Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 6, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S.: $20M Smuggled into Gaza Monthly - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    An estimated $20 million is smuggled into Gaza each month through the Philadelphi Route, according to Rep. Gary Ackerman, chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
    In an interview with Ha'aretz on Monday, Ackerman pointed an accusing finger at Egypt, arguing that Cairo's failure to control the Sinai border with Gaza helps to empower Hamas.
    Ackerman said there has been an increasingly deteriorating situation along the Philadelphi Route.
    He said intelligence information has revealed the smuggling of more people, materials and arms than ever, and that the type of weaponry being brought in was more sophisticated and with higher destructive capacity.

Italian Police Target Suicide Bomber Recruiters (AFP)
    Italian police launched dawn raids in Milan on Tuesday targeting about 20 people suspected of recruiting suicide bombers for attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The raids uncovered remote electronic detonators and poisons, as well as instructions on guerrilla warfare techniques.

Palestinians, Not Israel, Need a "Peace Dividend" - Judith Apter Klinghoffer (History News Network-George Mason University)
    Israel would unquestionably benefit from an end to Arab/Muslim hostility, but the Palestinians would benefit much more.
    If Arab/Muslim leaders truly cared about their own people, no action would help improve their lot more than real peace with Israel.
    The Arab world has paid dearly for its relentless hostility towards Israel and the Jewish people.
    Becoming the ideological/financial ward of the "international community" has done nothing but turn perfectly decent and able people into an impoverished suicide bomber factory run by ruthless religious mafias.

Israel's High-Speed Economic Growth Defies the Experts - Tobias Buck (Financial Times-UK)
    Israel's economic growth is forecast to reach 5.2% this year. Unemployment has fallen steadily, and now stands at 7.8% - down from almost 11% four years ago.
    The economic strength reflects two broad, long-term trends. The first came in the form of tax cuts, lower welfare spending, privatizations and capital market reforms implemented since 2003.
    The second change has to do with Israel's successful integration into the global economy - which has proved an increasingly receptive market for its exports of high-technology products, manufactured goods, pharmaceuticals and services such as consulting.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • MI5 Warns: Al-Qaeda Recruiting Teenagers to Attack Targets in Britain - Richard Norton-Taylor
    Teenagers as young as 15 are being groomed to carry out terrorist attacks in Britain and al-Qaeda sympathizers are hatching plots in a growing number of foreign countries against targets in the UK, the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, warned Monday. (Guardian-UK)
        See also British Intelligence Chief Warns of 4,000 Suspected Terrorists - Kevin Sullivan
    British security officials suspect that at least 4,000 people are involved in terrorism-related activities in Britain and that al-Qaeda's "deliberate campaign" against Britain poses the "most immediate and acute peacetime threat" to the nation in a century. (Boston Globe/Washington Post)
        See also Islamist Extremism Greatest Threat to Europe, EU's New Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Says
    To fight terrorism effectively, EU member states need to share information more widely, both with each other and with the EU institutions. But compensatory measures are also needed, so that the fight against terrorism does not shrink individual liberty, the EU's new Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday. (European Parliament)
  • Arabs Meet in Syria to Discuss Boycott of Israel
    Delegates from 14 Arab states and the Palestinian territories began talks Monday at the headquarters of the Central Boycott Office in Damascus on ways to revive momentum for the Arabs' boycott of Israel. Egypt and Jordan, which have signed peace treaties with Israel, did not attend. The boycott office, set up in 1951, was funded by the Arab League. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • Iranians Celebrate U.S. Embassy Seizure
    Thousands of young Iranians, mainly schoolchildren bused in to central Tehran, proclaimed "Death to America! Death to Israel!" on Sunday as they celebrated the 28th anniversary of the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by student radicals. Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi hailed the embassy seizure as "a great and glorious event" from which Iranians were still drawing inspiration. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Foreign Ministry: IAEA Thwarting Efforts Against Iran - Roni Sofer
    Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovich on Monday accused the International Atomic Energy Agency of thwarting international efforts against Iran's nuclear program. "Instead of contributing to the international efforts against Iran, the IAEA is acting as an obstructive element, whose opinions serve as an excuse for countries to refrain from joining the efforts against Tehran," Abramovich said during a discussion of the Iranian issue at the Saban Forum. Foreign Ministry officials explained that IAEA chief Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei, who should be controlling the distribution of nuclear arms in the world, is allowing Iran to go ahead with processes which Israel believes will lead to the development of nuclear weapons. (Ynet News)
        See also Why Are the IAEA and Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei Protecting Iran? - Gerald M. Steinberg
    For over three years, the quarterly IAEA reports on Iran contained the details of violations, obstruction of inspector's visits, important inconsistencies between official claims and the results of tests from samples taken from various facilities, and other forms of non-compliance. But the final assessment in each report, signed by IAEA Director-General Mohammed El-Baradei, absurdly concluded that this evidence did not demonstrate that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons.
        El-Baradei's complicity in the Iranian effort to acquire nuclear weapons is counterproductive. The further that Iran advances, the higher the probability of confrontation and military action in the next two to four years. Instead, if the IAEA and El-Baradei were to join in the effort to warn and deter the Iranian regime, it might still be possible to halt the uranium enrichment and similar activities, without needing to use force. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • PA Security Forces Clash with Al-Aqsa Brigade Operatives in Nablus
    Six people were wounded Monday as 200 Palestinian police sealed the Balata refugee camp in Nablus and traded fire with Palestinian gunmen. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
        See also Nablus Clashes Pose New Threat to Abbas' Authority - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Gen. Diab al-Ali, the PA security commander of the Nablus area, admitted that Monday's clashes were not the result of a decision to crack down on unruly members of the Al-Aksa Brigades. He said the clashes began after policemen "mistakenly" detained the brother of a Fatah gunman from Balata. When a police force tried to enter Balata to search for the gunman, dozens of gunmen and residents pelted them with stones and forced them to flee, leaving behind a police vehicle that was seized by members of the Brigades. In the West Bank, the camps are exclusively controlled by Fatah gunmen who function as policemen, judges and executioners. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that landed near Sderot on Tuesday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Peace Process Is Really About Iran - David Brooks
    This peace process is unlike any other. It's not really about Israel and the Palestinians; it's about Iran. There is a feeling among Arab and Israeli leaders that an Iran-Syria-Hizbullah-Hamas alliance is on the march and that the nations that resist that alliance are in retreat. The peace process is an occasion to construct what Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center calls an anti-Iran counter-alliance. It's slightly unfortunate that the peace process itself is hollow. The main point is to organize the anti-Iranians around some vehicle. The Bush administration is not about to bomb Iran. It's using diplomacy to build a coalition to balance it. (New York Times)
  • Iran Wants the Bomb So It Can Use It - Daniel Hannan
    I was the only editorial writer on this newspaper who argued against the Iraq war, because I didn't believe that Saddam had a weapons program. When it comes to Iran, though, there can be no doubt that the regime is developing a nuclear capability, and that it has the delivery mechanism: Shahab-3 missiles, with a range of 1,500 miles. Nor can there be much doubt that the reason the ayatollahs want the Bomb is so that they can use it. Look at what they are already doing. They have armed militias as far afield as the Balkans, the Caucasus and the old Silk Road Khanates. They have supplied their Lebanese proxy, Hizbullah, with rockets. They have been implicated in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina.
        What possible strategic interest can the mullahs have had in Argentina? The answer, surely, is that Teheran was flaunting its ability to strike wherever it wanted. That is what makes an Iranian bomb so frightening: we are not dealing, as we were in the Cold War, with a regime pursuing rational aims. The ayatollahs play by different rules. They advertised this with the very first act of their revolution: the seizure of the U.S. embassy. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Lobbyists or Spies? - Gabriel Schoenfeld
    The Justice Department has irresponsibly confused the distinction between spying and lobbying in its case against Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen, two former employees of AIPAC. A Pentagon official, Lawrence Franklin, who illicitly furnished the two men with secrets, and then participated in an FBI sting operation against them, has pleaded guilty for his part in the affair.
        The defense in the Weissman-Rosen case contends that their clients had every reason to believe that what Franklin told them in conversation - no classified documents ever changed hands - was part and parcel of the normal back-channel method by which the U.S. government sometimes conveys information to the media and/or to allied countries, in this case, to Israel. Given how routinely classified information is dispensed for legitimate purposes, how were Weissman and Rosen to know that Franklin was telling them things he was not allowed to tell them and involving them in his crime? Under the circumstances, this is a case that should never have been brought. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    The End of the Palestinian National Movement - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz-Hebrew, 6Nov07)

    • It would not be a great exaggeration to conclude that the Palestinian national movement has ceased to exist in recent years. The institutions of the PLO, which were to represent all groups among the Palestinian people, have become outdated and of little importance.
    • One of the clearest signs of the decline of the Palestinian national project is the departure of many of its key figures. Nabil Shaath, a PLO veteran who was a minister in the Palestinian government after returning with Arafat and settling in Gaza, has return to his home in Cairo where he runs a thriving business. Muhammad Dahlan and Hasan Asfor, who not long ago were ministers and powerful advisors in Gaza, now spend most of their time in Cairo with their families.
    • In Ramallah, it is estimated that 50,000 residents have left the West Bank in recent years, most to return to their homes and property in Amman. They had come to Ramallah and Nablus to work in PA offices there.
    • With the failure of the PA experiment, the Arab states have begun to return to the scene. The Jordanian government, with the encouragement of Israel, is establishing a renewed presence in the West Bank, especially in eastern Jerusalem. King Abdullah II and government leaders in Amman are careful to publicly announce that they have no designs on the West Bank. While this may be true, there is no doubt that their interest in events there is growing.
    • There is every reason to expect further cooperation between the West Bank and the East Bank in Jordan, which will also have political consequences. As long as the separation fence between Israel and the West Bank continues to be built, relations between the West Bank and Jordan will strengthen.

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