Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 21, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Is Bin Laden Moving on from Iraq? - Paul Reynolds (BBC News)
    The two latest messages believed to be from Osama Bin Laden emphasize the centrality of a struggle against Israel and raise the question as to why he did not concentrate on Iraq.
    Perhaps the shift from Iraq to the "Palestinian question" is meant to attract support, leading to a theory among some Western intelligence analysts that al-Qaeda accepts that it is in trouble in Iraq.
    "Al-Qaeda could now be preparing its followers for a strategic failure in Iraq. It therefore needs a rallying cry and Palestine is a no-brainer," said Nigel Inkster, Director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
    "There is some evidence that support for Osama Bin Laden has been dropping in the Arab world because of revulsion about al-Qaeda behavior and especially the killing of Muslims."
    "On the other hand, there is still an appetite and ambition to engage in terrorism spectaculars in Western Europe and the U.S., though the capacity might not match the ambition. But they only have to be lucky once."

The Development of Hamas Rocket Capabilities (Strategy Page)
    Israeli intelligence officials believe Hamas currently has, in Gaza, several hundred factory-made BM-21 rockets, each with a range of 20 km. They also have 6-km.-range B-12 rockets. The locally-made Kassam II has about the same range, but the B-12 is more reliable.
    In 2002, Hamas began firing Kassam I rockets at Jewish settlements in Gaza and into southern Israel. By 2003, there was the Kassam II, with a range of 8 km. The Kassam III has a range of 10 km.
    By June 2004, about 200 Kassams had been fired into southern Israel. By the end of 2005, over 400 Kassams had been fired at Israeli targets. In the next six months, another 600 rockets were fired. About a thousand Kassams were fired into Israel during 2006. This doubled, to two thousand in 2007, and during the first four months of 2008, another 2,000 were fired.
    For every 30-40 Kassams fired, an Israeli is killed or wounded.
    Hamas has hopes that someday soon they will attack in conjunction with Hizbullah firing rockets into northern Israel, and Iran firing rockets into Tel Aviv.

Israeli Hospital Saves West Bank Woman Bitten by Snake - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Nadia Ayad, 30, from Jenin, was evacuated to Emek Medical Center in Afula on Monday after having been bitten by a poisonous viper snake, where she was treated with a special antidote suited to the toxin.
    She and her family expressed their gratitude to the doctors and nurses for saving her life.

Arab Israeli Media and Internet Use Survey (Mena Report/Al-Bawaba-Jordan)
    A new survey of Arab Israelis reveals that 85% with TV have satellite TV systems. Of these, 87% tune into Nile Sat, 73% tune into Arabsat.
    94% of Arab Israelis who watch TV reported a preference for Arabic-language TV. 54% also watch TV in Hebrew.

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

  • Israel Says Holding Indirect Peace Talks with Syria - Jeffrey Heller
    Israel said in a surprise announcement on Wednesday it was conducting indirect peace talks with Syria. Israel and Syria last held peace talks in the U.S. in 2000. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Syria and Israel Start Peace Talks
    Syria and Israel have started indirect peace talks, under the auspices of Turkey. The two sides...decided to pursue the dialogue between them in a serious and continuous way, in order to achieve the goal of comprehensive peace in accordance with the Madrid Conference terms of reference for peace. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Syria: Indirect Peace Talks Under Turkish Patronage - A.N. Idelbi
    President Bashar al-Assad indicated that the talks will be indirect through Turkish mediation which will convey the basic data for finding common ground which will be the basis for initiating direct negotiations later. (SANA-Syria)
  • Hizbullah Gains Veto Power in Cabinet as Lebanon Rivals Reach Deal to End Political Conflict
    Rival leaders in Lebanon from the U.S.-backed governing coalition and the Hizbullah-led opposition, meeting in Doha, Qatar, reached a deal on Wednesday over a new election law and a new cabinet, ending months of political conflict that had pushed the country to the brink of civil war. The agreement would meet the opposition's demand for veto power in the cabinet, and would open the way for Parliament to elect Gen. Michel Suleiman as president. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • Iran Sets Off Nuclear Race in the Middle East - David Blair
    In the 11 months that followed the onset of Iran's decision to start enriching uranium in 2006, 13 countries across the Middle East drew up new plans - or revived old ones - for building nuclear power stations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reports. The report argues that Arab countries may have embarked on civil nuclear programs in order to acquire the option of building a bomb in the future. The IISS believes that Tehran is seeking a "nuclear weapons capability," and that Egypt, which already possesses a solid grounding in nuclear technology, could be the first Arab country to build a bomb. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Hamas Minister of Culture: Bush Is a Vampire
    On Sunday, Hamas Minister of Culture Atallah Abu al-Subh said on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV: "The mistress of criminality [is] America...the master of killing, destruction, crime, violence, tyranny, and injustice - little Bush. I can see the blood of the children of Afghanistan between his fangs. Their blood drips onto his lips and chest. He is Dracula, a vampire." "The crimes of warlords like Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco cannot be compared to one quarter of Bush's shoelace." (MEMRI-TV)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Faults Restrictions on UNIFIL - Herb Keinon
    Israel is expected to air complaints on UNIFIL's performance in Lebanon with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Jerusalem this week, diplomatic officials said Tuesday. France has 2,000 troops in the UNIFIL mission. Despite the UNIFIL peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, thousands of rockets have been smuggled south of the Litani River, according to the officials. Hizbullah is no longer operating in the open areas, but rather inside the villages, and UNIFIL cannot go into the villages without first getting the approval of the Lebanese army, something that drastically reduces its effectiveness.
        The anti-Hizbullah Shi'ite mufti of Tyre, Ali al-Amin, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Saturday: "Peace mission? You must be kidding. I will tell you what UNIFIL troops in southern Lebanon are. They are tourists, simple, faint-hearted and ignorant tourists....UNIFIL forces pretend not to see anything." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Air Force Targets Gaza Terrorists - Amos Harel and Yuval Azoulay
    Israeli aircraft flying over Gaza on Tuesday fired at Palestinians launching rockets and planting explosives along the security fence. Israel frequently launches airstrikes and brief land raids in Gaza in an effort to stop rocket fire that has killed two Israelis in the past two weeks. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Forces in Jenin Striving to Disarm Hamas - Avi Issacharoff
    PA forces recently deployed in Jenin are highly motivated to reduce the political and military capabilities of Hamas and of Islamic Jihad. "The enemy is whoever threatens the PA," Palestinian soldier Fa'id Yusuf explained. "And that mainly means Hamas. We are acting to enforce the law and against anyone who endangers us. We fought Israel in the past, I even stole cars from there, but now we've had enough. Now, give me peace with my cousins." Armed gunman have disappeared from the streets of Jenin and even of Kabatiya to the south, considered an Islamic Jihad stronghold. The green flags of Hamas have disappeared from the streets and Hamas welfare institutions have closed down.
        The commander of the Palestinian forces in the Jenin district, Maj.-Gen. Suliman Umran, says that Palestinian and Israeli officers are working together in an unprecedented manner in some Area B villages. "The young people who watch them are learning it's possible to cooperate. The Palestinian forces are different now," Umran said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Lessons of Annapolis - Jeff Emanuel
    In his address to the Knesset last week, President Bush sounded like a different man from the one who called Israel an "occupying force" at the Annapolis Conference on Palestinian Statehood last November, and demanded that the Middle East's lone functioning democracy make unilateral concessions to its terrorist enemies as a show of "good faith." His call for Israel to retract its borders to the indefensible 1949 armistice line not only demands that Israel almost completely compromise its ability to defend its civilian population but, worse, it directly contradicted the president's 2001 promise to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that such a demand would never be made.
        The President Bush who addressed the Israeli Knesset last Thursday appeared to be far more in touch with the reality of the Middle East. Rather than calling on Israel to make unilateral concessions to those who call daily for a genocide that would result in its citizens' extermination, Bush praised Israel's strong national defense. Bush warned against any attempts to "explain away" the murderous words and actions of Hamas, Hizbullah, and their ilk. (American Spectator)
  • Submarines for Syria? - Editorial
    The Russian state news agency, Novosti, reports that "Moscow and Damascus had agreed on deliveries of the latest Russian" air defense systems and advanced fighters. The right way for the Russians to expand their markets would be by backing a free and democratic regime in Damascus that could use its arms to clear Hizbullah, Hamas, and other Iranian-backed terrorist groups out of the Syrian capital. Until then, arming Syria amounts to a proxy war against America, Israel, Iraq, Turkey, and Lebanon. If President Bush doesn't move to prevent this sale, he will leave a more difficult field of battle for his successor, not only in respect of the Mideast, but in respect to the Kremlin, which has postured as an ally in the war on Islamist terrorism while all too frequently playing a double game. (New York Sun)
        See also Israel Concerned Over Russian Arms Sales to Syria - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Have Avoided Opportunities for Statehood - Yossi Alpher
    The Palestinians, backed and at times manipulated by the Arab world, have done nearly everything possible to avoid setting up their own state. They rejected UN Resolution 181 in 1947 and attacked Israel, thereby precipitating war and exile. They avoided creating a state in the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967, created UNRWA which perpetuated rather than solved their refugee problem, rejected Egypt and Israel's offer of autonomy in 1978, failed at state-building under Oslo after 1993, invoked suicide terrorism that alienated some of their most ardent Israeli supporters, and failed again at consolidating the territorial foundations of a state after Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005. The writer is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. (
  • Observations:

    Anti-Jewish Bias Seen in Michigan Spy Case - Eli Lake (New York Sun)

    • For the past 11 years, Army tank engineer David Tenenbaum has been trying to undo the damage the government did to him in four days in 1997, when he was accused of being a spy for Israel. The U.S. attorney ultimately declined to prosecute the case, stating in a letter that the government failed to produce enough evidence to warrant prosecution despite a thorough investigation.
    • The Pentagon inspector general's investigation into the handling of the Tenenbaum case concluded: "Mr. Tenenbaum experienced religious discrimination when his Judaism was weighed as a significant factor in the decision to submit him for an increase in his security clearance." The investigation quoted several Pentagon officials involved in the case against Tenenbaum acknowledging that his religion and his contacts in Israel were grounds at least in part for launching the investigation against him.
    • "There are other cases that have been brought to our attention over the years. Often people are afraid to go public for fear of further retribution, but there clearly has to be a systemic approach to this and let justice be done for those who have been discriminated against," said the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein.
    • "This case is a blatant example of discrimination that is tolerated within the system against Jews and perhaps others. For 11 years this innocent man has suffered and paid a heavy price, personally, financially, socially. There is no compensation that is adequate for that suffering."
    • A former chairman of the Defense Policy Advisory Board and a senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, Richard Perle, said, "There is no balanced commitment to a sense of judgment from the people who are responsible for conducting these investigations....There is a wholly unjustified suspicion of Jews in sensitive positions, and especially Orthodox Jews."
    • Tenenbaum noted: "My father was a Holocaust survivor. He was the only one who survived. He passed away a year before this happened. Can you imagine him seeing his only son being singled out for the same reason he was, being a Jew?"

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