Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 1, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Thousands of Iranian Soldiers in Lebanon - W. Thomas Smith Jr. (National Review)
    Between 2,000 and 3,000 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are currently in Lebanon, supporting Lebanese Hizbullah fighters with weapons, military equipment, and cash.
    They are also training them in camps (at least five such camps in the Bekaa Valley and two or three in southern Lebanon) in a variety of infantry/commando operations and terror-bombing techniques.
    See also Hizbullah Show of Force in Christian East Beirut - W. Thomas Smith Jr. (National Review)
    Hizbullah is rehearsing for something big. A few days ago, between 4,000 and 5,000 Hizbullah gunmen deployed to the Christian areas of Beirut in an unsettling "show of force," positioning themselves at road intersections and other key points throughout the city.
    The operation served as a probing action to determine local reaction, and as an exercise to gauge the time required (speed, synchronization, etc.) to achieve control of key points.
    Amazingly, there was no response from the police or the army.
    Hizbullah is jamming cell-phone signals almost daily. Their lookouts are everywhere, and they are watching the people I'm with and me.
    Hizbullah is far better armed, equipped, and tactically proficient than most Americans might realize.
    They are terrorists to be sure, but they are also a very strong Iranian-trained guerrilla force and they seem to be getting a pass from far too many people in high places.

Israel Campus Beat
- September 30, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    Should Columbia Have Invited Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Speak?

Iran's New Fighter Plane: Technology of Two Generations Ago - Reuben F. Johnson (Weekly Standard)
    The Sa'eqeh (Lightning), the first military aircraft to ever be designed and produced in Iran, is not a modern-age weapon system.
    It is based almost entirely on the old Northrop F-5 fighter, the chief U.S. export fighter of the 1960s and 70s, 166 of which were sold to Iran before the revolution.
    After the embargo was initiated, the Iranian armed forces were able to purchase spares through illegal channels and on the arms black market.
    In one case Iran was able to purchase F-5s and a large stock of spare parts from Ethiopia, which had initially purchased the aircraft from Vietnam. The communist government in Hanoi had captured these aircraft from the South Vietnamese when they took Saigon.
    The Sa'eqeh - a copy of yesterday's military technology and less powerful than the oldest fighter in the U.S. or Israeli air forces - is entirely for show.

Pentagon Readies $1.2 Billion Package to Replenish Israel Air Force War Stocks - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    U.S. and Israeli defense officials are hammering out details of a potential $1.2 billion arms sale to the Israel Air Force, whose inventory of front-line missiles, munitions and other expendables was depleted in the summer 2006 Lebanon War.
    The series of U.S. administration-proposed Foreign Military Sales (FMS), presented to Congress in four packages, breezed through the customary 50-day legislative review process that ended in late September.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Freeing 87 Jailed Palestinians to Aid Abbas - Yehuda Peretz
    Israel began releasing 87 jailed Palestinians on Monday, members of Abbas' Fatah or smaller secular factions, in a move aimed at strengthening Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said last week that only prisoners "without blood on their hands" - a reference to deadly attacks against the Jewish state - and willing to sign a document renouncing violence would be freed. The last such gesture by Israel was on July 20, when some 250 prisoners, most of them from Fatah, went free. Twenty-nine of the 87 prisoners on Monday's release roster come from Gaza and the others from the West Bank. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Egypt Lets Stranded Palestinian Militants Return to Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    In a deal between Hamas and Egypt, around 85 militants crossed into Gaza on Sunday through Rafah, a terminal on the Egyptian border, after having been stranded in Egypt since Hamas seized Gaza in June. The militants, who included senior Hamas figures, had refused to avail themselves of an alternative return route to Gaza that runs through neighboring Israel for fear of being arrested by the Israelis. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Report: Hamas Exchanges Al-Qaeda Fugitive for Stranded Fighters
    Hamas transferred a fugitive al-Qaeda member to Egypt on Sunday in return for Egypt's opening the Rafah crossing to dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported on Monday. The unexpected move contradicted agreements Israel had with Egypt regarding the Rafah crossing. Israeli defense sources estimated that many of the group had undergone training in Iran and Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
  • British Academics Drop Israeli Universities Boycott Call - James Meikle
    The prospect of an academic boycott of Israeli universities receded sharply Friday as leaders of the lecturers' union contemplating the move were told it would be illegal. The British University and College Union (UCU) immediately suspended further action on the measure. Legal advice to the union's strategy and finance committee said a boycott call ran the risk of infringing discrimination legislation and was also considered outside the aims and objects of the union. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, insisted the majority of the union's 120,000 members would neither support a boycott call nor regard it as a priority. (Guardian-UK)
  • Annapolis to Host Mideast Summit - Raymond McCaffrey and Robin Wright
    Annapolis will host a Middle East peace meeting late in November at the U.S. Naval Academy. U.S. officials said the Bush administration selected the academy in part because it provides a secure facility convenient to Washington. Also, they said, unlike the presidential retreat at Camp David and the Wye Plantation on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the academy is not associated with unsuccessful peace efforts during the Clinton administration. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will host the meeting of Arab and Israeli leaders to discuss terms for a Palestinian state and peace with Israel. President Bush is widely expected to address the meeting. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire at IDF Near Gaza Border Fence
    Two Palestinian gunmen spotted advancing towards the border fence between Israel and Gaza just north of the Karni goods crossing were killed on Sunday evening after opening fire and throwing hand grenades at an IDF force. The troops fired back and the army said both gunmen were hit. (Ynet News)
  • Ford Foundation Vows Review of Donations to Palestinian NGOs - Yaakov Lappin
    The Ford Foundation said it would "review" questions raised about funds channeled to Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), following a critique by an Israeli NGO watchdog. NGO Monitor, based in Jerusalem, recently released a report on donations by the Ford Foundation to a number of Palestinian organizations, charging that the foundation had "violated its own funding guidelines."
        "Following exposure of the Ford Foundation's support for radical participants in the infamous NGO Forum of the Durban 2001 conference, Ford officials pledged to stop 'supporting organizations whose conduct is antithetical to our objectives of promoting peace, justice, tolerance and understanding.' However, as planning begins for a follow-on UN conference in 2009...many Ford-funded NGOs continue to violate Ford's terms," NGO Monitor said. Based in New York, the foundation has an endowment valued at $11.6 billion. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Long Arm of Iran - Dan Senor
    On March 17, 1992, a suicide bomber crashed an explosive-filled truck into a building filled with Israelis in Buenos Aires - 29 innocents were killed and hundreds more were injured. On July 18, 1994, the target was the Jewish community center in the center of the city - 85 were killed. One of the key officials assigned to the investigation was Miguel Angel Toma (later appointed by then President Eduardo Duhalde as secretary of intelligence from 2002-03). He concluded not only that Hizbullah carried out the attacks in Argentina, but that at least one of them was planned in Iran at the highest levels of the Iranian government, aided by a sophisticated sleeper-cell network in Latin America.
        Toma says he's certain of the date, location and participants in the decision by the Iranian government to execute the second Buenos Aires attack. He pinpoints it to a meeting in the Iranian city of Mashhad on Aug. 14, 1993, presided over by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, then and now the Supreme Leader of Iran; and the Iranian president at the time, Ali-Akbar Rafsanjani. Argentina has issued warrants for nine Hizbullah operatives and Iranian leaders, including Rafsanjani. Nobody has been arrested. Indeed, Rafasanjani continues to be described in the Western media as a leading Iranian "moderate." The writer is a former foreign-policy adviser to the Bush administration. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Ahmadinejad's Agenda - Barry Rubin
    Ahmadinejad thinks that his side is winning and the West is weak and in retreat. Will Iran use the nuclear weapons it is developing? The bombs and missiles would be held by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Ahmadinejad's close ally and the main liaison between Iran and terrorist groups, itself raising the prospect of their being used. But even if Iran never used nuclear weapons, the effect on the region would be devastating. Arab governments would rush to appease Iran; and large numbers of Arabs would rush to join radical Islamist groups, believing that this movement is the wave of the future.
        Taking a tough stand against Ahmadinejad is necessary to convince his colleague-rivals that they must get rid of this guy and tone down their country's behavior in order to ensure their own survival and that of their regime. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza's Deadly Guardians - Marie Colvin
    Hamas wants you to believe it has created a benevolent sanctuary where once chaos reigned. At the beginning of the journey into Gaza it's easy to believe that things are better. Then you start talking to people - in private. Young men show you bruised limbs and welts on their feet; every girl wears a hijab head covering and, for the first time, women wear niqab - Saudi-style face coverings that reveal only the eyes. And people whisper. Welcome to Hamastan. Gazans are living in a climate of fear. The place is eerily serene, not only because of the presence of disciplined Hamas security forces on the streets but, as in all successful police states, because everyone has started policing themselves, afraid of the consequences of stepping over a line not defined in formal law.
        Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya may say that women are free not to cover their heads, but before I go to his office an aide calls to tell me to be sure to wear a headscarf. Recognizing Palestinian rights is Hamas-speak for "We want all of the land of Mandate Palestine, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River," a maximalist position that ignores the fact that most Palestinians have moved on from 1948 to accept the existence of Israel, and would settle for a two-state solution. (Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Denial and Hope in the Mideast - Mortimer Zuckerman (U.S. News)

    • Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came to America to stick his thumb in our eye and deliver a sanitized version of "Death to America!" and "The Holocaust Never Occurred." Ahmadinejad's use of the Goebbels technique of the Big Lie has a purpose: to undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel. It is of a piece with the refusal of Palestinians to this day to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, even though some acknowledge the fact that Israel does exist. It is also one of the main reasons that efforts to broker a peaceful outcome in the Middle East have thus far been futile. And it will likely overhang the newest peace initiative, which the Bush administration hopes to launch this fall.
    • This campaign of repudiation cuts deeply into the Israeli psyche. The Israelis know that the Jews have lived in the Land of Israel without interruption for nearly 4,000 years. They know that, except for a short Crusader kingdom, they are the only people who have had independent sovereignty on this land. And they are the only people for whom Jerusalem has been their capital.
    • They are not a foreign occupier because the State of Israel is the child not of European colonialism but rather of Ottoman decolonialization. It was that Jewish historical bond that led the League of Nations 85 years ago to establish the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute a Jewish homeland on all the territories west of the Jordan River, all the way to the Mediterranean.
    • That same right to a national home was sanctioned again 59 years ago by the new United Nations. After an Arab invasion 40 years ago, the UN passed a resolution affirming Israel's right to "secure and recognized boundaries." As Winston Churchill noted in 1922, "The Jews are in Palestine by right, not sufferance." The refusal of the Palestinians and of Ahmadinejad to recognize this has, for decades, undercut Israeli confidence in their true motives.
    • Jerusalem is the site of the binding of Isaac by Abraham, the place where David built the altar on the threshing floor of Aravna to halt the plague. The Temple Mount was where Jesus was brought as an infant and where he later chased away the money-changers. Mentioned 20 times in the New Testament, the Temple Mount is one of the cornerstones of the Judeo-Christian ethical tradition of the West. Yet it is all denied by the Palestinians. This obduracy, combined with waves of terrorism, has shattered the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

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