Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 26, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: PA Seizes Rockets Near Jerusalem - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Palestinian security forces on Wednesday uncovered two rockets ready to be launched in the town of Beit Jala near Jerusalem, the Ma'an news agency reported. A large amount of explosives were also discovered.
    The commander of the Palestinian security forces in Bethlehem said the rockets were a meter-and-a-half long and carried the words "Allah hu akbar."

Al-Qaeda Training European Recruits to Attack U.S. - Pamela Hess (AP)
    Al-Qaeda continues to recruit Europeans for explosives training in Pakistan because Europeans can more easily enter the U.S. without a visa, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said Tuesday.
    European al-Qaeda recruits in the border region of Pakistan are being trained to use commercially available substances to make explosives, and they may be able to carry out an attack on U.S. territory.
    "Purposely recruiting an operative from Europe gives them an extra edge into getting an operative, or two or three, into the country with the ability to carry out an attack that might be reminiscent of 9/11," he said.

Secret Iranian-Hizbullah Unit in Iraq - Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
    In his report to Congress earlier this month, Gen. David Petraeus claimed that Iran has a deadly new ally in its proxy war against U.S. forces in Iraq: a secret unit of the militant Lebanese Hizbullah movement called Department 2800.
    It was created "to support the training, arming, funding and, in some cases, direction" of Shia militia cells and turn them into a "Hizbullah-like" movement opposing U.S. forces and the Iraqi government. Department 2800's partner is the Quds Force, a branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
    Petraeus told Congress that U.S. forces captured the "deputy commander" of Department 2800. He was detained in March while helping insurgent cells in Iraq set up weapons deliveries, offering strategies for attacks, and even arranging for insurgents to attend training inside Iran.
    The Hizbullah rep was also allegedly involved in planning a January attack in Karbala during which insurgents dressed as U.S. soldiers entered a secure compound and kidnapped, then later killed, five Americans.

Israel's Biggest Bank Cutting Gaza Ties - Jeffrey Heller (Reuters)
    "In light of the (Israeli) government's decision to declare Gaza hostile territory, Bank Hapoalim has decided to terminate its banking activity with banks and branches in Gaza," Israel's biggest bank said on Tuesday.
    A Palestinian banking official said Bank Hapoalim's move could force Gaza banks to shut down if other Israeli institutions follow suit and stop transferring shekel notes to them.
    Israel announced last Wednesday it would treat Gaza as an "enemy entity" in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

Iran Warns Argentina Ahead of President Kirchner's UN Speech (AFP)
    Iran has warned Argentina against joining the enemy camp if Argentine President Nestor Kirchner criticizes Tehran at the UN General Assembly, Iran's ambassador to Buenos Aires Moshen Baharvand told the daily Clarin Friday.
    Kirchner is expected to mention Argentina's probe into Iranian involvement in a deadly attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association in 1994 that left 85 dead and 300 injured.
    If Kirchner accuses Iran of wrongdoing, "numerous countries will understand that Argentina is in favor of war," Baharvand said.
    Four relatives of victims from the attack, as well as leaders of top Jewish associations in Argentina, also planned to travel to New York and attend the session.
    In 2006, an Argentine judge issued an international arrest warrant for Iranian ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and other top Iranian officials in connection with the bombing.

Summer Surge Lifting Israel to Pre-Intifada Tourist Numbers - Nathan Burstein (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel is on track to welcome more tourists in 2007 than in any year since the start of the second intifada in 2000. The country should greet a total of 2.3 million tourists by the end of the year, according to the Tourism Ministry.
    2000 was the busiest year in the history of Israeli tourism, when the country had 2.41 million foreign visitors.

Useful Reference:

Access the Largest Counter-Terrorism Data Base in the World (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
    Steven Emerson's Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism has launched a comprehensive counter-terrorism news website.
    See and hear audio and video recordings of Islamic American leaders making statements that have frequently been denied.
    Emerson is the author of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us.

City of David-Ancient Jerusalem Website Wins in International Competition (Jerusalem Post)
    The website of the City of David-Ancient Jerusalem (Ir David) was named one of the best eight websites online for 2007, winning first place in the e-culture category of the World Summit Award (WSA).
    The win is a first by an Israeli site, following entries from Israel over the last few years.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Congress Denounces Iranian President - Anne Flaherty
    The U.S. Congress moved Tuesday to signal its disapproval of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, calling for tighter sanctions against his government and designation of his military as a terrorist group, in a rare display of bipartisan cooperation. "Iran faces a choice between a very big carrot and a very sharp stick," said Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "It is my hope that they will take the carrot. But today, we are putting the stick in place." The House passed, by a 397-16 vote, a proposal aimed at blocking foreign investment in Iran, in particular its lucrative energy sector. The bill would specifically bar the president from waiving U.S. sanctions. (AP)
  • Ahmadinejad Snubs Wife of Kidnapped Israeli Soldier - Claudia Parsons
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad refused to address an Israeli woman who asked him at a news conference on Tuesday about her husband, one of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah last year. Karnit Goldwasser accused Ahmadinejad of being behind the kidnapping and urged him to at least provide some proof of life. "How come you're not allowing the Red Cross to visit them," she asked from the front row. (Reuters)
        See also Protesters Slam Ahmadinejad Outside UN Headquarters - Hilary Leila Krieger
    Thousands of protesters gathered outside UN headquarters Monday to oppose Ahmadinejad's appearance at the opening of the UN General Assembly session this week. Organizers said the demonstration was the largest such protest in recent years. Martin Berger, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, stood for more than two hours in the warm sun to "show the world that Auschwitz is not a myth. We were in Auschwitz." He said it was hard for him to hold up his sign, which read: "You liar! You denier! I'm a Holocaust survivor!" throughout the rally, but that it was important to do so.
        Pastors, congressmen and former diplomats took the stage to denounce Ahmadinejad. Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, pointed to non-Jewish speakers and protesters, saying, "When people look at the platform, they see all of America." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Texas Governor Asks State Pensions to End Investments in Iran - Darrell Preston
    Texas Governor Rick Perry asked the state's largest public pension funds to stop investing in companies doing business in Iran because of its support of state-sponsored terrorism and aggressive stance against Israel. Perry requested that the $24.9 billion Employee Retirement System and $108 billion Teachers Retirement System pull investments from some of the 400 companies with ties to Iran. "While Texas cannot set its own foreign policy, we can send a strong message that Texans will not condone Iran's continued support of those seeking to do harm to our men and women in uniform,'' Perry said. (Bloomberg)
  • Hizbullah Blocks Vote on Lebanese President - Alia Ibrahim
    Hizbullah and its political allies on Tuesday blocked the election of a new president in Lebanon by boycotting parliament. According to the Lebanese constitution, 85 members of parliament are required for a quorum to choose a president, but because of a boycott led by Hizbullah, only 75 lawmakers attended Tuesday's session. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Warns Palestinians Will Overthrow Abbas in the West Bank
    Hamas spokesman in Gaza Fauzi Barhoum warned on Tuesday that Palestinians in the West Bank would overthrow Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayad, Israel Radio reported. Barhoum told the Palestinian website Qudsnet that the PA was carrying out a sinful and cruel attack on Hamas in the West Bank and was cooperating with Israel to destroy the organization. Barhoum claimed that Abbas' policy - to distance Hamas from the Palestinian arena - was in line with that of Israel and the U.S. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Recommendation: Seven Megawatt-Hours Penalty for Each Palestinian Rocket - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    A committee of security officials set up following the cabinet's decision last week to define Gaza as "hostile territory" has submitted several recommendations for punitive measures that can quickly be implemented following a Palestinian rocket attack, including a recommendation that Gaza be penalized seven megawatt-hours of electricity following every attack. In addition, after every mortar or rocket attack on a Gaza crossing, the defense establishment has decided to automatically close it for 48 hours. "We looked for things that would disrupt life but would be mild enough that they could be defended according to international law," a senior defense official said.
        Some defense officials said cuts to electricity would not be enough to stop the rocket attacks. The only real way to pressure Hamas, they said, was to completely cut off supplies to Gaza and allow a humanitarian crisis to develop. "This is not something that we are going to do," one official said. "But it is really the only way." Around 62.5% of Gaza's electricity is provided directly by Israel, 28.6% comes from Gaza's power plant and 8.8% comes from Egypt, according to Stuart Shepherd of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza launched four Kassam rockets into Israel on Wednesday morning. Six mortar shells were also fired into Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire on IDF troops Near Gaza Border (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Ahmadinejad's Relationship with Reality Is Beyond Repair - Editorial
    An advantage of autocracy, from the point of view of the autocrat, is his freedom to assert his honesty and not care whether or not he is believed. A far greater advantage of free speech is the ability to test such assertions against real evidence. On his theatrical - and ultimately illuminating - visit to America, Mr. Ahmadinejad has provided evidence of nothing so much as sheer mendacity.
        Mr. Ahmadinejad is no more truthful on his nuclear plans than on homosexuality, women's rights or the Holocaust, which he has called a myth. Even his claim to have a right to develop peaceful nuclear reactors is false: under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran has signed, it has forfeited that right by building the plant for highly enriched uranium production that has triggered two sets of UN sanctions in the past year.
        Iran has no compelling economic need for civilian nuclear reactors. Power generation is not the purpose of the cascade of 3,000 uranium centrifuges being built at Natanz. Acquiring nuclear weapons is a central aim of Mr. Ahmadinejad's blinkered brand of Persian nationalism, which aims to assert influence far beyond Iran's borders. (Times-UK)
  • Peres Slams Columbia for Hosting Ahmadinejad - Aviram Zino
    President Shimon Peres on Tuesday criticized Columbia University for hosting Iranian President Ahmadinejad and giving a stage to "the world's biggest lying leader." "I am all for the freedom of expression, but what happened there is giving a stage to lies that harm the world. After all, there is no one that doesn't know that Iran is building an atomic bomb and is a hotbed for global terror, out of the aspiration to impose radical-religious hegemony over the entire world."
        "All the countries of the free world must unite against Ahmadinejad. Remember that dictatorship goes hand in hand with lies, murder, and terror, just as is happening in Iran at the hands of the greatest and most dangerous radical leader," Peres said. (Ynet News)
        See also Iran's Media Assail Ahmadinejad's Treatment - Nazila Fathi
    Iranian state television on Tuesday sharply criticized the way President Ahmadinejad had been treated during his Columbia University talk and asserted that he had triumphed over his adversarial hosts, whom it described as Zionist Jews. (New York Times)
  • Squeezing Iran - Julie Kosterlitz
    A burgeoning national grassroots lobbying and public-relations campaign is aimed at raising Americans' awareness of Iran and mobilizing them to lobby the federal and state governments to strengthen U.S. resolve against Tehran. The end goal is to economically isolate the Islamic republic. Politically diverse groups are pushing for legislation in at least a dozen states to purge state-directed portfolios - mainly public employee pension plans - of stock in companies, mostly from Europe and Asia, that do business with Iran. The movement has piggybacked on the growing success of another, ongoing campaign by human-rights advocates to push states to divest their holdings in Sudan because of that government's genocide against the people of the Darfur region.
        In the states, activist Republicans are leading the effort to pass Iran divestment bills, with law enforcement, firefighter, and labor groups, as well as Democrats, in support. In Congress, liberal Democrats, many of whom are Jewish, as well as conservative Republicans are sponsoring the Iran-focused sanctions and divestment bills, but politicians of all stripes have eagerly signed on.
        In August, the House passed, by a whopping 408-6 vote, a bill that authorizes state and local governments to divest from companies doing business in Iran's energy sector and gives legal protections to pension fund and mutual fund managers who choose to divest. The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act also requires the administration to publish a list every six months naming companies that have more than $20 million invested in Iran's energy sector. A second measure, which closes loopholes and toughens sanctions against foreign companies investing in Iran's energy sector as well as foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies doing business in Iran, passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June on a 37-1 vote. The Iran Counter-Proliferation Act has 323 co-sponsors; a companion Senate bill has 67. (National Journal)
  • Iran at the UN - Anne Bayefsky
    The global platform which will be handed to President Ahmadinejad by the UN is not as shocking as first meets the eye. The UN and the poster boy for state sponsors of terrorism have a long and cozy relationship - and one that threatens civilization as we know it. Over three years ago, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency found Iran to have violated its Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty obligations. Ever since, the head of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, an Egyptian, has assigned himself the role of running interference for Iran.
        Then there is the burgeoning rapprochement between the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, and Ahmadinejad. Arbour traveled to Tehran at the beginning of September to attend a "human rights" conference, settling into a front row seat to listen to Ahmadinejad.
        The UN has gone to extraordinary lengths to fete Iranians - like handing Iranian Massoumeh Ebtekar the 2006 Champion of the Earth award for her "creativity, vision and leadership, and the potential of her work and ideas for replication across the globe." Among her creative acts, "Screaming Mary" - as she was dubbed by the world's press - performed as the spokesperson for the Iranian terrorists that took 66 Americans hostage in 1979. In 2002 the UN Human Rights Commission terminated the post of UN investigator into human rights abuses in Iran. Outnumbered and outmaneuvered, Western democracies have never attempted to reinstate it. (New York Sun)

    Israeli-Palestinian Peace Conference

  • Where Is the Issue of Education for Peace in the Olmert-Rice-Abbas Initiative? - Dore Gold
    When former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross sought to understand the failure of the Oslo peace process of the 1990s, in which he was an active participant, he zeroed in on the need to bring about a "transformation" of political attitudes that the Palestinian leadership failed to encourage. Ross pointed to the education that Palestinian children received, concluding "that no negotiation is likely to succeed if there is one environment at the negotiating table and another on the street." The Roadmap insists in Phase I that "all official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel." There are no negotiations whatsoever about Palestinian statehood, according to the Roadmap, until the Palestinians' Phase I obligations are fully met. Only after Phase I obligations are met, the Quartet then convenes an international conference in order to "launch a process, leading to establishment of an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders."
        In the past, the U.S. Congress has taken the firm position that a Palestinian state should not be recognized until the Palestinian Authority takes "effective steps to ensure that its educational and communications systems promote the acceptance of Israel's existence and of peace with Israel and actively discourage anti-Israel incitement." The current effort of Secretary of State Rice to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a November 2007 joint declaration in Washington over the parameters of a future Palestinian state essentially circumvents the Bush administration's own 2003 Roadmap sequence. How can Israel obligate itself on sensitive issues of borders or security already if it is in the dark over what kind of Palestinian neighbor it will have, especially if that neighbor still teaches the toxic hatred that undermined previous efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace? (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Rice's Obstacles on the Road to an Israeli-Palestinian Breakthrough - David Makovsky
    Secretary of State Rice faces daunting challenges on the road to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations this fall. The low expectations that have accompanied her diplomacy until now have given the key players - Olmert, Abbas, and Rice herself - a chance to hold talks away from the public eye. The question now is whether Rice will be able to identify the key gaps and then find ways to formulate clear, achievable objectives in an exceedingly short period of time, all while managing varying public expectations in the U.S. and Middle East alike. This is a tall order, and the odds are not on her side. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Saudi Arabia and the U.S.: Reluctant Bedfellows in a Strategic Embrace - Joshua Teitelbaum
    It appears likely that in the near future (at least until a new president enters the White House), Riyadh will be moving its relationship with Washington on a new trajectory that emphasizes its independence from a weakened U.S. For instance, President Bush's July 16 call for an "international meeting" this fall on Arab-Israeli issues elicited mixed signals from Saudi Arabia. A visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in early August resulted in a statement by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faysal that the Saudis "would look very closely and very hard at attending" the meeting - a response that was interpreted, perhaps charitably, by a senior State Department official as "an interesting and forward-leaning answer." But in mid-September, Saud lowered expectations of Saudi attendance. (Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies-Tel Aviv University)
        See also Hamas Urges Saudis Not to Attend U.S.-Led Mideast Conference (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Bush at UN: Support Moderate Palestinians, Reform UN Human Rights Council (White House)

    President Bush told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday:

    • "The Palestinian territories have moderate leaders, mainstream leaders that are working to build free institutions that fight terror, and enforce the law, and respond to the needs of their people."
    • "The international community must support these leaders, so that we can advance the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security."
    • "The American people are disappointed by the failures of the Human Rights Council. This body has been silent on repression by regimes from Havana to Caracas to Pyongyang and Tehran - while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel."
    • "To be credible on human rights in the world, the United Nations must reform its own Human Rights Council."

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