Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 23, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

On Al-Qaeda Web Sites, Joy Over U.S. Crisis - Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post)
    Al-Qaeda is watching the U.S. stock market's downward slide with something akin to jubilation, with its leaders hailing the financial crisis as a vindication of its strategy of crippling America's economy through endless, costly foreign wars against Islamist insurgents.
    A new posting credited al-Qaeda with having lured Washington into a trap that had "exhausted its resources and bankrupted its economy."

Report: Hizbullah Chief Poisoned; Iranian Doctors Saved His Life - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    The Iraqi Web site Almalaf on Wednesday quoted diplomatic sources in Beirut as saying Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah was poisoned last week and that his life was saved by Iranian doctors who were rushed to Lebanon to treat him. Hizbullah has denied the report.

Britain Faces Threat from Radicalized Muslims for 30 Years - James Kirkup (Telegraph-UK)
    Britain will face a threat from radicalized young Muslims for another 30 years, the Security Minister Lord West has said.
    He warned the Commons Defense Committee that it will take decades to win the argument against terrorism and extremism in some sections of British society.
    He added that no matter how much work is done to improve Britain's ability to detect and thwart terrorist plots, the threat will only be overcome by persuading Muslims not to engage in violence.

Photo: Palestinians Smuggle Calf through Gaza Border Tunnel (AP/USA Today)

Iran's Flirtation with Luxury - Maryam Sinaiee (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    Iranians may have to rein in their new taste for such luxury goods as imported cars and brand name watches as falling oil prices compel the government to consider curbing expensive imports.
    The value of luxury imported cars is expected to amount to $2b this year, up 95% from the previous year despite high import taxes and tariffs that increase the cost of imported cars by 100%.
    Critics say by keeping the national currency artificially strong, the government has been subsidizing and encouraging imports at the cost of damaging domestic production and wasting oil revenues.

42,000 Registered U.S. Voters Live in Israel - Haviv Rettig (Jerusalem Post)
    Approximately half of some 42,000 registered U.S. voters living in Israel are voting in swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Shimon Greenspan, director of the nonpartisan Vote From Israel organization.
    Israel has the third-largest group of American voters abroad, behind Canada and Britain.

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

  • U.S. Accuses Iran of Trying to Derail Iraq Withdrawal Agreement
    Iran is seeking to "undermine" and "derail" an almost completed agreement between the U.S. and Iraq governing the long-term presence of American troops in the country, the Pentagon has claimed. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said: "Iranian meddling in Iraq takes on all forms." There was a clear attempt by Iran to "undermine, undercut, derail the SOFA (status of forces) agreement," he said. (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Iranian Bank - Jeannine Aversa
    The Bush administration on Wednesday imposed financial sanctions on the state-owned Export Development Bank of Iran. The bank provided financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, which controls Iran's ballistic missile research, development and production activities. "Iran has adopted a strategy of using less prominent institutions, such as the Export Development Bank of Iran, to handle its illicit transactions," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. (AP)
  • U.S. Transfers $150 Million to Palestinians
    The U.S. has transferred $150 million to the Palestinians, exceeding its original pledge, in order to help with the Palestinian budget. American aid to the Palestinians in 2008 now totals over $700 million and exceeds the amount the U.S. pledged at a donors conference in December 2007. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Murders Israeli in Jerusalem - Jonathan Lis
    A Palestinian was shot and captured after stabbing two Israelis in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo on Thursday. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two police officers on patrol in Gilo had stopped an Arab for questioning when he pulled out a knife and stabbed one of them. "The [wounded] policeman fired at the terrorist, but he continued to attack and stabbed a passerby, before he was apprehended," Rosenfeld said. The 86-year-old passerby later died of his wounds. (Ha'aretz/Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Killed in Air Force Training Accident - Yuval Azoulay
    Israel Air Force cadet Carmi Ilan, 19, and flight instructor Capt. Matan Asa, 24,were killed during a training flight on Wednesday when their plane crashed in the Negev. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Caught with Bomb at West Bank Checkpoint
    A 17-year-old Palestinian was detained when IDF soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus discovered he was carrying a firebomb and a pipe bomb. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • From Beirut to 9/11 - Robert C. McFarlane
    Twenty-five years ago, Iranian-trained Hizbullah terrorists bombed the United States Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 241 Americans who were part of a multinational peacekeeping force (a simultaneous attack on the French base killed 58 paratroopers). The attack was planned over several months at Hizbullah's training camp in the Bekaa Valley in central Lebanon.
        Once American intelligence confirmed who was responsible and where the attack had been planned, President Reagan approved a joint French-American air assault on the camp - only to have the mission aborted just before launching by the secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger. Four months later, all the marines were withdrawn, capping one of the most tragic and costly policy defeats in the brief modern history of American counterterrorism operations. The writer was U.S. national security adviser from 1983 to 1985. (New York Times)
  • Iran Feels Pinch of Oil Price Fall - Anna Fifield
    Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, earned about $54b from oil exports in the first half of this year, after reaping $70b last year. The government budget assumes oil prices of $55 a barrel, and any surplus is channeled into an oil stabilization fund. But this year Ahmadinejad's government has authorized the withdrawal of about $17b from the fund to finance his policies.
        Some analysts say Ahmadinejad can weather the downturn in oil prices, at least for now. Ali Shams-Ardakani, an energy expert, suggested lower prices would make the government "more cautious," but that its current policies would still be "manageable" if prices fell to $65. Anything below $55 would become uncomfortable, he added. (Financial Times-UK)
  • UN Resolution 1701: A View from the U.S. - Michael Singh
    Two years after the 2006 Israel-Hizbullah war, arms continue to flow, Hizbullah has rebuilt and enhanced its military strength, Lebanon remains fractured by violent political divisions, and tensions between Iran and Israel have increased. At the same time, the need for full and effective enforcement of UN Resolution 1701 which ended that war remains urgent.
        It is critical to stop the flow of arms to the militias that hold Lebanon hostage. Any further European moves to revive EU-Syria relations should stipulate that Damascus cooperate in ending the flow of arms into Lebanon. The EU should also emulate the British government's recent designation of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. In addition, the international community and Lebanon's regional partners should take meaningful action to secure the Lebanese-Syrian border, or Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora should charge UNIFIL with that mission under the authority provided him by Resolution 1701. The writer is former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Stopping a Nuclear Tehran - Daniel R. Coats and Charles S. Robb (Washington Post)

    • The first and most pressing national security issue the next president will face is the growing prospect of a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran. After co-chairing a recently concluded, high-level task force on Iranian nuclear development, we have come to believe that five principles must serve as the foundation of any reasonable, bipartisan and comprehensive Iranian policy.

      1. An Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons capability would be strategically untenable. It would threaten U.S. national security, regional peace and stability, energy security, the efficacy of multilateralism, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. Simply obtaining the ability to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon would effectively give Iran a nuclear deterrent and drastically multiply its influence in the region. Allowing the Middle East to fall under the dominance of a radical clerical regime that supports terrorism should not be considered a viable option.
      2. We believe the only acceptable end state is the complete cessation of enrichment activities inside Iran. We foresee no combination of international inspections or co-ownership of enrichment facilities that would provide sufficient assurances that Iran is not producing weapons-grade fissile material. Indeed, the enrichment facility at Natanz is already technically capable - once Iran has a sufficient stockpile of low-enriched uranium - of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear device in four weeks, more than fast enough to elude detection by international inspectors.
      3. While a diplomatic resolution is still possible, it can succeed only if we negotiate from a position of strength. This will require better coordination with our international partners and much stricter sanctions. Negotiations with Iran would probably be ineffective unless our European allies sever commercial relations with Tehran.
      4. So that Israel does not feel compelled to take unilateral action, the next president must credibly convince Jerusalem that the U.S. will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons capability.
      5. While military action against Iran is feasible, it must remain an option of last resort. The U.S. military is capable of launching a devastating strike on Iran's nuclear and military infrastructure - probably with more decisive results than the Iranian leadership realizes.
    • Time may be shorter than many imagine, and failure could carry a catastrophic cost to the national interest.

      Former Senators Daniel R. Coats (R-IN) and Charles S. Robb (D-VA) are co-chairmen of the Bipartisan Policy Center's national security task force on Iran.

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