Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


May 24, 2007

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Young U.S. Muslims Back Suicide Attacks - Jennifer Harper (Washington Times)
    The first nationwide survey of Muslim Americans revealed that more than a quarter of those younger than 30 say suicide bombings to defend Islam are justified, a fact that drowned out the Pew Research Center poll's kinder, gentler findings suggesting that the community is mainstream and middle class.
    "The survey also found that only 40% of the overall American Muslim population would even admit that Arabs were behind 9/11," said Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
    "They're in denial, refusing to take moral responsibility, and the radicals will feed on this."

What Is Fatah Al-Islam? - Leena Saidi (ABC News)
    Fatah al-Islam, a radical Sunni Islamist group, emerged in late 2006 after it split from Fatah al-Intifada, a pro-Syrian Palestinian faction that had split from Yasser Arafat's organization, Fatah.
    Lebanese authorities accused the group of bombing two minibuses in a Christian town in February 2006, killing three people. They also hold Fatah al-Islam responsible for at least three bank robberies.
    Lebanese authorities have accused Fatah al-Islam, which is said to be ideologically inspired by al-Qaeda, of working for Syrian intelligence.
    The group's leader, Shaker Abssi, a Palestinian in his early 50s, is said to be linked to the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and was sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian military court in 2004 for his involvement in the murder of American diplomat Laurence Foley.
    Most members of Fatah al-Islam are Syrians, some are Saudis, Yemenis and Lebanese.
    Palestinians maybe come at the end of the list, while Lebanese security sources say Moroccans and Algerians are also members.

Hamas' Armed Wing Vows Not to Stop Rocket Fire (Reuters)
    Hamas' armed wing said on Wednesday it had no intention of stopping rocket attacks against Israel despite an appeal for calm from Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
    "Our strikes against the enemy will continue. We have given the cells of the Kassam Brigades a free hand to strike the enemy everywhere in Palestine," the armed wing said in a statement.
    Hamas defines Palestine as all of Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

If Retirement Fund Has Tie to Iran, Tucson Wants to Cut It (Tucson Citizen)
    The Tucson City Council is looking at divesting the city employee retirement fund of investments in energy companies doing business in Iran.
    The council on Tuesday ordered city staff to study how other cities have divested themselves from Iran.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • IAEA: Iran Continues to Defy UN - Karen DeYoung
    Iran has again defied UN demands to suspend its nuclear enrichment programs, according to a report issued Wednesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, leading Bush administration officials to demand increased pressure on Tehran. The IAEA report comes amid tension within the administration over how aggressively to respond to the continued Iranian defiance on a range of issues, including its nuclear program and support for international terrorism and violent insurgents in Iraq. Vice President Cheney's office and hard-liners on the National Security Council staff think the current carrot-and-stick strategy leans too far in the direction of carrots. At the same time, the State Department recently succeeded in getting President Bush's authorization to hold direct talks with Tehran on the situation in Iraq - something the president had repeatedly said he would not permit without a change in Tehran's behavior. The U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq are due to begin a dialogue in Baghdad on Monday.
        The IAEA report said that during a surprise visit on May 13, nuclear inspectors found eight operating enrichment cascades - each with 164 centrifuges, for a total of 1,312 - being fed uranium hexafloride at the underground facility near Natanz. Five additional cascades were in various stages of completion. The number was more than four times the total number of centrifuges operating at the time of the last IAEA report, in February. But the level of enrichment - less than 5% - is substantially lower than the 90% required to make a nuclear weapon, and it is unclear how much Iran is producing and how smoothly the complicated machines are operating. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Makes Steep Nuclear Gains, UN Says - Bob Drogin
    Defying the international community, Iran has sharply upgraded its capacity to enrich uranium in recent months while the outside world's access to and grasp of Iran's nuclear program "has deteriorated," according to a unusually blunt report Wednesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency. "Iran is thumbing its nose at the international community," Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said in Washington. "We are not going to agree to accept limited enrichment, to accept that 1,300 centrifuges can continue spinning at their plant at Natanz." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran - Brian Ross and Richard Esposito
    The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government. President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation, and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions. "I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran," said Vali Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Mideast studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "And this covert action is now being escalated by the new U.S. directive." (ABC News)
        See also Iranian Money, Bomb-Making Material Found in Baghdad
    U.S.-led forces discovered a cache of Iranian money and bomb-making equipment during a raid Wednesday in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The U.S. has accused Iran of providing weapons and training to Shiite militant groups in Iraq, including powerful bombs used to penetrate the U.S. military's armored vehicles. (AP/Fox News)
        See also Sarkozy: Iran Must Cooperate or Face Tough Sanctions
    Iran has to decide whether it wants to cooperate with the international community regarding its nuclear program or face harsher sanctions, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the German magazine Cicero on Wednesday. "I for my part think one should not hesitate to toughen the sanctions," Sarkozy said. (Reuters)
  • Refugees Pour Out of Camp in Lebanon - Hassan M. Fattah and Nada Bakri
    A stream of Palestinians flowing out of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli continued Wednesday, as the Lebanese Army reinforced its positions and vowed to crush the militants inside. Young men tied to various Lebanese political parties have arrived at the entrance to the camp carrying weapons in recent days, seeking to fight alongside the army, underscoring the growing tensions between Lebanese and Palestinians. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Arrests Hamas Leaders in West Bank - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    In a continued crackdown on Hamas in the wake of Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza, the IDF arrested 33 senior Hamas leaders in the West Bank overnight Wednesday, including the PA education minister, three parliament members, and several mayors. The army also shut down ten Hamas offices in towns throughout the West Bank. "This is a terror group," an officer said, "and we will hunt them wherever they are." (Jerusalem Post)
        The IDF Spokesperson said: "The Hamas terror organization is currently involved in enhancing the terror infrastructure in the Judea and Samaria region - based on the model used in the Gaza Strip. The organization exploits governmental institutions to encourage and support terrorist activity."  (IDF/IMRA)
  • Israel to Let Abbas' Forces Train in West Bank - Ze'ev Schiff
    Israel agreed to extensive training of members of the Presidential Guard of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas near Jericho in the Jordan Valley. The Palestinian Presidential Guard is undergoing similar training in Egypt. The request for Israel to permit such extensive training was made through the Americans. Prior to this, Israel agreed to the transfer of thousands of rifles and ammunition to Abbas' Presidential Guard, but has refused to approve a request for the transfer of heavy machine guns. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinian gunmen fired three Kassam rockets at Israel Thursday morning. Two landed near Sderot, and one fell near Kibbutz Nir Am. Four rockets were fired at Israel Wednesday evening. Two landed near Sderot and two landed south of Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • No Peace Without a Capable and Responsible Palestinian Partner - Interview with Martin Indyk
    The U.S. has the notion that by creating a political horizon in which Palestinians and Israelis could see what the end result of a negotiation would be, that would help to take care of the situation on the ground. But it's not going to be enough. It is going to have to be a process on the ground that creates a capable and responsible Palestinian partner, if there's ever going to be an agreement based on a two-state solution. Without that responsible and capable partner, you get what you've got today, which is Israeli withdrawal, Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaeda and Iran fill the vacuum, and instead of peace you get a continuation of war by other names. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • The Link Between Lebanon and Gaza - Robert Baer
    Lebanon's government would like us to believe Fatah Islam started the fighting there on Sunday on the orders of Damascus. Whether Syria is providing tactical help or not, at the end of the day Fatah Islam is the Syrian regime's mortal enemy. If the fighting were to somehow lead to an all-out civil war, Syrian stability will be undermined. Lebanon has had a Sunni fundamentalist element in the north for more than 25 years. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood used northern Lebanon as a rear base to seize the Syrian city of Hama in 1982. Lebanese Sunni, including fundamentalist Palestinians, were instrumental in the attack. In 2000, a Qaeda-affiliated group in northern Lebanon attacked the Lebanese army.
        Gaza is a mirror image of what is happening in Lebanon. Last year, Israelis have told me, Qaeda was growing like a fungus there, with both mainline Fatah and Hamas losing followers to it. In Gaza you could see the place was seething. But frankly the notion of bin Laden taking over sounded like propaganda to me. Now, though, watching the growing chaos, and with the kidnapping of a BBC journalist, I think the Israelis were right. (TIME)
  • Observations:

    Palestinian Arabs Doing Violence to Own Cause - Youssef Ibrahim (New York Sun)

    • The Lebanese government has asserted that the Fatah al-Islam gang fighting its army is no more than a band of Syrian hired guns bent on disrupting Lebanon's latest effort to set up an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. UN investigators have ascertained that virtually all of the defendants prosecutors are likely to name are Syrian officials, including President Assad, his brother, and a brother-in-law, among others.
    • What makes our Palestinian Arab brethren gravitate constantly toward the lowest possible denominators? After the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993 offered a chance for much of the gang leadership to return to the West Bank and Gaza, it took Arafat's crew less than two years to alienate even the most die-hard Israeli doves. Suicide bombings led to checkpoints, which led to two intifadas, thus ending the Palestinian Spring.
    • Shortly after Prime Minister Sharon pulled the Israeli army out of Gaza in the summer of 2005, handing the Palestinian Arabs their own territory to govern for the first time ever, they quickly transformed it into a "Mad Max" arena of shootings, kidnappings, and lawlessness.
    • Similarly self-destructive impulses were seen in Lebanon this week, as Fatah al-Islam gang members made their way back to their camp - from a bank robbery - with the Lebanese army in hot pursuit. As you read this, the-bank-robbers-turned-freedom-fighters are likely shooting at the Lebanese army in the name of a free Arab Palestine. Sadly, this is the sort of bankruptcy the Palestinian mind has come to.
    • When the Tripoli episode is done, and internecine fighting among the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza resumes, the world will have moved further away from any sense of commitment to the Palestinian cause, and so will other Arabs.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert