Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 5, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Could Strike U.S. by 2015, U.S. Officials Say (FOX News)
    Iranian technology is on pace to build a long-range missile that could strike the U.S. within a decade, a high-level Pentagon official said.
    "Most of the intelligence experts predict that sometime before 2015, or in that time frame, the Iranians will have developed the capabilities to threaten the United States, from a missile technology perspective," Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, chief of the U.S. missile defense program, said Tuesday in a Pentagon interview with FOX News.
    Of concern, Obering said, is Iran's ability to take shorter-range technology and improve it to longer and longer ranges.
    Right now, the administration is working on a plan to build a missile defense system to protect against Iranian weapons in friendly host countries in Europe.
    But those plans have been loudly criticized by Russia - which thinks the system could be used to attack their own missiles.

Report: Iran Worried Over Syrian Air Defense Failure - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    Iran is concerned over the failure of Syria's air defense systems to detect the Israel Air Force non-stealth aircraft that reportedly carried out an attack inside Syria last month, Aviation Week reported Wednesday.
    According to the report, Israel used highly advanced equipment to jam Syria's defenses, thus neutralizing the defense missile systems which rely on it.
    Iran is especially concerned over the failure of Syria's Russian-made radar systems. Iran is slated to purchase more Russian radar equipment to protect its nuclear facilities in a future deal worth $750 million.
    See also Why Syria's Air Defenses Failed to Detect Israelis - David A. Fulghum (Aviation Week)

Israeli Airport Communications Were Intentionally Jammed - Aaron Lerner (IMRA)
    Israel Radio correspondent Mickey Gurdis reported that on Thursday, during the Simhat Torah holiday, Israeli airport communication frequencies were frequently jammed, creating a very dangerous situation for planes landing and taking off.
    Only Israeli frequencies were being jammed and the phenomenon could not be attributed to illegal Israeli radio stations since they did not broadcast during the holiday.
    Gurdis suggested the jamming was an intentional act of sabotage by hostile elements.

Hamas Children's Magazine Glorifies Martyrdom - C. Jacob (MEMRI)
    The Hamas children's magazine Al-Fateh is published biweekly in London, and is posted online at
    In stories, poems, riddles, and puzzles, the magazine includes incitement to jihad and martyrdom and glorification of terrorist operations, as well as characterizations of Jews as "murderers of the prophets" and laudatory descriptions of parents who encourage their sons to kill Jews.
    In each issue, a regular feature titled "The Story of a Martyr" presents the "heroic deeds" of a mujahid who died in a suicide operation or who was killed by the IDF.
    The magazine includes illustrations of child warriors, presenting them as role models. The magazine's titular character, Al-Fateh ("The Conqueror"), is depicted as a small boy on a horse brandishing a drawn sword.

Ancient Documents Portend Major Earthquake (UPI/Science Daily)
    Tel Aviv University geologist Shmulik Marco said earthquake patterns along the Dead Sea fault recorded in historical documents indicate the region's next significant quake might be imminent.
    Major earthquakes were recorded along the Jordan Valley in 31 BCE, and in 363, 749 and 1033 CE. "So roughly we are talking about an interval of every 400 years," said Marco.
    "If we follow the patterns of nature, a major quake should be expected any time because almost a whole millennium has passed since the last strong earthquake of 1033."
    "When it strikes - and it will - this quake will affect Amman, Jordan, as well as Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem," he said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iranians Chant "Death to Israel" in Mass Protest
    Tens of thousands of Iranians marched through Tehran on Friday proclaiming solidarity with Palestinians and chanting "Death to Israel" in Iran's annual protest against the Jewish state. Colored bibs were handed out to protestors with the legend "Death to Israel, Death to United States." There was a festive mood with the numerous children present having their faces painted as cats and rabbits. (AFP)
        See also Ahmadinejad Vows Resistance Until "All of Palestine Is Liberated" (AFX/Forbes)
        See also Iranians Burn Israeli, U.S. Flags (IRNA-Iran)
  • Hizbullah Regains Strength in Lebanon - Scheherezade Faramarzi
    More than a year after the Israel-Hizbullah war, Hizbullah appears to be solidly entrenched across Lebanon's south - looking, in fact, as if its fighters never really left but merely went underground. The Shiite militia's banners hang everywhere, boasting of the "divine victory" over Israel and thanking its chief sponsor, Iran, for helping with post-war reconstruction. Villagers report Hizbullah's recruitment of young men is booming and its popularity is firm. While UN peacekeepers maintain a buffer zone between the Litani River and the Israeli border, Hizbullah appears to be in a strong position both north and south of the Litani, both politically and militarily. Villagers across the south point to various places they say are arms depots for Hizbullah. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Syria Plans Disruption in Lebanon, Hariri Says - Nora Boustany
    Lebanese parliament member Saad Hariri, the son and political heir of slain former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, told President Bush Thursday that he feared neighboring Syria was still determined to obstruct Lebanon's upcoming presidential election and destabilize the region. "There is a killing machine that has started killing the majority and it has not stopped," Hariri said in an interview, referring to a string of assassinations of anti-Syrian Lebanese legislators. "We believe that somehow, that the Syrian regime will stop the elections from happening." "At the end of the day, what the Syrians want is terrorism, and what we want is democracy," he said. (Washington Post)
        See also Bush to Syria: Don't Meddle in Lebanon - Jennifer Loven
    President Bush warned Syria on Thursday against interfering in Lebanon's presidential election and said he is sending a top military commander to Beirut to find more ways to help Lebanon fight extremists. "I am deeply concerned about foreign interference in your elections," Bush told Saad Hariri, leader of the anti-Syrian majority in Lebanon's parliament. (AP)
  • Syria, Seeking Investors, Turns to Iran - Hugh Naylor
    Ahmed Ansare's petroleum recycling business, the Damascus Petrochemical Refinery Company, was the first private Iranian company to set foot in Syria in 2003, the first of many, it now seems. "Billions of dollars of Iranian projects are expected to be coming here now," said Ansare, an Iranian citizen. From car manufacturing plants and a proposed $2 billion industrial zone for Iranian businesses, to plans to overhaul urban transportation systems, Iranian companies are charging into Syria, looking to cash in on a recent privatization push by Damascus. The Syrian government estimates that Iranian investment in 2006 alone surged to more than $400 million, making Tehran the third-largest foreign investor, behind Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In addition, more than half a million Iranian tourists, mainly pilgrims, flock to shrines in Syria every year. (New York Times)
  • Palestinians Divided Over Future Under Hamas - Donald Macintyre
    Asked about the 2006 Palestinian elections, Gaza shopkeeper Khaled Abu Ahmed slipped off his sandal and used it to beat his head several times to demonstrate his remorse for voting Hamas. Before the elections and the subsequent international boycott, he said, he used to make between £1,200 and £1,400 a month. Now, he said, thanks to closures and two years of only sporadic payments to public employees, he is lucky to make £25. "We have been occupied by the Turks, the British, and the Egyptians," he added, his voice rising. "We were occupied by Fatah and now we are occupied by Hamas. And the best of these occupations was by the Jews." (Independent-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Pre-Conference Accord to Cover Only Points of Clear Agreement - Barak Ravid, Avi Issacharoff and Aluf Benn
    The joint statement to be formulated by Israel and the Palestinians ahead of the regional meeting in Annapolis next month may include references to the core issues of the final-status agreement. However, such references would be non-committal, and the statement will deal only with issues that enjoy clear agreement. Israeli sources say the conference has been set for November 26. (Ha'aretz)
  • Dichter: "International Meeting in U.S. Is Not a Conference" - Jonathan Lis
    Public Security Minister Avi Dichter is pessimistic about the international peace conference due to be held in the U.S. next month. "It is not a conference, it is a meeting," he says. "There is something less bombastic and less binding about a meeting, and it generates lower expectations." "I hope that the major declaration will be that the world is mobilizing to assist the Palestinian Authority to implement its commitment to the first phase of the road map. That will be a meaningful declaration. For seven years the PA did not lift a finger to stop the terrorism against Israel or against itself." (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas: Fatah Has Launched an Insurgency in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah has begun resorting to "insurgency" tactics in a bid to undermine the Islamist movement, Hamas officials said Thursday. On Tuesday, three Fatah men were killed in a "work accident" as they were trying to place a bomb near a Hamas security installation west of Gaza City. "They were killed when the bomb they were carrying was detonated prematurely," said a senior Hamas official. "We have evidence that Fatah is behind a series of explosions that occurred in Gaza recently." Another Hamas official said Fatah was behind at least 14 attacks against Hamas figures and institutions in Gaza over the past month. Most of the Fatah operations have targeted security vehicles used by Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Kills Palestinian Gunman Near Gaza Border Fence
    IDF troops killed a Palestinian gunman near the border fence in the central Gaza Strip early Friday morning after he fired at the soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket into Israel Thursday evening that landed near Sderot. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • West Bank Palestinians Fear Safe Passage from Gaza - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Naveh
    There are those who believe that the solution lies in a "safe passage" that would connect Gaza and the West Bank. In the framework of my position as IDF Central Command chief, I have met several experts, including Palestinians residing in the West Bank, and it can be firmly ascertained that their main fear is the influx of Gazan youngsters into the West Bank. They do not wish to see Gazans on the streets of Ramallah more than we do, affecting the economy, taking jobs, attacking women and determining new norms of veils and religious fanaticism. The "safe passage" is the Gazans' dream but the nightmare of the West Bank. (Ynet News)
        See also Linking the Gaza Strip with the West Bank: Implications of a Palestinian Corridor Across Israel - Justus Reid Weiner and Diane Morrison (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iran's Crackdown Victimizes Baha'is - Mark Kirk
    There is a little-told story from Iran - a story we thought would forever stay buried in the darkness of 1930s Europe. The Baha'i faith - a faith of tolerance and diversity of thought - was founded in Iran in the mid-1800s and has become Iran's largest religious minority with over 250,000 members. In March 2006, just a few months into Ahmadinejad's presidency, the Command Headquarters of Iran's Armed Forces ordered the police, Revolutionary Guard and Ministry of Information to identify all Baha'is and collect information on their activities. Two months later, the Iranian Association of Chambers of Commerce began compiling a list of Baha'is serving in every business sector.
        In August, Iran's feared Ministry of the Interior ordered provincial officials to "cautiously and carefully monitor and manage" all Baha'i social activities. The Central Security Office of Iran's Ministry of Science, Research and Technology ordered 81 Iranian universities to expel any student discovered to be a Baha'i; this year, 104 Baha'is were expelled from Iranian universities. In April, the Iranian Public Intelligence and Security Force ordered 25 industries to deny business licenses to Baha'is. Banks are closing Baha'i accounts and refusing loans to Baha'i applicants.
        According to the U.S. State Department's 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom, "Broad restrictions on Baha'is severely undermined their ability to function as a community. The Government repeatedly offers Baha'is relief from mistreatment in exchange for recanting their faith....Baha'is may not teach or practice their faith or maintain links with co-religionists abroad. Baha'is are often officially charged with 'espionage on behalf of Zionism.'" We have seen this movie before. What happened to our solemn promise of "never again" made in 1945? U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is co-chairman of the House Iran Working Group and a member of the Human Rights Caucus. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Hold Iran Accountable - Lynn Smith Derbyshire and Judith C. Young
    On Oct. 23, 1983, the government of Iran sent a truck bomb into the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 men and wounding countless others. It was mass murder. For 24 years, since that horrible day, that horrible moment, the government of Iran has literally been getting away with murder. In May 2003, a U.S. district court found the government of Iran liable for organizing and funding the Beirut attack. Lynn Smith Derbyshire's brother, Marine Capt. Vincent Smith, was killed in the 1983 Beirut bombing. Judith C. Young is the mother of Marine Sgt. Jeffrey Young, who was killed in the Beirut bombing. (Washington Times)
  • The Usual Suspect - Jeffrey Goldberg
    In bin Laden's view of usury, Western banking is Jewish banking. "As a result of [usury], in all their different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life, making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, seems at times to view the world entirely through the prism of a Jewish conspiracy, and he regularly breaks new ground in the field of state-supported Holocaust denial.
        The Judeocentric understanding of America's foreign policy is now the special province of two ostensibly reputable scholars, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. Their new book represents the most sustained attack against the political enfranchisement of American Jews since the era of Father Coughlin. The history of the Arab-Israeli conflict in their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy is comically one-sided. In their telling, Israel is perpetually the aggressor; it has never made a serious move toward peace and compromise; and its existence has never been threatened by the Arabs, who are portrayed as out-numbered, out-funded, and under-armed victims of Zionist aggression. The Israel of Mearsheimer and Walt is simply unrecognizable to anyone who is halfway fair and halfway learned about the Middle East. (New Republic)
        See also TV Comedy Host Makes a Fool of Mearsheimer - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Arab World's Steady March Backward - Youssef Ibrahim
    A new movie called "The Kingdom" reminds us of the scale of terror visited upon the world by Saudi Arabia's Islamist priesthood, its ruling family, its army, and many of its citizens. Based on actual events surrounding the June 1996 terror bombings that left 19 American servicemen dead and seriously injured 372 other expatriates at a residential complex near Dhahran, the film captures the shocking degree of jihadist penetration into Saudi life - particularly into the Saudi National Guard, an army branch personally commanded by King Abdullah.
        Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which represents the Islamists' most significant political opposition force, published its first detailed political program, a manifesto that sent Arab progressives into deep shock. Among its highlights: The revision of "every article" of Egypt's constitution in order to replace civil laws with Islamic sharia laws. It would restrict the presidency, the premiership, top army and police commands, and judicial posts to Muslim men. Should the program be adopted, it would dispossess the 9 million Egyptians who are Christians. There is no need to delve further into the entire 108-page document. If you've read Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf, you have the idea. (New York Sun)
  • Israel Should Become a Member of the Council of Europe - Interview with Robbie Sabel
    The Council of Europe was set up after World War II, having as its main objective the coordination of European legal affairs and advancement of human rights in Europe. Israel should aim to become a full member of the Council of Europe and thus associate itself with like-minded democratic countries. Israel has a natural place in clubs of democratic societies with independent legal systems. In the UN, Israel is surrounded by a majority of nondemocratic states whose legal systems cannot be trusted. There will always be an anti-Israel majority. Israel's Foreign Ministry and other ministries would prefer Israel to get into NATO. Israel's chances there, however, at present are nil. Dr. Robbie Sabel is a former legal adviser to the Israel Foreign Ministry. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Ideology of Peace Studies - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Many universities have programs claiming to focus on "conflict resolution" and "peace studies." Various research models have been developed based on game theory, "reconciliation," pre-negotiation, "ripeness," intercultural communication, and mediation. However, many of the most popular texts in these programs are based on anecdotes, unverifiable "eyewitness testimony" and small numbers of personal narratives, rather than standard academic documentation and references. The field of conflict resolution and peace studies is also characterized by the dominance of ideological positions that go far beyond the boundaries of careful and value-free discourse. (Israel Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Muzzling in the Name of Islam - Paul Marshall (Washington Post)

    • In August, Swedish artist Lars Vilks drew a cartoon with Mohammed's head on a dog's body. He is now in hiding after al-Qaeda in Iraq placed a bounty of $100,000 on his head (with a $50,000 bonus if his throat is slit).
    • Some of the world's most repressive governments are attempting to use the controversy to provide legitimacy for their suppression of their critics in the name of respect for Islam. In particular, the Organization of the Islamic Conference is seeking to rewrite international human rights standards to curtail any freedom of expression that threatens their more authoritarian members.
    • The issues here go beyond the right of cartoonists to offend people. They go to the heart of repression in much of the Muslim world. Islamists and authoritarian governments now routinely use accusations of blasphemy to repress writers, journalists, political dissidents, and religious reformers. Saudi teacher Mohammad al-Harbi was sentenced to 40 months in jail and 750 lashes for "mocking religion" after discussing the Bible in class and saying that the Jews were right.
    • When politics and religion are intertwined, there can be no political freedom without religious freedom, including the right to criticize religious ideas. Hence, removing legal bans on blasphemy and "insulting Islam" is vital to protecting an open debate that could lead to other reforms.
    • If, in the name of false toleration and religious sensitivity, free nations do not firmly condemn and resist these totalitarian strictures, we will abet the isolation of reformist Muslims and condemn them to silence.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.

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    Today's issue of the Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.