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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 1, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Report Confirms Airline Terror Attack Dry Run - Audrey Hudson (Washington Times)
    A newly released Department of Homeland Security inspector general's report backs eyewitness accounts of suspicious behavior by 13 Middle Eastern men on a Northwest Airlines flight in 2004.
    According to the report, the "suspicious passengers," 12 Syrians and their Lebanese-born promoter, were traveling on Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on expired visas.
    A background check in the FBI's National Crime Information Center database produced "positive hits" for past criminal records or suspicious behavior for eight of the 12 Syrians, who were traveling in the U.S. as a musical group.
    Passenger and air marshals had said the incident resembled a dry run for a terrorist attack.

Israel HighWay
- May 31, 2007

Issue of the Week:
    The Economic Fight Against Iran's Extremism

Video Released of BBC Reporter Kidnapped in Gaza (BBC News)
    A video has appeared on the Internet showing the first pictures of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston since his abduction in Gaza on 12 March, posted by the Army of Islam.
    Johnston says he is in good health and calls for an end to Western sanctions that have been imposed on the Palestinian government.
    On the tape, the Army of Islam demands the release of Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-born Islamic cleric suspected of close links to al-Qaeda, who is currently held in the UK as a threat to national security.

South African Unions Seek Israel Boycott, Severing Ties - Cnaan Liphshiz (Ha'aretz)
    South Africa's largest trade union federation will launch a campaign against "the Israeli occupation of Arab lands" this week, demanding that Pretoria impose a boycott on all Israeli goods and break diplomatic relations.
    South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, who is Jewish, said that he actively supported the initiative - which contradicts the policy of his own cabinet.
    The president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Willy Madisha, announced the launching of the campaign last week in Johannesburg, calling on the government to cease all diplomatic relations with Israel.

Sunnis in Baghdad Join Fight Against Al-Qaeda in Iraq - John Ward Anderson (Washington Post)
    Sunni residents of a west Baghdad neighborhood battled the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq this week, leaving at least 28 people dead.
    The mayor of the Amiriyah neighborhood, Mohammed Abdul Khaliq, said residents were rising up to try to expel al-Qaeda in Iraq.
    "I think this is going to be the end of the al-Qaeda presence here," Abdul Khaliq said of the fighting, which began over accusations that al-Qaeda in Iraq had executed Sunnis without reason.

UK Jihadis Threaten Israel - Yaakov Lappin (Ynet News)
    Radicalized British Muslims continue to pose a security threat to Israel, Baroness Caroline Cox, former deputy speaker of the House of Lords for 20 years, said Thursday.
    Israel "does need to be concerned" about another attempt by al-Qaeda-affiliated British Muslims to attack the country, as two British Muslims did in 2003 in a suicide bombing on a pub in Tel Aviv that killed three Israelis and injured dozens.
    "Britain has become a base for training and teaching militant Islam," Cox declared.

PA Finance Ministry Director General Abducted in Gaza City (Maan News-PA)
    A group of armed men abducted PA Finance Ministry director general Hashim Abu Nada from his office in Gaza City on Sunday.

Palestinian NGOs: "Honor Killings" Increasing (Maan News-PA)
    A forum of Palestinian organizations that fight violence against women published a report on Monday about so-called "honor killings" during the period 2004-2006.
    During this period the number of women killed increased from 14 to 32, with the ages of the victims ranging from 12 to 85.
    Of the 32 victims, 30 of the murdered girls were Muslim. In 17 cases, the perpetrators were brothers, while in 5 cases, fathers killed their own daughters.

Islamism Comes to Paradise - John Lancaster (Slate)
    The Maldives is an exclusively Muslim country and has been since 1153.
    Nearly everyone I spoke with remarked on the growing popularity of beards and headscarves.
    As elsewhere, the growth of fundamentalist influence can be traced in part to Saudi Arabia, which built a seven-story-high school in Male - the Islamic Studies Institute - whose curriculum runs heavily to Arabic and the Quran.
    Moreover, many young Maldivians have studied at madrassas in the Middle East and Pakistan, where some have been recruited by militants.

China, Israel Agree to Set Up Confucius Institute - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
    The Confucius Institute for Chinese Studies will begin offering classes at Tel Aviv University in October, according to an agreement signed on Monday between University President Prof. Itamar Rabinovitch and Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhao Jun.
    The Confucius Institute is an initiative of the Chinese government aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture internationally. TAU has 200 students registering for Chinese language and culture courses every year.
    Classes at the Confucius Institute will be open to the public and students will not have to be registered at the university.

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  • Palestinian Rockets Fray Nerves in Israeli "Bull's-Eye" City - Isabel Kershner
    After seven years of Palestinian rocket fire, Sderot has turned into a city of fear. A working-class town whose outer limits lie less than a mile and a half from Gaza's border, Sderot is the bull's-eye for Kassam rockets, whose warheads are stuffed with shrapnel. With each attack, more of its 24,000 residents are added to the list of those treated for "shock." Psychologists and mental health workers describe the fear induced by each new attack and the randomness of the threat. "It's trauma upon trauma upon trauma," said Tami Sagi, director of psychological services in Sderot. Even taking a shower is stressful, Sderot's residents say. Rockets can strike anywhere, anytime, and with the water running, people cannot hear the alert and take shelter.
        The Cohens, like most families, spend the nights like refugees. They spread mattresses on the floor of the living room every evening, afraid to sleep in the upstairs bedrooms in case a rocket comes smashing through the roof. Dr. Adriana Katz runs the city trauma center for shock victims. The aim, she said, is to prevent post-traumatic stress syndrome, a potentially chronic condition that can cripple lives. "But we can't talk of post-trauma yet," Dr. Katz said. "There is no 'post.' It's all the time. The 'post' isn't even on the horizon." (New York Times)
        See also Sderot Mayor Vows to Keep City Forever
    In a conference call with American Jewish leaders Thursday, Sderot's mayor Eli Moyal told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, "We will keep this city forever. Nobody will drive us out. It doesn't matter how long it will be or how tough it will be." Sderot has been plagued by Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in the bordering Gaza Strip. The Negev city has been the target of Kassams for seven years, but the intensity of attacks has increased over the past two weeks. A video conference with Moyal was interrupted by rocket fire, forcing the evacuation of the studio and the continuation of the exchange by telephone. (JTA)
  • Rice: Talk to Palestinians Before Syria
    During her flight to Berlin Tuesday ahead of the G-8 major industrial nations summit, a reporter asked U.S. Secretary of State Rice what she thought of reports that Israel's leadership might deemphasize the Israeli-Palestinian track to focus on peace overtures from Syria. "No one is opposed to Israel pursuing other tracks, including a Syria track. But my understanding is that it's the view of the Israelis and certainly our view that the Syrians are engaged in behavior right now that is destabilizing to the region," she said. "But it's not a view that there shouldn't be such a track. When it's ready, it should be." "Everybody agrees that the Israeli-Palestinian track is extremely important for a number of reasons, but also unlocks the key to the use of the Arab initiatives and further engagement between the Arabs and the Israelis," she said. (JTA)
  • UK Research Funders to Disregard Israel Boycott - Debbie Andalo
    Research councils in the UK said Thursday they would still allow collaboration on projects with Israeli institutions despite the decision by the university lecturers' union to back calls for an academic boycott. Research Councils UK, the umbrella organization for the seven councils, which between them hold the purse strings for £2.8b of funding, said: "We would not stop any collaboration unless it was government policy." Israeli universities have an enviable reputation for research, especially in science, and the influential Royal Society - the independent academy which promotes natural and applied science - reaffirmed its opposition Thursday to blanket academic boycotts.
        Labour MP Denis MacShane, who chaired the all-party parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism, said: "The motion will do nothing to help Palestinian students who are keen to study in the relative oasis of Israeli universities and will exacerbate the position of Jewish students in the UK who already feel harassed, intimidated and uncomfortable on campus." (Guardian-UK)
        See also U.S. Research Foundation Blocks New Grants for Britons - Hagit Klaiman (Ynet News)
  • Congress Set to Vote on Jerusalem - Eli Lake
    The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote next week on a resolution calling for President Bush to move the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, strengthening Israel's position against recurring diplomatic efforts to take away its capital. The resolution commemorates the 40th anniversary of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War that unified Jerusalem. It also calls on Mr. Bush to adhere to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which authorized the funds to begin moving the embassy and declared that it was American policy to recognize the city as the capital of Israel. (New York Sun)
  • Saudi Arms Fight Brewing in Congress - James D. Besser
    A congressional fight could be brewing over the Bush administration's expected decision to sell Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMS) to Saudi Arabia. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) said they will introduce a "resolution of disapproval" as soon as the arms deal is formally announced. They said the sophisticated satellite-guided bombs would represent a quantum leap in the lethality of munitions sold to an unstable Saudi regime. And selling more weapons would just reward the Saudis for their support for terrorism, they argued. Israeli officials have also expressed strong concerns about the expected arms deal. (Baltimore Jewish Times)
  • Is Syria Working to Foment Civil War in Lebanon? - Mark MacKinnon
    Syria's leaders have "devilish plans" to drive Lebanon into civil war in order to avoid facing justice in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, his son Saad charged in an interview Thursday. Saad Hariri said that Shaker al-Abssi, the leader of the Muslim fundamentalists who have been battling the Lebanese army in the north since May 20, was in a Syrian prison last year before suddenly being released. "Free people in Syria [get] a sentence of 20 years for their opinions, and someone like Shaker al-Abssi, who is a murderer, gets out of Syrian prison? Under what reason? If you follow that, you will see a Syrian trail," he said. (AFP/Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • "Israel Doesn't Want to Bail Assad Out" - Herb Keinon
    Israel is not interested in helping Damascus wiggle out of international isolation, senior government officials said Thursday, following the UN Security Council's decision Wednesday to establish a tribunal to prosecute suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria is widely believed to have had a hand in the Hariri killing. According to the officials, Prime Minister Olmert continues to believe the Syrian regime is not genuinely interested in peace, but rather in a peace process that would improve its international standing. Olmert also feels that Israel cannot simultaneously focus on both a Syrian and a Palestinian track, and that at present it is more critical to try to move on the Palestinian track. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Boy Dies of Rocket-Inflicted Wounds
    A 13-year-old Israeli boy died last week of wounds sustained during a Palestinian rocket attack on the Israeli town of Sderot. Haim Shalom - who was deaf, mute and crippled - was critically wounded while riding in a bus with four other physically-challenged children. All of the passengers were wounded, as was the bus driver. (Israel Today)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Yaakov Katz
    Palestinians in Gaza fired at least three rockets at Israel on Friday morning. Four rockets were fired at Israel on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • King Herod's Return - Walter Reich
    Israeli archeologists announced earlier this month that they found the tomb of Herod the Great - builder of Masada, Caesarea, and the grand expansion of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem - at Herodion National Monument, eight miles south of Jerusalem. In Israel, anything that demonstrates the area's Jewish past makes a big impression. For Israelis, such finds are seen as an emblem of the Jews' ancient and unbroken connection with the land, going back 3,500 years, that justifies the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. For Palestinians, they're seen as a way of legitimizing Israel. The writer is a professor of international affairs, ethics and human behavior at George Washington University and a former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Fabricating an Emotion for Jerusalem - Shmuel Katz
    The Koran relates that Muhammad in a single night was transported to heaven by Burak, a horse with wings, a woman's face, and a peacock's tail. He was first taken to what the Koran called the "uttermost mosque" - il masjad al aksa. Jerusalem is not mentioned in the story, and there was no mosque in Jerusalem at the time. After Muhammad's death, the tradition - which did not pass unchallenged by an opposing school of thought - laid it down that the "uttermost mosque" meant the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. On this legend rests the Muslim claim to the Jewish Temple Mount as a Muslim holy place.
        The Muslims were not overly impressed with Jerusalem's importance when they ruled in Palestine. While, in turn, Damascus, Baghdad, and Cairo glittered with the luster of an imperial capital, Jerusalem stagnated as a remote provincial townlet. To the Muslims, Jerusalem, though the site of a Holy Place, was a backwater. Even during the Jordanian control of Jerusalem (1948-1967), not a single globe-trotting Saudi prince ever set foot in the city. The Arabs' slight and superficial relationship to the city has only recently been expanded into a claim of an uncompromising, even exclusive, ownership. (Jerusalem Post)
  • West Bank Gunmen Move from Petty Crime to Organized Extortion
    One Palestinian merchant sold his shops and is preparing to emigrate after gunmen tried to extort $12,500 from him. Another entrepreneur ended up in the hospital with severe beating injuries after refusing to pay up. Blackmail of wealthy business people is the latest tactic of some Palestinian militants, who have increasingly turned to crime to fund their armed groups. The extortionists often have ties to the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent offshoot of Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, or even serve in the security forces.
        At least 30,000 Palestinians applied for immigration papers at foreign representative offices in Ramallah in the past year, said Bassem Khoury, head of the Palestinian Federation of Industries. Canada, Egypt, and Arab Gulf countries are popular destinations. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • U.S., Saudis at Odds Over TV Station - Paul Richter
    Outraged by video footage of bloody attacks on American troops, U.S. officials have worked for about half a year to close down a satellite television station that promotes the cause of Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgents to millions of viewers in the region. Yet Al Zawraa is still beaming calls for violent resistance - thanks to Saudi Arabia. U.S. and Iraqi troops chased Al Zawraa television's staff out of Iraq last year, and this year Washington pressured the Egyptians and Europeans to stop bouncing the station's signal from their satellites. But despite pleas from Washington, the Saudi government has declined to use its influence as a major stakeholder in the satellite company Arabsat to stop the transmissions, U.S. officials say. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Help Our Fight for Real Democracy in Egypt - Wael Abbas
    Last week I returned to my country, Egypt, after several weeks in the U.S. on a Freedom House fellowship. I feared that the authorities would arrest me as soon as I set foot on Egyptian soil. If I am arrested, it will be because as an Egyptian blogger I dared to speak the truth about President Hosni Mubarak's regime, which continues to receive billions in foreign aid from the U.S. government - including funds ostensibly intended to support democracy. It will be because I dared to expose the actions that have made Mubarak's administration one of the world's foremost violators of human rights. Is this the kind of regime you want your tax money to support? (Washington Post)
  • Terrorists Take Refuge in South Africa - Jonathan Schanzer
    In early May, South Africa's intelligence minister, Ronnie Kasrils, invited Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas member and prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, to lead a delegation to South Africa. In June 2003, South Africa's deputy minister of foreign affairs, Aziz Pahad, met with representatives of Hizbullah. Overtures to Hamas and Hizbullah are indicative of Pretoria's utter indifference to the threat of radical Islamic ideologies and violence. The worst consequence of this blindness may be the creation of a safe haven for terrorists in South Africa itself. According to one reported U.S. intelligence estimate, al-Qaeda leaders are operating throughout South Africa. Other reports indicate that terrorists are exploiting the country's banking system, and that South African passports are finding their way to al-Qaeda operatives worldwide. As a result, Washington must keep an eye on one more potential source of danger: South Afristan. (Weekly Standard)

    Weekend Features

  • When Israel Gave America a Gift: Russia's Newest Warplane - Reuven Weiss
    The Mig-21 was considered the number one fighter plane during the Cold War, and the U.S. had no clue how it was built, what its weaknesses were, and what weapons should be developed against it. On August 16, 1966, a Mig-21 jet plane, the flagship of Soviet industry, landed at the Israel Air Force base in Hatzor. Captain Munir Redfa, the Iraqi fighter pilot who flew the jet to Israel, said that he decided to defect to the West because of the remorse and guilt he felt over attacking Kurdish villages with napalm bombs. But Redfa's defection was also the result of a Mossad-initiated operation.
        A new movie produced by the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC) and Israel Television reveals that the idea to try and obtain a Mig-21 was first raised in 1965 by then IAF commander Ezer Weizman. The Mossad knew that Egypt had 34 Mig-21 jets, Syria had 18 and Iraq had 10. The movie includes photos of Redfa from a visit to Israel prior to his defection.
        After a month in Israel, the Mig-21 was transferred to the American Air Force for testing and intelligence analysis. Thanks to this Israeli "gift," Israel was finally able to replace its French Vautour and Mirage jets with U.S.-made Phantoms. A year later, during the Six-Day War, Israeli fighter jets succeeded in shooting down dozens of Mig-21 jets in air battles, owing to the knowledge obtained from the analysis of the Iraqi Mig-21. The Iraqi pilot, Redfa, and his family left Israel after a short stay and moved to another Western country. Redfa died of a heart attack about nine years ago. (Ynet News)
  • March Remembers UK-Born Lebanon War Hero - Barak Ravid
    A march held last Friday near Ra'anana in memory of British-born Major Benji Hillman, a special forces officer killed in the Second Lebanon War, drew some 1,500 participants. It was also aimed to raise funds to set up Benji's House, a hostel that will offer a home to dozens of soldiers whose families live abroad. Hillman was a company commander in Egoz, a special forces unit of the Golani Brigade. On July 20, 2006, he led his troops into Maroun al-Ras, where Hillman and three of his soldiers were killed. Hillman had been married only three weeks earlier and managed to spend a weekend with his new wife Ayala before the war broke out. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iberia Reconnects with Its Jewish History - Michael Levitin
    Now, more than five centuries after Spain violently expelled its Jews, the country is experiencing a revival of interest in Sephardic heritage. Unlike Berlin, Prague, and other European cities where a lost Jewish heritage has been a cultural steppingstone for years - and where old Jewish quarters, synagogues and cemeteries are almost mandatory tourist stops - the curiosity in Spain's Jewish sites has grown up almost overnight. A growing number of tourists are coming to Segovia, a city in Spain's Castile region, not only to see its towering Roman aqueduct but also to get a glimpse of a rediscovered Jewish past. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Germany and Israel: Between Obligation, Taboo, and Resentment - Interview with Josef Joffe
    Today the majority of German opinion toward Israel ranges from critical to resentful. But it is difficult to tell whether this is specifically German or European - or neither, but part and parcel of the postmodern liberal mindset throughout the West. In the "chattering classes" - the media, the academy - the ideological center of gravity is on the Left. The new European dispensation is antipower, antiwar and antiracist. It reflects Europe's horrible past, with a lot more complicity in the Nazi project than some nations in Europe are willing to own up to. It reflects ancient guilt feelings and the unconscious need to project them onto somebody else. To regain moral stature, Europeans have turned anti-Fascism into a worldly doctrine of transcendence. Dr. Josef Joffe is publisher-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit, and adjunct professor of political science at Stanford University. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    A Different Law for Jews - Ben-Dror Yemini
    (Maariv-Hebrew/IMRA/Israel Government Press Office)

    • Why are we witnessing a recurrent historical phenomenon, a different law for Jews - a unique and racist law - as opposed to all others? If human rights and human lives were what interested the British, they would devote much greater energy to what is happening in Darfur than to what is happening in the West Bank.
    • The British lecturers know the truth. They know that in Chechnya, for example, Putin's Russia wiped out tens of thousands of Muslims. They know that the Israeli army is the epitome of humanity compared to the Russian army. They know that in Central Europe, in Srebrenica, more Muslims were slaughtered in one week than have been killed in 40 years of Israeli occupation. They know that British soldiers, who control the Basra area in Iraq, and U.S. soldiers in Baghdad and in other areas, behave much less humanely than do the Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. They know that the Syrian regime brutally suppresses the Kurdish minority, and jails any intellectual who dares to open his mouth against the regime.
    • And, given this, they have not decided to boycott Russia, Britain, the USA or Syria. They have decided to boycott only Israel.
    • How is it that the Jews are again deserving of boycotts even though they did not perpetrate any crime against humanity, if we compare what other countries have done, including Britain, to what Israel is doing?
    • The good news is that things must be put into perspective. Two months ago I was present at some lectures in London in the framework of "Apartheid Week" that called, for example, for the destruction of Israel. Lo and behold - the lecture halls were nearly empty.
    • Most British know that the problem is not Palestine. The problem is Londonstan, which is being overrun by Islamists who declare vociferously: We want to raise the green flag [of Islam] over London.

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