Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 26, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Releases Hamas Terrorists Detained in Sinai (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Egyptian security on Monday released 21 Palestinians, many of them detained in Sinai carrying weapons and explosives during the two weeks when the border was breached, and sent them back into Gaza.
    Twelve of the men were directly affiliated with Hamas and were believed to have been trying to infiltrate into Israel to carry out attacks.

Widow of Slain Hizbullah Terrorist Blames Syria (Ha'aretz)
    Three weeks after the death of Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, his widow blamed Syria for the killing, Israel Army Radio reported Monday.
    "The Syrian traitors are responsible for his death," she told a press conference in Tehran. "Damascus' refusal to allow Iran to investigate the incident is further proof," she said.
    Rumors abounded in the months prior to Mughniyeh's death regarding a rift with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah after Mughniyeh reportedly sought to take over command of the organization.

Foreign Journalists in Gaza Warned of Kidnapping Threat (Foreign Press Association-Israel)
    Last week the Foreign Press Association in Israel issued a warning based on a number of separate reports from Gaza suggesting a renewed threat to foreign journalists there.
    These threats come from the Army of Islam, with reports of gunmen entering hotels and checking for the presence of foreign journalists.

Prominent U.S. Cantor Dies in Flash Flood in Israel - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    David Tauber of New York, a prominent American cantor, drowned on Monday after being caught in a flash flood at the Ein Gedi nature reserve.
    His wife, Heather, was rescued after an extensive helicopter search.

Israeli Economy Grew 6.4% in Fourth Quarter (Bloomberg/ Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's economic growth accelerated to an annualized 6.4% in the fourth quarter of 2007, with exports jumping 15.5%, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

Israel Sends Medical Aid to Kenya (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israel this month sent three tons of medical aid and equipment to Kenyan hospitals after recent riots.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UK: Iran "Continued Nuclear Weapons Program"
    Britain's envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog contradicted the findings of U.S. intelligence officials who said Iran stopped developing a nuclear weapon in 2003. Simon Smith, the chief British delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, was speaking after diplomats were shown documents which, if accurate, would back claims that Iran has continued to pursue its nuclear weapons program. Asked whether the information indicated Teheran continued such activities beyond 2003, Smith said: "Certainly some of the dates...went beyond 2003."
        The material suggested there was "detailed work put into the designing of the warhead, studying how that warhead would perform, how it would be detonated and how it would be fitted to a Shahab-3 missile." An IAEA report released Friday described the issue as "a matter of serious concern and critical to an assessment of a possible military dimension to Iran's nuclear program." (Telegraph-UK)
  • EU Condemns "Uncivilized" Iranian Comments on Israel
    The European Union condemned "in the strongest terms" Monday remarks by Iranian President Ahmadinejad and other officials about Israel. "Their comments...against Israel are unacceptable, damaging and uncivilized," a statement from the EU's Slovenian presidency said. "The EU calls on Iran to stop hostile rhetoric and refrain from all threats towards other states." (AFP)
  • Iran Ordered to Pay $33M to Murdered Israeli Diplomat's Family
    Iran must pay $33 million to the family of a U.S.-born Israeli diplomat killed in a 1992 terrorist attack, a federal judge said Monday. U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said Iran was responsible for the truck bombing at the Israeli Embassy in Argentina that killed 29 people, including David Ben-Rafael. The ruling allows the family to try to collect Iranian assets, but finding and seizing that money will be difficult. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Child Injured in Palestinian Rocket Attack - Shmulik Hadad
    Yossi Haimov, 10, sustained serious injuries on Monday when a Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed near a school in Sderot. His sister, Maria, 8, said, "We heard the Red Alert system, quickly ran and hid, there was a small 'boom,' and then when we came out there was once again a strong explosion. We hid near the wall and then the shrapnel hit Yossi in the shoulder and his entire shoulder was filled with blood." (Ynet News)
  • The March that Wasn't - Shelly Paz and Rebecca Anna Stoil
    Dire predictions for a Rafah-style run on the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel fizzled out Monday along with Hamas hopes for a publicity coup due to what appeared to be a simple lack of motivation on the Palestinian side to participate in the "human chain across Gaza" demonstration. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Threatens to Abduct More Israeli Soldiers
    Hamas will abduct more IDF soldiers if Israel does not answer its demands to free hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners in return for freeing Cpl. Gilad Shalit, Osama al-Zeini, the Hamas official in charge of the "Shalit file," said in an interview published Saturday in Palestine, a newspaper affiliated with Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 7,400 African Refugees Infiltrated Israel in Past Year - Attila Somfalvi
    More than 7,400 refugees from African countries have infiltrated Israel through Egypt over the past year, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Sunday. (Ynet News)
  • A Race to Buy Land in Jerusalem - Roni Shaked
    Wealthy West Bank-based Palestinians, funded by Persian Gulf benefactors, have been attempting to buy as much land as possible in eastern Jerusalem, concentrating their efforts in the Old City, in order to push out Jewish associations doing exactly the same. Backed by private millionaires, Muslim foundations, Arab banks, the PLO's Orient House's Housing Division, and even several affiliates linked to Hamas, these Arab associations offer twice, even three times, the property value compared to their Jewish counterparts. Palestinian sources claim Turkey has also become involved in the land venture, aiding Arab associations by denying the Jewish ones access to Ottoman land records which may prove historical Jewish ownership of the land. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • It's the Middle East, Stupid - Michael B. Oren
    The Middle East remains bitterly divided between religious moderation and the surge of Islamist extremism. Backed by Syria and Iran, a phalanx of terrorist groups threatens Israeli and Arab societies alike. Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and is engaged again in peace talks with the Palestinians, but it is still an object of abomination for the overwhelming majority of Middle Easterners.
        If anything, the Middle East is even more flammable today because of the countless thousands of short- and long-range missiles in its armies' arsenals. These weapons vastly amplify the potential destruction of any military confrontation while slashing the amount of decision-making time that might be needed to avert all-out war. And modern weapons, including unconventional ones, make everything scarier. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Washington Post)
  • When Jihad Came to America - Andrew C. McCarthy
    On May 2 and 3, 1990, the U.S. embassy in Cairo alerted its counterpart in Khartoum that Egypt's "leading radical," Omar Abdel Rahman, was on his way to Sudan and warned that his ultimate plan might be to seek exile in the U.S. And yet when, immediately upon arriving in Sudan, Abdel Rahman made application at the American embassy for a multiple-entry visa to the U.S., the document was issued to him within a week. Visa in hand, Abdel Rahman relocated to the U.S. on July 18, 1990. He was the motivating force behind the first effort to bring down the World Trade Center buildings in a bombing that killed six adults and wounded hundreds more in February 1993. I led the team of prosecutors who in 1995 successfully convicted him and nine others for that conspiracy.
        But this was not the first terrorist act on American soil for which he bore some responsibility. It was preceded, only months after his arrival, by the assassination of the radical Jewish activist Meir Kahane. Had American authorities connected this murder to what they already knew about Abdel Rahman's burgeoning activities in America, and worked to mine the reams of evidence left by Kahane's assassin in his car and home, they would have gathered the information necessary to break up a terrorist ring in its relative infancy and thereby prevent the 1993 bombing - and, perhaps, much else that was to follow. (Commentary)
  • Sarkozy's Brave Move - Thane Rosenbaum
    French President Sarkozy last week announced a decision to require all fifth grade students to learn the story of one of the 11,000 French Jewish children murdered by the Nazis. Sarkozy's public gesture with respect to the Holocaust should be a source of national pride. If nothing else, it will remind the citizens of France that their remembrance of the Holocaust has been inadequate and long overdue, but, in the hands of French school children, perhaps it will not be too late. (New York Sun)
  • Observations:

    The Goal: Annihilating Israel - Yoel Marcus (Ha'aretz)

    • Israel is the only member of the UN that is being openly threatened with destruction - not just as a country but as a Jewish state.
    • Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who never loses an opportunity to sow hatred against the Jews, is busy drumming up support for the annihilation of Israel with remarks like, "Israel is a dried-out rotten tree that can be knocked down in one storm," and "The countdown has begun for the destruction of Israel."
    • From some corners, Israel is being reassured that the threats to destroy it are all talk. This is not the opinion of Prof. Bernard Lewis, who advises that the Iranian threats be taken very seriously, because there is an apocalyptic Shia sect out there liable to wake up and do something to hasten the arrival of its messiah, Imam al-Mahdi.
    • It is no coincidence that Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah is also prophesying the coming destruction of Israel based on such messianic beliefs.

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