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April 27, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Fatah Women in Gaza Announce: "We Will Be Human Bombs" (Maan News-PA)
    The Al-Aqsa Protectors, the Missiles Brigade, the Martyr Hassan Al-Madhoun Brigade, and the Homeland Strike Force, which are all part of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades, announced the formation of a joint operations room to respond to an expected Israeli invasion of Gaza in a coordinated and forceful fashion.
    Many female members of the Al-Aqsa Brigades also declared their readiness to die for the Palestinian cause.
    "We will be human bombs and we will explode in the face of the occupation," they warned.
    See also Praising Terror - Michael Widlanski (FrontPageMagazine)
    "Oh, Lord, martyrdom is [being done] for you," crooned a singer, as pictures of prominent Palestinian women suicide bombers, clad in white, floated across the television screen.
    Part of a music video that aired on April 22 on the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), the television network under the direct control of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, this disturbing montage was but the latest sign that official Palestinian broadcast media have sharply increased anti-Israeli propaganda in recent days.

Israel HighWay
- April 26, 2007

Issue of the Week:
    Israeli Backpackers

Hamas: We Can Fire 100 Rockets an Hour (Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades [Hamas]-PA)
    Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obiada said Thursday that Hamas can fire 100 rockets in one hour.

Gaza Is Becoming Somalia - Joshua Brilliant (UPI)
    A Somalia-like chaotic situation developing in Gaza seems to have contributed to Israeli restraint in the face of Palestinian provocations.
    The Palestinian rocket attacks peaked this week while Israelis celebrated their 59th Independence Day.
    Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum sounded elated when he talked to a Yediot Ahronot reporter. "How are you feeling today in Israel? You have a holiday today," he said and burst out laughing, the newspaper reported.
    A military source in the IDF Southern Command said Hamas has been involved for some time in planting bombs near the border and in sniper fire.
    Chaos and infighting in Gaza have reached frightening proportions. The Palestinian Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported Tuesday that during the first three months of 2007, 147 people were killed and 918 injured in clashes and feuds, double the number of victims in the first quarter of 2006.

Palestinian Throws Grenade at Egyptian Border Police (Reuters)
    A Palestinian man lobbed a grenade at Egyptian police who confronted him near the Gaza border on Thursday as he tried to smuggle a suicide bomb belt into Egypt, Egyptian security sources said.
    The attacker, Abdel Shafie Jabr Maraheel, 26, who was suspected of having entered Egypt illegally via a smuggling tunnel, was seriously hurt by shrapnel.

Taliban Video of Boy Executioner Causes Anger (Reuters/Washington Post)
    A Taliban video of a 12-year-old boy beheading a man accused of spying has angered many Afghans.
    "It's very wrong for the Taliban to use a small boy to behead a man," religious teacher Mullah Attullah said Thursday.
    The video released this week shows the boy in a camouflage jacket and a white headband using a knife to behead a blindfolded man accused of being a spy for foreign forces as men cry "Allahu Akbar."

Anti-Israel Ad Campaign Set for Washington Subway (Canadian Jewish News)
    Starting May 13 for four weeks, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has ordered 20 of its subway stations to place posters advertising a June 10 rally to end "Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem."
    Initiated by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the 46-by-60-inch posters depict an imposing tank pointing at a child with a schoolbag.
    Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the Israel Project, said she expected the ads to have a "minimum impact."
    Many participants in focus group studies on the ad upon first glance thought the tank was an American one surrounded by Iraqi children.

American University in Qatar Welcomes Israeli Students - Eldad Beck (Ynet News)
    We "are looking for students from all over the world - including Israel," said Dr. James Reardon-Anderson, dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar, which opened almost two years ago.
    Texas A&M University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Carnegie Mellon University, and Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts also have branches in Doha.

Israel Names Forest after Coretta Scott King - (AP/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
    Israel will name a forest in northern Galilee after Coretta Scott King as the country replants thousands of trees destroyed during last year's war with Hizbullah.
    The Coretta Scott King Forest will comprise at least 10,000 trees and be a living memorial to King's legacy of peace and justice, Israel's U.S. Ambassador Sallai Meridor said Thursday at a Washington ceremony launching the initiative.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran May Be Closer to Nukes Than Thought
    CBS News has learned that a new intelligence report says Iran has overcome technical difficulties in enriching uranium and could have enough bomb-grade material for a single nuclear weapon in less than three years. U.S. intelligence officials caution that before Iran could meet or beat that 2010 date, it would have to make further technical progress in operating a uranium enrichment plant now under construction, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. As a result, there is no change in the official estimate that it will take Iran until 2015 to become a nuclear power.
        But David Albright, a leading expert, thinks that doesn't give Iranian scientists enough credit. "I think Iran can get enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon sooner than that," Albright says. "I think the 2015 number reflects too much skepticism about Iran's technical capabilities, and they are making progress." (CBS News)
  • How Iran's Revolutionaries Egged On Attacks in Iraq - Eli Lake
    Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, the foreign operations wing of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, met with Sunni Kurdish jihadist leaders in April 2005 to encourage them to launch attacks in Iraq. News of the meeting was disclosed Tuesday in an interview with Osman Ali Mustapha, a former Kurdish police officer who was recruited by Iranian intelligence in 2004 to spy on American bases. Mustapha said Suleimani "spoke on behalf of Ali Khamenei," Iran's supreme leader, at a meeting in the Iranian city of Kermanshah. Mustapha said, "He said, 'Ali Khamenei told us that any group of Islamists, Tawhid and Jihad, Ansar al Sunna, any group can go across the border to Iraq.'" (Tawhid and Jihad is the original organization founded by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.) (New York Sun)
        See also Gen. Petraeus: Iran-Linked Group Attacked U.S. Troops - Al Pessin
    The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said Thursday that an Iraqi group affiliated with the Iranian Quds force - which conducts special operations abroad - carried out an attack last year in which five U.S. soldiers were killed near Karbala. Petraeus said his conclusion comes from interrogations of leaders of the Khazali network insurgent group. The network received money and weapons from Iran, and some of its members were trained inside Iran. In the January incident, insurgents attacked a building in Karbala. One U.S. soldier was killed during the attack and four others were kidnapped. Three were later found handcuffed together and shot to death. The fourth was found shot in the head. (VOA News)
        See also The Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force: Lessons Learned - Dan Diker (ICA/JCPA)
        See also Using the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards to Export the Revolution (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center )
  • EU Aid to Continue to Bypass Palestinian Government
    EU aid will bypass the Hamas-led Palestinian government until it recognizes Israel, renounces violence, and abides by interim peace deals, EU aid commissioner Louis Michel said Thursday. "As long as these criteria are not fulfilled, there will not be a change in the system, the manner, [or] the process of aid support from the European Union," he said. Palestinians had hoped the formation of a unity government between Hamas and Fatah would prompt the EU and other major donors to lift a year-old economic embargo of the PA. (Reuters)
  • EU Urges Release of BBC Gaza Reporter
    The European Parliament Thursday added its voice to international calls for the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, 44, who was kidnapped in Gaza on March 12. The parliament called for the PA to "redouble its efforts to secure Mr. Johnston's speedy release...and to ensure that all attacks against journalists and other civilians are investigated thoroughly and those responsible brought to justice." (Reuters)
  • Tribunal on Murder of Hariri Moves Closer - Michael Young
    The Hariri tribunal is almost certain to be established, whether through Lebanese institutions or through the UN Security Council. The visit to Beirut last week of Nicolas Michel, the UN's chief legal adviser, was a decisive step in the establishment of the tribunal. However, it was Russia's deputy foreign minister, Alexander Sultanov, who lowered the knife on Syria by indicating that Moscow would not veto recourse to a Chapter 7 Security Council resolution in the event the tribunal remained blocked in Lebanon.
        Sultanov's message to Syrian President Bashar Assad probably went like this: Accept the tribunal through the Lebanese constitutional process, since you can then influence what happens; but once it reaches the UN, there's little we can do to help you. There are no signs, however, that Assad intends to change direction. Hizbullah and other opposition groups have sounded apocalyptic when mentioning the possible domestic impact of a Chapter 7 tribunal. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Former U.S. Secretary of Defense: Moderate Arab Nations Fear Iran Over Israel - Ron Ben Yishai
    William Cohen, who served as U.S. Secretary of Defense during the Clinton administration and is currently visiting Israel, believes that most of the Arab world no longer regards Israel as an enemy nation. Iran, rather, has become the greatest threat to moderate Arab countries, and they are interested in cooperating with Israel against the Iranian threat. Cohen advised Israel and Washington to focus on isolating Hamas and boosting financial and military support for Mahmoud Abbas to prevent Palestinian dependence on Iranian funds channeled through Hamas. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Plans to Kidnap More Israeli Soldiers - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas will resume its efforts to kidnap Israeli soldiers to trade them for Palestinians held in Israeli jails, Khalil Abu Lailah, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said Thursday. Abu Lailah stressed that as far as Hamas is concerned, the "cease-fire" with Israel does not exist any more. "The cease-fire is dead," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket towards Israel on Friday morning. The rocket landed in Palestinian territory. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Hate Industry: Articles and Cartoons in the Jordanian Press
    The Jordanian media publishes articles and cartoons which combine vicious messages of hate against Israel with anti-Semitic and, at times, anti-American themes. The Jordanian government, which signed a peace treaty with Israel, does not put an end to these publications, which contribute towards an atmosphere of hate and hostility against Israel and the Jewish people.
        On April 12, 2007, the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab al-Yawm published an article titled, "From the Holocaust Industry to Terrorism," dealing with Holocaust denial, by Muwaffaq Muhaddin, which begins: "Not a single country in history was founded by turning fiction into fact - save for the country of the Jewish enemy." On March 9, 2007, Ad-Dustour published an article titled "The Integral Relationship between Zionism and Nazism, by Rakan al-Majali, a regular columnist. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • America's Best Weapon Is the Iranian People - Azar Nafisi
    Ahmadinejad's reactionary tendencies are fundamentally a sign of the Iranian system's weakness - not its strength. If you take the long view of Iranian history and focus on the country's people rather than its rulers, a very different picture emerges: that of an Iranian order in crisis. Iran's new international isolation and pariah status is deeply unpopular at home, and the fact that the government is emptying its coffers to foment revolution abroad rather than to support the welfare of the Iranian people has turned many of Ahmadinejad's supporters against him.
        What is needed is for human rights groups, activists, and journalists to take up the cause of the Iranian people. A firm and united stand by the international community on Iranian human rights will send a message to the regime that it cannot bend other countries to its will, while encouraging more moderate and dissatisfied elements within the ruling elite to voice their displeasure. The writer is director of the Dialogue Project at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. (New Republic)
  • Through the Veil: The Role of Broadcasting in U.S. Public Diplomacy toward Iranians - Mehdi Khalaji
    From widespread mistranslation on the State Department's Persian website to terrorists appearing on Voice of America as "political activists," flaws are keeping U.S. government broadcasting from effectively reaching the Iranian people. This comprehensive look at the various U.S.-based broadcasting initiatives aimed at Iranians examines such key issues as professional journalistic standards, accusations of propaganda, and obstacles on Capitol Hill. The writer, a former Persian-language producer for the U.S. government's Radio Farda and the BBC, is the Next Generation fellow at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Strategic Importance of the Middle East? - Edward Luttwak
    Middle East experts, like the rest of us, should at least learn from their past mistakes. Instead, they just keep repeating them. The first mistake is "five minutes to midnight" catastrophism. The late King Hussein of Jordan was the undisputed master of this genre. He would warn us that with patience finally exhausted the Arab-Israeli conflict was about to explode. The remedy was usually getting an American envoy to the scene to make the usual promises to the Palestinians and apply the usual pressures on Israel. Hussein's son, Abdullah, periodically repeats his father's speech almost verbatim. Yes, it would be nice if Israelis and Palestinians could settle their differences, but it would do little or nothing to calm the other conflicts in the Middle East from Algeria to Iraq. (Prospect-UK)
  • Hamas: Misrule in Gaza - Jonathan Schanzer
    Hamas, the terrorist group that Palestinians last year elected to govern their territories, is failing to govern at all. March alone saw at least 46 kidnappings of civilians in Gaza, as well as over 25 killings of Palestinians by fellow Palestinians. Foreigners who came to help are starting to flee for their lives. Iranian-trained Hamas forces are battling Egyptian-trained Fatah forces. In short, Hamas has not made the transition from terrorist group to government. (New York Post)
  • Why Israel But Not Burma? - Stephen Glover
    The motion by the National Union of Journalists to single out Israel as being uniquely evil, and worthy of measures that are not contemplated against anyone else, is intellectually disreputable. The NUJ has not passed any motion to boycott China, where there are hundreds of political prisoners. Nor has it picked on North Korea, a totalitarian state in which millions of people have been deprived of the bare necessities of life. The same could be said of Burma. I do not believe that the NUJ has puffed itself in indignation against Saudi Arabia, an autocratic state where women do not enjoy rights that are taken for granted in Israel.
        Whatever criticisms can be justly made of Israel, it is a functioning democracy with a free press and a robust tradition of free speech. Why is Israel singled out? I hesitate to raise the charge of anti-Semitism, but though laying aside that explanation, I confess that I am unable to find another one. (Independent-UK)
  • Germany: The Implications of the Greater Middle East - Michael Sturmer
    Germany has become increasingly involved in power politics throughout the greater Middle East. It is engaged in the Quartet and its "road map" through the EU, and has been in the forefront of negotiations aimed at preventing a nuclear Iran. While the Schroeder government explicitly ruled out military action to prevent the latter, Ms. Merkel has said it is an unacceptable outcome and all options remain on the table. (Henry Jackson Society)
  • When Will Islam Damn the Chlorine Bombers - Henry Porter
    At least nine of the large-scale attacks in Iraq since the beginning of the year have involved the use of chlorine. These bombs strike a particular fear because if people are not killed by the blast, they may easily die an agonizing death when the chlorine is dispersed and inhaled. It is now established that this tactic has been one of al-Qaeda's gifts to Iraq. Large quantities of chlorine, commonly used in water treatment plants in the Middle East, were stolen in Anbar, where al-Qaeda has a strong presence. A dozen truck bombs loaded with gas cylinders are said by intelligence sources to have been prepared by the group which is seeking, among other things, to dominate Sunni resistance in Iraq and is showing signs of the Khmer Rouge's blood lust. (Observer-UK)

    Divestment Update

  • Jews and Muslims Unite Behind California's Iran Divestment Bill - Karmel Melamed
    Fourteen national and state Jewish organizations and dozens of Iranian Muslim groups opposed to Iran's regime have found common ground in support of California Assembly Bill 221, which would require state pension funds to divest an estimated $24 billion in investments from more than 280 companies doing business with Iran. The bill's author, Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon), said he was shocked to discover state funds were indirectly benefiting Iran's regime.
        National Jewish organizations in support of AB 221 include AIPAC and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. AB 221 was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee on April 24 and is expected to move to the Appropriations Committee on May 11. Anderson anticipates AB 221 could become law since it has received bipartisan support. (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles)
        See also Jewish Community Groups in Chicago Mobilize to Act on Iran - Stefanie Pervos
    Spearheaded by its Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago is taking action to combat the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, an effort of a magnitude rarely undertaken by local Jewish advocacy groups. The initiative will appear in many forms: a public program, divestment legislation in Springfield, and tougher economic sanctions being urged in Washington, D.C. (Chicago Jewish Community Online)

    Weekend Features

  • Bomb Shelters and Music in Sderot - Jennifer Medina
    The Israeli town of Sderot, barely a mile from Gaza, is one of the few cities where bomb shelters are still used frequently. Sderot has been barraged by more than 4,000 rockets in the last six years, including nearly 200 since a cease-fire began in November. Six people have died from the attacks, and dozens of homes have been damaged. Sderot is also the hometown of a pop culture hero: Kobi Oz, the lead singer of Teapacks, the Israeli pick for the Eurovision song contest. On Israeli radio it is possible to hear more than half a dozen bands from Sderot, quite a feat for a place with about 25,000 people. (New York Times)
  • Business as Usual - Sharmila Devi
    Today, almost one Israeli in 10 works in the high-tech sector, and that group's impact on growth and investment has been huge. Last year, some 3,500 start-ups were created in Israel - population 7 million - second in number only to the U.S. The coastal plain is known as Silicon Wadi. More companies from Israel are listed on the Nasdaq in New York than any other country other than the U.S. The war knocked less than one percentage point off forecast growth in gross domestic product, which reached 5.1% last year. High-tech exports rose 20%. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Israel's Vibrant "Factory of Ideas"
    Many entrepreneurs point out that Israel, founded less than 60 years ago, is something of a start-up itself. They also tend to attribute its success to a confluence of cultural and systemic factors such as being a highly educated, immigrant population with strong military training, and a high tolerance for risk. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Israel's High-Tech Industry Gathers Pace - Ian Limbach (Financial Times-UK)
  • Anti-Semitic Themes in Muslim Apocalyptic and Jihadi Literature - David Cook
    There is a connection between contemporary Muslim apocalyptic literature and jihadi movements. Both have a core belief in a grand anti-Semitic conspiracy theory designed to demonize the Jewish people. This theory has recently been exported throughout the Muslim world, where it fuels anti-Semitic tendencies and violent movements. Anti-Semitic and other conspiracy theories in the Muslim world are resistant to facts and even to education. Because these theories answer emotional needs, they are likely to keep growing in popularity. Anti-Semitism is a powerful force for radicalizing Muslims, and is even used in attempting to convince Christians to join in a grand alliance against the Jews. In doing so Muslims emphasize their belief that the Antichrist, or dajjal, is Jewish. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    The Geopolitical Situation of the Jewish People - Martin Kramer (Sandbox)

    • The geopolitical situation of the Jews hasn't ever been stable. Seventy years ago, the Jewish world was centered in Europe. Today the U.S. and Israel are the poles of the Jewish world, because some Jews sensed tremors before the earthquake. When the earth opened up and Europe descended into the inferno, parts of the Jewish people already had a Plan B in place. We are living that Plan B.
    • Today the Jewish people has one foot planted in a Jewish sovereign state, and the other in the world's most open and powerful society. Jews had sovereignty before, in antiquity, but they did not have a strategic alliance with the greatest power on earth. Of course we would like an improvement in Israel's standing with some of its neighbors - what dreamers call "peace."
    • Five long-term trends could erode the status quo:
      1. U.S. influence in the Middle East could wane.
      2. Europe could be subtracted from the sum power of the West.
      3. Iran could gain regional power status and become Israel's regional rival.
      4. The Arab states around us could succumb to their lack of legitimacy and Israel could find itself opposite not one Hizbullah but many.
      5. The Palestinians may not have the cohesion necessary to translate their identity into nation-statehood.
    • We should recognize that the status quo in the Middle East won't last indefinitely, and we have to plan accordingly.

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