Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 18, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Evangelicals Raise $8.5 Million for Israel - Saul Elbein (Jerusalem Post)
    On Sunday night, Pastor John Hagee, a founding member of Christians United for Israel, hosted 6,000 people at his 26th annual "Night to Honor Israel" at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.
    Hagee told the gathering: "America must never pressure Israel to give up land. It must never pressure her to divide Jerusalem. Turning Jerusalem over to the Palestinians is tantamount to giving it to the Taliban."
    John Hagee Ministries gave more than $8.5 million, most of which came from private donations, to Israeli causes from the Israel National Autism Foundation to the city of Ariel's Development Fund. Over $6m. went to aliya organizations such as Nefesh B'Nefesh and Exodus II.
    See also Hagee Opposes Israeli Concessions on Jerusalem - Abe Levy (San Antonia Express-News)

Hamas Has 200 Tons of Explosives - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)
    Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter warned Wednesday that over the past three months Hamas has equipped itself with 200 tons of explosives, most of which were obtained from the Palestinian Authority.

Hizbullah Returning to South Lebanon - Georges Malbrunot (Le Figaro-France)
    Hizbullah is getting ready in southern Lebanon, not only north of the Litani River, where a rearmament has been observed since the beginning of the year, but also in the UNIFIL zone.
    Lately, truck convoys have been sighted at night, as well as trenches dug amid the palm groves and immediately re-covered; suspicious explosions have been heard.
    "The Lebanese Army has been informed, but for the moment, it does nothing," said a French military expert.

UN: Interpreter Error Led to Incorrect Syria Nuclear Report (AP/USA Today)
    The UN blamed an interpreter's error for an erroneous report that Syria claimed an Israeli airstrike hit a Syrian nuclear facility.

France to Host Palestinian Donors Conference (AFP/Yahoo)
    France will hold a special conference of donors for the Palestinians at the end of the year which will be co-hosted by Mideast Quartet special envoy Tony Blair and Norway, it was announced in Paris on Wednesday.

Israel, Europe Discuss Cooperation in Space Exploration (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Teams from the Israel Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Science and the European Space Agency began negotiations on Tuesday in Israel on a framework agreement that will enable Israeli-European cooperation on civilian space programs.
    The agreement is intended to integrate Israel's research institutions and space industry into such programs as satellite communications, monitoring and observation of the earth, prevention of natural catastrophes, and research in life sciences, material science, and astronomy.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: Prevent Iran from Getting Nuclear Weapons to Avoid World War III
    President Bush told a press conference in Washington on Wednesday: "I believe that if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace....We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously." (White House)
        See also Divisions in Europe May Thwart U.S. Objectives on Iran - Robin Wright
    Britain and France, which initiated the call for joint European action against Iran, back tough new multilateral sanctions outside the UN Security Council. But other countries, notably Italy and Austria, want significantly less serious steps. Germany fell somewhere in between, said European and U.S. officials. The Bush administration also hopes to bring in other major powers that do business with Iran, such as Japan, Australia and Canada. (Washington Post)
  • Israel and U.S. Agree: No Withdrawals Without Missile Defense - Eli Lake
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in Washington to make the case that a multi-tiered missile defense system in Israel should be a precondition for any withdrawal required by a final status solution with the Palestinian Arabs. The linkage between missile defense and withdrawal is in part due to the barrage of rockets Israel has withstood from Gaza, territory it relinquished in 2005.
        David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Tuesday he thinks there is an understanding between America and Israel that Israel will not relinquish military positions in the West Bank in the near term. "I tend to believe there is a genuine understanding between the United States and Israel, given the unresolved situation in Gaza, that the IDF is going to be in charge of security in the West Bank for the foreseeable future. I do not see the United States trying to press Israel to become more vulnerable," he said. (New York Sun)
  • Federal Panel Urges Tighter Scrutiny of Saudi Abuses - David Morgan
    A report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called on Thursday for new congressional scrutiny of Saudi Arabia's progress in implementing religious reform. The commission asked the administration to pressure Saudi Arabia to prove it is not involved in circulating texts blamed for encouraging Sunni Muslim militancy in religious schools and mosques worldwide. "It appears that the Saudi government has made little or no progress on efforts to halt the exportation of extremist ideology," said the report. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Feds Recommend Closing Saudi School in Virginia - Matthew Barakat
    The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom report leveled particular criticism at the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private school serving nearly 1,000 students in northern Virginia. The commission said the academy hews closely to the curriculum used at Saudi schools, which they criticize for promoting hatred of and intolerance against Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims. The report recommends that the State Department prevail on the Saudi government to shut the school down until the school's textbooks can be reviewed and procedures are put in place to ensure the school's independence from the Saudi Embassy.
        The school found itself in the spotlight in 2005, when a former class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was charged with joining al-Qaeda while attending college in Saudi Arabia and plotting to assassinate President Bush. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli-Palestinian Joint Declaration to Mention Core Issues But Offer No Solutions - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
    Israel is prepared to make a joint declaration with the Palestinians at the international peace conference scheduled to take place next month in Annapolis that will address the core issues of Jerusalem, refugees and permanent borders, a senior Israeli government official said Wednesday. The source said that Secretary of State Rice had reached an agreement with the Palestinians stating that "the declaration will address all core issues and point to certain avenues to be pursued through negotiation." However, the declaration will not offer solutions to any of the core issues. Palestinian sources also said that Israel will not have the so-called "Right of Return" mentioned in the document. In addition, Rice reportedly told the Palestinians that Israel will not commit to a timetable for negotiations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Soldier Killed in Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    IDF Sgt. Ben Kubany, 20, was killed early Wednesday during an operation near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza during an encounter with a terror cell. The operation was aimed at preventing terror organizations from launching attacks. "What we are doing in Gaza is fighting for the security fence," a military source said Wednesday. "Terrorist organizations are trying to...use the area to launch attacks within Israel. Our job is to prevent them from reaching this goal." (Ynet News)
  • Fighting between Hamas and Fatah-Linked Gaza Clan Kills Four - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    Two Hamas security men and two members of the Fatah-affiliated Heles clan were killed Wednesday in Gaza in fighting that left over twenty people wounded on both sides, said Ihab al-Ghusain, a spokesman for the Hamas security forces. Hamas security forces had sought to arrest wanted members of the clan. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed in Israel's western Negev region Wednesday night, Army Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Portents of a Nuclear Al-Qaeda - David Ignatius
    Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, the Energy Department's director of intelligence, recently told President Bush and other top officials that al-Qaeda is trying to acquire a nuclear bomb. Mowatt-Larssen argues that for nearly a decade before Sept. 11, al-Qaeda was seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction. As early as 1993, Osama bin Laden offered $1.5 million to buy uranium for a nuclear device. (Washington Post)
  • Lebanon's Government by Murder - David Schenker
    Forty Lebanese members of parliament belonging to the pro-Western, anti-Syria March 14th majority bloc currently reside at Beirut's Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel. But the lawmakers aren't guests; they're prisoners. Armed escorts from Lebanon's Internal Security Forces accompany guests to their rooms. Inside, curtains are permanently drawn to discourage snipers from targeting the MPs. Since 2005, four members of parliament affiliated with this bloc have been assassinated in Beirut. A government that once had 72 out of 128 legislators now rules by a razor-thin margin of 68 of 127 seats. The Bashar Assad regime in Syria is widely assumed to be behind the assassination campaign. Should the trend of assassinations continue unchallenged, the pro-Syrian opposition, led by Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, waits in the wings. The writer is a senior fellow in Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Archeology and the Propaganda War Against Israel - Richard L. Cravatts
    Nadia Abu El-Haj's book, Facts on the Ground: Archeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society, posits that "the modern Jewish/Israeli belief in ancient Israelite origins" is a "pure political fabrication." The problem with coming up with a book of archeology which defies logic and history, as El-Haj has done here, is that one would have to condemn or marginalize the work of all archeologists in the field whose work had formed the basis of the historical record she is determined to negate.
        "At the heart of a monstrous lie," says professor of Classics at Cal State Fresno, Bruce Thornton, "the airbrushing of Jews from the history of Jerusalem, an Orwellian rewriting of history started by the Arabs and abetted by some politicized Western scholars." That is the core problem with Facts on the Ground - it is ideology parading as scholarship; it is the work of a dilettante who is not an archeologist and has never visited a dig. The true facts on the ground shape the uninterrupted 3,000-year Jewish presence in the land that became Israel. (History News Network-George Mason University)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Choice: Planes or Bombs? - Michael B. Kraft and Brett Wallace (Washington Times)

    • With Secretary of State Rice calling the Iranian regime liars about their nuclear program, it is time to consider sharply cutting off Iran's air links to the outside world. The time has come to ratchet up the pressure in a new and more visible direction as an alternative to military action.
    • Most of the current sanctions are relatively invisible except to bankers or the would-be exporter or importer. By contrast, suspending Iran Air's landing rights and cutting off spare parts and maintenance services would be a very visible and dramatic step to both the Iranian public and the mullahs.
    • It would make clear to the world and the Iranian people that Ahmadinejad's support for nuclear weapons, his calls for the destruction of Israel and threats to other neighbors make Tehran a pariah regime that deserves to be quarantined.

      Michael B. Kraft is a former State Department counterterrorism official. Brett Wallace is a research coordinator at the International Center for Terrorism Studies.

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