Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran Threatens Missile Attacks on U.S. Targets - David Blair (Telegraph-UK)
Palestinian Authority Celebrates 9/11 Terror Attacks - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
Israeli Space-Based Radar Set for Indian Launch - Craig Covault (Aviation Week)
Hizbullah Sympathizer Armed with AK47 Arrested in Dearborn Park - Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Sep. 6 attack by Israeli planes inside Syria struck what Israeli intelligence believes was a nuclear-related facility that North Korea was helping to equip, according to current and former American and Israeli officials. China abruptly canceled planned diplomatic talks in Beijing that were to set a schedule to disband nuclear facilities in North Korea. American officials were expected to confront the North Koreans about their suspected nuclear support for Syria during those talks.
The airstrike was carried out several days after a ship with North Korean cargo tracked by Israeli intelligence docked in a Syrian port and its cargo was transferred to the site that Israel later attacked. North Korea has a long relationship with Syria, mostly involving the sale of weapons. But it has never been caught exporting nuclear-related material. On Sunday on Fox News, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned, "If such an activity were taking place, it would be a matter of great concern because the president has put down a very strong marker with the North Koreans about further proliferation efforts, and obviously any effort by the Syrians to pursue weapons of mass destruction would be a concern." (New York Times)
Facing money shortages, a shrinking private sector and growing political resistance, Hamas leaders in Gaza are increasingly imposing harsh interpretations of Islamic law and using brute force to bolster their isolated administration, which remains illegitimate in the view of Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and his U.S.-backed government in the West Bank. Reconciliation between the two largest Palestinian parties - now running parallel governments in what had been envisioned as the two territories of a Palestinian state with a single government - appears as distant as when Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led power-sharing government after the fighting in June.
Gaza's streets have taken on an increasingly Islamic cast in recent months. The improved everyday security has brought people back to the markets, beaches and parks, many of them women wearing for the first time the full black gown, gloves and face covering favored by the most conservative Muslims. After Friday prayers in recent weeks, Fatah supporters have marched through Gaza's streets in protest against the Hamas administration. "Shia! Shia!" the demonstrators shouted, an insulting reference to Hamas' inflexible Islamic character and financial support from the Shiite government of Iran. Their numbers have swelled into the thousands, and Hamas' patience appears exhausted. The Palestinian Scholars League, an Islamic council dominated by Hamas clerics, issued a fatwa early this month prohibiting outdoor prayer. (Washington Post)
See also Fatah Takes Battle with Hamas to Mosques - Hossam Ezzedine
Palestinian security officers have stepped up surveillance of mosques in the West Bank and preachers caught spouting Hamas propaganda will be sacked, said one security official. Fatah accuses Hamas of recruiting supporters and stockpiling weapons in mosques. There are 1,547 mosques in the West Bank. Thanks to the imams and preachers, Hamas "controls" most mosques in the West Bank, the security official believes. Even in Abbas' base of Ramallah, Hamas controls "more than 70%" of the mosques, he said. (AFP/Yahoo)
See also Hamas: Palestinian Security Services Raiding Mosques in the West Bank (Maan News-PA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
According to foreign new reports, the Israel air force excursion into Syrian skies was all about stopping nuclear proliferation, via North Korea, in the Middle East. If indeed the alleged sortie had to do with a nuclear shipment from Pyongyang, then Israel's stock has to go up because it will be seen as the force that will not allow nuclear proliferation in the region. It is interesting to note the resounding lack of condemnation - either in Europe or even in the Arab world - to Israel's alleged attack.
The alleged North Korean nuclear connection will put Damascus - already not in the world's good graces - even more on the defensive. It's one thing to harbor terrorists who want to destroy Israel, but it is something different entirely to get into the same nuclear bed with North Korea. The Syrian-North Korean connection could move Syria from being just an unpopular state to being a pariah regime.
The allegations of a North Korean-Syrian connection could make the time ripe for the world to place certain conditions on Syria's being accepted back into the international fold: kicking the terrorist organizations out of Damascus, first and foremost Hamas and its leader Khaled Mashaal, and an end to the support and the supply of weapons to Hizbullah. (Jerusalem Post)
The Israeli government Sunday approved setting up the National Emergency Administration to be in charge of coordinating the various government, security, emergency and civil services in times of national crisis. Formed in response to lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War, the administration would provide the home front with an immediate response in cases of war, mass emergencies or natural disasters. "The new administration would be the command center for all major decisions regarding the home front, in case of a national emergency," said Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai. (Ynet News)
U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman said Friday that there was clear evidence Hizbullah was still smuggling weapons across the Syrian border, in violation of UN resolutions. "In our view this poses one of the biggest dangers to Lebanon and it is a violation of the spirit and the letter of a number of Security Council resolutions," he said. (Gulf-Times-Qatar)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Bush administration has so far failed to generate serious traction behind its latest Middle East peace effort, with the opening session of its Washington conference of Arab and Israeli leaders tentatively scheduled for Nov. 15. Secretary of State Rice is not paying enough attention to what is happening on the ground, said former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross, with the breakup of the Palestinians into two rival parts and a failing economy. "If nothing is changing on the ground, then both sides will not find this effort to be credible," he said. (Washington Post)
See also Rice Trip Aimed to Keep Up Momentum - Hilary Leila Krieger
Secretary of State Rice's visit this week is expected to be largely a maintenance trip aimed at keeping the momentum going in the run-up to the international peace meeting scheduled for later this fall. David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said Rice is seeking "to avoid unrealistic expectations, so any progress between the parties is seen as such rather than falling short." (Jerusalem Post)
Pro-Israel groups such as NGO Monitor and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs say a new assault on Israel is on the way. Boycotts, divestments and sanctions (known in the activist world as "BDS") do seem to be growing. Under closer inspection, the boycotts look flimsy. Most of the motions passed have been non-binding recommendations, or instructions to investigate the practicalities of BDS. Activists' votes at conferences may be slapped down by the membership. American Presbyterians, who voted in 2004 to look into divesting from up to five American firms, backed off last year without having removed a dollar. The two British teaching unions merged and voted anew to consider suspending links with Israeli institutions, only to provoke a huge counter-attack by American college presidents.
Unlike the African National Congress, which acted as both a moral beacon and an organizer for sanctions, the Palestinian leadership does not support BDS - fearing that it will hurt Palestinians as much as Israelis. The chief difference between the Israeli and South African cases is, however, in the moral sphere. Israel is a robust democracy with vibrant academic freedom. Blaming Israel alone for the impasse in the territories will continue to strike many outsiders as unfair. (Economist-UK)
IDF Demands Uncut Al-Dura Tape - Caroline Glick (Jerusalem Post)
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