to Israel." As head of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Jerusalem office for 15 years, I oversaw the scheduling of congressional missions in Israel. Members met with Israel's leadership, visited sites holy to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and viewed Israel's vulnerable borders. On every trip, we scheduled meetings with Palestinian leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Queria, and Sari Nusseibeh.
Congressional support for Israel doesn't come about because of fear or arm-twisting, as Abourezk charges. It derives from the American people's support for Israel. Polls show that Americans support Israel over the Palestinians, and Americans have told pollsters that they view Israel as a friend to the U.S. The failures of Arab lobbying organizations over the years are not because of some money conspiracy. It's because, in the best democratic tradition, Congress reflects the spirit of the American people. (Christian Science Monitor)
Israel's Right to Life - Paul Merkley (Christianity Today)
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