Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 31, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Hizbullah Has Tripled Its Land-to-Sea Missile Arsenal - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Hizbullah has tripled its arsenal of C-802 land-to-sea missiles and has rehabilitated its strength north of the Litani River, according to information handed over by Israel to the UN and published in a UN report.
    During the war, a C-802 missile struck the INS Hanit off the Lebanese coast, killing four naval servicemen.
    The report states that Hizbullah's long-range missile teams are deployed north of the Litani River, and that "most of the new missiles include [the Iranian-made] Zelzal and Fajr missiles that have a range of over 250 kilometers and are capable of hitting areas south of Tel Aviv."
    Hizbullah also has established an anti-aircraft unit armed with surface-to-air missiles.

Egypt Says It Caught Palestinian Suicide Bomber Headed for Israel (Reuters)
    Three Palestinians caught entering Egypt through a tunnel from Gaza this month are members of an al-Qaeda-inspired group who planned to enter Israel to carry out suicide attacks, Egyptian police sources said on Tuesday.
    One of the men was wearing explosives around his waist and the group also had other explosives and hand grenades.
    The men said they were from the Army of Islam, which kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston in Gaza in March and took part in the abduction of an Israeli soldier last year.
    Police had advance warning of their plan and detained them on Oct. 16 as they were coming out of a tunnel on the Egyptian side of the Gaza border. A fourth man crawled back through the 950-meter tunnel.
    Egyptian authorities publicize their activities against smuggling and illegal crossings following repeated Israeli complaints that they are not doing enough to prevent arms and explosives reaching the Palestinians.

The Argentine President's Jewish Card (Economist-UK)
    Argentina's Jewish community has found a somewhat unlikely ally in Nestor Kirchner, the country's president.
    The founder of his Peronist party, Juan Peron, blocked Jewish migration to Argentina and gave refuge to scores of Nazi leaders after the Second World War. But Kirchner has gone out of his way to court Argentine Jews.
    He has created a special commission to re-investigate the AMIA case - the car bombing that killed 85 people at the main Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires.
    He meets Jewish leaders around five times a year; his wife, Cristina Fernandez, who will succeed him in the presidency after an election on October 28, visited Israel in 2005.
    See also Argentina's First Lady Wins Presidency - Monte Reel (Washington Post)

Australian Cavalrymen Reenact World War I Capture of Beersheba - Mijal Grinberg (Ha'aretz)
    Fifty Australian horsemen in green cavalry uniforms, high boots and Australian bush hats adorned with a feather crossed the barren Negev on Sunday afternoon to kick off a reenactment of the ANZAC campaign that led to the capture of Beersheba in 1917.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Proposes Sixfold Increase in Aid to Palestinian Authority - Glenn Kessler
    President Bush has proposed a sixfold increase in aid to the Palestinians, including $150 million in direct cash transfers to the Palestinian Authority, in an effort to bolster the government in advance of a Middle East peace conference planned in Annapolis. The $435 million in additional aid, on top of $77 million requested earlier this year, would constitute the administration's largest amount of direct aid to the PA.
        State Department officials said the money is a signal that substantial aid will flow to leaders who reject terrorism. The aid request "supports a critical and immediate need to support a new Palestinian Authority (PA) government that both the U.S. and Israel view as a true ally for peace," the State Department said Tuesday. The "funds would provide immediate, demonstrable improvements in the lives of Palestinians by supporting the PA's efforts to extend the rule of law, achieve economic revival, improve governance, and avoid a fiscal crisis." Congressional officials said the aid request has little chance of approval if the Annapolis conference does not show substantial results. (Washington Post)
  • China Rejects Israel's Call for Tougher Sanctions Against Iran
    After visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called on China to back new sanctions against Iran, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Tuesday that sanctions should not be used to resolve the Iran nuclear issue. "China has always believed that the unbridled use of sanctions should not be encouraged in dealing with international relations. We hold that a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiation is an optimal choice that serves the common interests of the international community," Liu said. (Xinhua-China)
  • Expert: Miami Group Ready for Holy War - Curt Anderson
    A group of men accused of plotting to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower were in the final stages of forming a homegrown terrorist cell dedicated to waging an Islamic holy war, a terrorism expert testified Tuesday. Raymond Tanter, a Georgetown University professor and terrorism scholar, said ringleader Narseal Batiste and the other six had nearly completed the "radicalization process" before their arrests in June 2006. Hallmarks of this process include religious conversion, operation within a military-style hierarchy, and adoption of goals shared by al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups to destroy U.S. landmarks, Tanter said. The final stage - which he called "jihadization" - means the group is ready to plan an attack. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Responds to Hamas Mortar Fire on Israel, Kills Four Hamas Men - Mijal Greenberg
    Palestinians on Tuesday evening launched a barrage of mortar shells on Netiv Haasara, an Israeli community near the Gaza border, causing damage to a home with a woman and an infant inside. In response, the Israel Defense Forces struck targets in Gaza, killing four militants at a Hamas police position. According to Gideon Sharabi, a security officer from the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, Netiv Haasara has seen a surge in mortar attacks over the past several weeks. Also on Tuesday, Palestinian militants fired four Kassam rockets at Israel from Gaza. One landed near a kibbutz and damaged a building. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Military Commander: We'll Strike in the Heart of Israel - Ali Waked
    Muhammad Deif, the commander of Hamas' military wing, has said that Hamas will strike in the heart of Israel in the near future, a senior Hamas member said Tuesday. Sheikh Ahmed Hamdan said he recently met with Deif, and heard from him that Hamas will soon replace its defensive fighting policy with an offensive one. "Deif promised me that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades will hit the Zionist enemy hard. The organization has completed its preparations and is only waiting for orders," he said. Deif is responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings he planned. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Targets Palestinian Rocket Crews in Gaza
    A group of Palestinian gunmen from the Al-Mujahidin Brigades, affiliated with Fatah, survived an Israeli air strike on Monday in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, a spokesperson from the Brigades said in a statement. Abu Bilal added, "An Israeli drone fired at the group of gunmen while they were trying to launch rockets at Sderot." (Ma'an News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Saudi Arabia Isn't Taking Terrorism Seriously - Editorial
    In a BBC interview Monday, Saudi King Abdullah said that "most countries are not taking this issue [terrorism] too seriously, including, unfortunately, Great Britain." The royal musings didn't go down well, perhaps because Saudi Arabia churns out manpower, money and spiritual inspiration for jihadis around the world. The Brits might ask the king about Saudi Arabia's efforts to export its state-sanctioned brand of radical Islam, Wahhabism, to madrassas and mosques around the world, and is the source of much of the extremist material found in British mosques. According to an investigation by Policy Exchange, a think tank, "the influence of Saudi Arabia is both powerful and malign." (Wall Street Journal)
        See also UK Should Confront Saudis on Hate Texts, Study Says - Mark Deen and Kitty Donaldson
    Prime Minister Gordon Brown should confront Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah over hate literature found in British mosques and schools that are funded with Saudi money, the Policy Exchange said in a report Tuesday. After a yearlong study of Islamic institutions in the U.K., the research institute found that a quarter of the 95 sites visited held documents teaching strident sectarianism, the abhorrence of non-Muslims and in some cases advocating violence. "Saudi Arabia is the ideological source of much of this sectarianism and must be held to account for it,'' the report said. "There needs now to be a proper audit of the costs and benefits of the Saudi-UK relationship.''  (Bloomberg)
        See also How the Saudis Used Oil Money to Export a Hardline Ideology that Fuels Islamist Terror - Malise Ruthven (Independent-UK)
  • U.S. Has Crimped Al-Qaeda Funds - Peter Grier
    The U.S. has issued sanctions against 44 different charitable organizations under authority derived from an executive order signed by President Bush, according to Chip Poncy, director of strategic policy at the Treasury's Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes. Tackling the financial front of the struggle against terrorism appears to be successful, say experts. In part, this is due to the fact that the U.S. is a center of world commerce, and many global business transactions are carried out in dollars. Plus, even foreign banks generally do not want the taint of dealing with named terrorists. Thus, the world's formal financial system is now generally closed to al-Qaeda and other well-known terrorist groups.
        The CIA estimates that prior to Sept. 11, al-Qaeda was spending about $30 million per year. Since then, the U.S. has seized some $265 million in assets linked to the group - about nine years worth of operating expenses. The U.S. has also named some 460 individuals as terrorist supporters, and thus subject to sanctions. "It is premature to assume that terrorist organizations are having difficulty funding their organizations and operations," concludes a monograph on the subject issued by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. "What is important is that the global effort against terrorist financing has made it more expensive and more difficult to raise and move funds." (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Rules of the Game, Palestinian-Style - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • Several Fatah security force officers assigned to protect Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as he went to meet with PA head Mahmoud Abbas, at the end of June, planned to assassinate him instead. There is a supposedly moderate leadership running the PA and Fatah, and this kind of thing is still happening.
    • The would-be assassins were Fatah - not Hamas, and they were quickly released by PA authorities before outside pressure forced their re-arrest. The PA has never really punished anyone for murdering or trying to kill an Israeli or for attacking Israel.
    • The rules of Palestinian politics are fatal to the hope of getting a Palestinian state, of the Palestinian polity becoming more moderate, of ending terrorism, or stopping even officially sponsored PA incitement. The rules are:
      1. Palestinians cannot stop other Palestinians from attacking Israel. To do so would be betraying the cause, becoming Israel's lackey.
      2. He who is most militant is always right. Extremism equals heroism. This is one reason why Fatah has such a difficult time competing with Hamas.
      3. More violence is good and a "victory" if it inflicts casualties or damage on Israel.
      4. No Israeli government can do anything good. Olmert is no better than anyone else even as he offers to accept a Palestinian state.
      5. Since Palestinians are the perpetual victim they are entitled to everything they want and never need to give anything in exchange for Israeli concessions.
      6. Wiping Israel off the map is morally correct.
      7. It is more important to be steadfast and patient with a terrible status quo than to make big gains by ending the conflict forever.
    • These are some of the reasons why the Palestinian side cannot - and will not - reach for peace or keep existing commitments very well. Even if a handful of top Palestinians want to reach agreement with Israel, they cannot - and dare not - violate these commandments.

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