Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 16, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Trains Thousands of Iraqi Insurgents - Phil Sands (Independent-UK)
    Thousands of Iraqi Shias in the Mahdi Army, loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, are being trained in advanced guerrilla warfare tactics at a secret camp in Jalil Azad, near Tehran, according to militants who say they have spent time there.
    Abu Amer, 39, said he had been trained by instructors he believed were from Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

BBC Reporter's Gaza Kidnappers Demand Release of Bomber Held in Jordan - Chris Broadhurst (Times-UK)
    The kidnappers of Alan Johnston, the BBC's Gaza correspondent, have demanded the release of an Iraqi woman held in Jordan, Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, 36, who took part in a hotel bombing in Amman in which more than 20 were killed in 2005, a Palestinian source said.
    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, claimed he was behind the bombing in which she took part.

Damascus Discounts Syrian's Comments in Knesset - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Syria announced Saturday that the views of Syrian-American businessman Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman, who appeared last week before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, do not represent those of Damascus.
    Suleiman told the panel that a peace accord could be reached with Syria within six months.

Physical Attacks on Jews Double Worldwide - Yigal Hai (Ha'aretz)
    The number of physical attacks on Jews worldwide in 2006 was more than double those in 2005, according to an annual report released by Tel Aviv University's Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism.
    The report states that crime-scene evidence indicates that Muslims constitute a disproportionately high amount of the perpetrators.
    The greatest increase in the incidence of such violence took place in Australia, Canada, Britain, France, and South Africa.

UK Journalists Vote to Boycott Israel - Stephen Brook (Guardian-UK)
    Britain's National Union of Journalists voted at its annual meeting on Friday for a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a protest against last year's war in Lebanon.

Christian Bookshop Bombed in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    An explosion before dawn Sunday at the Protestant Holy Bible Society in Gaza City blew out windows and ignited a fire that burned shelves of books.
    Some 3,000 Christians live among 1.5 million Muslims in Gaza.
    Elsewhere in Gaza City, a bomb destroyed an Internet cafe.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Suicide Bombers Attack U.S. Targets in Morocco - Craig Whitlock
    Suicide bombers struck in North Africa Saturday for the third time in a week, targeting the U.S. consulate and an American cultural center in Casablanca, Morocco. Two brothers wearing belts packed with explosives blew themselves up within moments of each other outside the consulate and the American Language Center several blocks away. On Tuesday, three suicide bombers from the same cell in Casablanca blew themselves up after a confrontation with police. The following day, in neighboring Algeria, 33 people were killed when car bombers attacked the Government Palace in Algiers and a suburban police station. (Washington Post)
  • Effort to Divest from Sudan Picks Up Steam - Evelyn Iritani
    The grass-roots campaign to use America's economic heft to help halt the violence in Sudan is gathering steam. The divestment movement is expanding from college campuses to Jewish organizations, evangelical Christians, African American leaders, and security-minded conservatives. Forty-two colleges and universities, including the University of California, Stanford and Harvard, have restricted their holdings in companies with links to Sudan, said the Sudan Divestment Task Force, a Washington-based umbrella group. California and seven other states have begun selling off Sudan-related investments and 17 more are considering doing so.
        Conflict Securities Advisory Group, a Washington-based firm, is helping its portfolio managers screen out companies operating in Sudan as well as nations such as Iran, Syria and North Korea - countries that the U.S. has designated as state sponsors of terrorism. The Burton G. Bettingen Corp., a philanthropic group set up by a prominent Beverly Hills family to work on children's issues, recently made its $15-million portfolio "terror-free." (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Missouri Treasurer Crusades to Deny Funds to Terrorists - Joshua Brockman
    Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman engineered the first public fund to become "terror-free" in the U.S. The international fund filters out companies with ties to four countries - Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria - on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. In December 2006, she helped to make Missouri the first state to approve a plan to offer a "terror-free" 529 college-savings program. A growing number of legislatures have responded to the call for anti-terrorism investment policies. Legislation was introduced this year in nine states to prohibit state funds from being invested in companies doing business in Iran.
        Vermont has a targeted divestment policy for the state's pension funds that restricts investments in companies linked with Sudan, Iran and Syria. But so far it has enforced the policy only on Sudan, using a model developed by the Sudan Divestment Task Force. State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding said he is now searching for screening models to follow for the other countries. (Kansas City infoZine)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert, Abbas Discuss Gaza Weapons Smuggling - Ronny Sofer
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, where Abbas presented a deployment plan for Palestinian presidential guards along the Philadelphi Route, in an effort to prevent weapons' smuggling to Gaza via Egypt. Olmert requested that Abbas work to stop Kassam rocket launchings from Gaza at Israel immediately, prevent Hamas armament, and secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. (Ynet News)
  • Saudis Continue to Boycott Israel - Michael Freund
    In November 2005, Saudi Arabia pledged to abandon the Arab League boycott of Israel after Washington conditioned Riyadh's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) on such a move. A month later, on December 11, Saudi Arabia was granted WTO membership. Nearly 18 months later, Saudi Arabia continues to enforce the boycott. "Goods made in Israel are not allowed here in Saudi Arabia," said Khaled A-Sharif, assistant manager of the Saudi Customs Department at King Abdul Aziz Airport outside Jidda. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Is Feeling the Heat - Jim Hoagland
    The financial and diplomatic pressures orchestrated by the Treasury and State departments are taking their toll on Ahmadinejad's regime. They should be continued and intensified where possible. Among those voting against Tehran on the latest Security Council censure were South Africa and Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. Those votes were body blows to Tehran's pretense that the nuclear dispute reflects a continuing victimization of Third World peoples and resources by the rapacious British and other Westerners. So is the visible irritation of Russia's Vladimir Putin with Iran's refusal to consider his offers to guarantee Iran access to peaceful nuclear energy. The diplomatic effort to assemble a united international front against Iran is paying off. (Washington Post)
  • Bad Options on Iran - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Look behind the curtain of virtually every major problem in the Middle East, and you will find Iran: killings in Iraq; arms and money for Hizbullah's assaults on Israel and Hizbullah's attempts to usurp the elected government of Lebanon; support of Syria as the hotelier of the region's major terrorist groups; support and training of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and sleeper networks in countries beyond; promotion of a messianic revolutionary ideology that has deepened the Sunni-Shiite divide; the reckless seizure of 15 British sailors and marines as hostages; and defiance of the UN in pursuit of nuclear weapons. Only the U.S. has the will and the capacity to constrain Iran. (U.S. News)

    Holocaust Remembrance Day

  • Monday Is Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yad Vashem)
  • As Siren Sounds in Israel, Millions Pause to Pay Respect to Holocaust Victims
    A two-minute siren sounded across Israel on Monday morning, bringing life to a standstill as millions of Israelis observed a moment of silence to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Pedestrians froze in their tracks, buses stopped on busy streets, and cars on major highways pulled over as the country paused to pay respect to the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. All day, television stations devoted their broadcasts to historical documentaries and movies, and radio stations played somber music and interviews with survivors. (Pravda-Russia)
  • Holocaust Web Site Draws Thousands of Iranians
    Thousands of Iranian surfers every month visit a new Holocaust Web site in Farsi run by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, despite their leadership's questioning the Nazi genocide of Jews, the museum said. (AFP/Middle East Times-Cyprus)
  • Participants Gather to Recall Eichmann Trial - Joshua Freeman and Ben Uchitelle-Pierce
    Of the 110 people who testified at the trial of Adolph Eichmann in 1961, only 10 are alive today. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Chinese Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust
    More than 21,000 non-Jews have been recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, including two Chinese. Pan Junshun, a Chinese living in Ukraine, helped Jewish children. Ho Fengshan, then a Chinese diplomat in Austria, issued visas to many Jews to help them flee the country occupied by Hitler's troops. (People's Daily-China)
  • A Valuable Truth about the Mideast - John Davis
    I learned a valuable truth about the Middle East on a night in Germany when I met a founding mother of Israel, who had fled the Nazis and had helped make a home and a country. People like her will never run away again. (Birmingham [AL] News)
  • Observations:

    The Olmert-Abbas Track - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • Abbas proved unable to rein in Hamas even when he was in charge, before the elections that handed Hamas the government. His position is no better in a "unity" government.
    • Abbas either cannot or will not end the terrorism of Fatah factions, let alone Hamas, and has not moved to decisively end vicious anti-Israel broadcasts by the television and media apparatus under his control.
    • Under such circumstances, Olmert-Abbas meetings must be considered a curiosity, not a venue that will produce anything of significance.
    • At the end of the day, the Arab states have to decide how important it is to them to create a real peace process. The Palestinians cannot pull themselves out of their spiral of radicalism and anarchy alone.
    • The Arab states, by taking meaningful steps toward opening contacts with Israel, can do much more to point the Palestinians away from war and terrorism than anything the international community or Israel can do.

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