Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 27, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Hold Nationwide Nuclear Attack Drill (AFP/Yahoo)
    Israel will next month stage its first-ever nationwide drill simulating a nuclear and chemical missile attack on its cities, rescue services said Monday.
    The exercise was initiated by the army's home front corps in the wake of Iran's calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and its controversial nuclear program.

Three French Tourists Murdered in Saudi Arabia - Hassan M. Fattah (New York Times)
    Gunmen killed three French citizens and critically wounded a fourth near Medina in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Israel to Provide Armored Vehicles to U.S. Marines in Iraq - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Rafael, the Israel Arms Development Authority, is one of the winners of a U.S. Marines tender for the supply of armored vehicles to its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    A preliminary deal for the purchase of 60 armored vehicles at a cost of $37 million has already been signed.

Panel Finds "No Evidence" Israel Used Depleted Uranium in 2006 Lebanon War - Nour Samaha (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    A panel of experts from the UN, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international agencies announced a unanimous determination Monday that no depleted-uranium weapons had been used by Israel in the summer 2006 war in Lebanon.
    Senior UN Environmental Program scientist Mario Burger conducted intensive research on 90 soil samples from 71 distinct sites in South Lebanon at the Spiez government laboratory in Switzerland, and concluded, "No use of weapons containing depleted uranium" was found.
    An above-normal level of concentration of uranium found in Khiam was consistent with levels naturally occurring in soil in the area, Burger said.
    "The uranium present at the site was never technically processed and can therefore not be tied to a missile or bomb," he said, contradicting claims made in December by Chris Busby, secretary for the European Committee on Radiation Risk.

Hamas Upgrades Internet Sites in the Battle for Hearts and Minds (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    Hamas recently upgraded its TV station and Internet sites in the battle for hearts and minds against Israel and against its opponents in the internal Palestinian arena.
    "Palestine-Info" appears in Arabic, English, French, Russian, Urdu, Malaysian and Farsi, reflecting the target audiences Hamas considers important.
    Hamas has more than 20 prominent sites in eight languages.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Diplomats Begin Drafting New UN Sanctions on Iran - Helene Cooper
    Top officials from the U.S., Britain, China, Russia, Germany and France agreed to begin drafting a new UN Security Council resolution to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, officials said Monday after a meeting in London. The U.S. and Britain would like to see the next round of sanctions include a travel ban on people involved in nuclear activities, as well as a further freeze on international financial transactions by top Iranian officials. (New York Times)
  • Ahmadinejad Under Fire in Iran for Hardline Nuclear Stance - Robert Tait and Ian Black
    Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came under fire from domestic critics Monday for his uncompromising stance on the nuclear issue. Mohammad Atrianfar, a respected political commentator, accused the president of using "the language of the bazaar" and said his comments had made it harder for Ali Larijani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, to reach a compromise with European diplomats. Even the fundamentalist newspaper Resalat, usually a supporter of Ahmadinejad, was critical: "Neither weakness nor inexperience and unnecessary rhetorical aggression is acceptable in our foreign policy."   (Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. Agrees to Meeting with Iran and Syria - David Ignatius
    The Bush administration has agreed to sit around a negotiating table with official representatives of Iran and Syria next month - as part of a planned regional conference in Baghdad to discuss ways to stabilize Iraq. A senior State Department official said Monday that it wasn't likely there would be separate bilateral meetings with Iran or Syria. (Newsweek/Washington Post)
  • Destroyed Synagogues Used as Bases to Fire on Israel - Aaron Klein
    The ruins of two large synagogues in evacuated Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip have been transformed into military bases used by Palestinians to fire rockets at Israeli cities, according to Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees. "We are proud to turn these lands, especially these parts that were for a long time the symbol of occupation and injustice, like the synagogues, into a military base and source of fire against the Zionists and the Zionist entity," Abir said. (New York Sun)
  • Egypt Closes Satellite TV Feed Supporting Iraqi Insurgents - Nadia Abou El-Magd
    Egypt has stopped its satellite transmission of the private Iraqi channel Al-Zawraa whose pro-Sunni programming came under criticism from the U.S. and Iraqi governments, an Information Ministry official said Monday. The channel's owner, Mishan al-Jabouri, said it is still being transmitted by Arabsat. Al-Zawraa broadcasts pictures of insurgent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces, showing their vehicles exploding. Iraqi security forces shut down Al-Zawraa's Baghdad offices in November, saying it was "inciting hatred and instigating violence." (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: Arms Flow to Hizbullah Must Stop - Herb Keinon
    The world must stop the rearming of Hizbullah if it wants to see stability in the region, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told UN special envoy Michael Williams on Monday. Israel has been saying for months that arms are being smuggled across the Lebanese-Syrian border to Hizbullah. Officers in the IDF Northern Command said last week that weapons reach Hizbullah from Syria "on a weekly basis," usually at night, evading UNIFIL peacekeepers. IDF officers reportedly gave Williams information showing where the smuggling was taking place, how it was being done, and what was being smuggled. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Uncovers Third Explosives Factory in Nablus Raid - Avi Issacharoff
    Israel Defense Forces troops on Monday uncovered a third explosives laboratory in the West Bank city of Nablus, containing gas balloons, pipe bombs, explosives, computers and electrical equipment. The IDF's apparent targets in the Nablus operation were seven members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Troops broke into transmissions of local TV and radio stations Sunday, broadcast the names of the men, and warned civilians against hiding the fugitives.
        Dozens of Al-Aqsa gunmen operate in Nablus, organized in small groups without a central authority. Residents have complained that some of the gunmen are terrorizing the city by settling personal scores in shooting attacks, acting as self-appointed vice squads, or engaging in blackmail. (Ha'aretz)
  • Shin Bet Arrests Israeli's Killers - Tovah Lazaroff and Yaakov Katz
    Israeli security forces on Monday arrested two Palestinians in Beit Omar in the West Bank who confessed that they stabbed Erez Levanon, 42, to death in a forest outside his home in Bat Ayin on Sunday. Levanon was a popular songwriter and singer who played music for patients in Jerusalem-area hospitals and would entertain for free at bar mitzvas and weddings of those who lacked money. He was a follower of the 18th century Hassidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. In pursuit of the Bratslav tradition of personal prayer, Levanon and others in the community would often go into the forest where he was slain to pray. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in northern Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel on Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • No Apartheid in the Middle East - Lorna Fitzsimons
    I find it offensive that the suffering of black South Africans could be equated to the current predicament of the Palestinians. Israel is not an apartheid state. In South Africa discrimination was enforced to establish white racial superiority. This is simply not the case in Israel or the PA. There will always be restrictions on civil freedom in any society when threat of attack is a daily concern. When the scale of the threat diminishes, so will the security measures. Current restrictions are based on legitimate security concerns - not a belief in racial superiority. It is in Israel's interest to see the establishment of a viable Palestinian state but, as disengagement showed, it cannot do it on its own.
        To blame Israel as an apartheid state is lazy and ignores the responsibilities that lie with every party, including the government of the Palestinian people. We need to be very careful that the universal urge to help the Palestinians doesn't negate their own responsibility and capability to do something about it. The writer is chief executive of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center. (Guardian-UK)
  • The Blogger and the Pharaoh - Editorial
    Judging by the four-year sentence handed out to young Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil last week - three years for disparaging Islam and one for insulting President Hosni Mubarak - Egypt's government is suffering from an acute case of hypersensitivity. The blogger offended Islamist radicals as well as Egypt's political rulers with a posting in 2005 that decried anti-Christian riots in Alexandria where he had witnessed beatings of Egyptian Copts and the looting of Coptic-owned stores.
        The blogger deserves to be defended by democrats everywhere. Egypt is campaigning to be host of the UN Internet Governance Forum in 2009, and the world's democracies could start by opposing that bid. (Boston Globe)
  • Observations:

    Persian Shrug - Edward N. Luttwak (Wall Street Journal, 27Feb07)

    • Instead of the irremediably hostile Taliban, Iran now has a friendly Afghan government on its eastern border. Rather than having to face Saddam Hussein's regime, Iran has nothing to fear from an Iraqi government dominated by friends and obedient clients, many of whom lived as protected exiles in Iran for 20 years or more. Having crushed Tehran's enemies, the U.S. finds itself under attack by Iran's rulers, who no longer have to worry about defending their own borders and can instead challenge American interests all over the Middle East, and as far away as Venezuela.
    • Now there is talk of a detente with Iran, that being the standard diplomatic method to deal with a hostile country too powerful to be intimidated or defeated. In this case, it would mean coexistence with Tehran's continued support for Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and three different Iraqi militias, as well as with Iran's nuclear program.
    • According to Iran's ethnic realities, Persians only account for half the population, and the other half includes many different nationalities increasingly resentful of Persian cultural imperialism, including Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, and Azeris. Certainly there is no reason why Iran should be the only multinational state to resist the nationalist separatism that destroyed the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.
    • There is a better alternative to detente with a repulsive regime, and that is to be true to the Wilsonian tradition of American foreign policy by encouraging the forces of national liberation within Iran.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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