Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Hamas Arming Islamic Jihad with Rockets - Ze'ev Schiff and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
- April 12, 2007
Issue of the Week:
Holocaust Remembrance Day
There Should Have Been a Preventive Strike Against Hizbullah - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
UN Secretary General Urges Release of Kidnapped BBC Journalist in Gaza (United Nations)
Ohio Man Charged with Helping Al-Qaeda - Kevin Bohn (CNN)
Gaza's Refugee Camps Have Morphed into Suburbs - Tim Butcher (Telegraph-UK)
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yad Vashem)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, said Thursday Iran is operating only several hundred centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, despite its claims to have activated 3,000, and discounted Tehran's claims of a major advance in uranium enrichment. Experts say that 3,000 centrifuges would be enough in theory to develop a nuclear warhead in about a year, but they doubt Iran really had that many devices successfully running. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Iran Oversells Its Nuclear Progress - Michael Levi (New Republic)
A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives inside Iraq's parliament building Thursday in Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone, killing at least eight people including two legislators. A senior Iraqi government official said the attack may have been carried out by the bodyguard of a Sunni member of parliament. (Washington Post)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet on Sunday with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas under a U.S.-brokered deal, the first since they agreed to meet once every two weeks. Olmert has said Abbas' power-sharing partnership with Hamas Islamists and kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's captivity meant no real progress towards Palestinian statehood could be made in their meetings. Olmert's office said the discussions would focus on humanitarian and security issues. (Reuters)
A little-noticed U.S. Supreme Court decision has reopened a forgotten chapter in Middle East history with far-reaching implications. The court recently declined Coca-Cola Co.'s request to review a lower court's decision allowing a Canadian Jewish family to sue the soft-drink giant for trespass. The case was brought by the heirs of Joshias Bigio, a businessman in Egypt until its government expropriated his enterprises in the 1960s. Thirty years later, Bigio's son, Refael, discovered that Coke was using one of his father's factories as part of its Egyptian bottling operations and asked for compensation.
The Bigios are Sephardim - Jews whose ancestors lived in Muslim countries for centuries before fleeing a wave of anti-Semitic violence and intimidation that began at the founding of Israel in 1948. The Bigios' case enables Zionists to point out that Arabs weren't the only ones to lose their homes; Arab hostility to the Jewish state made Jews homeless too. (Chicago Tribune)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Senior defense officials have warned of an unprecedented military buildup in Syria. Following the Second Lebanon War, IDF Military Intelligence noticed a change within the Syrian military. Syria feels empowered by Hizbullah's surprising success last summer and Damascus now believes it can use Hizbullah-like tactics in a future confrontation with Israel and possibly even defeat the IDF.
Syria has the ability to independently manufacture Scud missiles, and has 300 deployed in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. Syrian missiles include a number of Scud D's with a range of 700 kilometers and said to be capable of carrying nonconventional warheads. According to Yiftah Shapir - a researcher with the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University - the Syrian military also plans to use short-range Katyushas in any future conflict with Israel.
The heart of Syria's missile program is in Hama, where a weapons factory is surrounded by more than 30 hardened concrete bunkers that house multiple launchers and missiles. In just minutes, experts said, these launchers could deliver more than a ton of nonconventional warheads anywhere in Israel. Another missile site near Homs contains a chemical warhead facility where a drive-through building leads to a facility where warheads are installed on ballistic missiles. (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan delivered a Friday sermon on March 30, 2007, broadcast live on Palestinian television, which included a call to fight against the Jews and slaughter them. According to Radwan, "Palestine will not be liberated unless it is through jihad and resistance." Even though Palestinian television is controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, it frequently broadcasts incitement programs and songs.
Radwan's sermon reflects a recent escalation in the rhetoric of Hamas spokesmen who repeatedly stress Hamas' continued commitment to terrorism, possibly to answer criticism that the movement has abandoned its principles by agreeing to the national unity government. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
A Palestinian terrorist fired towards Israeli cars near the West Bank community of Tekoa on Thursday. No casualties were reported but a car was damaged. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. (Jerusalem Post/Maan News-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Cedar Revolution in Lebanon was an outpouring of national sentiment after the assassination of former prime minister Hariri, just two years ago; it brought an end to 15 years of Syrian control. But today, many Lebanese are complaining that the revolution's leaders have botched it - allowing the Syrian-backed president, Emil Lahoud, to stay in office illegally; allowing Hizbullah ministers into the government; and not moving quickly enough to fill the vacuum left by the Syrians, or to capitalize on the support of the UN Security Council.
One time-bomb is the mounting tension over Hizbullah's missiles. I was told that after last year's war, Gen. Michel Sleiman, the Christian head of the Lebanese army, told Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah: "The situation with the missiles has to be resolved. This can't continue." But as Hizbullah digs in on the north bank of the Litani River, boasting of 30,000 missiles, the strategic situation is worsening dramatically. Hizbullah is clearly arranging its capabilities so as to use UNIFIL and Lebanese army troops as a military shield in any conflict with Israel.
The crucial enemy in Lebanon, as in the broader Middle East, is now the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis. Hizbullah seeks to appeal to four disparate constituencies: the religious Shiite base, which is ideologically committed to the Khomeini revolution, but which remains a minority of Hizbullah's support; the nonreligious Shiites who think little of Hizbullah's social doctrines (it is common to see Shiite women in tight jeans and T-shirts) but who increasingly depend upon Hizbullah for social services; the non-Shiite Muslim (and Christian) opinion that tolerates it as an anti-Israeli resistance force; and the worldwide alliance of Islamist and anti-American forces.
The U.S. should take advantage of these fissures. First, it should support liberal Shiites. Second, it should work to strengthen the scope and capacity of the Lebanese state in its security presence and in the provision of services. Third, it should bring greater diplomatic pressure to bear against the legitimacy that Hizbullah enjoys as a resistance movement.
Beyond Hizbullah lies the problem of Syria. Like Saddam's tyranny in Iraq, the power of the Assad dynasty rests upon an ethnic minority that has no legitimate claim to rule the country. Its borders are meaningless - and terrorism flows past them unimpeded. More than one leading Lebanese politician told me that hastening the demise of the regime in Damascus was the single most helpful thing the U.S. could do. (National Review/Foundation for the Defense of Democracies)
The Sunnis have lost the battle for Baghdad. The great flight from Baghdad to Jordan, to Syria, to other Arab destinations, has been the flight of Baghdad's Sunni middle-class who had the means of escape, and the savings. Whole mixed districts in the city - Rasafa, Karkh - have been emptied of their Sunni populations. The Sunni Arabs waged a war against the Shia they were destined to lose.
A member of the (Sunni) Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad likened the dilemma of his community to that of the Palestinian Arabs since 1948. "They waited for deliverance that never came," he said. "Like them, we placed our hopes in Arab leaders who have their own concerns. We fell for those Arab satellite channels, we believed that Arab brigades would turn up in Anbar and Baghdad. We made room for al-Qaeda, only to have them turn on us in Anbar." Now among the Sunnis there is a widespread sentiment of disinheritance and loss. (Wall Street Journal)
Today prosecutors often find it difficult to prove the most serious terrorism offenses, such as material support, beyond a reasonable doubt. But the investigation of suspected terrorists often reveals other illegal activities that prosecutors can go after. Janice Kephart, former counsel to the 9/11 Commission, recently authored a report entitled Immigration and Terrorism that examines the histories of 94 foreign-born terrorists who operated in the U.S. between the early 1990s and 2004. "About two-thirds (59) committed immigration fraud prior to or in conjunction with taking part in terrorist activity."
Terrorists have also been involved in sham marriages, which are attractive because federal law allows an alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen to gain lawful permanent residency. A number of terrorists and terror supporters affiliated with al-Qaeda, Hizbullah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad used sham marriages. For example, three members of a Hizbullah fundraising cell in Charlotte, N.C., were involved in sham marriages.
U.S. News & World Report noted in late 2005 that "[n]early half of the 41 groups on the government's list of terrorist organizations are tied to narcotics trafficking, according to DEA statistics." Hizbullah in particular has profited from the U.S. drug trade. Terrorist groups and their backers have also engaged in a variety of financial scams, including identity theft, bank fraud, cigarette smuggling, and counterfeiting. (Daily Standard)
The assumption that Hizbullah and al-Qaeda have a solid operational or strategic relationship and cooperate on matters pertaining to global jihad can be challenged for the following reasons: One, irreconcilable theological differences: al-Qaeda sees Shiite Muslims as even worse than the Jews and the "crusaders." Two, conflicting political strategies: Hizbullah has been engaged in competitive politics, while al-Qaeda is bent on destroying Arab regimes and their allies. Three, strategic differences: al-Qaeda is officially at war with Hizbullah's strategic orbit - Iran and Syria. Several al-Qaeda leaders have described Hizbullah as an agent of Iran that intends to facilitate Persian imperial rule over the Middle East. Bilal Y. Saab is a research assistant at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Bruce O. Riedel is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. (International Herald Tribune)
In the Iranian city of Qom, the seat of Iran's powerful Shiite Muslim clergy and home to 52 Islamic seminaries, men at the Aalulbayt Global Information Center sit behind rows of computer screens in large rooms padded with deep Oriental carpets, typing out web pages of Koranic analysis and religious edicts translated into 30 languages. From here, via a server in Santa Clara, Calif., emanates www.al-shia.com, the most widely read source of Shiite proselytizing in the world. Also here is the worldwide communications hub for Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, www.sistani.org, and for Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, www.leader.ir.
Now, to browse through Iranian websites is to come upon a flood of pages featuring solemn-looking men wearing beards and turbans. Hundreds of Iranian clerics today have blogs of their own. Qom's religious leaders hope to build new links between the mother ship and the world's 150 million Shiite Muslims. (Los Angeles Times)
"Henry Rollins: Uncut from Israel" is a documentary chronicling the talk show host and former rocker's trip to Tel Aviv.
Q: You definitely seemed comfortable performing there.
Rollins: In Israel, there's a lot to learn from anyone, because to live there you've got to deal with the truth. Things happen real fast. Your day goes from cool to catastrophic in one second. Israelis know that the cafe you're in could blow up, or the shopping mall, and they rock that. The way they do it is, they celebrate hard. They love hard. They're a very vigorous and passionate people. I can't say enough about the people I've met there. (TV Guide)
How Sanctions Help Strengthen Hamas in Gaza - Cam Simpson (Wall Street Journal, 13Apr07)
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