Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
New Bulldozer Attack in Jerusalem Wounds 11 (Jerusalem Post/Ha'aretz)
State Department Intervening Repeatedly with Israel on Minor Palestinian Issues - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
The Saudi Monologue - Editorial (New York Sun)
Muslim Moles - Editorial (Investor's Business Daily)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Gordon Brown on Monday recalled the Holocaust in a blunt warning to Iran to end its "totally abhorrent" threat to destroy Israel and abandon plans to develop nuclear weapons. In the first speech by a British prime minister to the Israeli Knesset, Brown declared Britain would stand by the country when its "very right to exist" was under threat. Brown's remarks will be seen as a signal that Britain could be prepared to support a military strike against Iran if all other diplomatic routes fail, including a tightening of sanctions. (Guardian-UK)
See also below Observations: British Prime Minister Addresses Knesset (British Prime Minister's Office)
British academics will be encouraged to conduct research with their Israeli peers as Prime Minister Gordon Brown signed a £740,000 academic exchange scheme during his trip to Israel on Monday. The Britain-Israel research and academic exchange partnership (BIRAX) will award scientific research grants to junior academics - from postdoctoral students to mid-career researchers and lecturers. The government is keen to promote links between the two countries to play down attempts by British academics to boycott Israeli academics. (Guardian-UK)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran on Monday of not being serious at weekend talks about its disputed nuclear program despite the presence of a senior U.S. diplomat, and warned it may soon face new sanctions. Rice said Iran had given the run-around to envoys from the U.S. and five other world powers. She said all six nations were serious about a two-week deadline Iran now has to agree to freeze suspect activities and start negotiations or be hit with new penalties.
At Saturday's meeting, Rice said that instead of a coherent answer, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili delivered a "meandering" monologue. "People are tired of the Iranians and their stalling tactics," she said. (AP/Washington Post)
Abu Mustafa, 33, holds the key to an ideology that many are turning to in Gaza: Salafist jihadism, a belief in the most radical form of Islam. He says the Salafis now number up to 5,000 people. Members are receiving weapons training and are schooled in both dogma and strategy. Salafis - sometimes referred to as Wahhabis - seek to live a life governed by the laws of religion.
To make their vision a reality, Abu Mustafa and his men are willing to fight - and they are willing to slaughter innocent bystanders. For those who don't want to accept the hegemony of Islam, holy war is the only recipe. "We have to fight - just like our brothers on Sept. 11," Abu Mustafa says. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Hamas has been taking advantage of the truce in order to plant mines in wide areas in the Gaza Strip, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. Diskin also said, "Hamas today has missiles which can reach Kiryat Gat, and maybe even Ashdod." He added that Hamas was interested in maintaining the truce in order to stabilize its power and rule. "The truce is enabling Hamas to get stronger. They have not abandoned their long-term plans. They were not required to stop the smuggling and return (kidnapped soldier) Gilad Shalit in return [for the truce]." According to Diskin, there is no other way but to control the area. (Ynet News)
The Israeli Cabinet voted on Sunday to form a ministerial committee to focus on the establishment of a new Arab city in the Galilee. Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadele (Labor) said the decision demonstrated the government's recognition of the Arab population's equal rights, and hoped it would strengthen Israeli Arabs' sense of belonging to the country. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has said: "The aim is a modern city that any young couple will be able to buy a house in and live there, as in any other modern city in the world." (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A new study from the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute finds that Saudi textbooks are filled with the austere supremacism of the Wahhabi sect of Islam, despite promises from the kingdom in 2006 to alter them. Jews, Christians, and non-Wahhabi Sunni Muslims are described in many of the textbooks as enemies of the true faith and infidels. The report coincides with a conference the Saudi monarch is sponsoring in Madrid, at which he appeared to want reconciliation between the clerics of the Muslim world and their counterparts among Christians and Jews.
Nearly two years ago, the State Department waived a series of sanctions suggested under the International Religious Freedom Act after America and Saudi Arabia came to an arrangement whereby Riyadh promised to excise the intolerance of their textbooks by the start of the fall 2008 school year. The director of the Center for Religious Freedom, Nina Shea, said the State Department should consider sanctions against Saudi Arabia. (New York Sun)
Asked about a possible Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites, Gary Sick, who served as the Iran officer in the National Security Councils of the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations, responded: "Israel cannot do the job by itself and would have to have American assistance not only to carry it out, but also to follow up. Clearly, one quick strike like the bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 cannot do it. And it's hard to believe that Israel could carry out multiple bombing raids, even if they decided to try to do it without U.S. assistance....So, in the end, you are probably making it more likely that Iran will get a nuclear weapon, perhaps even faster, and probably the Iranian people will gravitate around this hard-liner government that they don't particularly like out of national support." (Council on Foreign Relations)
The Khomeinist regime is unlike any of its neighbors. Its ambition is to reshape the Middle East, and later the rest of the world, after its own fashion. And, since the U.S. also wishes to create a new balance of power in the Middle East, the two rival ambitions are bound to clash at some point. Everyone has been talking to the mullahs for 30 years in the hope of changing their behavior. But the problem isn't the regime's behavior, but its nature. A regime that is at war against its own people on a daily basis can't make peace with others. (New York Post)
The "Shiite crescent" - an alliance of Shiite Iran with Arab Shiite movements in Iraq and Lebanon allegedly committed to dominating the Middle East - has become a popular intellectual shortcut to explaining Muslim affairs in the West. Yet the theory ignores the complexity of religious, national, local and tribal allegiances that include, exclude or overlap one another throughout the region. In an interesting twist, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - two Shiites - are considered the most popular foreign leaders in overwhelmingly Sunni Egypt (and probably most of the Middle East), according to a poll by the Ibn Khaldun Center in Cairo.
The Saudi religious establishment holds sway over many radical Muslim circles, thanks to its worldwide network of mosques, and usually adheres to a puritan and intolerant version of Sunni Islam. Many young Saudis who engage in jihad in Iraq are motivated, among other things, by fervent anti-Shiite sentiments. (International Herald Tribune)
British Prime Minister Addresses Knesset (British Prime Minister's Office)
Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, told the Knesset in Jerusalem on Monday:
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