Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 19, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S.: Lebanon's Hizbullah Still Getting Arms via Syria (AFP/Yahoo)
    Syria and Iran continue to provide weapons to Hizbullah in Lebanon in violation of a UN arms embargo, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch told a Congressional panel on Wednesday.
    "Hizbullah continues to rearm and we can see no other source for such assistance than Syria or Iran," said Welch.
    "We are encouraging the Lebanese army and UNIFIL to take a more assertive role in stopping smuggling," he said.

EU Aims to Criminalize Holocaust Denial - Tobias Buck (Financial Times-UK)
    Laws that make denying or trivializing the Holocaust a criminal offence punishable by jail sentences will be introduced across the EU, according to a proposal expecting to win backing from ministers Thursday.
    Holocaust denial is already a criminal offence in several European countries, including Germany and Austria.
    It is not a specific crime in Britain, though UK officials said it could already be tackled under existing legislation.

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan: Cause for Concern in a Pivotal State - Nathan Hodson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Among Middle Eastern nations, Jordan has long been one of the most welcoming toward refugees, a fact that may change in light of the growing Iraqi refugee crisis.
    The trickle of Iraqis seeking haven has become a torrent as thousands flee escalating sectarian strife.

Female Madrassa Students in Pakistan Battle Musharraf - Massoud Ansari (Sunday Telegraph)
    They look like ninjas dressed in black from top to toe and wielding menacing bamboo sticks. The young women students of Islamabad's Jamia Hafsa religious school make a fearsome enemy - as the government of Pakistan is finding out.
    The students have given the government one month to enforce strict Sharia law throughout Pakistan and threaten to launch suicide attacks if their demands are not met.

Useful Reference:

Inside Terrorism: The X-Ray Project - Diane Covert (David Project Center for Jewish Leadership)
    A photography exhibit uses X-rays and CT scans from Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Hospital and Hadassah Medical Center to explore the effects of terrorism on a civilian population.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • IAEA: Iran Making Nuclear Fuel in Underground Plant - Mark Heinrich
    Iran has begun making nuclear fuel in its underground uranium enrichment plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday. IAEA said agency inspectors visited the Natanz plant on April 15-16 and learned that 1,312 centrifuges, divided into eight cascades, were running and "some" uranium was being fed into them. Iran has installed hundreds of centrifuges within weeks and aims to have 3,000 operational by the end of May.
        That could be enough to refine uranium for one bomb within a year, if Iran wanted to and if the machines ran for long periods without breakdown. Iran has yet to demonstrate such proficiency. (Reuters)
  • With Eye on Iran, Rivals Also Want Nuclear Power - William J. Broad and David E. Sanger
    Today, the leaders of Saudi Arabia are scrambling to hire atomic contractors, buy nuclear hardware, and build support for a regional system of reactors. Roughly a dozen states in the region have recently turned to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna for help in starting their own nuclear programs. While interest in nuclear energy is rising globally, it is unusually strong in the Middle East. U.S. government and private analysts believe the rush of activity is intended to counter the threat of a nuclear Iran. (New York Times)
  • Baghdad Bombings Kill at Least 171 - Kirk Semple
    A wave of bombings including four car bombs ravaged Baghdad on Wednesday, aimed mainly at Shiite crowds and, killing at least 171 people. In the worst of the bombings, a car packed with explosives exploded in the Sadriya neighborhood, killing at least 140 people and wounded 150. The explosion incinerated scores of vehicles, including several minibuses full of passengers. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Bush Honors Israeli Professor Who Died in University Shooting - Shmuel Rosner
    President George W. Bush on Wednesday paid tribute to Israeli professor Liviu Librescu, who died while trying to save students during the shooting spree at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. "With the gunman set to enter his class, this brave professor blocked the door with his body while his students fled to safety," Bush said at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "On the day of remembrance, this Holocaust survivor gave his own life so others may live," he said. "We honor his memory, we take strength from his example." (Ha'aretz)
  • Islamic Jihad to Continue Rocket Attacks on Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Nafez Azzam, a top Islamic Jihad official in Gaza, denied reports Wednesday that the group had agreed to halt rocket attacks on Israel. Also on Wednesday, Khalil Hayeh, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said his movement would never "abandon the path of resistance and jihad." "Hamas' strategy is based on the fact that resistance is the only way to liberate Palestine, from the river to the sea," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Disavow "Right of Return" - Yaakov Lappin
    A large and growing number of young Palestinians born abroad have no interest in coming to the Palestinian Authority or Israel, Palestinians in London have told Ynet. They expressed anger at Palestinian leaders for continuing to trumpet a "right of return," a call which is neither desirable nor realistic, they said, adding that the demand is merely an attempt to force concessions out of Israel during peace talks.
        "Most Palestinian refugees who live in Lebanon are not concerned about returning to Palestine or to Israel because we have been outside of Palestine for 60 years," said Rami Abdel Rahim, 26. "If we returned to the Palestinian territories, we would feel like second-class citizens. We have different accents. We don't have any homes in the West Bank and Gaza. For us, it will be more desirable to live in Arab countries and Europe." "All of the second-generation Palestinians born in Lebanese refugee camps don't think about returning to Palestine or living there permanently," he added. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why I Quit the British National Union of Journalists - Michael Gove
    I have been a member of the National Union of Journalists for nearly 20 years. But now, reluctantly, I fear that I will have to part company with the union because the NUJ recently passed a motion at its conference calling for a boycott. This boycott is not of a repressive state that outlaws free expression (of which, sadly, there are still too many) but of one of the few states in the Middle East with a proper free press: Israel. The NUJ exists to defend, among other virtues, freedom of speech. That virtue is better defended in Israel than in any other nation of the Middle East and it comes under assault daily from forces driven by fanaticism. Now is a time, for all sorts of reasons, for showing solidarity with those defending democracy in that region, not for passing on the other side of the road. (Times-UK)
        See also Israel Should Honor British Journalists' Boycott - Zev Chafets
    It's not every day that a community of Western journalists takes such a clear stand against the pretense of neutrality. The National Union of British Journalists accompanied its boycott decision with the sort of anti-Zionist rhetoric usually heard only in Tehran. A more image-conscious group than the NUBJ would have postponed its endorsement of the Palestinian jihad until the release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston from his captivity in Gaza.
        Israel, I believe, should not only respect the British boycott, but join it. The government of Israel should ask all British correspondents stationed in Israel to leave. And it should withhold visas and accreditation from members of the NUBJ (and the media companies that employ NUBJ members) until the journalists of Britain decide to resume at least the fiction of impartiality. (New York Post)
  • International Community Increases Aid to Palestinians as Hamas Prepares for War - Editorial
    $1.2 billion in international assistance flowed to the Palestinians in the year following Hamas' ascent to power, representing an increase over the previous year and making the Palestinians the highest per capita aid recipients in the world. Both Hamas and Fatah need to learn that the U.S. and Europe will not continue to pour money into a dysfunctional economy suffering from warring "security services" and rampant corruption. The international community should drastically reduce its massive financial assistance until Hamas stops fomenting terrorism, preparing for war and neglecting the need for a functioning government and economy. If these things are not done, no amount of aid will improve the Palestinian situation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Strategic Challenge of Gaza - Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Disengagement caused the terror organizations to turn to new terror methods such as Kassam rockets, tunnels, and crossing over from Gaza to Sinai and then into Israel's Negev, as happened in January 2007 with a suicide bomber in Eilat.
    • The source of most of the knowledge of using mines, explosives, and anti-tank missiles is Iran, which is influencing Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza. It is now possible for terrorists to move freely between Gaza and Egypt, and from there to Syria, Lebanon, and Iran for training. Iranians also come to Gaza to hold training exercises.
    • A few years ago, Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigade in Judea and Samaria was bought out by Iran and activated against Israel according to Iranian instructions. The Iranians are using whatever they can in order to attack the West, and this is a major change in the situation in the region.
    • Israel left Gaza almost two years ago, and the Palestinians were left with natural gas, greenhouses, and fields. In other words, they had the option to take another route. However, they chose the terror route and elected Hamas.
    • According to Israel's estimation, Gaza will remain unstable because of certain basic factors having to do with population, territory, and resources.
    • Hamas' leaders may give up using terror temporarily, but they will never give up their ideology. Knowing this helps Israel understand that even though a ceasefire cuts down on terror, it does not create a solution to the problem, since it is only temporary.

      Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant was appointed Head of the IDF Southern Command in 2005, after serving as Military Secretary to Prime Minister Sharon. He also served as Head of the Gaza Division, and as Head of the Naval Commando Unit.

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