Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 11, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

White House: Al-Qaeda Expected to Intensify Efforts to Infiltrate U.S. (Reuters/MSNBC)
    Al-Qaeda remains the "most serious and dangerous" terrorism threat and is expected to intensify attempts to place agents inside the U.S., a White House report said on Tuesday.
    Despite efforts to destroy the group responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, al-Qaeda has protected its top leadership, replenished its lieutenants and "regenerated a safe haven" in Pakistan's tribal areas.
    Al-Qaeda also continues to pursue weapons of mass destruction and is trying to acquire and use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear material, said the "National Strategy for Homeland Security" report.

Second Israeli Bank Cuts Ties to Hamas-Run Gaza (Reuters)
    A second Israeli bank said on Wednesday it was severing business ties with Palestinian banks in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
    Israel Discount Bank said it would "stop all transactions with affiliated banks in the Gaza Strip" following Israel's designation of Gaza as an "enemy entity" last month.
    Israel's largest bank, Bank Hapoalim, cut off ties with Gazan banks on Sept. 25.

Cairo Film Festival Rejects Israeli Entry (AFP)
    Organizers of the Cairo International Film Festival have loudly opposed an application by Eran Kolirin's "The Band's Visit," a fictional tale of an Egyptian police band that gets stranded in Israel.
    The director said his movie, which won praise at the Munich and Cannes film festivals, sends a strong pro-peace message, but Soheir Abdel Kader, the festival's vice president, said: "It is out of the question that an Israeli film plays here."
    A solid "anti-normalization" front exists in Egypt's cultural circles which reject collaboration or contact with Israeli artists or intellectuals, despite a peace deal signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979.

Islamists Damage Giant Ancient Buddha - Ben Quinn (Telegraph-UK)
    Islamist radicals in Pakistan have attempted to destroy an ancient carving of Buddha by drilling holes in the rock and filling them with dynamite.
    The Buddha, in the Swat district of northwest Pakistan, dates from the seventh century and was considered the largest in Asia, after the two Bamiyan Buddhas which were destroyed six years ago by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

New York Knicks Play Maccabi Tel Aviv Thursday in the Garden (Israel-Times)
    The New York Knicks will meet Israeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv on Oct. 11 at Madison Square Garden for a friendly match.
    Proceeds of the basketball game will go to Migdal Ohr, which helps disadvantaged children in northern Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Arab League Sets Terms for Attending Peace Conference with Israel
    Arab countries will need guarantees and a timetable for talks over a final solution to their conflict with Israel as a condition to their participation in an international peace conference to be sponsored by the U.S., Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa said Wednesday. Nothing has been offered so far, hence Arab reluctance to sit at the negotiation table with Israel, Musa said. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
        See also Abbas Demands Full Israeli Withdrawal to Pre-1967 Borders
    PA Chairman Abbas on Wednesday called for a full Israeli withdrawal from all territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. "We have 6,205 square kilometers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," Abbas told Palestine TV. "We want it as it is." According to Palestinian negotiating documents, the Palestinian demands include all of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, east Jerusalem and small areas along the West Bank frontier that were considered no-man's land before the Six-Day War. At the same time, Palestinian officials confirmed that Abbas would be willing to adjust his claims, as long as they end up with the same amount of land. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Goodwill Gesture: Residency Permits to 3,500 Illegal West Bank Palestinians - Steven Erlanger
    In a gesture to Mahmoud Abbas, Israel will grant residency permits to 3,500 Palestinians who have been living illegally in the West Bank, Israeli officials said Wednesday. Many are the spouses or relatives of Palestinians who entered on travel visas. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Moves Against Three Saudis Suspected of Funding Terror
    The U.S. Treasury Department has taken action against three Saudi Arabian nationals suspected of raising money for terrorists. Abdul Rahim al-Talhi, Muhammad Abdallah Salih Sughayr and Fahd Muhammad Abd al-Aziz al-Khashiban are accused of providing support to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group, responsible for a string of bombings and kidnappings in Southeast Asia. Wednesday's action freezes assets belonging to the men and forbids U.S. citizens from doing business with them. (VOA News)
  • Five Go on Trial Over UK Terrorist Training Camps - Michael Holden
    Five men charged with terrorist training offenses went on trial in London on Wednesday and the court was told a sixth man, their leader, had already admitted soliciting murder. Atilla Ahmet, 43, the so-called emir of the group, pleaded guilty to encouraging others to commit murder in a separate hearing last month. Prosecutor David Farrell told Woolwich Crown Court that Mohammed Hamid, along with Ahmet, had recruited, groomed and corrupted young Muslims. Hamid, 50, is accused of preparing Muslim men for jihad, or holy war, by organizing terrorism training disguised as camping or paintballing trips in rural England. Hamid provided training in weapons and military tactics. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Intelligence: Abbas Unable to Control West Bank Cities - Amos Harel
    According to a recent assessment by Military Intelligence, the Palestinians will fail to carry out their commitments regarding countering terrorist activities. Abbas and his aides are not showing any signs of initiative and boldness in security matters, nor any practical ability to assume additional responsibility. In addition, according to intelligence analysts, Abbas will not be able to assert his control over the West Bank cities if security responsibility is passed on to his forces.
        MI also expressed concerns about the pressure the PA is applying on the U.S. to push Israel for more goodwill gestures, warning against "a bottomless barrel" of Israeli gestures for which the PA will not respond in kind. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Increased Dramatically Since Hamas Takeover in Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired 1,000 mortar rounds and rockets toward Israel since Hamas took power four months ago, Israeli security officials said Wednesday. The IDF estimates that 350 Kassam rockets and 650 mortar rounds have been launched at Israel since June 14. Around 160 mortar rounds and 80 Kassam rockets land in Israel each month. These numbers only represent launches that have been identified and recorded, so the actual number of attacks is likely to be much higher. (Ynet News)
  • Israel to Fortify Civilian Airplanes - Attila Somfalvi
    Israel's political-security cabinet approved Wednesday the development of new anti-missile technology meant to shield Israeli passenger planes from missile attacks. Israel is the first country in the world to fortify its civilian aircraft against such attacks. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Switching to Lasers to Defend Civilian Jets - Dan Williams
    Israel will replace the flare-firing systems it has installed on some of its passenger planes to defend against missile attacks with non-pyrotechnic lasers deemed safer abroad, officials said on Wednesday. The current Flight Guard system detects heat-seeking missiles and diverts them with flares. The new Israeli system, developed by El-Op, will use a laser to "blind" the heat-seekers in shoulder-fired missiles. A security source said the El-Op system's broad-array laser can "take on 1,000 threats at once." (Reuters)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Rice's Road Map - Rick Richman
    Over the last year, Secretary of State Rice has transformed U.S. policy from (a) support for a Palestinian state conditioned on compliance with Phase I and II of the Roadmap, to (b) support for Phase III final status negotiations to establish a Palestinian state "as soon as possible," even though the Palestinians have not complied with either Phase I or II. Under the Roadmap, final status negotiations were to occur only after a sustained and effective effort by the PA to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure - Phase I. The PA has yet to dismantle a single terrorist organization, or arrest a terrorist leader, in the four years since the Palestinians accepted the Roadmap. In the same period, Israel dismantled 25 settlements, withdrew from Gaza, and released hundreds of prisoners. (New York Sun)
  • The Voice of Hizbullah - Michael Young
    Hizbullah is an immovable obstacle to Lebanese national reconciliation. It is heavily armed, more powerful than Lebanon's army, refuses to surrender its weapons, protects a semi-autonomous Shia Muslim mini-state amid Lebanese society, and pursues a foreign agenda separate from that of Beirut, particularly with Iran, Syria, and Palestinian militants. Voice of Hizbullah: The Statements of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, edited by Nicholas Noe, offers two decades of statements by the party's secretary-general. In 1992, after taking control of Hizbullah, Nasrallah defined its long-term strategy as "fighting against Israel and liberating Jerusalem, as well as Imam Khomeini's proposal - namely ending Israel as a state." (Times-UK)
  • As Egypt Cracks Down, Charges of Wide Abuse - Dan Murphy
    The regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in the midst of one of its largest crackdowns against public dissent in a decade. Seven journalists have been given prison sentences in recent weeks; more than a thousand activists of the Muslim Brotherhood languish in jail; and labor organizers involved in a wave of strikes at government-owned factories have been detained. As the government cracks down hard, it is increasingly being charged with the use of torture on detainees. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Al-Qaeda: The Next Goal Is to Liberate Spain from the Infidels - Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Large parts of the Iberian Peninsula were under Islamic rule from 711 until 1492, with the final eviction of the Moors from what they called al-Andalus, and the memory of Islamic rule in Spain has become increasingly part of the discourse in radical Islam.
    • Osama bin Laden has written: "We request of Allah...that the [Islamic] nation should regain its honor and prestige, should raise again the unique flag of Allah on all stolen Islamic land, from Palestine to Andalus." Bin Laden's mentor, Abdullah Azzam, established that the Islamic obligation to wage jihad in order to recover lost Islamic territories applies to Andalusia.
    • Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, has written that while Islam was twice evicted from Europe - from al-Andalus and from Greece - it is now in the process of returning.
    • A children's magazine published by Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, called on Palestinian children to restore the city of Seville to Islamic rule as well as the rest of what was once Islamic Spain.
    • Israel, therefore, is a small link in the greater confrontation between radical Islam and the West. Accepting the Arabs' terms for a Middle East settlement, or even going so far as "liberating" Palestine from Israeli rule, will not be the last stop in the radical Islamic journey being led by the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda, which share the vision of spreading Islam all over the world.
    • Indeed, for the West, Israel constitutes a dike against the great wave of radical Islam. The very same principle invoked for waging war against Israel - recovery of what was once Islamic territory - is being applied to Spain, the Balkans, Southern Russia, and India. European pressure on Israel to make political concessions that endanger its security will only bring closer the next stage of Islam's offensive, this time aimed at the heart of Europe.

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