Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 10, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Bin Laden Tells U.S. to Convert to Islam - Alex Spillius (Telegraph-UK)
    Osama bin Laden has urged Americans to convert to Islam in the first video message from the al-Qaeda leader for three years.
    The 30-minute recording contains several references to recent political events, and is the clearest indication yet that bin Laden is still alive, despite being hunted by the U.S. military for nearly six years with a $25 million bounty on his head.
    The tape has a more philosophical approach than previous missives and contains no specific threat of terrorism in the West, though it does promise unremitting conflict in Iraq.
    See also The Resurrection of Al-Qaeda Central - Craig Whitlock (Washington Post)
    Al-Qaeda Central has moved quickly to overcome extensive leadership losses by promoting loyalists who had served alongside bin Laden for years. It restarted fundraising, recruiting and training, and it expanded its media arm.
    Today, al-Qaeda operates much the way it did before 2001. The network is governed by a leadership council that meets regularly and reports to bin Laden, who continues to approve some major decisions, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official.
    About 200 people belong to the core group and many receive regular salaries, another senior U.S. intelligence official said.
    See also Group with Ties to Al-Qaeda Behind Blasts in Algeria (AP/New York Times)
    Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, North Africa's most active terrorist group, on Sunday claimed responsibility for a car bombing that killed 28 coast guard officers in Algeria on Saturday as well as Thursday's blast which killed at least 22 people in eastern Algeria.

Israel Campus Beat
- September 9, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    How Should Israel Respond to Hamas Rocket Fire?

Archeologists Discover Segment of Jerusalem Storm Drain from Second Temple Period - Nadav Shragai (Ha'aretz)
    A 70-meter-long segment of Jerusalem's central drain dating from the Second Temple period was discovered Sunday by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
    The segment is located between the Temple Mount and the Pool of Siloam. It stretched underneath the Old City's main street and cleared rainwater from the areas it served.
    It is made of massive slabs of stone, and is about three meters high and one meter wide.

Egypt's Bedouin Protest Mistreatment - Ashraf Sweilam (AP)
    Thousands of Bedouins burned tires and blocked roads Friday across the Sinai Peninsula, protesting mistreatment by Egypt's government, said security and tribal officials.
    Some 5,000 Bedouins gathered in the village of el-Massoura demanding basic services and the release of the members of their community detained in security sweeps following terrorist attacks against tourism sites over the last few years.
    Bedouins with militant connections were blamed for attacks on tourist sites starting in October 2004 that killed 125 people, mostly foreigners. In ensuing sweeps, thousands were jailed.

EU Resumes Direct Financial Aid to PA (DPA/Ha'aretz)
    The EU has resumed direct financial aid to the Palestinian government of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner confirmed Saturday.

Hamas Claims Mortar Attack on Border Crossing (Maan News-PA)
    Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, claimed Saturday to have launched 20 mortar shells towards the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel and Egypt.

Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket into Israel on Sunday morning.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Spy Post Heightens Gulf Tension with U.S. - Gethin Chamberlain
    Iran has established a sophisticated spying operation at the head of the Arabian Gulf in a move which has significantly heightened tensions in its standoff with the U.S. The operation, masterminded by the Revolutionary Guard, includes the construction of a high-tech spying post close to the point where Iranian forces kidnapped 15 British naval personnel in March. The U.S. military says that the spying post, build on the foundations of a crane platform sunk during the Iran-Iraq war, is equipped with radar, cameras and forward facing infra-red devices to track the movement of coalition naval forces. Commanders fear that one of the main purposes of the Iranian operation is to enable the Revolutionary Guard to intercept more coalition vessels. (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
  • Iran Must Pay $2.6 Billion for '83 Attack on Marines in Lebanon - Glenn Kessler
    U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth Friday ordered Iran to pay more than $2.6 billion to nearly 1,000 family members and a handful of survivors of a 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon that killed 241 soldiers. Hizbullah carried out the suicide bombing on Oct. 23, 1983, but in a ruling in 2003, Lamberth found that Iran was "legally responsible" for supporting Hizbullah with financial and logistical support to carry out the attack. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Rejects U.S. Ruling on 1983 Attack - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
        See also U.S. Defense Secretary: Hizbullah Has Killed Hundreds of Americans
    Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates told the Marine Corps Association on July 18, 2007: "I remember vividly a day in December 1991, when as CIA Director I - along with then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney - attended an arrival ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base. We were there to receive the remains of two men - two of our nation's "bravest sons" - who had been kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by terrorists in Lebanon. One was William Buckley, CIA station chief in Beirut. The other was Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins, who served with the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. These two Americans were murdered by the same Hizbullah-linked extremists who killed hundreds of Americans in 1983 at the Marine barracks and U.S. embassy in Beirut. It is important to remember that until the morning of September 11, 2001, Hizbullah had been responsible for the deaths of more Americans, our countrymen, than any other terrorist group in the world." (U.S. Defense Department)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Ramon Offers Palestinians Broad West Bank Pullout - Nahum Barnea
    Vice Premier Haim Ramon has proposed to Palestinian leaders a broad West Bank withdrawal in an effort to put together a joint Israeli-Palestinian declaration of principles that will be presented in November at a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference, Yediot Ahronot reported Friday. Ramon is offering the Palestinians an Israeli withdrawal from nearly all of the West Bank, including the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, as part of a final peace deal. (Ynet News)
        See also Dichter: Not the Time for Permanent Agreement with Palestinians - Amnon Meranda
    "Now is not the time to discuss a permanent agreement with the Palestinians," Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Saturday at the opening of an international terror conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. "The basic precondition for talks on a permanent agreement is a partner in these talks whom we know is solidly grounded," he explained. "There isn't a chance to have a comprehensive permanent agreement under the existing conditions." He dismissed reports of an alleged advancement in secret talks with Palestinians. (Ynet News)
        See also No "Experiments" for Israel on West Bank - Amir Mizroch
    Dichter said, "We have no intention of embarking on experiments in Judea and Samaria, at the end of which we could return to the situation we were at before April 2002, before Operation Defensive Shield. We've been there before and we paid with 900 fatalities in the course of three years." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Group Petitions Court to Stop Muslim Dig on Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai
    Members of the Committee to Prevent the Destruction of Temple Mount Antiquities petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday, seeking to stop an excavation by the Waqf, or Muslim religious trust, on the Temple Mount. Waqf officials say the digging of the trench, 500 meters long and 1.5 meters deep, is necessary to replace 40-year-old electric cables. But the petitioners say the work "is causing irreversible damage to antiquities and archaeological artifacts of the greatest importance, and is being carried out illegally, without the requisite authorizations."
        The petition maintains that Temple courtyards were located where the dig is taking place, and that some 400 tons of dirt removed in the process contain priceless archaeological artifacts from various periods. The petition stated: "Massive digging to a depth of a meter and a half entails damage to ground layers, some of which may have been in place since the First Temple stood there 3,000 years ago."
        The petition was signed by author A. B. Yehoshua; former Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat; Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; prominent archaeologists Ephraim Stern, Amihay Mazar, Ehud Netzer, Israel Finkelstein, Moshe Kochavi, Gabriel Barkai and Eilat Mazar; retired Israel Defense Forces generals Zvi Zamir, Yitzhak Hofi and Giora Eiland; attorney Shmuel Berkovitz; and the Jerusalem Post, which also claimed that the Mount is closed to media coverage. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Thwarts Planned Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing - Efrat Weiss
    A Palestinian teen detained by an IDF force at a checkpoint near Nablus Sunday was found to be carrying three pipe bombs meant to be used in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. IDF officers said terror organizations in Nablus, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front and Fatah, were making intensive efforts to launch attacks into Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Forces Beat Fatah Protesters in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas security forces wielding clubs on Friday beat protesters, hurled stun grenades and fired into the air to disperse open-air prayer meetings held by Fatah in defiance of a Hamas ban on such gatherings. Medical officials said 20 people were treated in hospital. Hamas men had set up checkpoints Friday morning throughout Gaza to prevent Fatah supporters from reaching the prayer sites. Demonstrations against Hamas were also held throughout the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Fatah Forces Beat Hamas Protesters in West Bank
    Palestinian security allied with the Fatah rulers of the West Bank beat Hamas protesters with clubs at a demonstration Sunday outside Hebron University. PA security forces forbade journalists from taking pictures, confiscating the camera of one photographer. Some journalists were also beaten. The Tel Aviv-based Foreign Press Association issued a statement condemning the behavior of Palestinian security. (AP/Ha'aretz)
        See also In Dealings with Media, Hamas Resorts to Brutality - Steven Erlanger (International Herald Tribune)
  • Israelis Don Hamas Garb to Nab Hamas Field Commander in Gaza
    Israeli special forces dressed in the light blue fatigues of Hamas' Executive Force drove up to Mohawesh al-Qadi's car outside Rafah on Friday night and abducted the Hamas field commander, Hamas said on Saturday. His wife, who was left behind, reported the incident. (Reuters)
        See also IDF Seizes Hamas Man Linked to Kidnapped Soldier's Abduction - Avi Isaacharoff
    On Saturday, the IDF seized Mohawesh al-Qadi, a Hamas militant suspected of having been involved in the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit near the Gaza border last summer. (Ha'aretz)
        Asked if Qadi could serve as a "bargaining chip" in a future swap for Shalit, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said: "Yes, of course." (JTA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Strategic Response to Palestinian Rockets - Yitzhak Ben-Israel
    Every day, Palestinians in Gaza fire Kassam rockets at western Negev residents and particularly at Sderot. The disruption of day-to-day life is intolerable. We cannot expect residents to continue living normally when a rocket may land on their heads at any moment. Furthermore, the deliberate firing on civilians is a war crime.
        The experience we accumulated over the past 60 years, as well as common sense, show that there is no way to curb the activity of fanatical organizations that do not even recognize our right to exist unless we use force. The use of force, even if it comes with a heavy price, is the only way to create a process that will culminate in the minimization and possibly end of indiscriminate rocket fire on our civilian population. The writer, a major-general (res.), is a Knesset member (Kadima). (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Moderates Need Help Now - David Makovsky
    Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza shocked Palestinians and, according to polls, many Palestinians see the move as undermining Hamas' credibility. According to a survey by the Nablus-based An-Najah University, 56% believe the Hamas seizure of Gaza on June 14 was a "coup." By 63% to 26%, Palestinians do not believe Hamas is capable of managing the affairs of Gaza. (Newsday)
  • What Is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Doing in Iran? - Anne Bayefsky
    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour traveled to Iran last week to listen attentively to Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a human-rights meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, currently chaired by Cuba. While Arbour was hobnobbing with anti-Semites, butchers, and anti-democratic forces from around the world, Iranians were being prepared for public hangings. The Iranians were delighted at Arbour's visit. They clearly understood her presence as support for their view that human rights are all relative. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    The "Israel Lobby" Myth - George P. Shultz (U.S. News)

    • Israel is a free, democratic, open, and relentlessly self-analytical place. To hear harsh criticism of Israel's policies and leaders, listen to the Israelis. So questioning Israel for its actions is legitimate, but lies are something else.
    • The catalog of lies about Jews is long and astonishingly crude, matched only by the suffering that has followed their promulgation. Defaming the Jews by disputing their rightful place among the peoples of the world has been a long-running, well-documented, and disgraceful series of episodes across history. Again and again a time has come when legitimate criticism slips across an invisible line into what might be called the "badlands," a place where those who should be regarded as worthy adversaries in debate are turned into scapegoats, targets, all-purpose objects of blame.
    • In America, thousands of groups vie for influence. Among these are Jewish groups that have come under renewed criticism for being part of an all-powerful "Israel lobby," most notably in a book published last week by Profs. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. Jewish groups also largely agree that the United States should support Israel. But the notion that they have anything like a uniform agenda and that U.S. policy in Israel and the Middle East is the result of this influence is simply wrong.
    • Another tried and true method for damaging the well-being and security of the Jewish people and the State of Israel is a dangerously false analogy. Witness former President Jimmy Carter's book Palestine-Peace Not Apartheid. Here the association on the one hand is between Israel's existentially threatened position and the measures it has taken to protect its population from terrorist attacks, driven by an ideology bent on the complete eradication of the State of Israel, and, on the other, the racist oppression of South Africa's black population by the white Boer regime.
    • The United States supports Israel not because of favoritism based on political pressure or influence but because the American people, and their leaders, say that supporting Israel is politically sound and morally just.
    • Those who blame Israel and its Jewish supporters for U.S. policies they do not support are wrong. They are wrong because support for Israel is in our best interests. They are wrong because Israel and its supporters have the right to try to influence U.S. policy. And they are wrong because the U.S. government is responsible for the policies it adopts, not any other state or any of the myriad lobbies and groups that battle daily to win America's support.

      George Shultz was secretary of state from 1982 to 1989. This is excerpted from his introduction to The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control by Abraham Foxman.

          See also Unfair Charge vs. Israeli Lobby - Steve Huntley
      In 2003 John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago was one of nearly 1,000 American academics signing a letter suggesting Israel would exploit the U.S. invasion of Iraq to expel millions of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip - and maybe also Arab Israelis from Israel itself! It was a preposterous notion then and looks even more ridiculous today. The view embraced by Mearsheimer displayed a profound misunderstanding and ignorance not only of Israeli society but also of the moral culture of American Jews. The notion that 5 million Jews in Israel would carry out ethnic cleansing of more than 4 million Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, and that Americans Jews would sanction it staggers the imagination. To believe that requires a bias against Israel so deep seated that it defies reality. Whether it spills over into anti-Semitism, I'll leave for you to judge. (Chicago Sun-Times)

          See also Engel "Disappointed" by Ford Forum for Mearsheimer - Annie Karni
      The Ford Foundation, which came under congressional scrutiny in 2003 for supporting groups committed to destroying Israel, is again drawing censure, this time for funding a panel at Columbia University highlighting a professor who blames Israel and its American supporters for the Iraq War and for al-Qaeda terrorism against America. Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, is scheduled to speak at Columbia's Heyman Center for the Humanities next month on the issue of free speech in academia. The October 30 panel, titled "Freedom and the University," is funded with a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.
          "It's disappointing that the Ford Foundation would make Mearsheimer one of the highlights of what they're funding," said Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat of the Bronx. "If the Ford Foundation is going to say they've changed their attitudes, doing something like this only calls into question whether they've got the message and changed." The executive director of the NGO Monitor, Gerald Steinberg, said that by funding a panel where Mearsheimer is scheduled to speak, the Ford Foundation risks reneging on that promise by underwriting at Columbia the kind of falsehoods it was funding at Durban. "He [Mearsheimer] won't debate the assertions and the things they say," said Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "They never engaged anyone from the 'lobby.' They hide behind the guise of academic freedom when they're the ones denying us free speech. It seems a little out of place for them to speak on academic freedom." (New York Sun)

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