Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 25, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Military Convoy Rocked by Explosion - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
    A mysterious explosion on July 19 wrecked a Revolutionary Guards military convoy in Tehran, killing at least fifteen people and injuring scores more.
    According to reports received by Western officials, the convoy was taking a consignment of military equipment to Hizbullah in Lebanon.

U.S. Now Believes Iran Trying to Produce a Bomb - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. is preparing a new intelligence report on Iran's nuclear program, which is to be published in November.
    The Americans now believe Iran is trying to produce a nuclear weapon, says an Israeli government source, contrary to their previous intelligence assessment that Iran had halted its military nuclear effort in 2003.

Terror Victims' Families Sue PA, Barghouti for NIS450 Million (Ha'aretz)
    Relatives of terror victims Thursday filed a NIS 450 million class-action lawsuit in Jerusalem District Court against the Palestinian Authority, the PLO, and jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted for a series of terrorist acts against Israeli civilians as head of the Tanzim militia in the West Bank.
    The plaintiffs are represented by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder and director of the Israel Law Center, which has filed similar suits on behalf of terror victims in Israel and abroad.

Egyptian Facebook Activists Jailed (DPA/Ha'aretz)
    Egyptian authorities Thursday jailed 14 Internet activists in Alexandria, accusing them of being a threat to national security and calling people to demonstrate.
    The activists belong to the "April 6 group" on the social networking website Facebook that earlier this year called for a strike against rising prices.

Angola Children Travel to Israel for Medical Treatment (Angola Press Agency)
    Four children and a young lady with cardiovascular problems will leave for Tel Aviv this week for treatment.
    Patients of the Pediatrics Hospital of Luanda will receive medical treatment at Schneider Hospital.

Israel Unemployment Rate Hits 21-Year Low - Gad Lior (Ynet News)
    The unemployment rate in Israel in May fell to 6.1% - a 21-year low, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced Thursday.

Israel's Industrial Production Up 6.8 Percent (Calcalist/Ynet News)
    Israel's industrial production increased by 6.8% between March and May of 2008, in addition to the 11.9% rise noted in the first quarter of the year, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said Sunday.
    According to CBS data, the majority of the increase was noted in the high-tech, electronic and pharmaceutical industries.

Jewish-Latino Interactions in the U.S. - Interview with Steven Windmueller by Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Jews should develop strategies to introduce the next generation of Latino officials to Jewish leaders and to Israel, and to nurture such connections.
    The estimated 45 million Latinos are now the largest minority in the U.S., accounting for about 15% of the population.
    Both Jews and Latinos have a great love for family and are strongly committed to their children's education. They are to a certain extent allies on immigration policy as well.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Ends Cooperation with UN Nuclear Arms Probe - George Jahn
    Iran signaled Thursday that it will no longer cooperate with UN experts probing for signs of clandestine nuclear weapons work. Besides demanding a suspension of uranium enrichment, the six powers have been pressing Tehran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency's probe. Iran admitted in 2002 that it had run a secret nuclear program for nearly two decades in violation of its commitment as a signer of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
        The British Foreign Office responded in a statement: "We are concerned by reports that Iran is refusing to cooperate with the IAEA on allegations over nuclear weapons....The IAEA has raised serious concerns over Iran's activities with a possible military dimension. If Iran is serious about restoring international confidence in its intentions, it must address these issues."  (AP/Washington Post)
  • Reports of New West Bank Settlement Deemed False - Isabel Kershner
    An Israeli defense committee has approved the construction of 22 homes in Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley, intended for families forced to leave the former Gaza settlement of Shirat Hayam in 2005. The army had promised to keep the families together, and at least eight of the families are already living at Maskiot in trailers. "Maskiot has been settled since 1982," said a Defense Ministry spokeswoman. (New York Times)
  • Defense Department: Jewish U.S. Army Engineer Accused of Spying for Israel Was Unjustly Targeted
    A final report released by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense found that a U.S. Army engineer accused ten years ago of spying for Israel was unjustly targeted because of his religion. David Tenenbaum had worked at the Tank Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Michigan. After a year-long FBI criminal investigation, the U.S. Justice Department determined that there was no basis to prosecute Tenenbaum. The report says Tenenbaum was "the subject of inappropriate treatment by Department of the Army and Defense Investigative officials" by their use of a personnel security investigation "as a ruse for a counterintelligence investigation," and that "Mr. Tenenbaum's religion was a factor in the decision that resulted in the inappropriate continuation" of the investigation. (JTA)
        See also Anti-Jewish Bias Seen in Michigan Spy Case - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
  • Internal Violence Flairs in Gaza: Bomb Blasts at Hamas Politician's House, Cafe - Mohammed Salem
    Bomb blasts rocked a Hamas politician's home and a cafe in Gaza on Friday, killing at least one Palestinian in a flare-up of internal violence. Hamas blamed unidentified "gunmen" for the bombings, suggesting the involvement of a Palestinian faction. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Gillerman: UNIFIL Failures Set Stage for New Conflict - Michal Lando and Yaakov Katz
    UNIFIL soldiers assigned to maintain the cease-fire that ended the Second Lebanon War of 2006 are not carrying out their mandate and are potentially laying the groundwork for another round of violence between Israel and Hizbullah, Israel's outgoing UN ambassador Danny Gillerman said in an interview. "They [UNIFIL] should be much more proactive - more aggressive in going after Hizbullah - in detecting [and] identifying arms depots. They should be going in there, not just relying on Lebanese armed forces to do so, who often work in collusion with Hizbullah," he said. "Within the mandate as it stands today, they can do much more and be more effective, and if they don't, they will have to regret it," he said.
        "Resolution 1701 was supposed to limit [the] actions of Hizbullah, and prevent it from rearming," said Gillerman. "It did not achieve that. Hizbullah today has rearmed to the point that it is possibly even better equipped than it was before the war. The resolution also imposed an embargo on arms shipments to militias in Lebanon - namely Hizbullah - which was a huge achievement, but that wasn't implemented either." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arab Bloc Drops Proposal to Condemn Israel at UN - Shlomo Shamir
    The Arab bloc at the UN has decided to rescind its initiative to have the Security Council vote on a proposal to oppose Israeli settlement expansion, sources at the UN reported Thursday. At the Security Council, the U.S., alongside France, Britain, Belgium and Croatia, opposed the draft from its inception. U.S. officials said it was inconceivable that a UN Security Council vote concerning the Middle East would not include other components, such as terror. The officials suggested that the Arab bloc change its original draft to address broader Middle East concerns. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Asks Egypt to Help Save "Mother of Martyrs" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Miriam Farhat, the Palestinian mother whose praise for her three dead sons earned her the title "Mother of Martyrs," was reported Thursday to be in critical condition after suffering a massive heart attack. Farhat's son Muhammad killed five teenagers and wounded 23 people at Atzmona in a 2002 attack. After the death of her first son, Farhat admitted in interviews with Arab media that she encouraged her other sons to follow in his footsteps and become martyrs: "I encouraged all my sons to die a martyr's death." She said she wished she had 100 sons to sacrifice that way. Farhat, 59, was elected as a Hamas parliamentary representative in 2006.
        Hamas seized the opportunity of her illness to exert pressure on the Egyptians to reopen the Rafah border crossing so that she could be transferred to an Egyptian hospital. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of "participating in the siege on Gaza." "The Mother of Martyrs is dying and the Arab world does not seem to care," said a Hamas representative. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iranian Saber-Rattling - Yiftah Shapir
    On July 9, the Iranian media announced the launching of nine missiles of various types as part of an exercise which coincided with an exercise by the Persian Gulf fleets of the U.S. and British navies off the coast of Bahrain. The Iranian announcement involved quite a degree of exaggeration. The long-range missile launched appears identical to missiles whose photographs have already been shown in the past. Technologically speaking, it is not feasible to extend the range of such a missile from 1,300 up to 2,000 kilometers without far-reaching changes in the missile's structure. Perceptive observers noticed a great resemblance between the launches portrayed this time and those shown as part of the exercise in November 2006. They pointed out the possibility that some of the missiles seen in the pictures were added to the original ones with graphics software.
        What was shown on television looked like a military display designed to impress observers, emblematic of an alarming trend towards increasing saber-rattling. The Iranian demonstration of power should be seen as an attempt to deliver a message to both Israel and the U.S. - that Iran will be capable of responding. Most of all, however, the launch demonstration was designed for internal needs. The photographs were apparently aimed at calming the anxious Iranian citizen and at raising his spirits. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Confronting the Challenge of Iran - Mario Mancuso
    U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Mario Mancuso addressed The Washington Institute on July 22, 2008: "Tehran's reckless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery has raised alarms in capitals around the world....Today, the U.S. approach includes energetic diplomacy, targeted financial, export control, and other economic measures, and a vigorous counter-proliferation posture. And, of course, as a last, reluctant resort, the military option still remains on the table."
        "As President Bush remarked before the Israeli Knesset earlier this year, 'For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.' The United States remains committed to seeking a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the comprehensive threat posed by Iran....It is our urgent work to facilitate, in a timely fashion, a responsible decision by Iran."  (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • A Measure of the Distance to Peace - Barry Rubin
    Many people who are trying to understand the Middle East refuse to believe folks here think differently from themselves. There are Arab moderates, some very smart and brave people. The problem is none are in positions of power and all must shut up or face repression, defined as enemies of their people.
        For the Arabic-speaking world, the true heroes are still the terrorists. What horrified me most are not radicals cheering terrorist Samir Kuntar but that most relative moderates feel compelled to do so. At the airport to greet him were leaders of Lebanon's anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian Druze and Christian groups as well as the ambassadors from Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Morocco. To avoid being discredited, relative moderates must affirm that anyone who murders Israeli children is a hero. That's the measure of how far the region is from Arab-Israeli peace.
        While the West concludes that trying to defeat enemies by isolating and vilifying them has failed, the other side concludes that its policy of trying to defeat its enemies by violence, vilification, and intransigence is working. That means many decades more of the same. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center. (Jerusalem Post)
  • West Trying to Engage with Islamic Imperialists - Ari Morgenstern
    How can the Lebanese nation honor Samir Kuntar, a man who in the dead of night slaughtered virtually an entire family? Calls for the West to engage in increasing dialogue with the advocates of Islamic imperialism that dominate the Persian capital and much of the Arab world grow louder each day, but the Beirut rally welcoming Kuntar shows the fallacy of this position. The enemies of Israel wish to wipe that nation off the map and then, undoubtedly, move on to the next Western target. This conflict is rooted in the viewpoint held by some followers of Islam that those who worship God differently than they should be killed for their religious beliefs or submit to Islamic rule. Hizbullah's embrace of Kuntar is the practical application of Islamic imperialism's genocidal philosophy.
        History has shown that peace is achievable only when one side in a conflict is fully defeated or both sides make the conscious choice to at least begin to behave honorably. The West may not be perfect, but we seek peace and aspire to treat our enemies justly. Until certain portions of the Islamic world choose to regain some semblance of honor by rejecting rather than hailing the murderers in their midst, peace will remain beyond our grasp. We in the West can certainly discuss ideas for reaching a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Islamic imperialism, but it is presently a futile endeavor, as our existence and humanity are simply non-negotiable. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Campus Battlegrounds - Mitchell Bard
    In the past academic year, some progress was made toward redressing the dramatic imbalance between professors with little or no expertise demonizing Israel and genuine scholars of the country's history, politics and culture. The new Schusterman Center for Israel Studies was inaugurated at Brandeis, bringing the number of U.S. centers to nine. The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) sponsored 26 visiting Israeli professors across the country who taught roughly 100 new courses. AICE is also supporting a number of postdoctoral fellows in Israel studies and graduate students.
        The venerable Middle East Studies Association, which was hijacked long ago by the anti-Israel faction, is now facing a challenge from some of the leading intellects in the field, such as Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, who have formed a rival association, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, that hopes to supplant MESA as the home for scholars rather than polemicists. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Third Lebanon War - Giora Eiland (Ynet News)

    • In my estimate, if Israel faces another war in Lebanon, its results would be similar to those of the previous war. It is impossible to defeat an effective guerilla group when it operates from the territory of another country; it enjoys the full backing and support of that country; and that country is immune to an Israeli response.
    • The real reality in Lebanon is that the Lebanese government (and people) allowed Hizbullah to be the ruler along the border with Israel. In order to prevent Israel from effectively fighting Hizbullah, the Lebanese placed puppets in seemingly important posts who safeguard Lebanon's interests (which are so important to the West). Therefore, Israel is not allowed to target the Lebanese state. It is only allowed to fight Hizbullah.
    • The only way to prevent another war is to make it clear that should one break out, Lebanon may be razed to the ground. Hizbullah will be deterred if it realizes that aggression on its part would result in destruction that would outrage the Lebanese population and turn it against Hizbullah.
    • Israel must first and foremost make this truth clear to its allies, that Israel cannot defeat Hizbullah as long as it is being supported by the Lebanese state. Therefore, if there is again aggression on the part of Lebanon, Israel would have no choice but to fight against the state that is encouraging aggression in practice.
    • Those who had any doubt about the position of the Lebanese state should be reminded of the warm reception for murderer Samir Kuntar on the part of the Lebanese president and government ministers.

      Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland is the former head of Israel's National Security Council.

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