Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 1, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Aid Threatened by Wage Increases - Wafa Amr (Reuters)
    Foreign donors have threatened to suspend budget aid to the PA immediately unless it reverses ballooning government wage costs, PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad said Monday.
    "We were told we could no longer count on additional assistance for budgetary support through the World Bank-administered Trust Fund in the absence of corrective measures," he said.
    The Palestinian parliament voted to increase wages earlier this year following strikes and protests by civil servants.
    Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn said that some donor payments could be held up unless the wage cost rises were addressed.

Syrian-Backed Guerillas May Pose a New Threat to Lebanon's Independence - Nicholas Blanford and Scott Macleod (TIME)
    Syrian-backed Palestinian guerrillas are emerging as a fresh threat to Lebanon's stability. Last week, after a surveyor was shot near the southeastern Lebanese village of Sultan Yacoub, hundreds of Lebanese troops and commandos surrounded mountainous outposts manned by two radical Palestinian factions.
    Palestinian fighters went on alert, planting remote-control roadside bombs around their bases and hunkering down in bunkers in preparation for a possible Lebanese army assault.
    See also Militant Factions that Have Tyrannized Palestinian Camps in Lebanon Face Disarmament - Carolynne Wheeler (AP/Globe and Mail-Canada)

Iran "Sponsors Assassination" of Sunni Pilots Who Bombed Teheran - Toby Harnden (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran is backing a Shia insurgent campaign of systematically assassinating former elite Iraqi air force pilots as part of a covert sectarian war against Sunnis, according to senior politicians in Baghdad.

Tainted Teachings: Saudi Influence on American Textbooks (JTA)
    Saudi-backed teaching materials, filled with bias and distortions of Israel, America and Islam, are penetrating American classrooms across the U.S.
    A special JTA investigation reveals who creates these materials and how some of America's most prestigious universities - with the use of federal funds - help disseminate them.

Pre-College Program for Arab Students Opens in Ariel - Talya Halkin (Jerusalem Post)
    Thirty students have begun a new pre-college program at the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel specifically designed for Arab students who do not meet academic college admissions standards.
    The one-year program, financed by the Council for Higher Education, offers math, English, Hebrew, computer, and learning skills classes.
    Some 300 Arab students are currently enrolled in the Israeli college, located in the West Bank.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Pressures Syria On Assassination Probe - Colum Lynch and Robin Wright
    The UN Security Council unanimously demanded Monday that Syria expand its cooperation with an investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Hariri or face unspecified "further action." Under the resolution, the Syrian regime is required to detain Syrian officials or individuals implicated by the UN investigation. The probe has already named Assad's brother, Maher Assad, and brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat, as central suspects. The resolution was passed under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which is legally binding and which is traditionally invoked before imposing sanctions or authorizing military action. (Washington Post)
        See also Rice Says "Isolated" Syria Put on Notice
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice painted Syria as a global pariah that faced a "strategic decision" to return to the international fold or face serious consequences. "With our decision today, we show that Syria has isolated itself from the international community through its false statements, its support for terrorism, its interference in the affairs of its neighbors, and its destabilizing behavior in the Middle East," Rice said. "Now the Syrian government needs to make a strategic decision to fundamentally change its behavior." (AFP)
  • White House Urges Abbas to Act Against Islamic Jihad
    Mahmoud Abbas must crack down on Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the wake of the suicide bombing in Hadera, Israel, last week, White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley said on Monday. "We have made it very clear to him, especially in the wake of the vicious attack in Hadera, that he should begin by acting promptly and forcefully against Palestinian Islamic Jihad," Hadley said. (Reuters)
        See also Remarks by Stephen Hadley to AIPAC (White House)
  • UN to Designate January 27 as Annual Holocaust Day - Evelyn Leopold
    Israel introduced a watershed resolution in the UN General Assembly on Monday that designates January 27 as an annual commemoration day for the six million Jews and other victims murdered in the Nazi Holocaust during World War Two. The measure, expected to be approved on Tuesday by consensus, urges members to "inculcate" future generations with the lessons on the genocide so it would not be repeated in the future. The resolution, first proposed by the U.S, Israel, Russia, Australia, and Canada, was co-sponsored by nearly 100 nations. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: "We Will Continue to Strike Those Engaged in Terror"
    Addressing the opening of the Knesset's winter session, Prime Minister Sharon said: The President of Iran's call to wipe Israel off the map expresses what many in this region wish. Their murderous intentions are expressed daily by heinous attacks. The dispatchers of terror in Iran and Damascus, in Gaza and Jenin, do not require reasons or excuses - they merely require opportunities. In the face of such reality, Israel will continue to defend itself and strike those engaged in terror. We have no choice.
        We have no desire or intention to inflict unnecessary suffering on the Palestinians and have even taken steps to facilitate their daily lives as much as possible. However, the Palestinians must realize that only a determined struggle against terror, including the dismantling of its organizations, will ensure the tranquility we all long for. The government's policy aims for implementation of the Roadmap, including the fourteen Israeli reservations, as approved by the government. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Palestinians Fire Rockets at Israel Despite Announced Agreement - Shmulik Haddad
    A Kassam rocket launched by Palestinians in Gaza landed Monday night in southern Israel. The ongoing attacks on Israel continue, despite an official announcement by the PA to the Quartet of an agreement by terror organizations to refrain from launching rockets at Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Israel to Approve EU Monitors on Gaza-Egypt Border - Herb Keinon
    The security cabinet Tuesday is slated to approve an agreement on the Rafah border crossing that will include the stationing of third party monitors, most likely from the EU. Agreement to outside monitors at Rafah is likely to pave the way for agreement to the stationing of outside monitors at other sensitive crossing points, such as at a future Gaza seaport or airport. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Nabs Hamas Militant Behind Death of Ten Israelis - Amos Harel
    The Israel Defense Forces Monday arrested Munir Qassam in Tulkarm. According to the Shin Bet security service, Qassam is a Hamas member who is suspected of working with the Islamic Jihad cell that carried out suicide bombings in Tel Aviv and Netanya earlier this year in which ten people were killed. He is also suspected of shooting attacks against soldiers and was recently involved in planning a car bombing. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Winding Damascus Road - Editorial
    The U.S. has made its task more difficult by sending Syria an unmistakable message that regime change is not on the U.S. agenda. They are likely to respond, as they usually do, with token gestures. The international community, and especially Iraq's neighbors, has more than three decades' experience with the methods of the Assad gang. For Israel, as well as for Turkey, Lebanon, and now Iraq, the lesson of those decades is that Syria does not respond to "signals." If the world cares about a free Lebanon, it needs to start caring about a free Syria. (Wall Street Journal, 1Nov05)
        See also A Warning to Syria - Editorial (New York Times);
    Signal to Damascus - Editorial (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Rage - Amir Taheri
    Since his election in June, Ahmadinejad and his "strategic advisers" have used a bellicose terminology as part of their program to put Iran on a war footing. In the past few weeks, the regime has been massively militarized with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Ahmadinejad's main power-base, seizing control of almost all levers of power. According to Gen. Salehi, one of Ahmadinejad's military advisers, a clash between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. has become inevitable. (New York Post)
        See also Iran's Useful Reminder - Jim Hoagland
    President Ahmadinejad of Iran has surged ahead for the 2005 Most Valuable Politician of the year award in the few months he has been in office. He reminds a distracted world at crucial moments of the true nature of Iran's regime, of the abiding source of conflict in the Middle East, and of the deeper meaning of global terrorism. (Washington Post)
  • Regime Change in Iran - Abbas Milani
    The only answer to the Iranian nuclear problem is democracy. The Ahmadinejad administration is already notorious for its mediocrity, and for its domination by the military and intelligence sectors. Allegations that the Islamic Republic has supplied Sunni terrorists in Iraq with armor-piercing bombs has put Iran on a collision course with the hitherto unfailingly conciliatory British. The time for a new grand bargain with Iran's people has arrived. Instead of saber-rattling, the U.S. must encourage the unfolding discussions in Iran. Every element of this new bargain must be seen as part of a grand strategy to help the Iranian people achieve their dream of democracy. The writer is director of Iranian Studies at Stanford and co-director of the Hoover Institution's Iran Democracy Project. (Wall Street Journal, 31Oct05)
  • The Iran/Al-Qaeda Axis - Peter Brookes
    The most immediate threat Iran poses to American national security isn't its nuclear (weapons) program. It's the safe haven Tehran is giving al-Qaeda terrorists, who are planning and directing jihad across the globe. Al-Qaeda "refugees" from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, North Africa, and Europe - including senior military commander Saif al-Adel, three of Osama's sons, and spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith - now operate freely from Iran under the protection of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which provides logistics help and training to al-Qaeda.
        Getting Tehran to cough up Saif al-Adel, al-Qaeda's No. 3, would be a major coup. The former Egyptian special forces colonel was involved in attacking U.S. forces in Mogadishu (1993) and the U.S. embassies in Kenya/Tanzania (1998). He was also a player in the Cole assault, trained 9/11 hijackers, orchestrated Saudi attacks, and acts as an al-Qaeda/Hizballah liaison. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    America's Hamas Dilemma: Spreading Democracy or Combating Terrorism?
    - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The Bush administration has not agreed with the Israeli position that Hamas be excluded from the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections. On September 30, 2005, Secretary of State Rice insisted that Palestinian violence could not co-exist with Palestinian politics in the future and reiterated that Hamas was a terrorist organization. Where she was fuzzy was about whether the disarming of Hamas had to precede the Palestinian elections.
    • Hamas leader Dr. Mahmud al-Zahar has explicitly stated that the goals of Hamas extend beyond the West Bank and Gaza, or even the destruction of Israel, and also affect the future stability of neighboring countries: "Our main goal is to establish a great Islamic state, be it pan-Arabic or pan-Islamic." Al-Zahar puts Hamas squarely in the camp of militant Islam. In the past, Hamas had sent a small number of operatives for training in bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan, and even established operational links with a Pakistani al-Qaeda cell in Britain.
    • The Bush administration's support for democratization of the Middle East is based on the assumption that democracies are inherently peaceful and will not encourage extremist political systems that might host terrorist groups. What happens if democracy empowers a political movement like Hamas, whose core ideology is based on belligerency?
    • Westerners engaging in a dialogue with Hamas have also been speaking with the Muslim Brotherhood, the original Egyptian fundamentalist organization, founded in 1928, from which Hamas grew as its Palestinian branch. According to a former Kuwaiti education minister, all of al-Qaeda's terrorism started from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, the Muslim Brotherhood remains fiercely anti-Western. It publishes an Arabic weekly in London called Risalat al-Ikhwan. Several months after 9/11, it changed its masthead, which until November 2001 had read: "Our mission: world domination."

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