Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 31, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Iranians Threaten the Vatican - Menachem Gantz (Maariv-Hebrew, 30Oct05)
    Iranian government officials threatened the Holy See not to join in the wave of international criticism against Iranian President Ahmadinejad for calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.
    During discussions between the sides, Tehran threatened Vatican policy-makers that such action would endanger freedom of worship for Catholics in Iran if the pope's diplomatic service identified with Israel.
    See also Vatican Denounces Iran Remarks on Israel - Nicole Winfield (AP/Guardian-UK)
    Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls on Friday condemned "certain statements, particularly serious and unacceptable, in which the right to the existence of the State of Israel was denied.''

Israel Campus Beat
- October 30, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    How Serious Is the Iranian Threat to Israel?

Three Wanted Hamas Men Return to Gaza (Xinhua-China)
    Three wanted Hamas members crossed the Gaza-Egypt border and returned to Jabalya in northern Gaza on Sunday, Palestinian security sources said.
    Nihro Mas'ood, 38, one of the founders of the Hamas al-Qassam Brigades, had been wanted by Israel for 14 years and had been living in Sudan.

Terror Cell "Smuggled Missiles into Europe," Targeting French Airport - Henry Samuel (Telegraph-UK)
    An Islamic terror cell has smuggled two surface-to-air missiles into Europe in a plot to shoot down planes at one of France's main airports, it was claimed Friday.
    French and Algerian extremists with links to al-Qaeda bought the Russian SA-18 Grouse missiles from Chechens in 2002 and smuggled them via Georgia and Turkey, according to French anti-terror sources quoted in Le Figaro.
    French anti-terrorism investigators learned of the missile terror plan while interrogating a Jordanian al-Qa'eda operative close to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the Islamic terror group in Iraq.

Muslims Behead Christian Girls in Indonesia (Gulf Daily News-Bahrain)
    Three Christian teenage girls were beheaded Saturday in an escalation of violence against non-Muslims in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province, where Muslim extremists have been linked to bombings, shootings and other attacks targeting Christians in the Poso area over the last two years.
    In May, a pair of bomb attacks killed 22 people in Tentena, which police said were the work of Islamic militants with possible links to Jemaah Islamiyah, which has ties to al-Qaeda.
    A report last year by the International Crisis Group think-tank blamed many of the Christian deaths in Poso on Mujahidin KOMPAK, an outfit with loose affiliations to Jemaah Islamiyah.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Security Council Condemns Anti-Israel Words
    The UN Security Council Saturday condemned recent comments by Iran's president that Israel should be "wiped off the map" but did not say if the world body planned any action against Iran. In a written statement, the council pointed out that all members of the UN "have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against...any state." (CNN)
        See also UN's Annan Urged to Cancel Iran Visit - Shlomo Shamir and Aluf Benn
    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been asked by ambassadors from UN Security Council member states to cancel an official visit to Tehran next week due to Iranian President Ahmadinejad's call for Israel's destruction. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran's Foreign Minister: President's Remarks Reflect Our Strategy
    Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki strongly defended on Saturday President Ahmadinejad's blistering attack on Israel and the West, saying that the president's speech "was nothing but the strategy and policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the past 27 years." (Iran Focus)
        See also Iran's Leader Joins Large Anti-Israel March - Mehrdad Mirdamadi and Karl Vick
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad joined an estimated several hundred thousand demonstrators in an annual anti-Israel march on Saturday. (Washington Post)
  • Tehran "Bounty" for Rocket Attack on Israel from West Bank - Uzi Mahnaimi
    Iran has promised a reward of $10,000 to Islamic Jihad if the militant group launches rockets from the West Bank towards Tel Aviv, a senior Palestinian intelligence official said last week. Speaking in his Ramallah office, the official produced a fat wad of $100 notes which he said had been confiscated from a pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad activist. The money was said to have gone from Iran to Damascus, from where Ibrahim Shehadeh, Islamic Jihad's head of overseas operations, transferred it to the West Bank.
        The official said the PA has located workshops where Al-Quds rockets are being made and has given their coordinates to the Israelis. "We understand they destroyed some of them," he said. The Israeli media claimed last week that rocket attacks from the West Bank were widely expected: Ben-Gurion airport's eastern runway is just five miles away and the outskirts of Tel Aviv are within 10 miles. (Times-UK)
  • Quartet to Syria: Shut Islamic Jihad Down
    Taking a strong stand against Palestinian extremists, the U.S. joined Friday with the UN, Russia, and the EU in demanding Syria immediately close the offices of Islamic Jihad in Damascus and prevent use of its territory for terror actions. The Quartet also condemned the bombing last week in the central Israeli town of Hadera in which five Israelis were killed. Islamic Jihad, which is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization, took responsibility for the attack. (AP/Fox News)
  • UN Turns Screw on Syria over Assassination Riddle - Marie Colvin and Hugh Macleod
    Last week Russia and China said they would vote against sanctions on Syria, but their opposition appeared to be crumbling. Tape recordings of Syrian and Lebanese officials discussing the car bomb attack that killed Hariri were being cited by diplomats to put teeth into a draft resolution which would require Syria to turn over suspects to international justice or face the possible use of force. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Islamic Group Linked to India Blasts - Rajesh Mahapatra
    The Front for Islamic Uprising, a little-known group that police said was linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, took responsibility Sunday for a series of bombings that killed 59 persons and wounded 210 in New Delhi. (AP/Washington Times)
        See also Lashkar, Al-Qaeda Share Cadres - Aarti Tikoo Singh
    Lashkar-e-Taiba, the primary suspect in the bomb blasts in New Delhi, has close links with the global terrorist outfit al-Qaeda, as well as the Palestinian terrorist outfit Hamas, according to highly-placed sources in India's Intelligence Bureau (IB). LeT set up its base in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990s and has succeeded in establishing its modules in all Indian states which have a substantial population of Muslims. These modules comprise well-educated and computer literate Sunni Muslim men, as per IB sources. Only Sunnis are recruited because the group propagates Sunni Wahabism, the pan-Islamic doctrine. (Times of India)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Kills Islamic Jihad Mastermind of Hadera Attack - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Three Palestinians were killed Sunday in a shootout with Israel Defense Forces troops in the West Bank town of Kabatiya. Palestinian sources said one of the men killed was Jihad Awidat, the Islamic Jihad operative who dispatched a suicide bomber to Hadera last week. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Fire Rockets into Israel - Margot Dudkevitch
    Palestinians fired at least five Kassam rockets from Gaza into the western Negev Sunday night. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shin Bet Foils Palestinian Bid to Make Kassam Rockets in West Bank - Amos Harel
    The Shin Bet security service said Sunday that it has arrested three Palestinians in an operation to thwart an attempt to establish the manufacture of high-trajectory weapons such as rockets and mortar shells in the West Bank city of Jenin. The three - senior members of the Popular Resistance Committees and Gaza residents - were arrested in the Negev on Oct. 5 at the funeral of an Egyptian-Bedouin smuggler. All three crossed into Israel via the Sinai border after bribing Egyptian police to let them through.
        The men are experienced manufacturers of rockets and explosives, and are suspected to have been involved in attacks against Israelis in the Gaza Strip. They had been sent to Jenin to create a terror network in the northern West Bank, with funding from Hamas and Hizballah. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF: Hamas Not Shooting Rockets; PA Cooperating with Iran - Eliel Shahar
    IDF Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, the head of the Military Intelligence research department, said Sunday that Hamas was not participating in the rocket fire against Israel because it does not want to lose public support. "Islamic Jihad is less influenced by this consideration because it is not participating in the elections," he said. He warned that Islamic Jihad was seeking to kidnap Israelis. He also said the PA is cooperating with Iran. "Two weeks ago Abbas sent his welfare minister, Abu al-Razek, to an event where funds from Iran were distributed to the families of terrorists. The PA sponsored the event," he said. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A President's Hate Speech - Editorial
    Ahmadinejad's vile words won't necessarily be followed by actions, though Iran possesses missiles that can reach Israel and sponsors terrorists who carry out suicide attacks in its cities. They do, however, send the clearest signal yet that Iran's new government has no intention of seeking accommodation with Europe or the U.S., or of accepting a more peaceful Middle East in which Israel lives alongside a democratic Palestinian state.
        Unlike their president, most young Iranians would like to live in a prosperous and democratic society that enjoys good relations with the West. The West should stand up for that Iran; it can do so by rejecting and isolating the hateful ideologue who would drag the country in the opposite direction. (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Zealot in Chief Does Bush a Favor - Tony Allen-Mills and Ramita Navai
    Behind the scenes, U.S. officials could barely contain their glee. For once President George W. Bush's administration did not need to unleash its rhetorical artillery against the ayatollahs of Iran - the rest of the world, led by Tony Blair, was doing it for them. "If they continue down this path then people are going to believe that they are a real threat to our world security and stability," said Blair, who also hinted at possible military action against Iran. Russia, China, and other non-aligned nations joined a chorus of complaints at Ahmadinejad's radical posturing. In Washington a senior U.S. official claimed that countries which had previously been prepared to side with Iran were now "running for the doors." The official added: "Nobody wants to be associated with someone that outlandish." (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Threat - Editorial (Boston Globe)

    • Ahmadinejad mocked every country that accepts the UN's principle of respect for the sovereignty of all other member states. For if Iran's president can openly call for the annihilation of Israel without censure or penalty, the bedrock purpose of the UN - to create a world order rooted in collective security - will be emptied of meaning.
    • It was not merely a rhetorical faux pas. The nations of the world need to take what he said at face value: as a threat. A murderous suicide bombing last week in the Israeli town of Hadera, perpetrated by the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Islamic Jihad, underlined that threat.
    • What Ahmadinejad said expressed a fanatical mentality, the outlook of a political leader who served as a security boss in Iran's notorious Evin prison after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and is said by former inmates to have personally finished off executed political prisoners with a bullet to the head.
    • It is not enough for other governments to call in Iran's ambassador and ask for an explanation of Ahmadinejad's remarks. The UN Security Council should demand that Iran retract Ahmadinejad's threats or be suspended from the world body.

        See also Menace in the Mideast - Editorial
    The frightening prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran became even more terrifying last week with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel "must be wiped off the map." The policy of exterminating Israel has been a hallmark of Iran since radical Islamists seized power in 1979. The government funds terrorist organizations and the families of suicide bombers who murder Israeli civilians. Ahmadinejad's comments should make countries more willing to impose sanctions on Iran. (Los Angeles Times)

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