Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 29, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Video Urges Muslims to Kill Saudi King for Hosting Interfaith Conference (AP/FOX News)
    Al-Qaeda commander Abu Yahia al-Libi, who escaped from Afghanistan's Bagram prison in 2005, has posted a Web video urging Muslims to kill the Saudi king for leading an interfaith conference in Madrid earlier this month.
    Al-Libi said, "equating Islam with other religions is a betrayal of Islam," and called for "the speedy killing of this tyrant."

Oil Exports from Northern Iraq Rise Sharply - Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times)
    The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said in a report released Saturday that oil exports through Iraq's northern pipeline to Turkey rose more than tenfold over the past year.
    The increased exports were worth $8 billion.
    To protect the pipeline, berms, fences and guardhouses were built, and American soldiers patrol its 60-mile length while Iraqi guards monitor its perimeter.

"Cyber-Dissidents" Imprisoned in Syria (Economist-UK)
    Mazen Darwish, the president of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, was recently sentenced to jail for reporting on riots in an industrial town near Damascus.
    Tareq Bayassi was jailed for three years for publishing "false news" on the Internet after posting an article on the shortcomings of the Syrian secret service.
    For several years Syria has been an enemy of the Internet. The security services keep opposition figures and even ordinary bloggers under surveillance.
    The main Internet service-provider bans 100-plus websites. Even popular social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube were banned last year.

Muslim Radicalism Strong in British Universities - Abul Taher (Sunday Times-UK)
    Almost a third of British Muslim students believe killing in the name of Islam can be justified, according to a poll for the Center for Social Cohesion.
    The study also found that a third of Muslim students supported the creation of a world-wide caliphate or Islamic state, while two in five support the incorporation of Islamic sharia codes into British law.
    In the report, 40% said it was unacceptable for Muslim men and women to associate freely.
    Homophobia was rife - 32% - for male Muslim students - while among non-Muslims it is 4%.

Israel to Launch Websites in Hindi and Urdu (FreshNews-India)
    The Israeli embassy in New Delhi has launched websites in Hindi and Urdu to ensure that the people in the Indian hinterland get to know Israel's side of the story.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Inflates Atom Progress - Mark Heinrich
    Iran appears to have overstated the expansion of its uranium enrichment program at a sensitive juncture in talks with world powers, a diplomat close to the UN nuclear watchdog agency said on Monday. He said the International Atomic Energy Agency checked President Ahmadinejad's announcement on Saturday that Iran had more than 5,000 centrifuges running and could verify just 4,000 were installed, 3,500 of which were regularly enriching uranium. These figures were only marginally higher than those given in the IAEA's last monitoring report on Iran two months ago. (Reuters)
  • Report: Torture Widespread in Palestinian Jails - Karin Laub and Dalia Nammari
    Two human rights groups on Monday decried widespread torture of political opponents by Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah. An estimated 20-30% of the detainees suffered torture, including severe beatings and being tied up in painful positions, said Shawan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq, citing sworn statements from 150 detainees. He said three died in detention in Gaza and one in the West Bank.
        "The use of torture is dramatically up," added Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch, that is releasing its own report on abuse this week. Human Rights Watch said Abbas' Fatah forces need to come under closer scrutiny because of the international support they enjoy. (AP/ABC News)
  • West Bank "Tsunami" Hits Hamas - Tobias Buck
    Ayman Daraghmeh, who entered parliament on the Hamas list, says Hamas is the victim of a PA crackdown that has now reached the force of a "tsunami." Over the past two days, the PA has detained several dozen members of Hamas in response to a crackdown on Fatah supporters in Gaza. Daraghmeh says Fatah - the party of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas - is out to "destroy" Hamas in the West Bank. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: No Chance for Deal with Palestinians This Year - Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, "I don't believe that understandings that will include Jerusalem can be reached this year" with the Palestinians. "There is no practical chance of reaching an overall understanding on Jerusalem."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Underwhelmed by Syrian Overtures - Herb Keinon
    Israeli diplomatic officials were not overly impressed Monday by a seven-minute interview Syrian Ambassador to Washington Imad Mustafa gave to Americans for Peace Now, in which he called for "an end to the state of war." "We have heard this type of thing from the Syrian ambassadors before in places like Washington and London," one senior diplomatic official said. "But why doesn't Syria's ambassador in Cairo say the same thing? Why do we not hear it from others, from Damascus? They are speaking to their audience in the West, giving them what they want to hear. They are not speaking to us."
        Another diplomatic official said the Syrians were "playing a double game. They are interested in a breakthrough with Washington, not with us. They want the process, not peace." Moshe Maoz, a professor emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, downplayed the importance of Mustafa's comments, saying they were "more of the same." The fourth round of indirect talks between Israel and Syria, with Turkey as the mediator, is scheduled to take place this week in Turkey. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF to Move Section of Separation Fence - Amos Harel
    Israel's defense establishment has agreed to dismantle a 2.4-km. stretch of the West Bank separation fence north of Kalkilya in order to return 2,600 dunams of agricultural land to Palestinians. The dismantled stretch will be replaced by 4.9 km. of fencing closer to the "green line" at a cost of more than NIS 50 million. The High Court of Justice ruled in 2006 that the fence should be moved. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Syrians See an Economic Side to Peace - Nawara Mahfoud and Robert F. Worth
    Like most Syrians, Samer Zayat, 35, a television cinematographer, has no love for Israel. Yet he says he views a peace deal with Israel as necessary and inevitable because Syria's vulnerable economy needs all the help it can get. That sentiment is echoed by many others. The oil reserves Syria has relied on for so long are rapidly disappearing. A country that could once afford to be serenely indifferent to Western sanctions is now being forced to liberalize and open its economy. However, it is far from clear if the Syrian government sees economic troubles as a factor in negotiations with Israel. (New York Times)
  • How Strong Are Iranian-Syrian Ties? - Andrew Tabler
    Today Syria is seen as an Iranian island in the Arab world - used to project its power to Israel's borders and the shores of the Mediterranean. Indeed, Iranian-Syrian relations seem closer than ever - including a newly signed military cooperation agreement. But Damascus' ties with Tehran - like its ties with all countries - remain ambiguous.
        A high-profile Iranian project to replace Damascus' aging public bus fleet with Iranian vehicles was mysteriously cancelled and awarded to a Chinese company. Two high-profile Iranian-Syrian joint ventures to assemble automobiles in Syria are barely scraping by due to Syrian government foot-dragging on promises to cut tariffs on the plants' imported components. Statistics recently released by Syria's state investment office put direct Iranian investment in Syria at $544 million, a mere 8% of Arab investment in Syria and a far cry from reports last year that estimated Iranian investment at 66% of Arab investment in the country. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Turkish Soap Opera Championing Equality for Women Takes Arab World by Storm - Karin Laub and Dalia Nammari
    Every evening for the past four months, tall, blue-eyed Mohannad, hero of the hugely popular Turkish TV soap "Noor," has been stealing hearts across the Middle East. He's romantic, attentive to his wife, Noor, supportive of her independence and ambitions as a fashion designer - in short, a rare gem for women in conservative, male-dominated surroundings. "Noor" delivers an idealized portrayal of modern married life as equal partnership - clashing with the norms of traditional Middle Eastern societies where elders often have the final word on whom a woman should marry.
        In Saudi Arabia, the only country with ratings, about three to four million people watch daily, out of a population of nearly 28 million, according to MBC, the Saudi-owned satellite channel that airs the show, dubbed into Arabic for Middle East audiences. In the West Bank and Gaza, streets are deserted during show time. (AP)
        See also Saudi Grand Mufti Condemns "Malicious" Turkish Soap Opera - Hassna'a Mokhtar
    The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Asheikh, has condemned Turkish soap operas, which have charmed millions of people across the Arab world, and prohibited people from watching them, Al-Watan daily reported Sunday. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Observations:

    How Terrorist Groups End: Implications for Countering Al-Qaeda - Seth G. Jones and Martin C. Libicki (RAND Corporation)

    • The U.S. cannot conduct an effective counterterrorism campaign against al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups without understanding how such groups end.
    • By analyzing the 648 terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that 268 terrorist groups ended during that period. 40% ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies, while 43% reached a peaceful political accommodation with their government. In 10% of cases, terrorist groups ended because they achieved victory, while the application of military force led to the end of terrorist groups in 7% of cases.
    • Religiously motivated terrorist groups took longer to eliminate but rarely achieved their objectives; no religiously-motivated group achieved victory during the period studied.
    • Calling counterterrorism efforts a war on terrorism raises public expectations that there is a battlefield solution. It also tends to legitimize the terrorists' view that they are conducting a jihad (holy war) against the U.S. and elevates them to the status of holy warriors. Terrorists should be perceived as criminals, not holy warriors.

          Read the Full Report (RAND Corporation) (3M, pdf)

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