Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 17, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Russia Shields Syria - Ariel Cohen (UPI/Space War)
    Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the Mediterranean is a significant show of force and a potential threat to America's ally Israel.
    The increased Russian naval presence in the region means that the Kremlin is seeking to cultivate Syria as a close regional ally as it looks to secure additional bases for the fleet.
    In addition, Russia would be able to deploy electronic intelligence-gathering ships that could improve Syria's ability to monitor NATO and Israeli transmissions.
    The Russian layered air defenses, both short-range TOR and long-range S-300 anti-aircraft systems, are capable of providing the defensive envelope to Syrian nuclear research activities, as well as to the significant chemical weapons arsenal deliverable by Damascus' short-range ballistic missiles.

Internet Phone Calls Are Crippling the Fight Against Terrorism - Sean O'Neill and Richard Ford (Times-UK)
    The huge growth in Internet telephone traffic is jeopardizing the capability of police to investigate crime, senior sources have told The Times.
    As more and more phone calls are routed over the web - using software such as Skype - police are losing the ability to track who has called whom, from where, and for how long.
    Unlike phone companies, which retain call data for billing purposes, Internet call companies have no reason to keep the material.

UK Bomber Brainwashed Online by Pakistani Extremists - Adam Fresco (Times-UK)
    Nicky Reilly, 22, who converted to Islam in his mid-teens and has a mental age of 10, was directed online by shadowy Pakistan-based extremists in how to build bombs filled with hundreds of nails, which he attempted to detonate at the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter in May. The devices went off prematurely, injuring only him.
    Reilly admitted in court Wednesday researching how to make improvised explosive devices, investigating potential targets and acquiring components.

Academic Anti-Zionism in Australia - Ted Lapkin (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Radical trends including anti-Zionism on Australian campuses are like most other Western universities, only even more extreme.
    There are many examples in Australian academia where radical leftist ideology is monolithically predominant. A core element is a relentless hostility to Jewish national self-determination.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Chief Says Hizbullah a Threat to Mideast Security
    A report released Thursday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says Hizbullah is a threat to security in the Middle East, and criticized Syria for allowing the Islamic militant group to smuggle weapons into its terrorist network in Lebanon. "Hizbullah's maintenance of a major armed component and a para-military infrastructure separate from the state, including a secure network of communication, which the group itself deems an integral part of its arsenal, is a direct challenge to the authority of the government of Lebanon and its security forces and prevents their exclusive control over the entire territory of Lebanon," said the report, drafted by UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen. (NASDAQ/RTT News)
  • Hamas Prime Minister: Allah Punishing Americans with Financial Crisis
    Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said on Al-Aqsa TV on October 10, 2008: "Oh Americans, Allah will punish you because you have attacked Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia, and because you have fought anyone who raised the banner of Islam. The time has come for Allah to declare war on you, oh usurers! How could He not? After all, in the Koran, Allah declared war in only one case - that of usury." (MEMRI)
  • Spain Arrests 12 Islamist Extremists
    Spanish police said they had arrested 12 suspected Islamist extremists in a series of raids in Barcelona, Madrid and Cadiz on Thursday. The raids targeted networks suspected of hiding and aiding the escape of al-Qaeda members, including some linked to the 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800. Earlier this month, the High Court charged 11 Islamist suspects with plotting attacks on public transport in Barcelona. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Four Islamic Jihad Terrorists Nabbed with Bombs in West Bank
    Four members of an Islamic Jihad terror cell were arrested Thursday in a joint IDF-Israel Security Agency operation in Kabatiya, south of Jenin. During the operation, troops found two 20-kilogram bombs. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Arrests Senior Officer as Hamas Collaborator - Ali Waked
    A colonel in a PA security organization was arrested recently by the PA on suspicion of collaborating with Hamas, a Palestinian source said. A security source said the man's arrest was based on intelligence information passed to the PA by Israel and the U.S. Senior PA officials worry that the man's arrest is merely the tip of the iceberg of unknown collaborators with Hamas.
        A PA committee appointed to examine Hamas' Gaza takeover in 2007 revealed that almost a third of the Gazan security forces, allegedly belonging to the PA, were actually agents of Hamas. A Palestinian source told Ynet that, in reality, the number of covert Hamas agents was at least double. (Ynet News)
  • Egypt Opens Gaza Border Crossing to Allow Hospital Patients into Gaza
    Egyptian authorities on Thursday opened the Rafah border crossing to allow 32 Palestinian patients and their attendants, coming from Egyptian hospitals, to cross the border into Gaza. Except for humanitarian cases, Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing closed since the Islamist movement Hamas violently seized control in June 2007. According to a U.S.-brokered protocol, the crossing cannot be used without the presence of EU monitors and PA security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas. (DPA/Ha'aretz)
  • French Internet Service Provider Cancels New Hamas Website - Amir Mizroch
    Following a report in the Jerusalem Post, the jihadist website AqsaTube has been taken off-line by its French Internet service provider OVH. Most of the AqsaTube videos inciting against Israel, glorifying terrorism, and preaching the doctrines of radical Islam were supplied by Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas-Fatah Clashes Close Al-Azhar University in Gaza
    Al-Azhar University in Gaza City was shut down by police on Thursday after Hamas-affiliated students stormed the campus of the Fatah-affiliated university. (Maan News-PA)
  • Thousands Attend Priestly Blessing in Jerusalem
    Thousands of Jews participated in the priestly blessing, or Birkat Ha'Cohanim, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Thursday. Jews who are Cohanim are believed to be descendants of priests in the First and Second Jewish Temple periods and perform a blessing ceremony of the Jewish people. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Berlin Loves Iran - Editorial
    It's been a while since German military officers attended rallies that feature threats to Jews. Last month Berlin's defense attache in Tehran resumed that tradition at Iran's annual military parade. This episode illustrates the fundamental problem with Germany's attitude toward Iran: the disconnect between what Berlin says is its official policy goal - stopping the mullahs' quest for nuclear arms - and what Berlin actually does.
        Germany remains Iran's key Western trading partner. In the first seven months of this year, Germany's Federal Office of Economics and Export Control approved 1,926 business deals with Iran - an increase of 63% over last year. During that same period, German exports to Iran rose 14%. For the record, French exports went up 21% during the first six months of the year, while Britain's exports to Tehran fell 20%. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Damascus Should Not Be Rewarded for Its "Nuanced" Position on Islamist Terrorism - Hassan Mneimneh
    Damascus has long epitomized a "nuanced" understanding of Islamist terrorism. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah have earned Syria's endorsement and significant material backing. Similarly, authorities in Damascus have fueled the insurgency in Iraq, championed as praiseworthy "resistance to U.S. occupation." Under the watch of Syria's intelligence services, the most virulent radical jihadist networks have relied on Syria as a thoroughfare through which to channel streams of suicide bombers and other jihadists into Iraq.
        Syria's choice should be simple: an end to support for all terrorism and respect for Lebanon's independence, or America will sit on the sidelines. The writer, a native of Beirut, is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Weekly Standard)
  • Israel-PA Agreement of Principles Unlikely - Aluf Benn
    U.S. Secretary of State Rice wants to conclude her term of office with an Israeli-Palestinian agreement of principles, based on the "two-state solution." However, neither Israel nor the Palestinians want an agreement of principles at this time. In addition, any Israeli leader will have to understand the needs and constraints of a weakened America, which is reeling under a financial crisis and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not burden the next president with a tiresome list of the threats facing Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Searching for the Antidote to Ahmadinejad - Dieter Bednarz
    Mohammed Atrianfar, 55, editor-in-chief of the weekly Iranian political magazine Sharwand-e Emrus (Citizens of Today), is confident that the reformers can regain their former popularity in the 2009 presidential elections. According to Atrianfar's calculations, there is significant vote potential for former President Mohammad Khatami. In the last presidential election, reformist candidates captured 16 million votes, while the traditionalists and radical conservatives under Ahmadinejad received only 12 million votes. Surveys, even those conducted by the right, indicate that Khatami is still a popular hero. In those polls, the religious scholar is a full 27 points ahead of the revolutionary fanatic Ahmadinejad. "Very few people have our president's talent," Atrianfar says derisively, "to alienate so many friends and supporters." (Der Spiegel-Germany)
        See also Iran's Reformist Ex-President Back in Spotlight - Parisa Hafezi (Reuters)
  • Things in Israel Aren't What They Seem - Oakland Ross
    The "separation barrier" that now divides a good deal of Israel from much of the West Bank is almost invariably presented in newspapers or on TV as an ugly, forbidding series of tall concrete slabs. There is just one problem with this picture. It isn't accurate, or not very. True, the portion of the barrier that snakes through Jerusalem does take the form of a concrete wall, as do several other sections of the structure, but those portions represent only about 3% of the still unfinished barricade. The rest consists of an electronically monitored chain-link fence.
        Welcome to the Middle East, where few features of the geopolitical landscape ever turn out to be exactly the way they tend to be perceived from abroad. Take the whole notion of physical separation between Israelis and Palestinians. It is surprising just how much commingling of the two sides does go on. Some West Bank roads are reserved for Israeli vehicles, but many are not, and Israelis regularly speed along the same roads as Palestinian vehicles. (Toronto Star)
  • Observations:

    Common Interests Unite U.S., Israel - Frida Ghitis (Miami Herald)

    • Almost all major American politicians profess strong and unbreakable support for the State of Israel. America's commitment to a strong relationship with Israel remains one of the unique traits that define the U.S.
    • In 1819, then ex-President John Adams wrote, ''I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation.'' President Theodore Roosevelt supported Israel three decades before its founding when he wrote, ''It seems to me entirely proper to start a Zionist state around Jerusalem.''
    • According to foreign policy scholar Walter Russell Mead, American politicians support Israel because the American people - not just the Jews - support Israel. It's as simple as that. And it has been that way since long before the founding of modern Israel in 1948.
    • According to Mead, Americans have always identified with the ideals of the State of Israel, sensing a profound symmetry between the two nations' mission in the world. As a result, although Jews make up less than 2% of the population, pollsters show popular support for Israel has remained overwhelming. Jews, says Mead, "account for at most 3% of Israel supporters in the U.S.''
    • Those who think ''Jewish money'' plays the key role forget that few countries have more money than oil-rich Arab nations that also lobby heavily in Washington. But they don't enjoy the passionate and widespread backing that Israel has throughout the U.S. and across the political spectrum.

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