Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 30, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Well Connected Saudi Mogul Skirts Sanctions - Glenn R. Simpson (Wall Street Journal)
    Multimillionaire Saudi businessman Yassin Qadi, a close friend of Turkish premier Tayyip Erdogan, is a major financier of Islamic terrorism with close business associates who are members of al-Qaeda, according to the U.S. Treasury and the UN Security Council.
    At Washington's request, the Security Council ordered Qadi's assets frozen a few weeks after 9/11.
    The asset freeze has largely crippled Qadi's international business empire. But previously undisclosed records show he has managed to free up millions of dollars of holdings in Turkey - in apparent violation of Security Council sanctions.
    The records detailing his business activities suggest how easy it is to skirt sanctions designed to restrict funding of terrorism - especially for well-connected figures.
    "That Erdogan personally vouches for this man...raises the possibility that the prime minister of Turkey is far less interested in combating terrorism than he says," said former Defense Department aide Michael Rubin.
    Qadi, whose business empire is based mostly in Saudi Arabia, is a longtime partner of Turkish businessman Cuneyd Zapsu, as well as other key Justice and Development Party figures.
    Zapsu, who in 2001 helped Erdogan found the Justice and Development Party, also supported an Islamic charity Qadi founded that is at the center of the U.S. and Security Council decision to freeze the Saudi businessman's assets.

Israeli Company Wins Tender to Secure Kabul Airport - Ofer Petersburg (Ynet News)
    An Israeli company, TeraPro, won a tender last year to install sophisticated blast protection equipment at Kabul airport to protect the airport from missiles and car bomb attacks.
    TeraPro's products will be stripped of Hebrew writing before being shipped to Afghanistan through Jordan.

Iraq Woos Officers from Saddam's Army - Gordon Lubold (Christian Science Monitor)
    Many of the problems within the fledgling Iraqi army and police are the result of not having enough skilled officers to command inexperienced ground troops, experts say.
    As a result, Iraqis and their U.S. advisers are stepping up efforts to bring many ex-officers from Saddam Hussein's army back into the fold.

U.S. Mistakenly Drops "Blasphemous Soccer Balls" on Afghanistan - Hamid Shalizi (Reuters/Washington Post)
    The U.S. military in Afghanistan on Monday expressed regret for a campaign aimed at winning hearts and minds that ended up offending scores of Muslims.
    U.S. troops on Friday dropped dozens of free soccer balls for Afghan children from helicopters, all marked with flags of various countries.
    But those depicting the Saudi Arabian flag included the Islamic declaration of faith and the names of Allah and Mohammed. The idea of kicking something bearing their names is considered offensive.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN: No Proof Israeli Soldiers in Lebanon Are Alive
    UN member nations should insist that Lebanon's Hizbullah produce evidence that the Israeli soldiers it abducted a year ago - Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev - are still alive, Michael Williams, the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, said Wednesday. "More than 13 months after their abductions, we still cannot establish proof of life," said Williams during the Security Council's monthly Middle East debate. An internal Israeli probe concluded the two soldiers were seriously wounded during their capture and at least one of them could now be dead. (Reuters)
  • Rights Group Accuses Hizbullah of War Crimes During Lebanon War
    During the 2006 war, Hizbullah fired thousands of rockets indiscriminately and at times deliberately at civilian areas in northern Israel, killing at least 39 civilians and inflicting moderate or serious injuries on 101 more, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Wednesday. The 128-page report presents more than 20 case studies based on extensive field research in northern Israel into rocket attacks that killed or injured civilians in Jewish, Arab and mixed towns and cities. It also draws evidence of Hizbullah's intent behind these rocket attacks from more than 100 Hizbullah communiques and declarations. Statements by leaders in the military chain of command indicating intent to fire indiscriminately toward civilian areas are evidence of war crimes. (Human Rights Watch)
        See also Full Report: Civilians under Assault - Hizbullah's Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War (Human Rights Watch)
  • EU Lawmakers Protest Anti-Israel UN Conference
    A UN-sponsored conference on the rights of Palestinians opens this week at the European Parliament, despite protests by Israel and European Union lawmakers who say the meeting's organizers have an anti-Israel agenda. Israel views the committee as a legacy of the 1975 UN General Assembly resolution - revoked in 1991 - that equated Zionism with racism. "It is absolutely improper and offensive that a conference like this is now taking place at the premises of the European Parliament," said Czech legislator Jana Hybaskova, chairwoman of the parliament's Delegation for Relations with Israel. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Level of Tension with Syria Drops - Ron Ben-Yishai
    According to a new intelligence understanding formulated in both Damascus and Jerusalem, both sides have apparently come to the conclusion that the other side is not looking to launch a surprise attack this summer. Suspicions remain, but the alert level has been dropped a notch or two. Tehran had invested heavily in attempting to persuade Syria's Bashar Assad that Israel was planning a military strike against the Syrian regime and Hizbullah. (Ynet News)
        See also Russia Cause of Tension between Israel and Syria
    Russia was partly responsible for the heightened tension between Israel and Syria at the beginning of the summer, Gen. Amos Gilad (ret.), head of the Diplomatic-Security Bureau at the Defense Ministry, told Army Radio on Thursday. "At a certain time, the Russians caused the Syrians to believe that Israel was preparing for war," Gilad said. "I think that they have stopped this. Syria is not planning on attacking Israel, and Israel is definitely not planning on attacking Syria." According to a report in Ma'ariv, Kremlin officials purposely mislead the Syrians in order to further maximize their profits from the sale of military equipment. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 15-Year-Old Palestinian Bomber Intercepted
    On Tuesday night, IDF soldiers spotted a Palestinian youth approaching them and discovered that the 15-year-old was carrying two explosive devices, which he apparently intended to detonate in a suicide bombing attack against the troops. The IDF regrets that terrorist organizations make frequent use of children and youth in order to execute attacks against Israelis. (IDF Spokesman/Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed near a building in the Israeli town of Sderot Thursday morning. Several residents suffered from shock and the building sustained damage. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Tehran's Meddling Is a Threat to the Region - Editorial
    Iran is smuggling men and weapons into Iraq in huge quantities, arming not only Shia militias but also rival Sunni groups with the express aim of harassing and killing coalition troops. President Ahmadinejad boasted earlier this week that the Americans were on the run, and said that when they pulled out they would leave an opening for his forces. For the past six months, Washington has warned Iran to stop supplying weapons to the insurgents in Iraq. The response has been not only a contemptuous denial but also the dispatch of Iranian Revolutionary Guards to other areas of confrontation.
        If Iran is deaf to warnings from Washington, it should not ignore the tough new language in Europe. With unambiguous clarity, French President Sarkozy said on Monday that a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable; unless the world reined in its program, the only alternative was "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." His language was aimed as much at Russia and China as Tehran. Both have posed as Iran's friends and protectors to shield it from UN sanctions. Both should be realistic. Russia does not want another nuclear power on its southern flank. China is deeply worried about chaos in Afghanistan. It is time that it, too, confronted Iran. (Times-UK)
  • Hamas' Islamic Model of Governance in Gaza - Editorial
    Forces from Hamas are presently guarding the Israel-Gaza border, while the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and Fatah are the ones bombarding Israeli towns with missiles. In Gaza, Hamas' alleged Islamic model of governance is one that cannot even provide electricity except through diesel fuel that is delivered via Israel and is financed as a donation from the EU. The truth is that the residents of Gaza, who had become fed up with the corruption of Fatah, crowned Hamas in its place only to discover that the latter was no better than the former. Hamas' security forces practice oppression; raiding houses, ruining weddings and penalizing anyone they hear lamenting the bygone Fatah era. Hamas has only succeeded in eliminating 1.5 million Palestinians, the population of Gaza, from the Palestinian Authority's citizens' list. (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
  • Iran's Elite Mixes Thugs and Opportunists - Amir Taheri
    The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is not a revolutionary army in the sense of the Vietcong in Vietnam. The Guard was created after the Iranian revolution and those who joined came from all sorts of backgrounds; the majority were opportunists, jumping on the bandwagon. By joining the IRGC, one obtained not only revolutionary credentials (many who had cooperated with the Shah's regime secured a new "revolutionary virginity"), but also a well-paid job at a time that economic collapse made jobs rare. Membership also ensured access to rare goods and services. Over the years, Guard membership proved a fast track to social, political and economic success. More than half of Ahmadinejad's cabinet ministers are IRGC members. Members hold nearly a third of the seats in parliament, and serve as governors for 20 of Iran's 30 provinces. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Heroes of the Lebanon War - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)

    • When the Lebanon war broke out, Dr. Yehuda David, 53, who was on a family vacation in Greece, immediately returned to Israel and was assigned to the Nahal Brigade's Battalion 932. He spent the entire war inside Lebanon, carrying a 60-kilogram pack filled with medical supplies on his back, and treated more than 50 wounded soldiers. Due to his age, he is not required to serve, but said, "I sign on for volunteer service since if the soldiers are willing to give everything they can, then I am also willing to give everything I can....After 2000 years in exile it is an honor to serve in the IDF and I don't miss a single opportunity."
    • Lt. Erez Ramati, another doctor, served with Battalion 931. Near the end of the war, Ramati's company engaged dozens of Hizbullah guerrillas in the Lebanese village of Randuriya. "My medics and I began treating the wounded when suddenly another company's commander ran over and said there were soldiers who needed help on the other side of the intersection," Ramati says. "The only problem was that to get there we had to run through the intersection, which was totally exposed to Hizbullah fire." With bullets passing him in all directions, Ramati sprinted across the intersection. When he stopped he noticed that cables from two antitank missiles that had been fired at him were hanging from his helmet. "There was no time for hesitating since there were people who were wounded and they needed me. This was not about heroism or bravery but about doing what you need to do."
    • Sgt. Benyamin Asraf served as a gunner in the reconnaissance battalion of the Paratroop Brigade during the war in Lebanon. During the battle in Maroun a-Ras, Asraf crawled into a burning house and brought out weapons that were essential to continue fighting. He also grabbed a radio from the body of a terrorist, which enabled them to listen to enemy communications and hit large numbers of terrorists. Two weeks later, in Bint Jbail, he remained with a seriously injured comrade under heavy fire, stopping his friend's bleeding with his bare hands. (Ha'aretz)

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