Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 30, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Iran Building Secret Nuclear Reactor (MEMRI)
    On July 29, 2008, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported that, according to "highly reliable sources," Iran had begun construction of a secret nuclear reactor in the Al-Zarqan region close to the city of Ahwaz in southwest Iran, on the Iran-Iraq border.
    According to the sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency did not know about this site.
    See also Secret Iranian N-Plant Discovered in Al-Zarqan Area (Arab Times-Kuwait)
    The Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor is in the middle of very highly populated areas, making it a very difficult target due to a possibility that the Iranian authorities will use civilians as human shields.

Blast Destroys Hamas Training Base in Gaza (AP/CNN)
    Witnesses and health officials say a huge blast rocked a training base run by the Islamic militant Hamas in southern Gaza Tuesday, and at least five Hamas militants were in critical condition.
    Witnesses said the blast destroyed the base, on the site of an evacuated Jewish settlement next to Khan Yunis, and a fire was burning there an hour afterward.
    See also Video: Palestinians in Gaza Make Rockets, Train for War - Paul Chapman (Reuters)
    This rare video shows masked gunmen of the Popular Resistance Committees building and stockpiling rockets, then later militants from the Gaza Qassam Brigades in field combat exercises firing shoulder-fired rockets and live ammunition.

CIA Outlines Pakistan Links with Militants - Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
    Central Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Stephen R. Kappes traveled secretly to Islamabad this month to confront Pakistan's most senior officials with new information about ties between the country's powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan's tribal areas, who were responsible for a surge of violence in Afghanistan, according to American military and intelligence officials.
    The CIA assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of al-Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

June Walker, 74, Former Conference of Presidents Chairwoman - Stephen Miller (New York Sun)
    June Walker, who died Tuesday at 74, was chairwoman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and an activist national president of Hadassah, where she spearheaded support of medical institutions in Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. to Help Israel with Missile Detection - Dan Williams
    The U.S. will soon link Israel up to two advanced missile detection systems as a precaution against any future attack by a nuclear-armed Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday in Washington. Barak said he had secured the Pentagon's agreement to post the powerful forward-based X-band radar in Israel "before the new administration arrives" in January. Built by Raytheon, the system has been described by U.S. officials as capable of tracking an object the size of a baseball from about 2,900 miles (4,700 km.) away. It would let Israel's Arrow anti-missile missile engage an Iranian Shihab-3 ballistic missile about halfway through its 11-minute flight to Israel.
        Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said: "Like the Israelis, we see the Iranians racing to build a ballistic missile capability and so we are working to help the Israelis fortify their defenses as quickly as possible." Barak said the U.S. will also increase Israel's access to its Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites, which spot missile launches. Israeli officials say past access to the DSP has been on a per-request, rather than constant, basis. (Reuters)
        See also Strike on Iran Still Possible, U.S. Tells Israel - Paul Richter and Julian E. Barnes
    In meetings Monday and Tuesday, administration officials told Israeli Defense Minister Barak that the option of attacking Iran over its nuclear program remains on the table, though U.S. officials are primarily seeking a diplomatic solution. Barak said that there remains time for "accelerated sanctions" to try to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Hizbullah Has Tripled Its Missile Arsenal, Barak Warns - Benny Avni
    Israeli Defense Minister Barak told Vice President Cheney on Monday, "The amount of missiles possessed by Hizbullah was doubled and even tripled, and their range was extended significantly" since the war in Lebanon two years ago. Security Council Resolution 1701 envisioned the disarming of all Lebanese militias, including Hizbullah, as well as a weapons-free area in southern Lebanon. "We have to admit that it simply isn't working," an aide to Barak said, speaking of Resolution 1701. He also said that Israel has no intention of handing another victory to Hizbullah by negotiating over the fate of Shaba Farms. (New York Sun)
  • Mideast Deal Seems Beyond Reach as Rice Hosts Talks - Arshad Mohammed
    Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meet in Washington on Wednesday to work toward the long-shot U.S. goal of achieving a comprehensive peace deal this year. Asked if they were mounting a final push to get the talks moving, one U.S. official said, "It's fairer to say that we are keen to build the sort of traction needed for things to move in the right direction, so that the next administration gets a situation that's as manageable and productive as possible." (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Trying to Salvage Gains in Mideast Talks - Anne Gearan
    The Bush administration is trying to secure a few concessions from Israel and the Palestinians by the end of this year, leaving the details of any real peace deal to the next president. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: Syria Must Decide between Axis of Evil, Peace and Prosperity - Ronen Medzini
    Speaking at the National Defense College in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed the recently renewed negotiations with Syria. He said Israel "is continuing with the negotiations in good faith, with the intent of giving Syria a genuine alternative, so that it may make the right decision....The peace negotiations depend on Syria. There is no place solely for overtures, but there must also be action. Syria must decide between Iran, the axis of evil, and international isolation, or peace and prosperity." (Ynet News)
  • Abbas Warns Israel: Don't Free Hamas West Bank Leaders - Uri Blau
    If Israel releases Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament as part of a deal for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Mahmoud Abbas will dismantle the Palestinian Authority, Abbas warned Israel last week. Abbas fears the release of senior Hamas politicians would strengthen the organization's civilian infrastructure in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Convicted of Recruiting Israeli Minister's Assassins
    The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday convicted Majdi Rimawi from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine for recruiting and assisting the gunmen who assassinated Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001. Rimawi was convicted of finding the gunmen, supplying them with fake identification documents, and providing them with photos of the minister so that they could identify him. Ze'evi, a former army general, was shot dead at Jerusalem's Hyatt Hotel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S. Is Largest Donor to Palestinian Authority
    State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday: "The United States remains the largest single state donor to the Palestinian Authority. We have provided $562 million in total assistance in 2008, surpassing our pledged level of $555 million. This includes $264 million in project assistance through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL); $150 million in direct budget support - the largest single tranche for funds provided to the Palestinian Authority by a single donor country; and $148 million in contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)." (U.S. State Department)
  • Killing the Dream of a Secular, Democratic Palestinian State - Zohir Andreus
    It is difficult for me to be a Palestinian-Arab these days, because I'm simply ashamed. The schism between Hamas and Fatah has become a done deal, and all the talk about attempts to mend the rift is nothing but empty words. The conduct of my people in the "liberated" Gaza Strip and in the West Bank does not leave room for any doubt: The dream of establishing a democratic and secular Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel is dissipating. My people is the only one in the world that has no state and two governments. World public opinion is justifiably asking: How can such a split nation establish a state if they behave this way towards each other? The writer is CEO of the Israeli Arab newspaper Ma-Alhadath. (Ynet News)
  • Iraq's Christians Form New Militias to Combat Islamic Extremists - Damien McElroy
    In the five years since the Anglo-American invasion of 2003, about half of the 800,000 Christians who once lived in Iraq have fled the country. Now, civilians in Christian villages in northern Iraq have established their own security in an attempt to deter murders and abductions. "We are facing the threat of wipe-out," said Father Yusuf Yohannes in Karamlis, 10 miles east of Mosul. The security patrols have already had an impact and there is a renewed willingness to resist the demands of Muslim radicals. "Why should Christians face arrest for not fasting in Ramadan?" asked Fr. Yusuf. "Why is it that women should cover their faces if God loves all human beings? We reject these things and want the right to our own culture." (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Hollow Regime: Bragging in Tehran - Michael Ledeen (National Review)

    • The Iranian regime has two fundamental instruments of power, whether at home or abroad: terror and deception. Both are dramatically on display.
    • This past Sunday, 30 people were executed for a variety of alleged crimes, and a number of whom lost their lives because they dared to criticize the regime. This wave of executions in the world's second-most active killer of its own citizens (China tops the list) coincides with the anniversary of the resumption of public hangings last August, which was viewed as "sending a message" to would-be critics and anyone in the West who might be tempted to support Iranian dissidents. This weekend's mass executions mark a new, grisly watershed in the mullahs' ongoing terror war against their own people.
    • This dramatic carnage surely bespeaks a profound insecurity in Tehran. It documents the fear that dominates the rulers' nightmares, the fear of their own people, who are the greatest threat to the survival of the mullahcracy.
    • The Iranian regime is hollow. So far as we know, they are without atomic bombs and a reliable delivery system. Their economy is a shambles, their people hate them, they present us with Potemkin weapons systems. It is a political explosion ready to happen, it only needs the support of the West.

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