Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 22, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Ranks Highest in Political Freedom in Middle East (BBC News)
    The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked 20 Middle Eastern countries on 15 indicators of political and civil liberty.
    On a 10-point scale, Israel ranked first with 8.20, followed by Lebanon: 6.55 and Morocco: 5.20.
    At the bottom of the list were Saudi Arabia: 2.80, Syria: 2.80, and Libya: 2.05.

EU Monitors Ignore Ban on Hamas - Daniel Dombey (Financial Times-UK)
    EU foreign ministers on Monday gave the green light to contacts with Hamas candidates in the forthcoming Palestinian elections, even though the Islamist group is on the EU's official list of proscribed terrorist organizations.

Interpol: Bio-Terror Strike "Inevitable"
(BBC News)
    Interpol head Ron Noble told a bio-terror conference in Cape Town, South Africa, on Monday, "Al-Qaeda has openly claimed the right to kill four million people using biological and chemical weapons."
    "Al-Qaeda is willing, able, and patient enough to plan and prepare to execute terrorist acts that [once] would have been considered unrealistic or fantasy," he said.
    "The potential consequences of such an attack could be so far-reaching that a lack of action in preventing bio-terrorism poses an unacceptable risk to the safety of societies around the world," he concluded.

Egyptians Kill Three Bombing Suspects - Ashraf Sweilam (AP/Washington Post)
    Egyptian security forces Monday killed Salem Khadr el-Shenoub and two other militants accused in deadly bombings of tourist resorts in Egypt's Sinai peninsula in the past year.
    The three men were killed in a shootout when security forces raided their hide-out in the Halal mountain range in Sinai.

SAS Snipers Kill Baghdad Suicide Squad - Sean Rayment (Telegraph-UK)
    British Special Air Service (SAS) snipers killed three suicide bombers in Baghdad in July as part of an undercover, shoot-to-kill operation.
    Each terrorist was wearing a suicide vest laden with explosives. They were intending to target cafes and restaurants frequented by members of the Iraqi security forces.
    Details of the mission remained secret until now primarily because it was launched the same week that a police unit in London shot dead a Brazilian electrician in the mistaken belief that he was a suicide bomber.

Useful Reference:

Guide for the Perplexed: The End of the 16th Knesset - Dan Izenberg (Jerusalem Post)
    Q&A on the Israeli political process.


Key Links

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Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Building Nukes in Underground Locations - Luiz Martinez and Jacqueline Shire
    Iran has built, with the help of North Korea, dozens of underground tunnels and facilities for the construction of nuclear-capable missiles, Alireza Jafardazeh, a former spokesman for the Iranian opposition National Council of the Resistance of Iran, said Monday in Washington. Jafarzadeh described an "extensive large-scale operation" for the development of nuclear-capable missiles "in the most sophisticated, hidden way" in tunnels in a mountain range east of Tehran. (ABC News)
        See also Europe Moves Toward Delay of Iran Referral - Steven R. Weisman
    There were growing indications that the leading countries of Europe would not move later this week to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program. China, Russia, and India have all said they oppose a referral to the Security Council at this time. If Iran's case is not referred to the Security Council on Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, its next opportunity would be well into next year. (New York Times)
  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Gains in Elections - Maggie Michael
    The banned Muslim Brotherhood locked up about one-quarter of the parliamentary seats open in two rounds of balloting, according to results released Monday - an unexpectedly strong sign of Egypt's increasing turn toward conservative Islam. Candidates affiliated with the Brotherhood held only 15 seats in the outgoing 454-seat People's Assembly. Of the 308 seats open in the first and second rounds, the Brotherhood took 81 outright and has sent 41 candidates to a second-round run-off on Saturday. (AP/Washington Post)
  • EU to Support Palestinian Police
    EU foreign ministers have approved a European police mission to monitor the Egypt-Gaza Strip border crossing. The EU is to provide about 70 people, with up to 20 set to be in place for the crossing's scheduled opening on Friday. It will be the EU's first major role on the ground in the Middle East. (BBC News)
  • Israel Threatens to Leave EuroMed Parliament
    Israel threatened to walk out of the Euro-Mediterranean parliamentary assembly (EuroMed) meeting in Morocco. "We are fed up with being used as a punching bag for Arab members while the Europeans just sit and watch," said Israeli Deputy Education Minister Majali Wahabi. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Vatican to Israeli President: "Help Us Keep Bethlehem"
    On the occasion of the visit of the president of Israel, Moshe Katsav, to the Vatican last Thursday, the vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, Father Artemio Vitores, said: "Help us keep Bethlehem, where Christians are ever fewer." According to Father Vitores, Christians were the majority in 1965. "Today we are less than 12%. In recent years, impoverished by economic, social, and religious difficulties, at least 3,000 Christians have left Bethlehem in search of better prospects. There is a danger that Christians may disappear from Bethlehem altogether." (Zenit-Italy)
        See also Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society - Justus Reid Weiner (JCPA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • 11 Israelis Injured, 4 Hizballah Terrorists Killed in Failed Kidnap Attempt on Lebanese Border - Amos Harel
    At least four Hizballah terrorists were killed Monday trying to kidnap soldiers from IDF outposts on the Lebanese border, and seven soldiers and four civilians were wounded in a series of clashes. Hizballah launched simultaneous attacks on several areas along the northern border. With artillery fire as a diversion, Hizballah cells infiltrated the village of Ghajar, part of which is inside Israeli territory, and attacked a post manned by Israeli soldiers at the southern entrance to the village. The soldiers killed four gunmen. In the firefight, several IDF soldiers and four Israeli citizens, residents of Ghajar, were wounded.
        The Hizballah shelling continued throughout the afternoon, as a large number of Katyusha rockets and mortar shells fell in Kiryat Shmona, Metula and other northern settlements. Galilee panhandle and Western Galilee residents spent several hours in bomb shelters for the first time since the Israeli military withdrew from Lebanon in May 2000. Defense Minister Mofaz said, "We believe the Syrians and the Iranians are behind the Hizballah fire, using the escalation on the border to direct the spotlight on Israel and away from Syria, which is under tremendous international pressure." (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Terrorists from Gaza Infiltrated into Israel from Sinai - Amos Harel
    Police on Monday revealed that last month they caught three Palestinian terrorists from Gaza and an Egyptian citizen, members of Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who had infiltrated into Israel from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in an attempt to build terror infrastructures and kidnap an Israeli. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What the West Offers Islam - Amir Taheri
    In Paris a rich diversity of brands of Islam exist side by side in freedom and security. These include sects banned in almost all Muslim nations, where their members are persecuted, imprisoned, and sometimes executed as "deviants." In this French haven of peace, you can live and practice your Islam the way you understand it - a gift rarely available in any officially Islamic country. Such a gift exists because French society keeps the private space distinct from the public one. Yet the idea of religion as a private affair is abhorrent to most Muslims, for Islam aims to rule every single aspect of individual and collective life.
        Groups that claim to represent Muslims never use the adjective "French." Rather, they call themselves an Association of Muslims in France or Council of Muslims of France. You are a Muslim who happens to live in France, never a Frenchman who happens to be a Muslim. The West is the only place where all Muslim schools freely propagate their ideas and maintain their places of worship and seminaries without restriction. In Muslim-majority countries, the dominant school of Islam bans all other schools. (New York Post)
  • Bashing Israel May Backfire - Roya Hakakian
    Twenty-five years of demonizing America has sent the Great Satan's popularity skyrocketing among young Iranians. In similar fashion, the passion for the Palestinian cause is cooling, and the average Iranian is beginning to look at Israel with new interest. Iranian bloggers are expressing their exhaustion with the regime's embrace of the Palestinian cause at the expense of Iranians' welfare.
        Fifty years after it was first spoken, Martin Niemoeller's famous warning proved true in Iran: First they came for the Baha'is, then the Jews, then the women, until they came for the average Iranian who, by then, had no choice but to subject himself to the dark rule of theocracy. (Washington Post)
  • Growth of Islam in Russia Brings Soviet Response - Steven Lee Myers
    Across all of Russia, Islamic faith is on the rise. So is Islamic militancy, and fear of such militancy. In the Caucasus, Islamic-inspired violence has killed far more people than terrorists have in Western Europe. The paradox is that in today's Russia, Muslims have never been freer. Islam is officially recognized as one of Russia's four principal religions, along with Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, and Judaism. Russia has applied to join the Organization of Islamic States.
        However, believers outside of the state's Muslim departments are increasingly viewed with suspicion because of the radicalization of Chechnya and other republics. They are denounced as Wahhabis, followers of the puritanical sect from Saudi Arabia, a word that has become Russian shorthand for any Islamic militant. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    An Underwater Response to the Iranian Nuclear Program - Reuven Pedatzur (Ha'aretz)

    • On Tuesday, an agreement will be signed for the supply of two German-built Dolphin submarines to the Israel Navy. There is a direct link between Israel's submarine procurement and the Iranian nuclear program.
    • As it emerged during the Cold War period, the development of a second-strike capability is the most effective deterrent in the face of a nuclear threat: the development of weapons systems that the enemy cannot destroy even if it launches a surprise nuclear strike. Submarines offer the most reliability when its comes to second-strike capability. They are difficult to locate, and even more difficult to hit.
    • Foreign sources say that Israeli officials have decided to use the submarines to develop a second-strike capability and, as a result, the vessels have been equipped with nuclear missiles. The acquisition of the additional submarines will allow the Israel Navy to have two submarines out at sea on a permanent basis, and thereby significantly boost Israel's deterrent reliability in the face of a nuclear enemy.
    • A nuclear Iran is not a heartwarming vision, but the right kind of preparations on the part of Israel in the face of the expected threat could neutralize it.

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