Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 5, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Rafsanjani: Iran Beginning Work on Nuclear Fusion (MEMRI)
    Iranian Expediency Council Chairman Rafsanjani has announced that Iran is at the beginning of the first stage of nuclear fusion.
    He said that the West would again confront Iran for using nuclear fusion, but that "since we are still at the early stage they will not confront us (now)."
    He added that Iran must obtain advanced technologies in order to "break the monopoly of global powers over advanced technology."

Who Killed Syrian General? - Hannah Strange (Times-UK)
    Asharq Alawsat reported that Syrian Gen. Mohammed Suleiman, who was assassinated Friday at a seaside resort, was shot with four bullets that came from the direction of the sea.
    Syrian sources claimed that Suleiman served as Syria's "liaison officer" with Hizbullah.
    Israel has denied any connection to the killing. An Israeli source told Sky News, "Look, it's outside the rules....To hit a general in his own country is close to an act of war and we just don't want a war with Syria. We are busy talking to them."

PA Dismisses 1,000 Hamas-Affiliated Security Officers - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    The PA has dismissed 1,000 police and security officers suspected of being affiliated with Hamas, on the backdrop of fears that the recent clashes in Gaza would spread to the West Bank.
    A PA commission of inquiry into Hamas' 2007 takeover in Gaza found that at least one-third of the PA security officers there served as Hamas agents.

Five Palestinians Killed in Gaza Tunnel Collapse (AP/Washington Post)
    A smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border collapsed on Friday, killing at least five Palestinians and wounding 18, Palestinian officials said Saturday.
    Since the beginning of the year, 27 Palestinians have been killed in tunnel collapses.

Israeli Doctors Treat Gaza Kids - Hagai Einav (Ynet News)
    Two Israeli doctors went to Gaza last week to perform complex plastic and orthopedic surgeries on children from Gaza City and Khan Yunis.
    Dr. Kassis Shukri, a plastic surgery specialist from Ziv Medical Center in Safed, and Dr. Mustafa Yassin, an orthopedist from the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, worked with the Palestinian medical team at Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

Israel Gets Australian Army UAV Deal (Reuters)
    Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems said on Sunday it won a deal to supply the Australian army with more Skylark I unmanned aerial vehicles, the third such Australian Department of Defense order since 2005.
    The Skylark I advanced mini-UAV system is designed for day and night observation and data collection "beyond the hill" up to distances of 10-15 km.

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

  • Iran Threatens to Close Key Oil Shipping Route - Nazila Fathi
    Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, warned Monday that Iran could easily close a critical oil route in the Persian Gulf, and that Iran had a new long-range naval weapon that could sink enemy ships nearly 200 miles away. "Closing the Strait of Hormuz for an unlimited period of time would be very easy," he said. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Warns of Further Sanctions Against Iran - David Gollust
    With a two-week deadline for an Iranian reply having passed over the weekend, senior diplomats of the five permanent UN Security Council member countries and Germany conferred by telephone and renewed their warning of further sanctions against Iran. State Department Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said, "We agreed in the absence of a clear, positive response from Iran that we have no choice but to pursue further measures against Iran."  (VOA News)
        See also Iran Set to Respond to Incentives Package on Tuesday - Karen DeYoung and Colum Lynch
    Iran will present a formal response Tuesday to an offer of incentives by world powers in exchange for suspending its nuclear enrichment program, U.S. and European officials said. But they expressed little expectation of a positive reply. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Revokes Visas of Gaza Fulbright Scholars - Ethan Bronner
    The State Department has, for a second time in two months, reneged on its offer to three Palestinians in Gaza to study in the U.S. on Fulbright grants, this time citing unspecified security concerns. On Monday, the American consulate in Jerusalem sent the three letters saying "information has come to light that you may be inadmissible to the United States," and therefore their visas were being revoked. A senior State Department official said that the latest information about the three was enough to give pause. Israeli officials, who had insisted that the three posed a risk, expressed satisfaction that their message had gotten through. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Germany Looking to Cancel Gas Deal with Iran - Barak Ravid and Assaf Uni
    Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said the German government hopes to persuade energy firm Steiner Gastec Prematechnik to cancel a 100 million euro deal with Iran's national gas carrier. Once news of the deal became public knowledge, Israel's ambassador to Berlin, Yoram Ben Zeev, contacted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office to request her intervention in the matter. Senior German officials responded that Merkel disapproves of the deal and that they would seek to hold talks with SGP on the matter. (Ha'aretz)
  • Muslims Blast Israel for Reading Kindness into the Koran
    Arab media in the Middle East reacted hysterically after learning that a Jewish professor at Haifa University is using verses from the Koran to teach Arab Muslim psychology students how to treat their future Muslim patients. Professor Ofer Grosbard developed the Quranet course using specially chosen verses from the Muslim holy book to help students reinforce in their patients concepts like respect, responsibility, honesty, dignity and kindness. The Quranet course was developed together with 15 Muslim students and was reviewed by three Islamic clerical figures. (Israel Today)
        See also Saudi Scholars Warn Against Israeli Quranet Web Project - Mariam al-Hakeem (Gulf News-Dubai)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • While Diplomats Dither, Iran Builds Nukes - John Bolton
    The rationality of continued Western negotiations with Iran depends on two assumptions: that Iran is far enough away from having deliverable nuclear weapons that we don't incur excessive risks by talking; and that by talking we don't materially impede the option to use military force. Implicit in the latter case is the further assumption that the military option is static - that it remains equally viable a year from now as it is today.
        Every day that goes by allows Iran to increase the threat it poses, and the viability of the military option steadily declines over time. While the negotiations proceed, Iran continues both to convert uranium from a solid (uranium oxide, U3O8, also called yellowcake) to a gas (uranium hexafluoride, UF6) at its uranium conversion facility at Isfahan. As Iran increases its UF6 inventory and its technical expertise, however, the impact of destroying the facility diminishes. Iran is building a stockpile of UF6 that it can subsequently enrich even while it reconstructs Isfahan after an attack, or builds a new conversion facility elsewhere. Delay also permits Iran to increase its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) - that is, UF6 gas in which the U235 isotope concentration is raised. As its LEU stockpile increases, so too does Tehran's capacity to enrich it to weapons-grade concentrations.
        Accordingly, destroying Iran's enrichment facility at Natanz does not eliminate its existing enriched uranium (LEU), which the IAEA estimated in May 2008 to be approximately half what is needed for one nuclear weapon. Iran is thus more than two-thirds of the way to weapons-grade uranium with each kilogram of uranium it enriches to LEU levels. The writer, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations. (Wall Street Journal)
  • In Gaza, a Blurry Line Between Enemies and Friends - Ethan Bronner
    In truth, the relationship between the Fatah leadership in the West Bank and the Hilles clan in Gaza was poor. Mahmoud Abbas was angry that the clan stood on the sideline when fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in June 2007. Generally the clan cares about itself more than about either party. Send them back to Gaza, Abbas told the Israelis. In the end, 88 of the men were sent to Jericho, several dozen others were sent to Gaza, while 16 were still in the hospital in Israel. So for now, the Hilles clan has been neutralized, Hamas has increased its power, Fatah leaders are seen as two-timing and indecisive, and Israel helped save the lives of some of its enemies.
        "When a person is faced with the choice of being killed by his own people or arrested by his enemy, he will prefer to be arrested by his enemy," said Fatah lawmaker Sufian Abu Zaida. (New York Times)
        See also Hamas and Fatah Are a Bigger Threat to the Palestinians than Israel - Editorial
    It is a damning indication of how bad things have become in Hamas-ruled Gaza when Fatah militants there must look to Israel for protection from their Palestinian rivals. The scenes of Israel coming to the rescue of Palestinians after a bout of Arab fratricide were reminiscent of the events of Black September, during which scores of Palestinians sought asylum in Israel to escape King Hussein's crackdown on the Palestine Liberation Organization. This time around Palestinians are fleeing from the murderous hands of their own Palestinian brothers.
        We have seen Palestinians making war on other Palestinians while the Jewish state has come to the rescue of those who fear for their lives. Israel has never looked so good. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • How to Get the World to Hate Israel - Richard L. Cravatts
    How would you go about making the world hate Israel? Even after 60 years of its existence, you question the fundamental right of Israel to even exist and regularly, though falsely, condemn it for being created "illegally." You make "Palestinianism" into a virtual cult. Of all the 100 million refugees who were dispersed around the globe and were re-assimilated since World War II, you chose only the Palestinians to languish, as if in amber, in barbaric refugee camps where their lives are used as political fodder to denounce the existence of an Israel that supposedly has deprived them of a home.
        You inculcate Palestinian children, nearly from birth, with seething, blind, unrelenting, and obsessive hatred of Jews and the "Zionist regime," so that kindergartners graduate with blood-soaked hands while toting plastic AK 47s and dedicate their lives to jihad. (History News Network)
  • Observations:

    Violence Dashes Hopes for Palestinian State - Jason Koutsoukis (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)

    • Rescue workers began sifting through the rubble of a three-storey apartment block, the stronghold of the Hilles clan aligned to Fatah, which was destroyed by Hamas on Saturday. It is believed Hamas militants fired 300 mortar shells and dozens of rocket-propelled grenades into the Sajaiya neighborhood in Gaza City. Hamas marksmen positioned themselves on the minarets of several mosques and fired at anyone who came into the street.
    • Mohammad Darawshe, co-director of the Abraham Fund, said, "Hamas might win the battle, but this behavior makes it so much harder to win international support to create an independent state. This is the behavior of a brutal dictatorship, not a political party working towards advancing the interests of its people."
    • Gabriel Motzkin, a professor of philosophy at Hebrew University, said the infighting had extinguished any chance of success in this round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. "It is beyond doubt that there are now two separate Palestinian territories, so who does Israel deal with? Mahmoud Abbas does not speak for Palestinians in Gaza. And Hamas is not interested in any negotiations with Israel at all. This civil war makes a permanent solution impossible to negotiate."

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