Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 2, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Seeks Closing of Visa Loophole for Britons of Pakistani Origin - Jane Perlez (New York Times)
    Omar Khyam, the ringleader of the thwarted London bomb plot who was sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday, could have entered the U.S. without a visa, like many of an estimated 800,000 Britons of Pakistani origin.
    American officials, citing the number of terror plots in Britain involving Britons with ties to Pakistan, expressed concern over the visa loophole.
    In recent months, the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, has opened talks with London on how to curb the access of British citizens of Pakistani origin to the U.S.

MI5 Watching 2,000 Terror Suspects - Frank Gardner (BBC News)
    The number of terror suspects being monitored by MI5 in the UK has grown by a quarter in the past six months.
    The Secret Service and police are monitoring about 2,000 individuals who they say are actively involved in supporting al-Qaeda.
    Some are thought to have direct links with al-Qaeda in Pakistan. More than 400,000 Britons each year go to Pakistan on family visits.

Iranian Holocaust-Denial Documentary Series on Iranian TV (MEMRI)
    Translated segments from a 13-part Iranian TV documentary series titled "Merchants of the Myth," which ran from October 2006 through January 2007, were shown this week on Capitol Hill at an event on Holocaust denial in the Arab and Iranian media sponsored by Reps. Steven Rothman (D-NJ) and Eric Cantor (R-VA).

How Terrorists Send Money - Rachel Ehrenfeld and John Wood (UPI)
    Advanced mobile technology, cooperation between international mobile communications providers and international financial institutions and the lack of regulations make for a swift, cheap, mostly untraceable money transfer - known as "m-payments" - anywhere, anytime, by anyone with a mobile telephone.
    However, the spread of m-payments in less developed countries, which often lack functioning anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regulatory frameworks, and where corruption is rife, will likely increase money laundering and terrorist financing.

BBC Wins Right to Keep Report on Middle East Coverage Secret - Clare Dyer (Guardian-UK)
    The BBC Friday won the right to keep secret an internal report into its Middle East coverage, according to a high court ruling.
    The ruling is a blow for critics of the BBC's coverage, who want to know if the extensive Balen report discloses evidence of anti-Israeli bias.

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  • U.S. Sets Eight-Month Timetable for Israel-Palestinian Peace Moves - Adam Entous
    The Bush administration has drawn up an eight-month timetable setting dates for when Israeli and Palestinian leaders would complete steps meant to bolster prospects for peace talks, U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials said. The U.S. timeline, the first of its kind presented to both sides, includes specific dates for when Washington envisages Israel letting Palestinian bus and truck convoys travel between Gaza and the West Bank. At the same time, Washington has set dates for when Mahmoud Abbas would step up deployment of his forces and take specific measures to begin curbing rocket fire by militants.
        Diplomats said Secretary of State Rice was committed to the effort and that she hoped to draw up a blueprint that both sides would commit to, possibly in writing. U.S. diplomats presented the list of benchmarks late last week to Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
        Israeli officials said most troubling was Washington's decision to set specific dates for when Israel would begin allowing Palestinian travel between Gaza and the West Bank. "There is not conditionality. Even if they don't complete their obligations, we'll have to complete ours," a senior Israeli official said, noting that conditions had changed and that Hamas would use the convoys to extend its power to the West Bank. The U.S. document also sets specific dates for when Israel would remove roadblocks in the West Bank. (Reuters)
  • Palestinian Finance Minister Hails New Saudi Cash - Alastair Macdonald
    A package of $250 million of Saudi money - equivalent to some six weeks of the PA's basic funding needs - will start arriving soon, Finance Minister Salam Fayyad said on Tuesday. While the Western powers and Israel still refuse to help Hamas as long as it does not renounce violence or recognize Israel, Fayyad won a pledge from the U.S. to ease technical difficulties for those donors still making payments. A key element was an assurance from Washington to banks that they would not be penalized for making transfers to an account run by the Palestine Liberation Organization, run by Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. (Reuters)
  • Rice to Participate in Quartet Meeting with Syria
    U.S. Secretary of State Rice will participate in a meeting with major powers involved in Mideast peace that will also include Syria, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday. The meeting will be held after the planned gathering of international leaders at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh May 3-4 for a security conference on Iraq. (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also Repression Getting Worse in Syria
    Six leading opposition figures jailed in Syria warned on Tuesday that the "repressive climate" in their country was worsening and called for the release of all political prisoners, in a joint letter from Adra prison near Damascus published in Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • EU Lawmakers Meet Palestinian PM Despite Boycott of Hamas
    A group of ten European parliamentarians met in Gaza on Tuesday with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, where Kyriacos Triantaphyllides from Cyprus called for lifting the EU's financial embargo on the PA. An EU spokeswoman said the bloc's policy of shunning Hamas remains unchanged. "The parliament is not the official representative of the EU in matters of foreign policy," she said. Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, called the meeting a "very negative occurrence." "Giving recognition and legitimacy to an unreformed Hamas will not help peace," he said. (Reuters/Ynet News)
  • The Winograd Committee Report as Diplomatic Formaldehyde - Herb Keinon
    An Arab League working team made up of representatives from Egypt and Jordan is expected to arrive in the coming days to discuss the Arab peace initiative relaunched in March in Riyadh. However, there is little likelihood of anything substantial coming out of their visit. For the foreseeable future, all major diplomatic steps are frozen. Meetings will continue to be held, but the chances of anything significant happening on the diplomatic front for the foreseeable future are slim until the Israeli domestic picture clears up in the wake of the Winograd Committee's Interim Report on the Second Lebanon War. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arab Media Trumpet Signs of Israel's Defeat - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Political commentators throughout the Arab world said the Winograd Report on last summer's war in Lebanon is a sign of Israel's military weakness and hailed Hizbullah for defeating the "invincible" IDF. However, some looked at the positive aspects of Israel's democratic system. "By establishing commissions of inquiry after wars and holding those responsible for failure accountable, Israel is showing how strong it is," said newspaper columnist Hassan Khader. "We failed to establish commissions of inquiry into the way decisions were being made or the way money was being wasted," he said. "That's why we have reached a stage where gangs and militias are popping up as fast as mushrooms and are hijacking our cause." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Misreading Arab-Israeli Diplomacy - Dore Gold
    The Mecca Agreement created a fusion between the alleged moderate branch of the PA headed by Fatah leader Abbas, and Hamas that maintains links with the Muslim Brotherhood. But it did not forge a new common stance of renouncing violence, recognizing Israel, or firmly committing all Palestinian parties to previous peace agreements, as the international community has demanded.
        It was precisely while the U.S. was actively engaged in conflict management between Israel and the Palestinians that al-Qaeda was planning terrorist attacks. Islamist organizations, like al-Qaeda, may raise specific political grievances at times from the Balkans, Chechnya, or Kashmir, but what empirically has really helped these organizations surge in strength is their sense of victory from the battles in any of these clashes. Withdrawal in the face of radical Islam only strengthens the present worldwide militant wave and empowers its adherents.
        Recent apocalyptic Sunni and Shiite literature perceives the recovery of Jerusalem as a trigger to a new wave of global jihad. This doctrine predicts an imminent clash between the Mahdi - a Muslim savior - and the Islamic antichrist, known as the Dajjal, in the Holy City. Thus begins a new stage of worldwide violence extending to Rome and the entire West. (Henry Jackson Society)
  • U.S. Taxpayers Subsidize Terrorist Propaganda and Holocaust Denial in the Arab World - Joel Mowbray
    Al-Hurra, the taxpayer-financed Arab TV network, aired Hizbullah leader Nasrallah's 68-minute Dec. 7 speech live. Al-Hurra covered the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran last December, treating Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the attendees at his conference with unmistakable deference. Al-Hurra's Dec. 12 report on the gathering included David Duke's praise for Ahmadinejad. Also broadcast unchallenged were the remarks of French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, who informed Arab viewers: "Gas chambers and mass killings of the Jews, in the way that it is pretended (by the Jews), is completely untrue, and an historical lie." In closing the piece, the Al-Hurra reporter referred to Israel as "the Jewish state on Palestinian lands."
        Combating this nonsense should be ground zero in our quest to inject truth and information into the Arab world. If we can't do this, how will we ever be able counteract the jihadists who preach to the masses that America is waging war on Islam? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    The Winograd Report - Editorial (New York Sun)

    • The Israeli political system is already dealing with the findings of the interim report of the Winograd Committee, established to evaluate Israel's difficulties in last summer's war in Lebanon.
    • From where we sit, here in America, the report itself, and the capacity for self-criticism it indicates, is a sign of Israel's strength. Can one imagine an independent government commission in Jordan or Saudi Arabia writing a report scathingly criticizing the Hashemite or Saudi king, then seeing the report published in the local press and debated and discussed openly by the population? Such an action would be impossible in Egypt or in Syria - anyone who tried to convene such a committee would be thrown in jail.
    • So in our view, those enemies of Israel who see in the Winograd report a sign of weakness or of self-doubt in Israel are mistaken. It is through such open debate that societies are able to improve themselves, which is why Israel, whatever its faults, has an economy that is much stronger than its neighbors, a military that is mightier than its enemies, and a population that is more free.
    In Criticism of a War, Hints of a New Israel - Roger Cohen (International Herald Tribune, 1May07)
    • The Winograd Commission sketched a profound disconnect: between an Israel that over almost six decades has not managed to deliver itself from the threat to its existence and an Israel of sweeping highways, high-tech corporations, gleaming high-rises, and all the trappings of a stable, modern country.
    • Security has on the whole been better since the fighting. Palestinians, behind walls and fences, pursued their steady retreat to the fringe of most Israelis' consciousness, and a patina of calm has returned.
    • Accountability is central to Israel's enduring vigor. How about a Saudi commission on how 15 of its citizens came to be among the 9/11 hijackers? Or a Lebanese commission on how Hizbullah has been able to operate as a quasi-independent armed entity within the state? Or an Iranian commission on how the hopes of its 1979 revolution led only to another form of dictatorship? When those commissions convene, the Middle East will move forward.

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