Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 10, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Zarqawi's Jordanian Agenda - Matthew Levitt and Julie Sawyer (Jamestown Foundation)
    An East Banker and a member of the Bani Hassan tribe (one of the largest in Jordan), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi spent several years in Afghanistan in his early twenties. In 1999, King Abdullah assumed the throne and issued a general amnesty in which Zarqawi was freed.
    After his release, Zarqawi moved to Pakistan, and then Afghanistan where he ran a training camp near Herat. After 9/11, he settled in northern Iraq where he met up with Jordanians from his hometown of Zarqa.
    Zarqawi was involved in a plot to target hotels frequented by Jewish and American tourists in Amman during millennial celebrations.
    In October 2002, Zarqawi planned and facilitated the assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Amman.
    One of Zarqawi's most successful operations targeting Jordanian interests was the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad in August 2003.
    In April 2004, Jordanian officials announced they had thwarted a major plot to attack various locations in Amman, including the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID) Headquarters, the Prime Ministry, and the U.S. Embassy.
    Jordanian authorities maintain that the twenty tons of explosives intended for the multiple coordinated attacks contained more than ninety-two chemicals and would have resulted not only in a large explosion but a chemical cloud.
    Jordanian experts maintain that the bomb had the potential to injure 160,000 people.
    Just as disconcerting is the fact that this attack was largely funded and facilitated by a logistical support network operating out of Jordan and Syria.
    Matthew Levitt is a senior fellow and Director of Terrorism Studies, and Julie Sawyer is a research assistant, at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

72% of Lebanese Favor Disarmament of Palestinians (Al-Bawaba-Jordan)
    72% of Lebanese are in favor of disarming Palestinians in Lebanon, while 54% are in favor of ousting pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, according to a poll published Tuesday, conducted by Statistics Lebanon Ltd.
    55% supported the disarmament of Hizballah.

Israeli Archaeologists Decry New Wakf "Renovations" on Temple Mount - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    In a renewed dispute, a group of Israeli archaeologists from the non-partisan Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount has condemned the Wakf's planned renovation of an ancient tower adjacent to the Temple Mount, warning that such a move is part of a long-running plan by the Islamic Trust to expand a recently-created mosque at the Jerusalem holy site.
    The site in question, known as Hatuniyah, lies adjacent to the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Suicide Bombers Kill 67 at Three Jordanian Hotels - Suleiman al-Khalidi and Dina Wakeel
    Three suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up Wednesday at three international hotels in Jordan's capital Amman, killing 67 people and wounding 115 others. Most of the victims were Jordanians. Two bombs exploded while crowds were celebrating weddings at the Grand Hyatt hotel and the Radisson SAS. A third blast targeted a Days Inn hotel. Counter-terrorism officials pointed the finger at al-Qaeda and its leader in Iraq, Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. (Reuters/ABC News)
        See also Iraq's Al-Qaeda Claims Jordan Blasts
    Iraq's al-Qaeda said on Thursday it had carried out the bomb attacks in Jordan. "A group of our best lions launched a new attack on some dens....After casing the targets, some hotels were chosen which the Jordanian despot turned into a backyard for the enemies of the faith, the Jews and crusaders," said a statement posted on an Islamist website usually used by the group. (
        See also Palestinian Intelligence Chief Killed in Jordan Hotel Blast
    The head of the Palestinian intelligence services, Bashir Nafeh, was killed in the attack on the Grand Hyatt hotel, Palestinian charge d'affaires Atallah Khairy told AFP. (AFX News/Forbes)
        See also Israelis Evacuated from Amman Hotel Hours Before Bombings - Yoav Stern
    A number of Israelis staying at the Radisson hotel were evacuated before the bombing on Wednesday by Jordanian security forces, apparently due to a specific security alert. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hizballah Identified in 1994 Argentina Attack
    The Argentine government on Wednesday identified a Hizballah militant as the suicide bomber who destroyed a Jewish community center and killed 85 people in 1994. Prosecutor Alberto Nisman said Ibrahim Hussein Berro, a Lebanese citizen who "belonged to Hizballah," detonated a van packed with explosives in downtown Buenos Aires. Berro reportedly had been in contact with the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires. (AP/CNN)
  • Wiesel Joins Hundreds to Denounce Iran Call to Wipe Israel Off Map - Alec Magnet
    Elie Wiesel, Richard Holbrooke, and more than a dozen other civic and religious leaders gathered across from the Iranian mission to the UN in New York Wednesday to denounce the Iranian president's call to "wipe Israel off the map." "When a leader of a nation violates all standards of morality and decency by announcing to the whole world his wish to see a nation member of the international community wiped off the map, our immediate response cannot be anything but anger and outrage," Wiesel said. (New York Sun, 10Nov05)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Peres Defeated as Labor Party Chairman - Attila Somfalvi
    Histadrut labor federation leader Amir Peretz defeated Shimon Peres by 42% to 40% in the Labor party primary election on Wednesday to become the party's new chairman. (Ynet News)
  • PA Security Forces on Verge of Collapse - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA security forces are on the verge of collapse because of rampant corruption and growing anarchy, according to a letter sent by a large group of PA security officers to PA Chairman Abbas. The letter contradicts claims by Abbas that he has taken practical steps to reform the security forces. "We urge you to get acquainted with what's really happening inside the security forces, which have begun disintegrating because of corruption, mismanagement, and placing private interests above the national interests of the people, especially with regard to the state of lawlessness prevalent in the Palestinian territories," the officers said.
        In another challenge to Abbas, some of the PA's ambassadors overseas are refusing to give up their posts to newly appointed envoys. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Atrocity in Amman - Editorial
    All Arab countries - not just Iraq - are threatened by jihadist violence. Previously, the governments of Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have affected a pro-American foreign policy while using state-run media to feed anti-American flames and praise the Iraqi "resistance." That will no longer do. (Wall Street Journal, 10Nov05)
  • Al-Qaeda's Search for New Fronts: Instructions for Jihadi Activity in Egypt and Sinai - Reuven Paz
    On September 25, 2005, a known al-Qaeda supporter, nicknamed Abu Muhammad al-Hilali, published a unique analysis on the Internet, combining it with instructions for jihadi terrorist activity in Egypt, mainly the Sinai Peninsula. The analysis is based upon the two series of terrorist attacks at the Taba Hilton hotel and two resorts in Sinai in October 2004, and the attack at the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh in July 2005. We might face a new phase in al-Qaeda's or, more accurately, the global jihad movement's attempts to identify new fronts in the Arab world - beside Iraq - in which to conduct the struggle. (Project for the Research of Islamist Movements/GLORIA)
  • A Moment of Truth for Syria - Dennis Ross
    Bashar Assad, who has been the Syrian president for the past five years, seems to lack his father's guile and understanding of limits that need to be respected. As a result, Syria is completely isolated both within the Middle East and outside it. Assad might soon be called on to turn Assef Shawkat, his brother-in-law (the head of Syrian intelligence), and Maher Assad, his brother (the head of the presidential guard), over for questioning or even to a non-Syrian court for trial.
        Ironically, the threat to the regime today might come more from those within Syria who feel that to forestall international sanctions, the regime must be removed. The alternative to Assad's Alawi faction might not be the Muslim Brotherhood but a militarily-led Sunni-Alawi-dominated regime. (USA Today)
  • Ahmadinejad Calls for Israel's Elimination and Declares War on the West: A Case Study of Incitement to Genocide - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad's call for the elimination of Israel led to many condemnations, including from the UN Security Council and the EU. This censure - though only verbal - differed from the usual Western silence concerning genocidal statements of Iranian leaders in previous years. Possible explanations for the West's reaction include opposition to Iran's nuclear program and Iran's support for terrorism in Iraq. Moreover, Ahmadinejad directly threatened the West in his address: "We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance [i.e., the West] and the Islamic world." He also stated that "a world without America and Zionism" is "attainable."
        The official Iranian News Agency headlined the speech: "World Without U.S. Achievable," indicating one of the Iranian president's main messages. In that spirit, a top Iranian military commander, Maj.-Gen. Ataollah Saleh, stated that a clash between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. has become inevitable. A few days later, the Iranian Ministry of Education announced that 20 million students in primary schools would chant "Death to America" to mark the anniversary of the occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran in 1979. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Address the "Jewish Question" Without Resorting to Propaganda
    - Walid Salem (Daily Star-Lebanon)

    • As a Palestinian who has worked in positions of responsibility for the last 31 years, including five years spent as a political prisoner, it is very difficult for me to continue as if nothing has happened when hearing a president of an Islamic state returning to the slogans of the 1960s and 1970s calling for the elimination of Israel. At that time, these were the slogans of the Arab nationalist movements (and also the Palestinian armed Marxist organizations). Today, these slogans have become Islamist political propaganda resurrected by the Iranians and different political movements that use Islam as their announced ideology. The dangers of such slogans lie not only in their role in incitement, but also in the fact that they express a lack of strategic vision.
    • How do we deal with the "Jewish question" in the Israeli-Palestinian and Islamic contexts? Were the rights of the Jews throughout the ages guaranteed in Arabic and Islamic countries? If the answer to this question is yes, then why did the Jews of these countries emigrate to Israel? Moreover, what have Arabs and Islamic countries done in order to maintain good relations with those Jews once they migrated to Israel?
    • Do Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others of his ilk think that their propaganda helps Palestinians? Do they, on the other hand, help Israel integrate into the Middle East? Or does their attitude just help to increase those trends that call for Israel to be part of the West and to disconnect itself from Eastern culture and ties?
    • Do such statements help bring peace to the Middle East or more hatred and violence and the proliferation of nuclear weapons? Does Ahmadinejad hope to use these weapons to eliminate Israel? Moreover, does he realize that an Israeli response might bring about the elimination of Iran and probably other Middle Eastern countries? Why are we giving momentum to militarization and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, instead of peace? What does this say about our leaders?
    • Will we accept the challenge of integrating Israel into the area? Even if the creation of Israel was not our direct responsibility, it is still our overall humanitarian responsibility to find a common solution to the Jewish question rather than to react to the suffering emanating from the establishment of Israel by causing anguish for the Jewish people. These are issues that Ahmadinejad did not think of because his very blind strategy can't see the humanity of the opposing side.
    • Is this the tolerant Islam that all average citizens know, the Islam that recognizes the "other"? Is this the Islam that promotes equal rights for all people whatever their religion, color, sex, etc? These blind ideologies have nothing to do with Islam. They only create the opposite of what Islam stands for: they create hatred out of religious differences, thereby generating religious wars.
    • Moderate Muslims are called upon to raise their voices and call for a real and intensive discussion about the Jewish question and about Israel's position in the Middle East. Without such fruitful discussion, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be resolved.

      The writer is director of the eastern Jerusalem office of Panorama, the Center for the Dissemination of Democracy and Community Development.

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