Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 18, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

$20 Million Saudi Gift Is Questioned - Valerie Strauss (Washington Post)
    Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) sent a letter Thursday to Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia expressing concern about a $20 million donation from a Saudi prince for the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.
    See also Wolf to Georgetown: Detail Use of Saudi Millions - Steven Emerson (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
    Wolf's letter seeks assurances the Georgetown center "maintains the impartiality and integrity of scholarship that befits so distinguished a university as Georgetown."
    He then asks whether "the center has produced any analysis critical of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for example, in the fields of human rights, religious freedom, freedom of expression, women's rights, minority rights, protection for foreign workers, due process and the rule of law";
    and whether "the center has examined Saudi links to extremism and terrorism, including the relationship between Saudi public education and the kingdom-supported clerical establishment, on the one hand, and the rise of anti-American attitudes, extremism and violence in the Muslim world, on the other."

Hizbullah Has Only a Few Thousand Fighters - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli defense officials expressed skepticism over reports that Hizbullah has deployed 50,000 men in southern Lebanon after last week's killing of arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Syria - since Hizbullah totals only a few thousand fighters.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq Offers Palestinians Military and Economic Aid - and Help in Manufacturing Rockets (MEMRI)
    In a 30-minute video posted Feb. 14 on the Islamist website Al-Hesbah, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, commander of the al-Qaeda-founded Islamic State of Iraq, discusses "winning the war against the Jews."

BBC Sorry for Mughniyeh-Hariri Parallel (Jerusalem Post)
    In an uncommon act of journalistic contrition, the BBC has apologized for equating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh as "great national leaders."
    The BBC took the unusual step after Don Mell, the Associated Press's former photographer in Beirut, lambasted the parallel, drawn by BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawkesley in a BBC World report last Thursday, as "an outrage" and "beyond belief."
    American journalist Mell was held up at gunpoint by Mughniyeh's men as his colleague Terry Anderson, AP's chief Middle East correspondent, was kidnapped in Beirut in March 1985.
    The BBC issued a statement Friday acknowledging that "the scripting of this phrase was imprecise."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Secret Papers Reveal Threats to Britain from Saudi Prince Over Arms Deal Investigation - David Leigh and Rob Evans
    Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed Thursday. Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries. Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.
        The U.S. Department of Justice has launched its own investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act into the British money received in the U.S. by Bandar while he was ambassador to Washington. Prince Bandar Thursday did not contest a U.S. court order preventing him from taking the proceeds of property sales out of the country. (Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. Intelligence Chief: Hizbullah or Syria May Have Killed Mughniyeh - Hope Yen
    Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said Sunday that internal Hizbullah groups or Syria may be to blame for the killing last Tuesday of Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh. Hizbullah has pledged to attack Jewish targets worldwide in retaliation. McConnell said he considers the threat to be primarily against Israel. But he said U.S. intelligence officials are keeping close watch because Mughniyeh has been "responsible for more deaths of Americans and Israelis than any other terrorist with the exception of Osama bin Laden."  (AP)
  • UN Humanitarian Chief Condemns Palestinian Rocket Attacks
    A Palestinian rocket struck a house in the Israeli town of Sderot on Sunday, shortly after the UN's top humanitarian official condemned Palestinians for the near-daily rocket barrages and urged Gaza's Hamas rulers to halt the attacks. "We condemn absolutely the firing of these rockets. There's no justification for it. They are indiscriminate, there's no military target," said John Holmes, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, during a visit to Sderot. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • Islamic Jihad Leader Killed in Gaza Blast - Rushdi abu Alouf and Richard Boudreaux
    Ayman Fayed, 42, a senior commander of Islamic Jihad, was killed Friday along with his wife, two of their children, and three militants in an explosion that flattened the family's home in Bureij in Gaza. The explosion damaged seven nearby homes and wounded at least 30 people. "It was not us," an Israeli military spokeswoman said of Friday's explosion. Witnesses reported seeing fragments of what looked like rockets in the wreckage, suggesting the possibility of an accidental explosion of weapons stored in the home. A Hamas militant with a walkie-talkie appeared on Palestinian television in Gaza at the scene of the blast, warning people to leave. He said there might be four or five unexploded rockets in the area. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Palestinian Militants Bomb Gaza YMCA Library
    Gunmen have attacked the YMCA in Gaza City and blown up its library, burning thousands of books, its director says. Eissa Saba said 14 men overpowered the center's two security guards before placing bombs in the library and main office. The guards said the gunmen had asked them why they worked for "infidels." Gaza is home to 3,500 Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox. A number of Christian and other institutions regarded by Muslim extremists as un-Islamic have been targeted by armed gangs over the past two years. (BBC News)
  • Iran Supports Khartoum Policies in Darfur - Mahmoud A. Suleiman
    Iranian Shura Council Chairman Dr. Ghulam-Ali Haddad-Adel, who recently ended a visit to Sudan, is reported to have said in Khartoum that Iran's position toward the issue of Darfur is to support the position of the government of Sudan and the positions of President Field Marshal Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir. Iranian Defense Minister Mustafa Mohammad-Najjar in January 2007 called for the promotion of ties between the two countries in all areas, especially in the defense field. (Sudan Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: Jerusalem, Settlement Blocs to Keep Growing - Barak Ravid
    Israel will continue building in existing settlement blocs and Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Sunday. "Jerusalem holds a special place and in its Jewish areas reality on the ground will change in the coming years," said Olmert, a former mayor of the capital. Olmert also said he would not allow a humanitarian crisis to develop in Gaza, but the people of Gaza could not live normal lives while Israelis across the border were constantly targeted by rockets. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Soldier Injured in Gaza - Meital Yasur-Beit Or
    An IDF soldier was hit by a Palestinian sniper during an operation in southern Gaza on Sunday. In recent weeks, IDF troops have been entering Gaza on a daily basis. "The whole area near the security fence and outskirts of the cities and townships in the Strip, just like areas from where Kassam rockets are fired - these are areas in which we will operate at all times in order to thwart planned attacks," a military official said. (Ynet News)
  • Preparations Underway for Major Gaza Incursion - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The political leadership in Jerusalem has decided to embark on a wide-scale military operation in Gaza. However, preparations have not yet been completed. Hamas in Gaza knows that the operation is approaching and is preparing for it. This time, the targets have been defined, and they are clear, including a drastic reduction of rocket and mortar fire as quickly as possible; destruction of most military infrastructure, arms arsenals, and means of production for Hamas and the other organizations and crime families; and blocking the Philadelphi Route in a manner which would curb smuggling. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Exit Plan: Multinational Force in Gaza - Yaakov Katz
    Israel is considering a large-scale incursion into Gaza during which it would present an ultimatum to the international community for the deployment of a multinational force as the only condition under which it would withdraw, defense officials said. "We are talking about the Second Lebanon War model," a defense official said Sunday. "To go to war and tell the world that if they want a cease-fire and for us to leave, then they will need to send a force to replace us."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ten Palestinian Rockets Strike Israel on Saturday - Yonat Atlas
    Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired ten rockets at Israeli communities on Saturday. (Ynet News)
        See also Five Palestinian Rockets Fired at Israel on Sunday (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bracing for Revenge - Ronen Bergman
    On March 7, 1992, Ehud Sadan, chief of security at the Israeli embassy in Ankara, was blown up by a bomb planted under his car. The authorities arrested several members of Turkish Hizbullah, acting under orders from Imad Mugniyeh. Ten days after that, Mugniyeh's men blew up the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and wounding more than 220. Two years later, in July 1994, a suicide bomber struck at the offices of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, killing 85. A joint investigation by the Mossad and the Central Intelligence Agency uncovered clear evidence of Mugniyeh's involvement in all three bombings. The telephone monitors of the U.S. National Security Agency turned up "not a smoking gun, but a blazing cannon," in the words of a Mossad official. A senior Hizbullah operative, Talal Hamiyah, was taped rejoicing with Mugniyeh over "our project in Argentina." (New York Times)
  • Imad Mugniyeh and Al-Qaeda - Thomas Joscelyn
    What virtually all of the coverage in the major media in recent days omits is that senior Hizbullah terrorist Imad Mugniyeh was a vital ally of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. There is a lengthy history of collaboration between Mugniyeh and al-Qaeda. And there remain disturbing questions about his possible involvement in the attacks of September 11. Mugniyeh's relationship with bin Laden began in the early 1990s in Sudan. On November 19, 1995, an al-Qaeda truck bomb hit the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. According to Bob Baer, a long-time CIA agent who tracked Mugniyeh for years, "Mugniyeh's deputy had provided a stolen Lebanese passport to one of the planners of the bombing." "Six months later," Baer says, "we found out that one of bin Laden's most dangerous associates was calling one of Mugniyeh's offices in Beirut." (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    What Tom Lantos Told Jimmy Carter - Thomas A. Dine (Jerusalem Post)

    • Just four months ago, I was with Rep. Tom Lantos in his private office when he received former president Jimmy Carter. Carter came to brief him and a few other House Members about a newly formed group of leaders with international reputations. The purpose of "The Elders," he said, is resolving regional conflicts such as Darfur, Burma, and the Palestinian question.
    • When the former president finished his presentation, Lantos told Carter that he had read his new book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict three times. He said he had underlined particular passages; he pointed out substantive differences between the hard cover and paperback editions, objectionable items not being in the latter except for the word "Apartheid" still in the title.
    • He let loose, telling the author that he "sided" with the Palestinians, that he possessed a "subconscious and blinding hostility toward Israel." And because of this "venom," Lantos said, Carter "had totally forfeited" his role as an objective participant in reconciling differences between the two parties to the conflict.

      The writer, now a senior policy adviser to the Israel Policy Forum, headed AIPAC in 1980-1993.

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