Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 1, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

The Main Findings of the Interim Report by the Winograd Committee Investigating the Lebanon War (Israel Government Press Office)
    See Observations below

Five Britons Guilty in Bomb Plot; Tied to 2005 London Attackers - Jane Perlez and Elaine Sciolino (New York Times)
    A jury found five British Muslim men guilty on Monday of planning fertilizer-bomb attacks around London, ending a year-long trial that linked the plotters with two of the four men who blew themselves up on London's transit system in July 2005.
    Authorities had closely monitored meetings in 2004 between members of the two plots but never fully investigated the men who pulled off the transit attacks, which killed 56 people.
    At least some of the men in both plots were trained at military camps in Pakistan suspected of having connections to al-Qaeda.
    Britain's senior counterterrorism police officer, Peter Clarke, said the "investigation showed the links that these men had with al-Qaeda in Pakistan."

BBC Reporter's Kidnappers Demand Freeing Prisoners - Sonia Verma (Times-UK)
    The kidnappers of Alan Johnston, the BBC's Gaza correspondent, are demanding the release of Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, the female bomber who took part in the 2004 attack at the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman, Jordan, in which more than 20 guests at a wedding party were killed.
    They also demanded the release of women prisoners being held in Iraq and all the detainees at the American military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Palestinian officials said Monday.
    Ali Sartawi, the Palestinian Justice Minister, noted: "It is no longer a case of money, their demands have changed."
    Initial reports suggested that a powerful crime family in Gaza had snatched Johnston, 44, who was seized on March 12, but Sartawi believes Johnston has since been sold to a previously unknown jihadist group.

PA Leader Calls for Killing All Jews and Americans - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    On April 20, 2007, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, spoke on Palestinian Television:
    "Our people was afflicted by the cancerous lump, that is the Jews, in the heart of the Arab nation....Be certain that America is on its way to disappear."
    "America is defeated and Israel is defeated, and was defeated in Lebanon and Palestine."
    "Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies, Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies....Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don't leave even one."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Al-Qaeda in Iraq Leader Killed
    The leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was killed on Tuesday in an internal fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, Iraqi Brig.-Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf reported, adding that Iraqi and U.S. forces were not involved. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Likely to Confront Iran on Nuclear Activity - Bill Brubaker
    President Bush Monday raised the likelihood that Secretary of State Rice will send a rare, direct message to senior Iranian officials later this week: Suspend the nation's uranium-enrichment program, which the U.S. believes is being used to develop nuclear weapons, or face isolation. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Bush asserted that Rice will not shun Iranian officials at a conference of major nations that have a stake in the future of war-ravaged Iraq. "If, in fact, there is a conversation, it'll be one that says, if the Iranian government wants to have a serious conversation with the United States and others, they ought to give up their enrichment program in a verifiable fashion," Bush said. (Washington Post)
  • U.S.: Iran Remains Biggest Government Supporter of Terrorism
    Iran continues to be the biggest supporter of terrorism around the world, with elements of its government supporting extremist groups throughout the Middle East, the U.S. State Department says in its annual global survey of terrorism to be released Monday. Iran is the "most active state sponsor" of terror, helping to plan and foment attacks to destabilize Iraq and derail Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
        The report says Iran's Revolutionary Guard and intelligence ministry "were directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups, especially Palestinian groups with leadership cadres in Syria and Lebanese Hizbullah, to use terrorism in pursuit of their goals." At the same time, "Iran maintained a high-profile role in encouraging anti-Israeli activity, rhetorically, operationally and financially," the report says. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • Florida Looks to Lead Charge on Businesses in Iran, Sudan - Janet Zink
    The state of Florida may soon sell pension funds invested in some companies that do business with Iran and Sudan. State senators on Friday unanimously voted for a bill that would require divesting pension funds from companies doing business with the petroleum sector in Iran and the government of Sudan, where the Darfur region has been bloodied by violence that by some estimates has left more than 400,000 people dead and 3 million people homeless. Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, sponsored the legislation. Deutch said there's no reason for the state to invest in genocide and terror, and Florida residents "don't want their money being used this way." If passed next week by the House and signed by the governor, Florida would be the first state to legislate divestment of pension fund holdings from Iran, Deutch said. (St. Petersburg Times)
        See also Wake Up! - Hilary Leila Krieger
    If there's one thing Americans can agree on, it's that Ahmadinejad's nuclear program must be stopped. Grassroots efforts and a flurry of bipartisan legislative initiatives are currently trying to squeeze foreign investment in Iran, and with it the Iranian economy. (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Syria Secretly Built 30 Underground Bunkers for Missiles - Arieh Egozi
    Yediot Ahronot reported on Monday that foreign experts say Syria has built a huge underground compound that includes 30 steel-reinforced concrete bunkers, production facilities, development labs and command posts for missiles that can cover the entire area of Israel. In contrast to mobile deployment systems that are easy prey to air attacks, the bunker system is designed to enable Syria to launch missiles against Israel before the Israel Air Force can take them out.
        Syria has some 200 Scud B, 60 Scud C, and an unknown quantity of North Korean-made 700 km. range Scud Ds. Syria recently received 100 C802 Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles from Iran. (Yediot Ahronot/IMRA)
  • Palestinians Storm Egyptian Embassy in Gaza
    Angry demonstrators rushed into the Egyptian Embassy in Gaza City on Monday, demanding that Egypt release five Palestinian men affiliated with Hamas in Cairo jails. Palestinian security forces fired above the crowd to force them out of the embassy. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • A Shaky Palestinian Unity Government - Danny Rubinstein
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal rarely agree about anything: not about the diplomatic approach; not about the distribution of funds, which are not yet flowing in as expected; and not about how to delegate authority on security issues. Abbas' status is very shaky. Within the Hamas, too, the rift between the moderate stream, which supports the unity government, and the extremists headed by people affiliated with the movement's military wing, is growing wider. But what could topple the Palestinian unity government within a short time is the issue of Hamas participation in the PLO, the organization that represents the entire Palestinian people. On its behalf Abbas is supposed to reach agreements with Israel, and it is the PLO institutions that are supposed to ratify them. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Inside the Struggle for Iran - Simon Tisdall
    A grand coalition of anti-government forces is planning a second Iranian revolution via the ballot box to deny President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another term in office and break the grip of what they call the "militia state" on public life and personal freedom. Encouraged by recent successes in local elections, opposition factions, democracy activists, and pro-reform clerics say they will bring together progressive parties loyal to former president Mohammad Khatami with so-called pragmatic conservatives led by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. The alliance aims to exploit the president's deepening unpopularity, borne of high unemployment, rising inflation, and a looming crisis over petrol prices, to win control of the Majlis in general elections which are due within ten months.
        Opposition spokesmen say their broader objective is to bring down the fundamentalist regime by democratic means, transform Iran into a "normal country," and obviate the need for any military or other U.S. and Western intervention. According to Ali Alavi of Siyasat-e Ruz newspaper, some 150 political activists, governors-general, former administration officials, and dissident MPs drew up a coalition "victory strategy" at a conference last month presided over by Khatami. Opposition sources said that a future reformist-pragmatist government would continue to maintain Iran's claim to nuclear energy and other "national rights" but would seek to settle disputes through talks. (Guardian-UK)
  • Israel and Jihadist Threats - Editorial
    Israeli officials are worried about the prospect that Syria may attempt to start another war over the Golan Heights, and Jerusalem is trying to fashion a response to the military buildup taking place in Gaza under the auspices of the PA - currently dominated by Hamas, an ally of rogue-state regimes in Iran and Syria. Since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, the PA has permitted massive amounts of guns, rockets and missiles to be smuggled into Gaza, mostly from Egypt. Last week, Hamas announced it would no longer be bound by a "cease-fire" with Israel that it agreed to in November (a cease-fire during which it tried to fire hundreds of rockets and mortars into the Jewish state).
        Abbas and Hamas are currently demanding that Israel extend the Gaza "cease-fire" to the West Bank and end its successful anti-terror operations there. It's a deal that no Israeli government could possibly agree to. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    The Main Findings of the Interim Report by the Winograd Committee Investigating the Lebanon War (Israel Government Press Office)

    • Some of the political and military elites in Israel have reached the conclusion that Israel is beyond the era of wars. It had enough military might and superiority to deter others from declaring war against it....The conclusion was that the main challenge facing the land forces would be low intensity asymmetrical conflicts.
    • Given these assumptions, the IDF did not need to be prepared for 'real' war. There was also no urgent need to update in a systematic and sophisticated way Israel's overall security strategy and to consider how to mobilize and combine all its resources and sources of strength - political, economic, social, military, spiritual, cultural, and scientific - to address the totality of the challenges it faces.
    • We believe that - beyond the important need to examine the failures in conducting the war and the preparation for it, beyond the need to identify the weaknesses (and strengths) in the decisions made in the war - these are the main questions raised by the Second Lebanon War. These are questions that go far beyond the mandate of any particular commission of inquiry; they are the questions that stand at the center of our existence here as a Jewish and democratic state. It would be a grave mistake to concentrate only on the flaws revealed in the war and not to address these basic issues.
    • We hope that our findings and conclusions in the interim report and in the final report will not only impel taking care of the serious governmental flaws and failures we examine and expose, but will also lead towards a renewed process in which Israeli society, and its political and spiritual leaders, will take up and explore Israel's long-term aspirations and the ways to advance them.

        See also Shattering Illusions - Anshel Pfeffer
    Monday's performance by Winograd and his colleagues was a triumph for Israeli democracy. Few countries are capable of judging their leaders in such a serious and timely fashion. We should almost be thanking Hizbullah for forcing us to take a long hard look in the mirror. As the report says, "If this examination leads to an improvement in our preparation for fateful decision-making in the future - out of the tragedy might come a blessing for us."  (Jerusalem Post)

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