Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 1, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: U.S. Names North Korean Nuclear Experts Helping Syria (Kyodo News-Japan)
    The U.S. has presented to North Korea a list of names of North Korean nuclear experts allegedly involved in offering nuclear technology to Syria, a Seoul newspaper reported Tuesday.
    The list was presented when top U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill had talks with his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan recently, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
    See also Olmert: Syria Got North Korean Help for Nuclear Facility Hit by Israel - Nanae Kurashige (Asahi Shimbun-Japan)
    Japanese government sources said over the weekend that Israeli leader Ehud Olmert told Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda during talks in Tokyo on Feb. 27 that an Israeli airstrike against Syria last September targeted a nuclear-related facility that was under construction with technical assistance from North Korea.

Poll: U.S. Voters Support Israel (JTA)
    Americans likely to vote in November strongly believe the U.S. should take Israel's side in its conflict with the Palestinians, according to a poll of 800 likely voters conducted on March 18-20 and released Monday.
    "The militant actions by Hamas and disarray among the Palestinians have moved Americans to side with Israel even more strongly than in the past," said Stanley Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.
    93% agree Palestinians must stop their missile attacks before a two-state solution can bring peace to the region.
    84% of Americans agree Israel should remain a Jewish state and a homeland for the Jewish people. Only 20% believe that Jerusalem should be divided.

Al-Qaeda Told Me to Bomb London, Says Briton - Tom Chivers (Telegraph-UK)
    A British Muslim has told the London Evening Standard how he was asked by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of al-Qaeda's most senior masterminds, to carry out a suicide attack in London.
    Abu Omar, a former Christian, described a "brainstorming" session at a terror safe house in Karachi, Pakistan, where ideas for terror attacks were discussed including killing senior army personnel, blowing up a U.S. embassy, and assassinating the King of Saudi Arabia.

Norway Puts Three on Trial for Plotting Terror Attacks (Reuters)
    A Norwegian court on Monday began trying three men accused of plotting attacks on the U.S. and Israeli embassies and shooting at a synagogue.
    Arfan Bhatti, 30, born in Norway of Pakistani background, was charged with plotting to attack the embassies and firing at least 13 shots with an automatic weapon into the wall of a synagogue in Oslo in September 2006.

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

  • Hamas Ideology Complicates Peace Efforts - Steven Erlanger
    In the Katib Wilayat mosque in Gaza one recent Friday, Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas told the faithful: "Jews are a people who cannot be trusted." At Al Omari mosque, the imam cursed the Jews and the "Crusaders," or Christians, and the Danes, for reprinting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. He referred to Jews as "the brothers of apes and pigs," while the Hamas television station, Al Aksa, praises suicide bombing and holy war. Such incitement against Israel and Jews was supposed to be banned under the 1993 Oslo accords and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. Hamas, no party to those agreements, feels no such restraint.
        Since Hamas took over Gaza last June, Hamas sermons and media reports preaching violence and hatred have become more pervasive, extreme and sophisticated, on the model of Hizbullah and its television station Al Manar, in Lebanon. No matter what Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agree upon, there is concern that the attitudes being instilled will make a sustainable peace extremely difficult. (New York Times)
        See also Hamas TV Shows Child Stabbing President Bush, White House Turned into Mosque
    In a Hamas TV production for Palestinian children aired on Sunday, a child stabs U.S. President George Bush to death. In the episode, Bush is shown talking to a Palestinian child, who accuses Bush of killing his father in Iraq, his mother in Lebanon and his brothers and sisters in Gaza with the assistance of the Israelis. The child tells Bush: "You are a criminal....I have to take my revenge with this sword of Islam." Bush invites the child for talks in the White House. But child counters that the White House has been turned into a mosque, and "impure Bush" can't enter it. Then the child stabs him repeatedly. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
        View the Video (MEMRI-TV)
  • Signs of Iran in Battle for Basra - Amir Taheri
    In the recent fighting in Basra in Iraq, at least some of the officers in charge of the Mahdi Army rebel units may be seconded from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as part of a broader plan to control the Basra region, and thus the lifeline of the Iraqi economy. This wouldn't be the first time that Guard officers and NCOs have fought at the head of native fighters outside Iran. Two years ago, Guard personnel played a crucial role in the war between the Lebanese Hizbullah and Israel.
        The type of weapons used in both Basra and Baghdad also suggests at least some outside involvement. The rebels in Basra are using a large number of armored vehicles - something no other Shiite militia, and certainly not the Mahdi Army, had ever done. They're also using heavy artillery, mobile rocket launchers and a sophisticated communications system unavailable to militias. Visitors to Basra since Saddam's fall have often been struck by the massive "Iranian" presence there. Much of this consists of large numbers of Iraqi Shiites who have come home after years of exile in Iran. (New York Post)
  • Hamas Beats Professors, Students at Pro-Fatah University in Gaza - Taghreed El-Khodary
    Hamas police and supporters on Monday beat a number of professors and students of Al Azhar University, the last bastion of Fatah in Gaza, wounding several, witnesses said. The school has been raided five times since Hamas took control of Gaza last June. A number of female students were attacked by outsiders, many armed with clubs. The women who were wounded were all wearing colorful headscarves, in deference to Islamic rules of modesty, but not the more conservative uniform worn by female students at the nearby Islamic University that is run by Hamas. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Attacks Israelis with Knife at Hitchhiking Station in West Bank - Efrat Weiss
    Erez Bar-On, 30, of Ofra, became a hero Monday after shooting a terrorist to death who attempted to stab him and a teenager at a hitchhikers' station near Shilo in the West Bank. Two knives were found on the body of the 20-year-old Palestinian, a Birzeit University student. Bar-On recalled that the terrorist "kept his hand inside his shirt. Suddenly, he pulled out a knife and shouted, 'Allah Akbar' (God is great)....I didn't think twice. My life was in clear danger, and so was the life of the student standing next to me." (Ynet News)
  • Taking Calculated Risks for Abbas - Yaakov Katz
    On Monday, IDF troops began dismantling the Rimonim checkpoint near Kochav Hashahar in the West Bank. Less than five hours later, and 15 kilometers away, a Palestinian tried to stab hitchhikers near Shilo. The sequence of events demonstrates the risks involved in altering the tight security envelope the IDF has created in the West Bank. From a military perspective, the checkpoints are a crucial tool in the war against terror, with troops catching Palestinians on a daily basis trying to cross them carrying weapons or explosives.
        As demonstrated by the list of gestures that Defense Minister Barak presented Secretary of State Rice with on Sunday, Israel's primary objective is to bolster Mahmoud Abbas and his government in Ramallah. But bolstering Abbas comes with a degree of danger. The lifting of roadblocks will allow Palestinians to travel on roads they did not have access to in the past. Weapons smuggling will most likely increase, and there is a fear in the IDF that drive-by shootings will as well. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Monday evening. Palestinians continue to fire rockets and mortar shells on a nearly daily basis. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas and Fatah in Gaza Claim Attacks on Israel
    The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for firing five mortar rounds at Israeli military vehicles east of Khan Yunis in Gaza on Monday. The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, claimed to have fired a rocket at an Israeli town east of Gaza. (Maan News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Rice Returns to Her Mideast Treadmill - Tim McGirk
    After talks on Monday with Mahmoud Abbas, Secretary of State Rice said she believed that a final-status agreement on the creation of an independent Palestinian state could still be achieved before the Bush Administration leaves the White House in January 2009. But the report card since last November's Annapolis peace summit has been a row of D's and F's, with one exception: Abbas probably rates a C- for working with the Americans to train a security force that will make the streets of Nablus and Jenin safer from armed gangs.
        But it's unlikely that the new police will be able to stop suicide bombers or rocket launchers from targeting Israel, which is all the Israelis rightly care about. In fact, Israeli officials make clear that even if a final-status agreement is concluded by year's end, it won't be implemented before the Palestinians have complied with President Bush's Roadmap, which requires them to close down the armed wing of Hamas and other militant groups. (TIME)
  • Palestinian Terrorism Created Need for Roadblocks, Expert Says - Julie Stahl
    Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, the former commander of the Israeli army's National Defense College, said West Bank roadblocks wouldn't exist if the Palestinians hadn't started using terrorism. Because terrorists cannot be distinguished from civilians, the only way to block an infiltration into Israel is by using physical barriers, he said. The point is to capture would-be terrorists long before they approach Israel's borders or have time to amass bomb-making components. In the 1970s, there was not a single roadblock in the West Bank. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians worked freely inside Israel every day without passing any checkpoints, he said. "[The roadblocks] were needed only after Oslo, when the Palestinians became rulers of themselves, [as a] consequence of the way they acted." (CNS News)
  • Observations:

    Following the Foreign Money - Stanley Kurtz (National Review)

    • Recent large gifts to American schools originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have raised legitimate concerns about foreign influence on American higher education.
    • Through Freedom of Information Act requests and discussions with officials at the U.S. Department of Education, I have obtained a comprehensive list of gifts originating in foreign countries to American colleges and universities. (View the list.)
    • Virginia congressman Frank R. Wolf recently sent a letter of concern to Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia regarding a $20 million donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal to Georgetown's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (the second largest gift in Georgetown's history). A second $20 million gift from Prince Alwaleed to Harvard University has raised additional concerns.
    • Shortly after 9/11, Prince Alwaleed famously pledged to donate $10 million to the Twin Towers Fund. Yet because the gift was attached to a statement calling on the U.S. to "re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause," Alwaleed's gift was spurned by then-mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
    • Alwaleed clearly means his gifts to shape American views on the Middle East, and there are legitimate grounds for asking whether such gifts might compromise the content of scholarship at Harvard and Georgetown.

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