Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 26, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Arab Knesset Member Suspected of Aiding Enemy During Lebanon War - Efrat Weiss (Ynet News)
    Former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who left Israel three weeks ago and resigned from the Knesset, is suspected of collaborating with the enemy during the Second Lebanon War.
    Bishara is suspected of passing information to a foreign agent, in return for which he is believed to have received large sums of money.

Arab Meeting on Israel Boycott "Absurd" (UPI)
    A four-day meeting opened in Damascus on Monday on the Arab boycott of Israel, but the effectiveness of the boycott dwindles by the year.
    While the Central Arab Boycott Office was established by the Arab League in 1951, sources close to the meeting are describing the conference's agenda as "ridiculous."
    "The participating Arab countries in the conference are like someone drowning and trying to prove he is still alive, especially after previous meetings have failed in imposing a ban on multinational firms" dealing with Israel, one source said.
    14 Arab countries were taking part in the current meeting, with Egypt and Jordan absent.

Saudi Royals Mask a Jihad Agenda - Youssef Ibrahim (New York Sun)
    Keeping Saudi Arabia's royal family safe from radical Islamists is the West's strategic concern and delusion.
    The only intelligent question for America about Saudi Arabia is: Should we deal with the royals of the house of Saud or go directly to their bearded, Kalashnikov-toting Osama bin Laden-loving followers?
    For half a century, the West has preferred to believe that its choice in Saudi Arabia is the moderate, friendly Saudi royal family or the wild-eyed, sandal-clad zombies of jihad, disregarding the seamless relationship between the two.

Most Muslims Agree with Al-Qaeda Goals (Gulf Daily News-Bahrain)
    Most Muslims want U.S. military forces out of the Middle East and Islamic countries and many agree with al-Qaeda's goals, suggested a public opinion poll conducted in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and Indonesia by the Washington-based
    91% of Egyptians and 69% of Moroccans said they approved of attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq, while 61% of Indonesians disapproved.
    At least 70% or more in all countries supported the goals of "stand(ing) up to Americans and affirm(ing) the dignity of the Islamic people," and "pressur(ing) the U.S. not to favor Israel."
    See also Survey: Large Majorities Agree with Many Goals of Al-Qaeda - Full Report (pdf) (World Public Opinion)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran to Strike U.S., Israel with "Thousands of Missiles" If Attacked
    Iran will strike U.S. interests around the world and Israel if attacked over its disputed nuclear program, Mohammad Baqer Zolghadr, the deputy interior minister for security affairs, said Thursday. "Nowhere would be safe for America with (Iran's) long-range missiles...we can fire tens of thousands of missiles every day....With long-range missiles Iran can also threaten Israel as America's ally," he said. Iran says its Shahab-3 missile with a range of 1,250 miles is capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Bush: Syrian Behavior Is Unacceptable
    President Bush said last Thursday: "We have made it very clear to President Assad that there are a series of gestures we'd like to see him make for the sake of peace. One such gesture is to leave Lebanon alone; let the Lebanese democracy flourish; stop interfering in this young democracy....We have said to the Syrians, stop harboring Hamas and Hizbullah - violent, radical organizations aimed at causing harm in the Middle East. And we have said to President Assad, stop allowing the flow of suicide bombers through your country into Iraq."
        "You know, some have suggested that the United States start diplomatic relations with Syria. My message is...the Syrian president must make the choice that will stop isolating his regime. And the United States will continue to make it clear to Syria, and work with other nations to make it clear to Syria, that their behavior is unacceptable if we want peace in the Middle East." (White House)
  • Egypt's Pro-Israel Spy Trials Raise Questions - Leslie Boctor
    This week an Egyptian court sentenced an Egyptian-Canadian man to 15 years in prison for spying on behalf of Israel, and Egyptian authorities charged another man with giving Israel confidential reports on Egypt's nuclear program. Aside from questions of a fair trial, many are questioning the reasons and the timing behind the recent spy cases in Egypt. An editorial in the independent Masr il Youm said the government is producing the spies as a ploy to draw attention away from domestic problems. Emad Gad, an analyst with the Al Ahram Center, says when the Egyptian authorities "announce about a new spy or a network, I think there is a political aspect." Gad says because of Saudi Arabia's new willingness to work with Israel, Egypt has reason to reassert its position in the region.
        In 1996 an Egyptian court sentenced Azzam Azzam, an Arab Israeli, to 15 years in prison for spying on behalf of Israel. Authorities said he had sent encoded messages in women's underwear from a Cairo textile factory using invisible ink. He was released in a prisoner swap with Israel. Azzam says he was tortured and signed a blank sheet of paper for his confession because he feared for his life. He says the Egyptian government uses the same tactics in other espionage cases. (Voice of America)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel at the UN: There Is a Limit to Israel's Restraint - Yitzhak Benhorin
    The world must not interpret Israel's restraint as an acceptance of the situation, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman told the Security Council on Wednesday. Gillerman asked the Council to "return to reality. That harrowing reality was seen Tuesday when Hamas, by its own account, launched more than 28 Kassam rockets and 61 mortar shells at Israel. The rockets detonated across a large area of land, and as far north as the city of Ashkelon. These attacks, which came as Israelis woke up to celebrate Independence Day, were nothing short of an act of severe provocation."
        "Later in the day, we learned that Hamas' fierce rocket fire was just a front, to divert attention away from its truly evil plans, to kidnap an Israeli soldier. Thankfully, the IDF thwarted the kidnapping....Since the ceasefire began at the end of November 2006, Israel has continually exhibited restraint to the more than 200 rockets fired at it by Palestinian terrorists....Israel needs no further evidence to know that Hamas' ways are not the ways of peace. Hamas has shown it will not stop its campaign of terror until its unholy ambitions of destroying Israel are fulfilled. Nothing - no initiatives, summits, or declarations - can take the place of an end to Palestinian terror." (Ynet News)
        See also Israel's Statement to the UN Security Council - Ambassador Dan Gillerman (United Nations)
  • No Gaza Operation for Now - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Hamas' Independence Day attack was a highly calculated strategic move meant to achieve far-reaching military and diplomatic objectives, based on the Hizbullah model of July 12, 2006, when two IDF soldiers were kidnapped. The objective was to fan the flames of conflict in Gaza in order to create a new situation whereby Israel agrees to end its counter-terror operations in the West Bank. At the same time, since no soldiers were abducted and there were no casualties on our side, Israel would find it difficult to enlist international support and silent agreement by moderate Arab leaders for a wide-scale Gaza operation.
        The Independence Day offensive was a Hamas initiative undertaken without any substantive cause in order to undermine diplomatic peace efforts. The IDF is able and ready to carry out a wide-scale operation in Gaza even today, but this must be done under circumstances that would ensure its success. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at the western Negev Thursday morning. (Reuters/Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Stopping Hamas - Editorial
    On Wednesday, the Israeli cabinet decided against launching a major ground operation in Gaza. This is wise because there are four steps that should be taken before launching such an operation. First, end the policy of military restraint. This means greatly increasing the military pressure on Hamas by attacking known terrorists, their infrastructure and their operational leadership. As expected, Hamas has taken advantage of a period of much reduced IDF pressure to build up its terrorist capabilities. It makes no sense to continue giving Hamas such breathing room, now that its attacks have officially resumed. Second, Israel should consider non-violent sanctions against the PA. If Israelis must run for their lives to bomb shelters, why should Palestinians enjoy an uninterrupted supply of Israeli electricity?
        Third, Israel should be forcefully demanding an emergency session of the UN Security Council to condemn the unprovoked aggression by the PA against Israeli territory and citizens. Fourth, Israel must compel Egypt to carry out its most basic responsibility as a sovereign nation that claims to seek peace: stopping the flow of weapons across its own border to Hamas. Egyptian negligence leads to terrorist groups arming to the hilt in preparation for precipitating the next war. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Suffering - Tulin Daloglu
    Israel is undeniably a democracy with a vibrant economy and contemporary society. The Hamas government, however, was elected democratically but is no friend of democracy. As Bassem Eid, founder and director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, delicately described the unbearable living conditions on the Palestinian side, he said, "It's not because of occupation but because of Arab culture....They could have, at least, built the infrastructure of Gaza." Eid believes Palestinians failed to negotiate with Israelis on any subject.
        Hamas' charter quotes a forged hadith (a traditional account of things said or done by Prophet Muhammad), saying that "there will come a time when the stone will call to a Muslim there is a Jew behind me" - widely interpreted as sanctioning violence against Jews. The Arab-Muslim world believes that the U.S. and Israel are losing in the Middle East and that the balance of power in the region will change in time. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Al-Qaeda Strikes Back - Bruce Riedel (Foreign Affairs)

    • Al-Qaeda is a more dangerous enemy today than it has ever been before. Al-Qaeda moved swiftly to develop a capability in Iraq, where it had little or no presence before 9/11. On February 11, 2003, bin Laden sent a letter to the Iraqi people, broadcast via the satellite network al Jazeera, warning them to prepare for the "Crusaders' war to occupy one of Islam's former capitals."
    • Thousands of Arab volunteers, many of them inspired by bin Laden's words, went to Iraq in the run-up to the U.S. invasion. Some joined the network created by longtime bin Laden associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had fled Afghanistan and came to Iraq sometime in 2002 to begin preparations against the invasion. (Zarqawi had been a partner in al-Qaeda's millennium plot to blow up the Radisson Hotel and other targets in Amman, Jordan, in December 2000. Later, in Herat, Afghanistan, he ran operations complementary to al-Qaeda's.)
    • Al-Qaeda's relocation to Pakistan has also provided new opportunities for the group to expand its reach in the West, especially the UK. In November 2006, Eliza Manningham-Buller, the director general of the British Security Service, known as MI5, said that some 200 networks of Muslims of South Asian descent were being monitored in the UK. At "the extreme end of this spectrum," she said, "are resilient networks directed from al-Qaeda in Pakistan."
    • One appealing option for al-Qaeda in the near future may be Lebanon, where extremist Sunni groups have long operated, particularly in Tripoli, which was controlled by a Sunni fundamentalist group during much of the 1980s, before Syria cracked down. If the Lebanese state is further weakened or civil war breaks out, al-Qaeda may seek a foothold there. The UN force stationed in Lebanon is likely to be a target, since the jihadists consider it to be another crusading army in the Muslim world.
    • Gaza is another prime candidate: it is already divided between Hamas and Fatah, and there is evidence that a small al-Qaeda apparatus is forming there. Israeli security sources have expressed growing alarm about this new al-Qaeda presence on their doorstep. Al-Qaeda is still too weak to overthrow established governments equipped with effective security services; it needs failed states to thrive.

      The writer, a Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, retired last year after 29 years with the Central Intelligence Agency. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East Affairs on the National Security Council (1997-2002), and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Near East and South Asian Affairs (1995-97).

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