Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 3, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Senior Iranian Commander Led Hizbullah Drill in South Lebanon (Ha'aretz)
    Qassem Suleimani, a senior Iranian military official, commanded a Hizbullah drill south of the Litani River in southern Lebanon two weeks ago, Israel TV Channel 10 reported Tuesday.
    Suleimani is the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and is considered an emissary between Iran and Hizbullah.

U.S., Israel Work to Hinder Iran Nuclear Plans - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    Straw companies were established that sold defective equipment to Iran, thus "poisoning" its nuclear program. The companies first sold Iran proper equipment to establish trust, and then supplied equipment fitted with listening devices or Trojan horses.
    Some Swiss businessmen who played a major role in the smuggling network led by Dr. Abdul Khader Khan, the Pakistani who sold Iran the centrifuge diagrams, were actually CIA agents.
    This is only the tip of the iceberg of Israeli and Western efforts to block Iran's nuclear program.

Al-Qaeda-Style Extremism Gaining Power within Hamas - Jonathan Spyer (Jerusalem Post)
    Al-Qaeda-type Salafi Islam is rising in popularity within the ranks of Hamas, particularly in the movement's Izzadin Kassam Brigades.
    The growth of Salafism within Hamas is part of a larger pattern of increasingly extreme Islamic piety and practice in Gaza.
    The key tactical planner of the Brigades, Nizar Rayyan, is a known supporter of Salafism. Rayyan is believed to have formulated Hamas' operational plan for the takeover of Gaza in July 2007, and is in charge of weapons production for the Brigades.
    Most of the five brigade commanders of Izzadin Kassam are also Salafis.
    Salafi supporters within Izzadin Kassam are organized, and are known to have made contact with the al-Qaeda leadership.
    The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.

University of Ottawa Agency Snubs Hillel for "Relationship to Apartheid Israel" - Barbara Kay (National Post-Canada)
    The University of Ottawa Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) has cited the Jewish student group Hillel's "relationship to apartheid Israel" as a reason for turning down a request for funds to sponsor a speech given by Israel Sariri, the head of a Ugandan group working with schools that feed and educate 500 Jewish, Muslim and Christian children studying together.
    Since the event was not politically controversial, there is no other conclusion to draw from OPIRG's decision than the fact that all Jewish organizations - and therefore all Jews - are guilty by association with Israel and therefore fair game for discrimination.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel to EU: Support Current Peace Talks
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged EU parliamentarians on Tuesday to support U.S.-backed peace talks with the Palestinians rather than promote separate initiatives. "Even if it takes more time, we do not need intervention by the international community with bridging proposals," she said in Brussels. "The eagerness of the international community can lead to a failure that nobody can afford," she added.
        Israelis generally see the Europeans as overly sympathetic to the Palestinians. An EU proposal to deploy an international force in the administered territories was coolly received by Israel. (Reuters)
  • NATO, Israel Boost Anti-Terror Cooperation
    NATO and Israel agreed Tuesday to boost cooperation in the fight against terrorism and to increase military ties, an alliance official said. "We have updated, to reinforce it, the individual program of cooperation signed by NATO and Israel in October 2006," the official said, noting that "the fight against terrorism and the organization of joint military maneuvers were part of the sectors where the agreement was boosted." (AFP)
  • Intelligence Warned of Mumbai Attack - Mark Sappenfield
    New reports suggest that both Indian and American intelligence agencies had foreseen the threat to Mumbai. On Sept. 18 and 24, India's top intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, intercepted two satellite phone calls in which a member of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba discussed an operation that would attack Mumbai by boat, according to the Hindustan Times. One call mentioned the Taj Mahal Hotel. Moreover, a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN Tuesday that "the United States warned the Indian government about a potential maritime attack against Mumbai at least a month before last week's massacre in Mumbai." (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Mumbai Gunmen Used Technology as Tactical Tool - Emily Wax
    The Mumbai attackers made sophisticated use of high technology in planning and carrying out their assault. The attackers who set out for Mumbai by sea navigated with Global Positioning System equipment, according to Indian investigators and police. They carried BlackBerrys, CDs holding high-resolution satellite images like those used for Google Earth maps, and multiple cellphones with switchable SIM cards that would be hard to track. They spoke by satellite telephone. "The terrorists would not have been able to carry out these attacks had it not been for technology," said G. Parthasarathy, an internal security expert at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Urges EU: Don't Normalize Syria Ties - Herb Keinon
    With Syria and the EU set to initial an association agreement formalizing ties on Dec. 14, Israel called on the EU not to rush into normalizing relations with an un-reformed Damascus. Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy called upon the Europeans not to "act hastily toward reaching an agreement with Syria in a way that will grant them a gift they don't deserve at this stage." Levy said Syria had done nothing since 2004 to show that it was genuinely interested in peace or calm in the region. "There is an unbearable discrepancy between what they say and what they do," Levy said. "They speak about peace and tranquility, but supply Hizbullah with arms, host the headquarters of terrorist organizations in their capital and are engaged in various unsavory activities in the Middle East." (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Opposes Plan for NATO in West Bank - Yaakov Katz
    Israeli defense officials said Tuesday they were opposed to the deployment of a NATO force in the West Bank following an Israeli withdrawal, a plan supported by president-elect Obama's choice for U.S. national security adviser, Gen. James Jones. A top IDF officer said, "NATO is a very bad idea....No other country in the world has successfully dealt with terror like Israel has. There is a need for continuous combat; NATO will not want to endanger its soldiers on behalf of Israeli citizens." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Mortar Hits Gaza Power Cable - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    Palestinians fired eight mortar shells at Israel on Wednesday, one of which damaged a power cable transferring electricity to Gaza, Army Radio reported. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinian gunmen fired two Kassam rockets from Gaza at Israel on Tuesday. The Israel Air Force killed two Gaza terrorists near Rafah responsible for firing mortar shells at Israel. Four other gunmen were injured. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Could a Mumbai-Style Attack Happen in the U.S.? - David Ignatius
    The Mumbai attacks were a ghastly reminder of the threat still posed by al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups. What would happen if roving gunmen infiltrated U.S. cities and started shooting? "Mumbai is a worst-case 'active shooter' problem," says a former CIA officer who helped organize a Department of Homeland Security program on the subject for police chiefs. "It had multiple shooters, multiple locations, mobile threats, willingness to fight the first responders and follow-on SWAT/commando units, well-equipped and well-trained operatives, and a willingness to die. Police department commanders in America should be scratching their heads and praying."
        The Mumbai attacks are a powerful demonstration of the danger for cities around the world. The reason to discuss such threats isn't to feed anti-terrorism hysteria. The challenge is to understand the adversary so that if an attack comes, the authorities will respond with cool heads and steady aim. (Washington Post)
  • Psychotic Terrorists in Search of a Grievance - David Aaronovitch
    Why kill the rabbi? Why invade the small headquarters of a small outreach sect of a small religion? The one surviving attacker said his group came largely from rural southern Punjab in Pakistan. It is therefore unlikely that any of them had even encountered a Jew, or knew anyone else who had. Yet last week, Nariman [Habad] House was chosen for special murderous attention. It reminded me of the 2003 Istanbul bombings when - post Iraq war - specifically British and American targets were augmented, for some reason, by blowing up synagogues belonging to the much diminished Jewish population of that city.
        The only possible reason for going to such lengths to seek out a few Jews is ideology - because someone has told you, and you have accepted, that these people are your particular enemies. One sees here a psychosis in search of a grievance, not an expression of an existing grievance. There isn't anything that will persuade such people, once radicalized, not to try to kill us. (Times-UK)
  • The Rabbi and the Terrorists - Dennis Prager
    Why would a terrorist group of Islamists from Pakistan whose primary goal is to have Pakistan gain control of the third of Kashmir that belongs to India devote so much of its efforts to killing a rabbi and any Jews with him? For the Islamists, as for the Nazis, the destruction of the Jews is central to their worldview. With all the Pakistani Islamists' hatred of Hindus, the terrorists did not attack one Hindu temple. With all their hatred of Christian infidels, they did not seek out one of the 700,000 Christians in Mumbai. Great evils often begin with the murder of Jews, and therefore non-Jews who dismiss Jew-hatred (aka anti-Semitism, aka anti-Zionism) will learn too late that Jew- and Israel-haters only begin with Jews but never end with them. (Town Hall)
        See also Double Standards Becloud War on Terrorism - Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman
    At Mumbai's Habad House of fellowship and prayer, six religious people - none of them intelligence officers - were bound, tortured, and executed because they were Jews, just as Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl had his head cut off in Pakistan because, as he told his kidnappers, "I am Jewish." What else must murderous groups like al-Qaeda and its cohorts have to do to convince the media and the world that Mumbai is just the latest in their murderous global jihad against any nation or any believer - Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim - who opposes them? Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Dr. Harold Brackman, a historian, is a consultant for the center. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Decoupling Syria from Iran: Constraints on U.S.-Syrian Rapprochement - David Schenker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs - Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Damascus' foray into diplomacy with Israel has had little discernable effect on Syria's longstanding, unhelpful policies vis-a-vis Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestinian politics.
    • While moving Syria into the Western camp would be a great accomplishment, it's not clear that this development would necessarily constitute a long-term strategic setback for Iranian efforts to undermine U.S. policy in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Iraq. In the absence of Syria, Iran would still be capable of supporting Hizbullah, Hamas, and its Shiite allies in Iraq.
    • Developments in Damascus point to an erosion of state security and a domestically-weakened regime. Internationally, however, Syrian diplomatic gains are irrefutable and have buoyed the regime.
    • In this fluid environment, the Assad regime is betting that an Obama administration will provide relief, and the opportunity to reassert itself in Lebanon and reintegrate into the international community.
    • Yet the ultimate disposition of the new administration's policy toward Syria is far from certain, particularly if the Assad regime continues to pursue its unhelpful regional policies. In this regard, Assad's hopes for a dramatic change in U.S. Syria policy may be short-lived.

      The writer is a senior fellow in Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as country director for Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.

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