Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 8, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Saddam Transferred WMDs to Syria (Jerusalem Post)
    An upcoming joint U.S.-Israel report on the September 6 Israel Air Force strike on a Syrian facility will claim that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein transferred weapons of mass destruction to Syria, Israel Channel 2 television stated Monday.

Hamas Denies Suspension of Rocket Attacks on Israel (Xinhua-China)
    Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom on Monday denied allegations that key Palestinian factions have agreed to freeze rocket attacks on Israel to avoid Israeli offensives into Gaza.

In Chile, Palestinian Refugees Find Welcome Far from Home (AFP)
    Chile on Sunday greeted 39 Palestinians from a refugee camp in Syria for permanent resettlement.
    La Calera Mayor Roberto Chahuan, the grandchild of Palestinians, greeted the refugees who were to be settled in apartment buildings in the town. Local authorities will provide education, health care and Spanish classes.
    The Palestinians are the first of a group of 117 that Chile has accepted to resettle.

Cultural Boycott Partitions Egypt from Israel - Liam Stack (San Francisco Chronicle)
    Almost 30 years after Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David peace accords, the normalization of cultural ties is still mired in a cold war.
    For many Egyptians, the war has migrated to the cultural arena, including boycotts of Israeli artists and criticism of actors who work with their Israeli counterparts.
    Last year, articles published in the local media that the American University in Cairo would hire Israeli professors and allow the entry of Israeli students provoked much campus outrage.

Palestinian Resigns Over Smuggling (AP/Washington Post)
    Rauhi Fattouh, a top aide to Mahmoud Abbas, said Monday he will resign after being caught at a border crossing with 3,000 contraband cell phones in his trunk.

Mexican Firm Gears Up to Reopen King Solomon's Mines - Andrew K. Burger (Resource Investor)
    Leading Mexican steel and mining company AHMSA expects to revive mining on the site of the world's oldest known copper mines, located in Israel's Arava Valley.
    AHMSA plans to invest $160 million to bring the Arava Mine back into production and produce 22,000 tons of copper cathodes per year for the next 20 years.
    "We expect to have the plant operating by the end of 2009," said Arava Mines' director Carla Garcia-Granados.

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

  • Iran Training Hizbullah Forces to Wage War on Israel - Robert Fisk
    The body of a Lebanese Shia fighter from the Hashem family was flown home last month from Iran after he was killed in live firing exercises. It is an open secret that thousands of young men have been leaving their villages in southern Lebanon for military training in Iran. Up to 300 men are taken to Beirut en route to Tehran each month and the operation has been running since November 2006; in all, as many as 4,500 Hizbullah members have been sent for three-month sessions of live-fire ammunition and rocket exercises to create a nucleus of Iranian-trained guerrillas for the "next" Israeli-Hizbullah war. Hizbullah also has been building underground bunkers in the fields and beside the roadways east and south of Jezzine in southern Lebanon. (Independent-UK)
  • Iran Starts to Install 6,000 Advanced Centrifuges - Parisa Hafezi
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday Iran had started to install 6,000 advanced centrifuges in its underground Natanz uranium enrichment facility. The announcement is a fresh snub to the UN Security Council, which since late 2006 has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Tehran for refusing to halt enrichment work. Analysts believe Iran aims to gradually replace its start-up "P-1" centrifuge with "a new generation" it has adapted from a "P-2" design, obtained via black markets from the West and able to enrich uranium 2-3 times faster than its older counterpart. (Reuters)
  • PA Security Crackdown on Armed Militias Won't Prevent Terror Attacks - Joseph Krauss
    After seven years of hiding from the Israeli army in the West Bank city of Nablus, Abu Islam has traded his rifle and mask for an oven and an apron. The 39-year-old veteran of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a group loosely tied to Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, now runs a bakery in the center of town thanks to an amnesty agreement. But like many in Nablus, Abu Islam doubts that the latest Palestinian-led security crackdown on armed militias will pave the way for peace with Israel. "The day the Israelis withdraw from the West Bank, Hamas will take over," he says.
        Israeli officials admit the new Palestinian security plan has reduced crime in the West Bank, but have been loath to credit the Palestinians with preventing attacks on Israel and say they only pursue Hamas for their own interests. "They are not going to use the police and the security forces to prevent terror attacks," says defense ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror. "We do not expect the Palestinians to do the job we do." (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli, Palestinian Leaders Meet in Jerusalem
    Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and met with Mahmoud Abbas on Monday at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the discussions included meetings between negotiating teams and a one-on-one session between Olmert and Abbas. He said the two leaders agreed to meet every two weeks. Israel has warned that it will not carry out any peace agreement until Abbas regains control of Gaza, where Palestinian militants have fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel. (AP/Ynet News)
  • IDF Kills Four Terrorists in Gaza
    Four Palestinian terrorists were killed Sunday afternoon in an exchange of fire between IDF troops and a group of gunmen near el-Bureij in Gaza. IDF sources said the action was "part of IDF operations to uproot terrorist infrastructure to prevent infiltration attempts." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues Monday
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed in Israel on Monday evening. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizbullah Trained Iraqi Shiite Militia - Editorial
    The Iraqi Army is attempting to disarm Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, a radical Shi'ite militia with longstanding ties to Tehran. Iraqi intelligence officials have said that senior Hizbullah military commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was slain in Damascus two months ago, helped form the Mahdi Army in April 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein; some 300 fighters recruited from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia underwent military training with Hizbullah in Lebanon. In an August 2007 interview with the British Independent, al-Sadr said: "We copy Hizbullah in the way they fight and their tactics." According to U.S. military officials in Iraq, the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has played an extensive role in funneling arms to Iraqi Shi'ite militias. (Washington Times)
  • An Abbas of Failure - Barry Rubin
    Consider PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' March 29 speech to the Arab summit in Damascus. According to Abbas, Israel's aggression is unprovoked. He speaks of "barbaric attacks, causing hundreds of defenseless victims," and its evil intent to "undermine the possibility of reaching a peace agreement." He ignores constant attacks on Israel from Gaza and offers no credible way to deal with them. Hamas (and elements in Fatah) attack Israel, Israel responds, and Abbas cites this as proof that Israel doesn't want peace and that negotiations cannot succeed.
        We've become so used to this behavior that we forget there's an alternative. Abbas could say: "Israel is ready to make peace with us if we prove we'll keep our pledges. Let's defeat the radical Islamists, stop the attacks on Israel that breed conflict, end incitement to violence, reform our own regimes, align with the West and get an independent state." Israel needs to work with Abbas and keep him afloat as the lesser of two evils. But Abbas is incapable of making peace. By not demanding and getting PA concessions, and by giving money unconditionally, the U.S. and the West ensure not only that peace will fail but that there will be decades of conflict ahead. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arabs Must Take a Long, Self-Critical Look in the Mirror - Emilio Karim Dabul
    Without the ability to look inward, Arab blame for problems is projected outward - meaning, at Israel and the U.S. By having such a pathological, externally focused sense of blame, aimed exclusively at Americans and Jews, no sense of reasoning or decency applies.
        Gaza celebrated - yes, celebrated - the cold-blooded and ethnically motivated massacre of yeshiva students in Jerusalem, most of whom were teenagers, by a Palestinian Muslim. Why are we, as Arabs and Arab-Americans, not lining the streets in Ramallah and all the way to New York to decry this sort of barbarism? Let me say unequivocally that I am ashamed. And I am angry. Nothing, nothing in the world justifies these sorts of actions. Tell me, when have you ever heard of Israelis celebrating the killing of Palestinians?
        At this point in Arab history, we must finally renounce these fatally flawed tendencies to blame everyone but ourselves. Let us begin anew the path toward our own glorious Renaissance abandoned long ago, and pursue the higher road that will be ours when we finally look more deeply and critically at ourselves. (New York Daily News)
  • Observations:

    The Radical Islamist Challenge to Historic Notions of Sovereignty - Henry A. Kissinger (Washington Post)

    • The declining role of the state in the Middle East is inherent in the way those states were founded. The successor states of the Ottoman Empire were established by the victorious powers at the end of the First World War. Unlike the European states, their borders did not reflect ethnic principles or linguistic distinctiveness but the balances between the European powers.
    • Radical Islam threatens the already brittle state structure in the region via a fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran as the basis of a universal political organization. Jihadist Islam rejects national sovereignty based on secular state models; it seeks to extend its reach to wherever significant populations profess the Muslim faith.
    • Since neither the international system nor the internal structure of existing states has legitimacy in Islamist eyes, its ideology leaves little room for Western notions of negotiation or equilibrium.
    • The U.S. does not have the option of withdrawal. We can retreat from any one place, such as Iraq, but only to be obliged to resist from new positions, probably more disadvantageously. Even advocates of unilateral withdrawal from Iraq speak of retaining residual forces to prevent a resurgence of al-Qaeda or radicalism.

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