Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 11, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Soldier's Kidnappers on PA Payroll - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Some of the Palestinian gunmen who participated in the kidnapping of IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit last year have long been on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian sources revealed Sunday.
    The sources named two of the suspected kidnappers as Muhammad Azmi Farawneh and Majdi Tayseer Hammad, who were killed by Israel separately over the past year.
    The fact that they were on the PA payroll was disclosed after their families protested against the low pension the PA had given them.
    The PA has also been paying salaries to thousands of Fatah gunmen belonging to the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
    The majority of these gunmen are registered as members of various branches of the PA security forces, particularly the General Intelligence, Force 17, and the Preventive Security Service.

Libya Backs Out of Deal with U.S. to Destroy Chemical Weapons - Carol Giacomo (Reuters)
    Libya has informed the U.S. of plans to back out of a contract to destroy its mustard gas stocks as promised under a landmark 2003 agreement, U.S. officials said.
    Libya is believed to still have 23 metric tons of old mustard gas and 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals, and had promised to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction.
    "The bottom line is, I don't know what the Libyans are up to," one U.S. official said.

Israel Launches Spy Satellite - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    Israel successfully launched the Ofek-7 military intelligence satellite on Monday.
    The new satellite is expected to circle the earth every 90 minutes, and should remain in orbit for 4-6 years.
    See also Israel to Greatly Expand Space Capabilities - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)

Israel Air Force Holds Joint Exercise with U.S. Pilots (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Air Force held a joint drill with visiting U.S. pilots on Sunday, in an exercise that the IDF said would be held annually.
    Defense analyst Alon Ben-David said, "Israel has realized that the way forward is to operate within coalitions, rather than alone."

Fatah Man Pushed Off Roof in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Mohammed Sweirki, 25, who served in the Fatah-linked Presidential Guard, was kidnapped Sunday by Hamas gunmen and pushed off the roof of a 15-story building to his death in Gaza City.
    In Rafah, hundreds of rival gunmen took up positions on street corners and rooftops, pounding each other's positions with rocket-propelled grenades and machineguns.
    Of the more than 39 Palestinians wounded in the fighting, at least nine were in critical condition, hospital officials said.
    See also Six Killed in Factional Gun Battles in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Masked gunmen from rival Palestinian factions streamed onto the streets to fight their most intense battles in weeks on Sunday in Gaza, with the weekend toll rising to six dead and 59 wounded.

Useful Reference:

New Online Resource: The Six-Day War - Causes and Consequences (CAMERA)
    One major misperception is that Mideast tensions stem from the "occupation" that began after the Six-Day War of 1967, and that the resolution of the tension can be achieved simply by ending Israel's presence in the territories.
    In fact, the conflict began well before Israel captured those territories.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Attempt to Capture Israeli Soldier - Steven Erlanger
    Palestinian gunmen from Gaza, using an armored vehicle labeled "TV," crashed through the Gaza-Israel border fence at Kissufim crossing on Saturday. One of the Palestinian gunmen was shot dead in a gun battle with Israeli soldiers. A spokesman for Islamic Jihad, Abu Ahmed, said three of the four gunmen had returned to Gaza, and the intention had been to try to capture an Israeli soldier. (New York Times)
        See also Palestinians Blasted for Media Disguise - Matti Friedman
    Journalists on Sunday condemned Palestinian militants for using a television truck to disguise their assault on an Israeli military position, saying the new tactic would make their jobs significantly more dangerous. In Saturday's attack, four gunmen drove a white jeep with press markings in English and Arabic to a fence on the Gaza-Israel border, then broke through on foot and attacked a guard tower in a failed attempt to capture a soldier. Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Ahmad denied the group had put the press markings on the jeep, but AP photos clearly show the markings on the jeep when the attack was underway. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • Iran Threatens Gulf Blitz If U.S. Hits Nuclear Plants - Michael Smith
    Iran has threatened to launch a missile blitz against the Gulf states and plunge the entire Middle East into war if America attacks its nuclear facilities. Admiral Ali Shamkhani, a senior defense adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that Gulf states providing the U.S. with military cooperation would be the key targets of a barrage of ballistic missiles. Shamkhani told the U.S. journal Defense News that missiles would be launched not only at U.S. military bases but also at strategic targets such as oil refineries and power stations. The attacks on Arab states would be in addition to airstrikes on Israel, which have been threatened repeatedly. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Security Council Refuses to Condemn Iran - Edith M. Lederer
    The UN Security Council refused to approve a statement Friday that would condemn remarks about Israel's impending destruction attributed to Iran's hard-line president because of objections from Indonesia, council diplomats said. France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, who called for condemnation of the remarks attributed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said: "At stake is...a real question of principle. When the president of a country talks about the destruction of another country, a member of the United Nations, this is a serious issue."
        "A statement by a head of state calling for or implying the destruction of a member state of the United Nations is as a matter of principle unacceptable, and this is a threat to international peace and security," said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Florida Bars Investment in Iran, Sudan - Brian Skoloff
    Florida became the first state in the nation Friday to have a law that its pension fund dollars cannot be invested in any companies doing business with Iran's energy sector and Sudan. "This is what's right for America, it's right for the world," said Gov. Charlie Crist. "It says [to] Iran, the world's leading sponsor of terror, we will not stand idly by anymore. And to Sudan and the genocide that is occurring there, we will not stand idly by and let that happen anymore." About $1 billion of Florida state money is currently invested with companies that do business with Sudan and Iran's energy sector, said state Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, the bill's sponsor. (AP/Houston Chronicle)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Mofaz: Hizbullah Back to Pre-War Strength - Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz
    Former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, in Washington last week at the head of an Israeli team conducting a strategic dialogue with the U.S., said one of the topics under discussion is UN Resolution 1701 which ended the Second Lebanon War. "There is no implementation of 1701, and today Hizbullah is back to the strength it was at before July 12, 2006. It is not back in its positions right along the border but it is in positions - forest preserve areas - that are close to the border. They have not fulfilled the resolution. The kidnapped soldiers have not been returned; Hizbullah has not been disarmed and dismantled by the Lebanese armed forces or UNIFIL; there is no embargo on the Lebanese-Syrian border; and there is a free flow of weapons to the Hizbullah." "Now, not only are [Hizbullah] still in southern Lebanon, but they are also building a second military line north of the Litani River. Today they have a double grip - both sides of the Litani."
        "There is linkage between the radical quartet - led by Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. Non-government groups like al-Qaeda are also growing stronger. We have been talking for three to four years about al-Qaeda trying to get a foothold in the Middle East, and there have been attempts to infiltrate Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hizbullah "Has Stockpiled Rockets" on Israeli Border - Uzi Mahnaimi
    Hizbullah has built a network of underground military bunkers under the feet of UN peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon close to Israel's border. It has rebuilt its fighting capability and Israeli intelligence now estimates that it has stockpiled 20,000 rockets. "Since the Israeli forces left, Hizbullah has been building formidable military underground posts under the noses of the UN," said an Israeli intelligence officer. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Peres: Damascus Not Ready for Direct Talks - Aluf Benn and Yoav Stern
    Vice Premier Shimon Peres on Sunday played down prospects for relaunching peace negotiations with Syria, saying that the Damascus regime is not ready for direct talks. Peres said: "The problem is the Syrians are not ready and are unwilling to negotiate directly with Israel. They want to do it through the United States. The United States said: 'Gentlemen, if you want to negotiate, you have to stop being a supporter of terror and you have to stop supporting...the toppling down of the prime minister of Lebanon - stop supporting the Hizbullah.' And there is where it is stuck for the time being."
        Prime Minister Olmert transmitted a message through a Turkish third party and another individual in April to Syrian President Assad, in which he asked if Syria would agree to end its alliance with Iran, Hizbullah and extremist Palestinian organizations in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. A source in Olmert's bureau said Assad's lack of response showed Syria was not serious. (Ha'aretz)
  • The U.S. and Saudi Arabia: The JDAM Smart Bomb Deal - Ben Caspit
    A harsh controversy between the Israeli and U.S. defense establishments has been transpiring over the U.S. decision to supply Saudi Arabia with smart satellite-guided bombs. The supply of these weapons to Saudi Arabia is being defined by the Israeli security establishment as "a real blow to Israel's qualitative military edge in the Middle East." Israel argues that there is an American commitment to safeguard that qualitative edge. Israeli involvement in developing the future Joint Strike Fighter with the U.S. is being held up because of Israeli objections to the smart bomb sale to the Saudis. Israeli officials argue that the weaponry being transferred to the Saudis could last decades and that the Saudi regime is not stable. They add that al-Qaeda has already penetrated the Saudi defense establishment. (Maariv-Hebrew, 11Jun07)
  • Six Palestinian Rockets Land Near Sderot Monday - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinian gunmen fired six Kassam rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot and other western Negev communities on Monday morning. The rockets were launched while children were making their way to schools and kindergartens. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Evil of Two Lessers - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Now 40 years after Israel's stunning victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israelis are still ringed by enemies but with even more menace. Radical Islamic forces and a global jihadist movement offer no room for compromise. The Arab state media fester with anti-Semitic hate. And looming over all this is a radicalized Iran striving to build nuclear missiles - an Iran that is now the single greatest threat to world peace. At the very heart of the impasse, then and now, is the Arab refusal to accept Israel's existence. Peace would not come even if Israel pulled out of every bit of land defensively captured in 1967. Look what happened when Israel turned over Gaza. The Palestinians turned Gaza into a launching ground for rockets and suicide terrorists, and then elected those terrorists in the form of Hamas. Hamas does not want peace, and Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO leader, cannot deliver it. (U.S. News)
  • Iran Tightens Screws on Internal Dissent - Borzou Daragahi
    The government of Iranian President Ahmadinejad is in the midst of one of the most intensive crackdowns on domestic dissent in the last two decades, targeting banks and labor unions, students, and civic organizations. Iranian news outlets have been issued a three-page letter from the Supreme National Security Council listing forbidden topics. Barred subjects include the enforcement of Islamic restrictions on dress, the effect of UN sanctions on everyday life, international sanctions on Iranian banks, and travel bans on Iranian nuclear and military officials. Also on the do-not-publish list are stories about tensions between Iran's Shiites and Sunnis, ethnic clashes in the provinces, and strained relations between Iran and other Muslim countries worried about Tehran's regional ambitions.
        The bureau chief of one Western news organization in Tehran likened present-day Iran to the former Soviet Union. "There are many things that I would like to write about, but can't," the journalist said. "They would shut down our office and kick us out." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    It's Time to End the Vilification of Israel - Howard Jacobson (Independent-UK)

    • Heigh-ho, it's boycott time again - as Zionophobic zealots of our universities decide to have another go at ostracizing their fellow academics in Israel.
    • Whether it's in the best of taste to like Jews better when they're in concentration camps than when they're in their own country I leave to less interested parties to decide. But if anti-Semitism is repugnant to humanity, then it is no less repugnant to humanity to single out one country for your hatred, to hate it beyond reason and against evidence, to pluck it from the complex contextuality of history as though it authored its own misfortunes and misdeeds as the devil authored evil, to deny it any understanding and - most odious of all - to seek to silence its voices. For make no mistake, this is what an intellectual boycott means. We silence you. We will not let you speak.
    • The UCU resolution includes proposals to "organize a UK-wide campus tour for Palestinian academics/educational trade unionists." In other words, we will hear them, we will not hear you. Imagine the rapturous applause awaiting these Palestinian educational trade unionists - given free rein to vent their grievances while the other side of the argument is gagged. Like the millions cheering Stalin while the gulags quietly filled. I am normally wary of such comparisons, but someone from one of our participating universities needs to explain how what is proposed differs in spirit from the practices of those all-censoring autocracies that made the last century an inferno.
    • If you are Jewish and Israeli, catastrophe exists in a continuum that encompasses both past and future. Yesterday's victory is only yesterday's victory. Tomorrow can easily bring defeat. Never mind the size of your armory. Someone else will always get a bigger one. Considering this unceasing agitation and dread, it strikes me as miraculous how many of the civic arts of civilization and culture have managed to flourish in modern Israel.
    • The charge of being "complicit in the occupation" - the assumption on which the entire boycott is based - is breathtaking. An Israeli scholar dare not be in even the most partial agreement with his government. For an Israeli academic not to think exactly as they think on the campuses of Birmingham and Brighton is to be guilty of a crime for which the punishment is expulsion from the international community of thought.

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