Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 11, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

See below Observations: Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq - Gen. David H. Petraeus (U.S. Defense Department)
    See also Iraqi Army, U.S. Special Forces Dismantle Al Qaeda in Iraq Cell, Detainee Suspected of Financial Ties to Syrian Intelligence (Multi-National Force-Iraq)
    Members from the 3rd Iraqi Army, with U.S. Special Forces as advisers, dismantled an Al Qaeda in Iraq cell during a raid Sept. 3 in Rabi’ah.
    One of the targeted terrorists is believed to be linked to a brutal attack in Mosul that resulted in the death of seven Iraqi police, while another detainee is suspected of having financial ties with Syrian Intelligence to support the insurgency.
    See also Iraqi Forces, U.S. Special Forces Target Terrorist Operations in Northern Iraq, Detain Suspect Who Recruits Snipers for Training in Syria (Multi-National Force-Iraq)

Lebanon Says Militant Islamic Leader Fled Camp - Sam F. Ghattas (AP/Washington Post)
    The leader of the al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah Islam group fled a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon a day before it fell to the Lebanese army earlier this month, Prosecutor General Saeed Mirza said Monday.
    He said that a DNA test on a body suspected to be that of militant leader Shaker al-Absi proved it was not his.

24-Year Term for Californian in Terrorism Training Case - Carolyn Marshall (New York Times)
    Hamid Hayat, 25, an American citizen of Pakistani descent, who was convicted last year of aiding terrorists and lying to the FBI, was sentenced on Monday to 24 years in prison.
    Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. of the Federal District Court in Sacramento said: "Hamid Hayat attended a terrorist training camp and returned to the United States, ready and willing to wage violent jihad when directed to do so, regardless of the havoc such acts could wreak on persons and property in the United States, and then lied to the FBI on three separate occasions."

Middle East Transfer: The Continuing Iranian Persecution of its Ahwazi Arab Population - Nir Boms and Roee Nahmias (Henry Jackson Society)
    Some 1.2 million Arabs have been deported from the district of Al-Ahwaz in Iran, home to some eight million Arabs near the Iraqi border.
    They have been replaced with 1.5 million Persian Iranians. As part of a broader Iranization policy, the teaching of Arabic is forbidden in Ahwaz.
    Karim Bani Sa'id Abadiyan, chairman of a human rights organization, said in the past year 131 human rights activists were executed and thousands more put in detention centers.
    Ahwaz has the second largest oil and gas reserves in the world.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Rocket Strikes Israeli Army Base - Aron Heller
    A Palestinian rocket exploded in an Israeli army base early Tuesday, wounding recent recruits undergoing basic training. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also 67 IDF Troops Wounded in Palestinian Rocket Strike - Hanan Greenberg
    67 Israeli soldiers were wounded after a Kassam rocket launched by Palestinians in Gaza landed on a military base in Israel Tuesday morning. One soldier was critically wounded, four soldiers were seriously injured, seven sustained moderate wounds, 20 were lightly hurt, and the rest were treated for shock. This is the largest number of casualties to date resulting from a single Palestinian rocket attack. (Ynet News)
        See also In Pictures: Rocket Attack on Israel (BBC News)
  • U.S. May Cut Off Aid to UN Rights Group - Justin Bergman
    The U.S. would cut off funding to the UN Human Rights Council under a bill passed by the Senate on Thursday. The Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for 2008 passed with an amendment stating that none of the U.S. contributions to the UN would be made available to the council. The House passed a similar amendment in June. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who introduced the amendment in the Senate, called the rights council a platform for "shielding human rights-violating regimes from scrutiny," such as Myanmar and North Korea, while "launching spiteful attacks against Israel." Since its creation last year, the council has only criticized one country - Israel. (AP)
  • Iranian Raises Possibility of an Intrusion into Iraq - James Glanz
    An official Iranian delegation at a diplomatic conference in Baghdad warned Sunday that if the Iraqi government could not stop militants from Iraq's Kurdish north from crossing into Iran and carrying out attacks, the Iranian authorities would respond militarily. Senior Iranian officials have acknowledged that shelling of the Iraqi provincial capital of Erbil is taking place in response to guerrilla attacks by a group opposed to the Iranian government that has bases on the Iraqi side of the border. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad R. Baqiri told officials at the conference that it was time for Iraq to take action. (New York Times)
  • Schwarzenegger Gets Iran Divestment Bill
    If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs legislation the California state Senate passed on Thursday, the $247.7 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System and the $169 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System would be required to divest from companies with ties to the energy and defense sectors in Iran, said Chip Englander, chief of staff for Assemblyman Joel Anderson, who wrote the bill. (Pensions and Investments)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel, PA to Set Up Working Groups to Draft Agreement - Aluf Benn, Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid
    Israel and the PA will establish working groups to begin drafting an agreement of principles, Prime Minister Olmert and PA Chairman Abbas announced Monday following their meeting in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister's Bureau said the working groups will focus on furthering the "two-state vision." In addition, Israel will release additional Palestinian prisoners during the first week of Ramadan, which begins on Thursday, as a good-will gesture. (Ha'aretz)
  • Officials Try to Lower Expectations for Upcoming Peace Meeting - Yaakov Katz
    Senior Israeli defense officials warned Monday against building up high expectations for the Palestinian-Israel peace meeting scheduled for November in the U.S. The officials cautioned that if the meeting did not bear fruit, Israel could find itself facing a new round of extreme Palestinian violence. According to the officials, the Egyptians have also begun to express similar concerns. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Who Is Pressing the Palestinians to Make Difficult Compromises? - Ira Sharkansky
    Israel's offers were not good enough for Arafat in 2000, and now Mahmoud Abbas is demanding more, and sooner than Olmert is willing or able to provide. Abbas also continues to express the Palestinian dream of refugees from 1948 and their children returning to homes that no longer exist, and he is not able or willing to assert security on that portion of the West Bank that he controls. Israeli leaders have offered reasonable proposals, but they are not willing to commit suicide for themselves or their population. The ball remains in the court of the Palestinians. It has been there for the better part of 60 years. They have to do more than demand ever more generous terms from Israel. The writer is professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza Under Hamas: Quiet, Cut Off and Digging In - Steven Erlanger
    Nearly three months after Hamas conquered the teeming streets of Gaza, a wary calm has taken hold. "Now we have security," said Tamer al-Bagga, who manages a beachside cafe. "But with the closure, we have no money." Because the Hamas charter calls for Israel's destruction and Hamas is classified by Israel, the U.S. and the EU as a terrorist group, Israel is allowing only goods classified as humanitarian or essential to enter and no exports at all to leave. So an already faltering economy is collapsing. Stores are half stocked. Cigarettes and spare parts have become very expensive. There are electricity cuts of up to eight hours a day. Yet vegetables and fruit are dirt cheap. With UN food aid, no one is starving. (New York Times)
  • Leading Militant in Split with Islamists - Peter Beaumont
    One of the most senior members of the Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir movement, the group which Tony Blair pledged to ban after the 7 July bombings, has dramatically defected. Maajid Nawaz, a Briton who was jailed in Egypt for four years in 2002, says that he no longer agrees with the movement's attempts to transform Islam into a narrow political ideology. Despite being only 29, he was recognized globally for his work in founding new groups abroad.
        His reasons for quitting have been posted on Hizb ut-Tahrir's British website. They include a rejection of the argument by Islamists - including al-Qaeda - that Arab governments operating under non-Islamic law should be removed. (Observer-UK)
  • Deceitful Academics Spin Paranoid Fantasy of Pro-Israel Lobby - Charles Taylor
    Critics of Mearsheimer and Walt have dismissed the charges of anti-Semitism against them. But what else can account for a scenario in which Jews are the center of every perfidy, exerting so much influence and dispensing so much money that non-Jews spring into line? Their argument against U.S. support of Israel is that our alliances must be decided solely by self-interest. That's the very ideology that has led the U.S. to align itself with dictators in the past and to spurn countries that desperately needed American help. (Bloomberg)
  • Observations:

    Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq - Gen. David H. Petraeus (U.S. Defense Department)

    In his September 10, 2007, testimony before Congress, General David H. Petraeus made several observations about the roles of Syria and Iran in the current conflict in Iraq. In a map entitled "Major Threats to Iraq," he presented three arrows coming out of Syria into Iraq, which were labeled "Foreign Fighter Flow." No such arrows were used on other borders. According to the same map, Iran was responsible for "Lethal Aid, Training, Funding." In his prepared remarks he also noted:

    • We have also disrupted Shia militia extremists, capturing the head and numerous other leaders of the Iranian-supported Special Groups, along with a senior Lebanese Hizbullah operative supporting Iran's activities in Iraq.
    • Foreign and home-grown terrorists, insurgents, militia extremists, and criminals all push the ethno-sectarian competition toward violence. Malign actions by Syria and, especially, by Iran fuel that violence.
    • In the past six months we have also targeted Shia militia extremists, capturing a number of senior leaders and fighters, as well as the deputy commander of Lebanese Hizbullah Department 2800, the organization created to support the training, arming, funding, and, in some cases, direction of the militia extremists by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps' Qods Force.
    • These elements have assassinated and kidnapped Iraqi governmental leaders, killed and wounded our soldiers with advanced explosive devices provided by Iran, and indiscriminately rocketed civilians in the International Zone and elsewhere. It is increasingly apparent to both Coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of the Qods Force, seeks to turn the Iraqi Special Groups into a Hizbullah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and Coalition forces in Iraq.

          See also Ambassador Ryan Crocker's Testimony to Congress
      Syria's role has been more problematic. On one hand, Syria has hosted a meeting of the border security working group and interdicted some foreign terrorists in transit to Iraq. On the other hand, suicide bombers continue to cross the border from Syria to murder Iraqi civilians. While claiming to support Iraq in its transition, Iran has actively undermined it by providing lethal capabilities to the enemies of the Iraqi state, as General Petraeus has noted. In doing so, the Iranian government seems to ignore the risks that an unstable Iraq carries for its own interests. (AP)

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