Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 31, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

PA Security Forces Coordinate with Terrorists in Nablus - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz-Hebrew)
    Israel recently authorized the deployment of 500 PA police in Nablus. According to a report that reached Defense Minister Barak, these forces are working in coordination with local terrorists.
    The terrorists neutralize the bombs they have prepared when the PA police enter the Casbah, and hook them up again when they leave.

New PA Scandal Involves Peace Negotiator - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    According to a document released by PA ambassador to Romania Adli Sadek, former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who currently heads the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel, deposited $3 million of PLO funds into his private bank account.

Vatican: Muslims More Numerous than Catholics (Reuters)
    Monsignor Vittorio Formenti told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano on Sunday that Muslims made up 19.2% of the world's population and Catholics 17.4%.
    "For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us," he said.
    However, if all Christian groups were considered, including Orthodox churches, Anglicans and Protestants, then Christians made up 33% of the world's population.

PA Anti-Semites Get a Free Pass from the State Department - Rafael Medoff (National Review)
    The State Department conspicuously omitted the Palestinian Authority from its March 13 report on anti-Semitism around the world.
    The report did note that Hamas, which rules Gaza, treats the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion as fact, denies the Holocaust, and broadcasts hateful TV shows aimed at children.
    But the PA under Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the West Bank, managed to escape blame for the anti-Semitism that it promotes with no less energy.
    The American Jewish Committee released a study showing the PA's schoolbooks characterize Jews in "hateful" and "derogatory" language, cite the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a legitimate source of historical information, and omit any mention of the Holocaust.
    The State Department report did mention that in the 1990s, Holocaust denial became commonplace in popular media in the PA - without any acknowledgment that most of the "popular media" is government-controlled.

Bosnia Police Arrest Islamic Terror Suspects (Reuters)
    Bosnian police recently arrested five people suspected of being part of an organized group planning terrorist actions.
    Police found weapons, ammunition and military equipment including anti-tank mines, laser navigators, electronic equipment and an explosive device.
    Local media said that all the suspects were "Wahhabis," the name used in Bosnia for the strict followers of Islam.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Wins Concessions from Israel - Matthew Lee
    Secretary of State Rice, visiting the region for the second time this month, announced a series of concrete steps by Israel aimed at improving the Palestinian economy. The agreement includes: removing 50 travel barriers in and around Jenin, Tulkarem, Kalkilya and Ramallah; dismantling one permanent roadblock; deploying 700 Jordanian-trained Palestinian police in Jenin and allowing them to take delivery of armored vehicles; raising the number of Palestinian businessmen allowed into Israel; increasing the number of work permits for Palestinian laborers; building new housing for Palestinians in 25 villages; connecting Palestinian villages to the Israeli power grid; and Israeli support for large-scale economic development programs and encouragement of foreign investment. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Secretary of State Rice Meets PA Prime Minister Fayyad and Israeli Defense Minister Barak (State Department)
  • CIA Chief: Iran Has Nuclear Weapons Program
    CIA chief Michael Hayden expressed his personal belief Sunday that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but also stood by the agency's assessment that the program was suspended in 2003. Iran's defiance of UN Security Council sanctions showed the Islamic republic had something to hide with its production of enriched uranium, Hayden said. The Iranians would not pay that price "if they did not have at a minimum...the desire to keep the option open to develop a nuclear weapon," and to produce "fissile material not under international control," he said. (AFP)
  • Abbas, in Damascus, Accuses Israel of "Continuing Its Aggression"
    Mahmoud Abbas told an Arab summit in Damascus on Saturday: "Israel is continuing its aggression, its occupation, the construction of settlements and the Judaization of Jerusalem." The success of negotiations is dependent on an end to Israel's "military aggression against the Palestinian people," Abbas said. (AFP)
        See also Abbas' Address to the Arab League in Damascus - Jonathan D. Halevi
    Mahmoud Abbas' speech at the Arab League meeting in Damascus on March 29 was no different from those of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, neither in accepting Israel's existence nor in recognition of the historical connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, nor even in a denunciation of terror. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Sent 20 Peace Messages to Syria with No Encouraging Response - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Olmert has dispatched some 20 messages to Syrian President Assad during the past year to better assess Syria's intentions before the possible resumption of talks between the two countries, according to a senior minister in Israel's security-political cabinet. But Assad's responses did not meet Israeli expectations and Olmert believes that at this time it is not possible to initiate negotiations with Syria. Most efforts for contact with Syria were made through Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, but also through others, including U.S. congressmen and various European officials.
        "Each one of the envoys returned from Damascus with empty hands," the minister said. "The sense was that Assad is captive in the hands of senior figures of the Syrian regime who are opposed to talks with Israel and are not interested in breaking off the alliance with Iran."  (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Broadening Gaza Ground Operations in Face of Heavier Rocket Fire - Amos Harel
    The Israel Defense Forces has been broadening its ground operations in Gaza in response to an increase in Palestinian rocket fire on Israel. During the past three days, at least 10 Kassam rockets and 25 mortars were fired at Israel. On Friday, a rocket struck a kibbutz in the western Negev, and the shrapnel hit a kindergarten. No one was injured because the kindergarten teacher rushed the children into a reinforced area when the warning siren sounded. Most of the rockets were fired by Islamic Jihad, but the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades are also involved. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Terrorists Deploy New Booby-Traps to Fool IDF Troops - Yossi Yehoshua
    A few months ago, IDF Engineering Corps troops scanning a tunnel dug by Hamas terrorists near the Karni Crossing in Gaza discovered that the hen-house blocking the entrance was actually a ticking time bomb. Recently, soldiers have seen booby-trapped books, egg trays, canteens, baby shampoo bottles, and even plastic rocks - all set to explode if touched. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Diplomacy Defines Rice's Final Months - Glenn Kessler
    Secretary of State Rice was in the Middle East yet again last weekend, shuttling between the Israelis and the Palestinians to promote a peace initiative. Eight years ago, at the end of another two-term administration, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was preparing to launch a Middle East peace push. Twenty years ago, when the Reagan administration was winding down, George Shultz was also banging on the doors of Israelis and Arabs with his own peace plan. Danielle Pletka, a vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, has low expectations for Rice's ability to achieve success. "Everyone pushes a Middle East initiative," she said. "It is the last refuge of legacy-seeking secretaries of state."  (Washington Post)
  • Criticism and Islam - Afshin Ellian
    The message of "Fitna," a 15-minute movie by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, is that the Koran is the living inspiration for jihadists. Without the Koran's violent passages, the film suggests, Islamic terrorism would not exist. While the Western world long ago learned to criticize, even mock, religion, the Islamic world isn't accustomed to such discussions. The issue isn't really Wilders' movie, or whether it incites hatred, which I doubt. It's whether we are capable of defending our values against the intolerance of radical Muslims. The writer, who fled Iran in 1983, is a professor of legal philosophy at Leiden University in the Netherlands. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Libyan Citizens Not Quite Free - Editorial
    U.S.-Libya rapprochement has reached the point where Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi is scheduled to appear by live video link before a Washington conference hosted by the Middle East Institute on Monday. Yet Libyan dissident Fathi Eljahmi, who was imprisoned for 17 months and then released in March 2004 thanks to the intercession of Sen. Joseph Biden, was promptly reimprisoned for refusing to keep silent about the lack of freedom and democracy in Libya.
        Eljahmi is one of scores of Libyan political prisoners - courageous Arab strugglers for democracy. The U.S. is once again being tempted with a trade-off: friendly dealings with an Arab autocracy vs. support for Arab democrats. Americans must keep freedom for Mr. Eljahmi and others like him at the top of the Libya agenda. (Washington Post)
        See also Gaddafi Says Arabs Should Not Alienate Iran - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters)
  • American Labor Can Help Right Anti-Israel Left - Stuart Appelbaum
    Israelis living in Sderot and other towns near Gaza have been the target of choice for Hamas terrorists. Why do voices that so often cry out for social justice serve up diatribes against Israel? Why do they hold Israel to standards that no other nation in the world would ever be expected to meet? And why do so many of them claim that, in the final analysis, Israel is responsible for everything Hamas does or will do?
        Faced with an alarming growth of anti-Israel boycotts and divestment efforts among unions across the UK, last year the Jewish Labor Committee launched an aggressive campaign to protest moves by British labor leaders. In the space of two weeks, every major American union had endorsed the effort. In fact, the show of American labor opposition to Israel-bashing was so strong that unions in Germany followed our lead and took a similar stance. The continuing assault against Israel by the left in other countries demands that we make our voices heard. With the support of the American labor movement we can. The writer is president of the Jewish Labor Committee and of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. (Forward)
  • Observations:

    The Sunni-Shiite Terror Network - Amir Taheri (Wall Street Journal)

    • While Sunni and Shiite Muslims are divided by deep doctrinal differences, Sunni and Shiite extremists have always been united in their hatred of the U.S., and in their desire to bring it to destruction. The majority of Muslims does not share that hatred. The U.S. is the country most visited by Muslim tourists and it attracts the largest number of Muslim students studying abroad. But to understand the extremists, it is important to set aside the Sunni-Shiite divide and focus on their common hatred of America.
    • The suicide attacks that claimed the lives of over 300 Americans, including 241 Marines, in Lebanon in 1983, were joint operations of the Khomeinist Hizbullah and the Marxist Arab Socialist Party, which was linked to the Syrian intelligence services. The Syrian regime is Iran's closest ally, despite the fact that Iranian mullahs regard the Alawite minority that dominates it as heretics.
    • There are no Palestinian Shiites, yet Tehran has become the principal source of funding for radical Palestinian Sunni groups, notably Hamas, Islamic Jihad and half a dozen leftist-atheist minigroups. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh refuses to pray alongside his Iranian hosts during his visits to Tehran. But when it comes to joining Khomeinist crowds in shouting "Death to America," he is in the forefront.
    • With Arab oil kingdoms no longer as generous as before, Iran has emerged as the chief source of funding for Hamas. In short, the claim that al-Qaeda and the Khomeinists would not work together because they have theological differences is both naive and dangerous.

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