Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 21, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Hamas May Have Advanced Anti-Tank Missiles - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The IDF is concerned that Hamas in Gaza now possesses Sagger anti-tank missiles, used by Hizbullah in Lebanon last summer.
    It appears that Hamas has smuggled an especially large number of these missiles into Gaza from Sinai.
    The Sagger is a significant advance that poses a serious threat to the IDF - not only to armored jeeps, but also to armored personnel carriers and to certain tanks.
    The Sagger is a Soviet-made anti-tank missile that can hit a target at distances between 500 meters and three kilometers, and penetrate 400mm of armor.
    Since the war in Lebanon, the Palestinians are busy learning the lessons of the conflict and they are using data and experts from Hizbullah.

Remember Al-Qaeda? They're Baaack - Bruce Hoffman (Los Angeles Times)
    Although al-Qaeda is often spoken of as if it is in retreat, the truth is that it is not on the run but on the march.
    It has regrouped and reorganized and is marshaling its forces to continue the epic struggle begun more than 10 years ago.
    Ongoing investigations increasingly suggest that recent terrorist threats and attacks were all coordinated in some way by al-Qaeda and not by homegrown terror groups.
    The writer is a professor at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center.

Three American Women Kidnapped in PA Freed - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Three American women, apparently human rights activists, were taken hostage while taking pictures on the outskirts of Nablus on Tuesday, Palestinian security officials said.
    PA officials identified the kidnapper as Hadi Saud, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who demanded a job in the Palestinian security forces in exchange for releasing the hostages - who were eventually freed.

The "Crime" of Blogging in Egypt - Raja M. Kamal and Tom G. Palmer (Washington Post)
    A former Al-Azhar University student, Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman, 22, is sitting in an Egyptian prison, awaiting sentencing.
    His "crime"? Criticizing the university's rigid curriculum and faulting religious extremism on a blog, using his real name.

Useful Reference:

The State of Israel on My Space (Ynet News)
    The Israeli Consulate in New York has recently opened a "space" for the State of Israel on the My Space website.
    The address is state_of_israel.
    Israel's space includes links to contemporary Israeli music and pictures of Israelis.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Mecca Accord Ended Rice's Attempt to Restart Peace Talks - Helene Cooper
    An agreement signed in Mecca two weeks ago brought Hamas into a Palestinian unity government without requiring that it recognize Israel or forswear violence against it. The Saudi-brokered pact largely torpedoed the American-sponsored meeting on Monday between the Israelis and the Palestinians that was meant to jump-start peace talks. While the Bush administration has a view that pits America, its Arab allies, Israel and Europe against Iran, Syria and groups, including Hamas, that the U.S. considers terrorists, this is not necessarily how America's Sunni Arab allies view the world.
        In the past year, Shiite Iran has been wooing Hamas, which is Sunni. The Saudis did not like that, so they fought to get Hamas back on the Sunni side. The Mecca pact put an end, at least temporarily, to the Hamas-Fatah bloodletting. It also put an end, at least temporarily, to Rice's attempt to restart peace talks. (New York Times)
        See also Rice Accuses Abbas of "Retreating from Previous Commitments" - Tim McGirk
    According to a close aide to Mahmoud Abbas, Rice accused the PA leader of "retreating from previous commitments" by agreeing to share power with the militant Islamic group Hamas. "And what were these commitments?" asked Abbas. "To dissolve the [previous Hamas] government and call early elections," Rice said frostily. Rice went on to say that Abbas' agreement to share power with Hamas was "unacceptable to the U.S. or Israel." (TIME)
  • U.S. Targets Hizbullah Construction Arm
    The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday designated Jihad al-Bina, the Iran-funded, Lebanon-based construction company operated by Hizbullah, as a terrorist organization, accusing it of bolstering the militant group's public standing by rebuilding war-torn areas. The action bans Americans from doing business with it and freezes any assets the construction firm may have under U.S. jurisdiction. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Shutting Hizbullah's "Construction Jihad" - Matthew Levitt (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Emory University Professors Protest Carter Visit - Ernie Suggs
    Nine distinguished Emory University professors, each holding named chairs, wrote a letter titled, "What's Jimmy Afraid Of?" - to protest the fact that Carter is scheduled to speak at the campus, but has refused to debate. "Despite having written a book whose purpose he claims was to promote dialogue and discussion, he has consistently dodged appearing with anyone who could challenge him on the numerous factual errors which fill the pages of his slim book," the letter states. In his book, Carter paints the Israelis as the aggressors in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The signers include Deborah E. Lipstadt, Melvin Konner, Alan Abramowitz, David R. Blumenthal, Sander Gilman, Harvey Klehr, Andre J. Nahmias, Raymond F. Schinazi, and Donald G. Stein. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Suicide Bomber Arrested Near Tel Aviv - Avi Cohen
    A suicide bombing in Tel Aviv was prevented by Israeli security forces on Tuesday after a Palestinian member of Islamic Jihad from Jenin in the West Bank and his accomplices were arrested in Bat Yam. The would-be bomber told interrogators that he had arrived in Rishon LeZion with the explosive device concealed in a backpack, which he hid in a garbage dumpster. Police later found the device. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Kills Islamic Jihad Terrorist Behind Foiled Bombing - Wael al-Ahmad
    Israeli undercover forces killed Islamic Jihad commander Mahmoud Abu al-Jahimon Wednesday in Jenin, a day after a Palestinian suicide bomber he had sent to Israel was apprehended near Tel Aviv. (Reuters)
        See also Security Official: Terror Attacks Being Foiled Constantly - Efrat Weiss
    Israeli security officials said Tuesday, "The calm in recent months is deceiving. There are constant attempts to launch terror attacks." The terrorist who planned to blow himself up in Tel Aviv Tuesday, Omar Ahmed Abu al-Rob, 24, is a member of a cell operating under Syrian guidance. "This is a dangerous cell responsible for most of the serious suicide bombings that were carried out in the last two years," a defense official said. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Optimistic on Quartet's PA Stance - Herb Keinon
    Israel is not expecting any fundamental change in the Quartet's position toward the PA at a meeting of the Quartet in Berlin on Wednesday meant as a follow up to Monday's trilateral meeting in Jerusalem, Israeli diplomatic sources said Tuesday. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, said he expected the Quartet "to continue exerting pressure on the Palestinian leadership to embrace the three basic conditions" - recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. "By displaying a united front, the international community has made clear to Hamas that it will not be engaged until it meets its responsibilities." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Crack in the Wall of Denial - Robert Satloff
    When the UN considered a resolution condemning Holocaust denial last month, one of the first delegates to express support for "keeping memory alive" was the ambassador from Egypt. Just days before the UN vote, I returned from a visit to Cairo where I delivered lectures on my book Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands, which details the experience of the half-million Jews who lived in Axis-controlled North Africa. I spoke at Cairo University, al-Ahram newspaper, and the Diplomatic Institute of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
        Overall, the view of official Egypt was generally fair and at times deferential. The obvious question is: Why such a positive welcome - in New York and Cairo - to discussion of the Holocaust? The main answer, in my view, is Iran. Today, Sunni Arab animosity to all things Persian and Shiite is deep, Sunni Arab fear of rising Iranian influence in the Middle East is palpable, and Sunni Arab desire not to be tarred with the same brush as the apocalyptic Shiite mystic who serves as Iran's president is real. The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute. (Baltimore Sun/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • European Governments Meddle in Israeli Domestic Politics - Gerald M. Steinberg
    When foreign governments team up with and provide financial support to private Israeli groups in order to oppose policies that are set by democratically elected leaders, this is a violation of Israel's sovereignty. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv is funding an Israeli NGO, "Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights," to study the impact of the security barrier on Palestinian villages caught in the middle. In response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry stated: "It is interference by Britain in an internal Israeli matter. How would they react in London if our embassy was to fund research on a British organization that is trying to promote an agenda that is critical of [the government]?"
        For years, European governments have provided funding to Israeli domestic political groups. The new Israeli government willingness to confront such anti-democratic manipulation by European governments marks an important step. Israeli representatives should bring a detailed file on the funding provided for politicized NGOs to every meeting with European leaders. Europe cannot continue to provide funding designed to undermine the Israeli government's positions, both internally and in the international arena. The writer heads the Program on Conflict Management at Bar-Ilan University and is the executive director of NGO Monitor. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Islamification of Palestine - Father Raymond J. De Souza
    Palestinian Christians have new cause to worry about their religious liberty. The feuding Palestinian parties met in Mecca, an odd choice for a summit site because Palestinian Christians - a small minority, but historically active in Palestinian leadership - are not permitted to enter the city. Perhaps the Christians were whisked through the airport in disguise. Perhaps they converted before the summit; or perhaps they were just left at home. Perhaps it is now simply accepted that the Palestinian question is to be understood as an exclusively Islamic question. (National Post-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Negotiations Will Not Stop Iran's Nuclear Program - Michael Rubin and Danielle Pletka (Wall Street Journal)

    • Earlier this month Sir Richard Dalton, until recently Britain's ambassador in Tehran, called for direct talks between U.S. and Iranian officials and suggested the West modify demands that the Islamic Republic suspend uranium enrichment. Unfortunately, his eagerness for dialogue is being echoed and amplified elsewhere. The logic of engagement sounds good. But experience shows that engagement means something different in Iran than in the West.
    • In May 1992, for example, then German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel launched a "critical dialogue" with Tehran and sought to use trade and incentives to encourage Iran to alter its behavior. And, indeed, it did. On Sept. 17, 1992, Iranian hit-men assassinated three Iranian dissidents and their translator in a Berlin restaurant. The subsequent German investigation determined that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Ali Rafsanjani, and Foreign Minister Ali Velayati ordered the murders. What about the dialogue? "We don't give a damn about your ending the critical dialogue," said Supreme Leader Khamenei upon hearing the German court ruling. "We never sought such a dialogue."
    • Iran's exploitation of engagement to advance its agenda is the rule rather than the exception. In December 2001, in the midst of what many cite as the heyday of Iran-U.S. cooperation in Afghanistan, Iranian forces dispatched 50 tons of weaponry to Palestinian militiamen to derail a U.S.- and European-brokered ceasefire between Israeli and Palestinian forces.
    • Dialogue and the attendant relaxation of UN sanctions will strengthen and validate the Ahmadinejad regime. Proposals for renewed engagement may be well-intentioned, but they are naive and dangerous, and indeed will undercut any possibility of a diplomatic solution.
    • Washington has already offered and delivered inducements to the regime - a clear path to World Trade Organization accession and spare aircraft parts - in exchange for behavior modification. In response, Tehran has offered no confidence-building measures. To change course now would signal the impotence of international institutions and multilateral diplomacy. History shows that when the supreme leader believes Western resolve is faltering, Iran will be more defiant and dangerous.
    • Now is not the time to talk. If Washington and Europe truly believe in the primacy of multilateralism and diplomacy, now is the time to ratchet up the pressure.

      Ms. Pletka and Mr. Rubin are, respectively, vice president for foreign policy and defense studies and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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