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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 11, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Tactics Expand in Gaza - Ilene Prusher (Christian Science Monitor)
    Over the past few months, a slew of Internet cafes and video stores have been attacked and forced to close.
    Earlier this week, Islamists opened fire on an elementary school, killing one bodyguard and wounding seven, while the most senior UN official in Gaza was visiting the institution.
    The startling events point in a direction that, until recently, many Palestinians thought was far from their reality: the appearance of groups driven by a fundamentalist, anti-Western agenda aligned with that of al-Qaeda.
    In the past half year, more than 70 establishments seen as representing "infidel" culture have been attacked, including Internet cafes, video shops, an American school, and a Christian center that distributed Bibles.

Israel HighWay
- May 10, 2007

Issue of the Week:
    40th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem

Fifteen Smuggling Tunnels Currently Active in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Palestinian and Israeli security sources believe there are approximately 15 active tunnels in southern Gaza between the PA and Egypt being used by smugglers to move arms and people.
    The tunnels are controlled by powerful clans who consider them a lucrative source of income.
    Palestinians wanted for criminal activities are using the tunnels to escape abroad.
    In some cases, criminals in custody manage to escape with the help of their jailers.

Syria Sets Condition for Hariri Tribunal - Zeina Karam (AP/Boston Globe)
    Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that his country would not recognize a UN-mandated international tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri if it infringes on Syrian sovereignty.
    The comments indicated that Damascus would not cooperate with the court if it indicts Syrian citizens for the killing - setting the stage for a possible confrontation with the UN if the tribunal is created.
    Assad made the comments in a speech to parliament, where his ruling Ba'ath Party nominated him for a second seven-year term in office.

Syrian Dissident Gets 12 Years in Prison - Zeina Karam (AP/Washington Post)
    Dr. Kamal Labwani, 50, a Syrian dissident who was arrested after meeting with White House officials two years ago, was convicted and sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison, the latest verdict in a crackdown on critics of the Syrian government.

Palestinian Moms Becoming Martyrs - Tim McGirk (TIME)
    Since 2002, 88 Palestinian women have attempted suicide bombings, though just eight have been successful.
    Though there were just six suicide attacks against Israelis in 2006, two were carried out by women.
    "There's a growing involvement of Palestinian women in terrorism, everything from scouting targets and smuggling guns and explosives to becoming suicide bombers," says Anat Berko, an Israeli counterterrorism expert at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya.
    Palestinian women suicide bombers are older and better schooled than their male counterparts.
    Whereas the men are usually in their late teens and early 20s with scant education, studies carried out on 67 women recruited to become suicide bombers from 2002 to 2005 found that 33% were college graduates and an additional 39% had finished high school.
    Some women suicide bombers believe that in paradise they will become queens, while others are told by recruiters that they will become the fairest of the 72 virgins that await each jihad warrior.

U.S. Airport Chiefs Study Israeli Security - Ben Winograd (AP/Business Week)
    U.S. airport directors from California to Florida on Tuesday studied Israel's airline passenger screening system, known as one of the world's toughest and most effective.
    The directors inspected the security arrangements at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, where safety concerns affect the design of everything from windows to trash bins.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice: Syria a Real Problem for Middle East Peace - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a Senate subcommittee Thursday, "Syria continues to be a major funder of terrorism; a major harborer of those elements of the Palestinian political elite, for instance, who are opposed to a two-state solution, who are the ones who continue to perpetrate violence in the Palestinian territories and to attempt to do it in Israel. And so, in terms of Middle East peace, the Syrians are a real problem for leaders like Mahmoud Abbas who want to take a different course toward a two-state solution."
        "Syrian behavior is such that, particularly in the support that it gives to elements of Hamas that are preventing a two-state solution, it's not exhibited an attitude that suggests that it's ready for or intending to try and pursue peace," she said. "Syria is a significant problem, not just for American policy in the Middle East, but for democratic forces that are trying to take hold in the Middle East," Rice concluded. (Ynet News)
  • Iran Blocks UN Inspectors on Test Visit to Nuclear Site - Michael Adler
    Iran blocked UN atomic experts on a first unannounced test inspection of an underground nuclear site where it enriches uranium, despite a pledge to allow such visits, diplomats told AFP Thursday. A first test on April 21 of the agreement "was a total failure," said a diplomat in Vienna, home to the IAEA. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Prominent Iranian-American Academic Jailed in Tehran - Neil MacFarquhar
    Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian-American academic who is director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, was imprisoned Tuesday in Tehran after being barred from leaving the country four months ago. Ms. Esfandiari had endured repeated interrogations since December and was taken to Evin prison. Esfandiari, who left Iran at the time of the 1979 Islamic revolution, had returned twice annually over the past decade to visit her ailing 93-year-old mother. (New York Times)
  • Al-Qaeda Presence in Pakistan Worries Britain
    Robert Brinkley, the British high commissioner to Pakistan, said Thursday that his government was greatly concerned about the continued ability of leaders of al-Qaeda hiding in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region to direct terrorist operations across the world. He said that although the Pakistani government had made praiseworthy efforts to find and detain terrorists, "the fight is not finished." Of particular concern was that extremists in Britain were still communicating with terrorist leaders in the tribal areas, looking to them for "guidance, ideas and, in some cases, training for operations." Such contacts were believed to have been a factor in the deadly London transit bombings in July 2005, he said, adding, "It's top priority to ensure it does not happen again." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Official: Peace Effort Aimed at Lessening Arab, EU Pressure - Shmuel Rosner
    U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams said last week that the efforts the U.S. is now investing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is aimed at lessening the pressure from "Arabs and the Europeans, who weren't happy with the United States" in its past approach. Abrams explained that the talks are sometimes not more than "process for the sake of process." Abrams has long been seen by Americans and Israelis as the more skeptical member of the team responsible for Middle East diplomacy. (Ha'aretz)
  • Syria Applying Lessons of the Second Lebanon War - Aluf Benn and Shmuel Rosner
    The Syrians are adjusting their armed forces according to what they saw in the Second Lebanon War. According to Israeli intelligence experts, the Syrian army is busy raising the level of readiness, stepping up training and arming itself with up-to-date weapons, especially anti-tank missiles. "They're arming themselves with all the weapons that Hizbullah successfully used against us," one source said. The Syrians have also deployed more forces in the area of the buffer zone near the Israeli border, and have improved their positions. But according to the same sources, the Syrian preparations are defensive in nature. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jordanian Opposition Blasts Visit by Israeli Peace Activists
    A coalition of Jordanian opposition parties and trade unions Thursday condemned a planned visit by 50 Israeli peace activists for a meeting with Jordanian opinion leaders. The Executive Committee for Confronting Normalization with Israel urged a cessation of all forms of normalization of ties with Israel (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that landed in the western Negev on Friday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Dealing with the Iranian Threat in Iraq - Daniel M. Zucker
    Much of the continued violence in Iraq is due to the interference of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxy agents in the internal affairs of its western neighbor. Iran, through its support of the Shiite fundamentalist parties - Moqtada al-Sadr's Al-Daawa and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim's SCIRI (the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) - and their respective militias (Jaish al-Mahdi, and the Badr and Wolf Brigades) and through the deployment of its Sepah al-Qods (the Iranian regime's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' most secretive, elite, and skilled unit, responsible for all terror attacks abroad), has effectively gained significant influence and control over Iraqi society, especially in the south around Basra. So too, through monetary and logistical support of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Iran has managed to keep Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis at each others throats. (Global Politician)
  • Waiting for Disaster - Editorial
    It's only a matter of time before something dreadful happens in Sderot or elsewhere within the range of Gaza's Kassam rockets. On Monday, a rocket barely missed a kindergarten, though it did slam into a home next door. On Sunday, two people were wounded by a Palestinian rocket that exploded alarmingly near a gas station. A day earlier, another Sderot home took a direct hit. Ordinary folks cannot acquiesce to having their homes wrecked or their lives put on the line in an ongoing game of Palestinian roulette day after tense day. No democracy anywhere would abide the daily rocketing of its noncombatants. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Million Moderate Muslims on the March - Daniel Pipes
    Moderate Muslims are no myth. In Pakistan, an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated in Karachi on April 15 to protest plans to establish a parallel court system based on Islamic religious law. In Turkey, more than 1 million moderate Muslims gathered for four marches to protest the bid of the ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, to take over the Turkish presidency. The marches chanted slogans such as: "We don't want an imam as president." Developments in Pakistan and Turkey confirm that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution. Ignorant non-Muslim busybodies should get out of the way of those moderate Muslims who are determined to relegate radical Islamism to its rightful place in the dustbin of history. (New York Sun)
        See also Finding Partners in Islam - Lorenzo Vidino
    Throughout the Muslim world many courageous intellectuals, clerics, and activists are struggling to make their message heard, campaigning for the diffusion of the values of tolerance and democracy within Islamic societies and among Muslims in the West. They preach a reformation through which Muslims, while remaining loyal to its key tenets, would be able to reconcile Islam with modern life. Yet moderate voices, while still representing the majority of the Muslim world, are often overshadowed by aggressive and well-organized radicals. It is in the West's best interest to support these voices of reason, as they represent the best antidote to the radical ideology that is generating most of the terrorism and violence throughout the world. (Boston Globe)
  • Lessons from the Fort Dix Six - Mary Habeck
    The Fort Dix six seem to have taken to heart Abu Musab al-Suri's advice to create a decentralized global Islamic resistance. Al-Suri - a key member of the al-Qaeda leadership before his arrest last year - argued that the proper way to conduct a global guerrilla campaign was to inspire men ideologically, give them training through the Internet, and then allow them to carry out attacks whenever and wherever they deemed appropriate. Most of the men were Muslims (and Albanians) from the former Yugoslavia. Extremist Islamic preachers have remained in Bosnia and Albania, winning converts to radical Islam and to jihadism. Finally, reports describe a video showing "ten young men" firing weapons, yet only six were arrested. This is not over. The writer is associate professor of strategic studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. (National Review)
  • Invisible Palestinians Exist in Legal Limbo in Lebanon - Nada Bakri
    Three generations of the Hamdallah family have lived in Lebanon, where not a single member of the family has been allowed to graduate from school, legally marry, or hold a job. The UN estimates that more than 400,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon - refugees, their children, and their children's children - all denied many basic rights. Palestinians have been denied citizenship in Lebanon for years, and they are prohibited from practicing more than 70 professions. "This is a problem [that is] not going to go away on its own; now is the time to solve it," said Richard J. Cook, director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. (New York Times)
  • UNIFIL Is Ineffective - Noah Pollak
    In reality, UNIFIL in Lebanon gives diplomats an excuse to do nothing about Hizbullah's rearmament, and its presence on the ground complicates Israel's ability to engage the terrorist army in battle.. The new UNIFIL force is afraid to confront Hizbullah, unwilling to interrupt the easy flow of arms across Lebanon, and prohibited from patrolling the border with Syria. No serious observer of southern Lebanon today believes that the new, "robust" UNIFIL will prevent another round of warfare. (National Review)
  • Israel, the European Commission, Europe and the Netherlands - Interview with Frits Bolkestein by Manfred Gerstenfeld
    The Israeli "file" at the European Commission is a difficult one. In recent years Israel has undoubtedly lost the publicity battle, due to the intifada and to perceptions about the security fence. Another factor is that people bow to numbers. There are hundreds of millions of Arabs and seven million Israelis. There is the issue that Arabs have much oil and could again some day impose an embargo. The fact that there are so many European Muslims, with their electoral power, has an influence on foreign policy. Finally, there is anti-Semitism which in Europe often dresses up as anti-Israelism. Frits Bolkestein is a former leader of the Netherlands' Liberal Party. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Weekend Features

  • Two Mothers, One Battle - Diana Bletter
    Harriet and I stood on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon, looking at the village where our two sons fought during last summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah. During combat, Harriet's son, Michael, was hit by sniper fire. My son, Shlomie, a medic, also received shrapnel wounds. Shlomie did everything he could to save Michael - but Harriet's son died in my son's arms. Both of our sons were American-born Jews who had enlisted in the Israeli Army. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Museum Created for Germans Who Hid Jews - Kirsten Grieshaber
    Barbara Preusch, 76, vividly remembers the day the Nazis searched her Berlin home for hidden Jews - and left without finding Rachela and Jenny Schipper, the mother and daughter her family sheltered from 1943 to 1945. Sixty-two years after the end of World War II, people like Preusch are being honored with a museum in Berlin. Israel has recognized non-Jews who helped Jews escape the Holocaust and honored 443 Germans at the Yad Vashem Memorial as "Righteous among the Nations." But similar honors have been long delayed at home. The "Silent Heroes" museum is to open in 2008 in an old tenement building in the center of Berlin. It will be based in Otto Weidt's former workshop for the blind, where several Jews survived in a secret room during the war. About 1,700 Jews survived in Berlin, and an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 non-Jewish Germans actively hid them, according to historian Johannes Tuchel, the head of the German Resistance Memorial Center which is in charge of the museum. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Jerusalem Before Israel - Amy Dockser Marcus
    The Ottoman occupation of Jerusalem in the 16th century until the early 20th was often marked by peaceful coexistence: Twice a year, Jews, Muslims, and Christians celebrated together at the shrine of Simon the Just, a popular biblical figure. Trying to pinpoint the moment when he realized that that the Israel-Arab conflict was inevitable, David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first prime minister, said it was the day in 1915 that he sat on a train waiting to leave Jerusalem at the order of Ahmed Djemal, the city's Ottoman ruler, who banished many known Zionist activists from the city. Ben-Gurion had tried to turn himself into an Ottoman - studying Turkish, attending law school in Constantinople, trying to organize a Jewish legion to fight on behalf of the Ottoman Empire in the war, and even donning a red fez. But all these gestures had been to no avail, for at the end of the day, Djemal had looked at him and seen not an Ottoman but an advocate for a future Jewish state, and had him jailed in Jerusalem. - from Jerusalem 1913. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Dissidents Unite! - Sonny Bunch (Weekly Standard)

    • Next month, Natan Sharansky will give the current crop of dissidents a megaphone through which to air their grievances and aspirations and rally international support: Along with former president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel and former prime minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar, Sharansky is cohosting a Conference on Democracy and Security. To be held in Prague from June 4-6, the summit will be attended by President Bush, en route to Germany for the G-8 Summit.
    • The conference will seek to strengthen the democratic movement by bringing together political leaders and people working to create freer societies all over the world. Those in attendance will include opposition figures from "Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Iran, Cuba and North Korea, Belarus and Russia," Sharansky says.
    • Sharansky points to Iran as a society that, like the Soviet Union before it, is rotting from the inside - a termite-infested house just waiting to collapse.
    • He calls Iran "almost a classic example of how in one generation a country of true believers could turn into a country of doublethinkers," a term (borrowed from 1984) for those who no longer believe in the ideals of a totalitarian regime but are afraid to voice their disagreement.
    • The opposition to the mullahs' revolution, he says, is "so massive that it could be compared with Solidarity in Poland."

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