Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 7, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Warning to Israelis: Leave Sinai Immediately - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    The anti-terror command at the Prime Minister's Office called Tuesday for all Israelis to leave the Sinai Peninsula immediately due to warnings that terrorists plan to kidnap vacationers.

Israel Expects More Suicide Attacks - Julie Stahl (CNS News)
    Israel has reason to believe that Islamic Jihad is planning more suicide attacks, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
    "We have specific information that there are more bombers out there," said Regev. "The same group that activated the bomber [in Netanya] has sent out others."
    "The whole process of reconciliation that we want to see succeed [requires] the Palestinian Authority to act decisively and take the guns away from Islamic Jihad," Regev said.

Saudi Tells Fox How to Report the News (Middle East Online-UK)
    Billionaire Saudi Prince al-Walid bin Talal on Monday told the Arab and World Media Conference in Dubai that during last month's street protests in France, the U.S. Fox television network - owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in which Al-Walid himself has shares - ran a banner saying: "Muslim riots."
    "I picked up the phone and called Murdoch... (and told him) these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty," he said.
    "Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from Muslim riots to civil riots."

    See also Courage In Their Coverage - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
    At a conference in Dubai I heard a new voice of professionalism and accountability that is shaping the movement for change in the Arab world.
    The best of the Arab journalists are my heroes. They are risking imprisonment and death to tell the truth.

Bin Laden Had a Bullet Ready in Case He Was Caught (Reuters/New York Times)
    Osama bin Laden has vowed never to be taken alive and once gave his bodyguard a pistol with two bullets to shoot him if it appeared that he might be caught, according to The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History, a new book of interviews with people who know the al-Qaeda leader by CNN security expert Peter Bergen.

The School that Terrorism Built - Joe Kaufman (FrontPageMagazine)
    In July 2003, the Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF), a private school based in the Temple Terrace suburb of Tampa Bay, was suspended from receiving taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers.
    IAF was named in a 50-count indictment as having been a part of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Enterprise, related to a terrorist organization that targets Israeli civilians, using young Arabs as human bombs.
    The school is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a Saudi-financed organization with roots in the Muslim Brotherhood that controls the assets of many of the most dangerous mosques and Islamic centers inside the U.S.

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  • U.S. Blasts Security Council for Failing to Condemn Terror Attack in Israel - Peter Heinlein
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton issued a statement Tuesday unequivocally condemning the bomb attack in the Israeli town of Netanya that killed at least five people. The unusual action came after a U.S. attempt to have the statement issued by the Security Council was rejected. Bolton blamed Algeria for quashing the measure by objecting to a passage urging Syria to close offices of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which claims responsibility for the attack. "You have to speak up in response to these terrorist attacks. It's a great shame that the Security Council couldn't speak to this terrorist attack in Netanya, but if the Council won't speak, the United States will," he said. (VOA News)
  • Florida Professor Acquitted of Aiding Palestinian Terror Group - Spencer S. Hsu and Dan Eggen
    A federal jury acquitted former Florida professor Sami al-Arian Tuesday of conspiring to aid a Palestinian group in killing Israelis through suicide bombings. Al-Arian, 47, was found not guilty on eight of 17 counts, including conspiracy to maim or murder. Jurors deadlocked on the rest of the charges, including ones that he aided terrorists. The trial was a crucial test of government power under the USA Patriot Act, which lowered barriers that had prevented intelligence agencies from sharing secretly monitored communications with prosecutors. Tasia Scolinos, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said it stands by the charges and may retry al-Arian. (Washington Post)
        See also What Now for Al-Arian? - Melanie Ave
    Al-Arian remains in jail. While prosecutors decide whether to retry him on the deadlocked charges, Pam McCullough, spokeswoman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said her agency is working with the Department of Homeland Security to deport Al-Arian, who is not a U.S. citizen. (St. Petersburg Times)
        See also Text of Indictment Against Sami Al-Arian (pdf) (New York Times)
  • U.S. Report: Iran Confident in Nuclear Row with West
    Iran is confident enough of its diplomatic position to risk a major confrontation with the U.S. and Europe over its nuclear program, according to a report just released by the U.S. Institute of Peace. The study, written by Middle East expert Geoffrey Kemp, said the outcome of the standoff would depend on whether Washington and its allies could remain united, including on the issue of possible sanctions. "Iran's leaders appear to have calculated that they can withstand the diplomatic pressure they are likely to face in the coming months from the U.S., the Europeans, and many members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and that even if sanctions are imposed, Iran has the will and financial resources to ride them out," the report said. Kemp said rising oil profits were critical for Iran's ability to ride out disputes with the West, but if oil prices abruptly fell, Tehran could face massive unrest. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Gives Israel New Army Base
    The U.S. Tuesday delivered a sprawling storage base it has built for the Israeli army. Nachshonim is the third base the U.S. has built for Israel under an agreement reached during the 1998 Wye River talks. Israel then undertook to turn West Bank areas over to the PA and the Clinton administration undertook to provide $1.2 billion to replace facilities Israel would be vacating. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed the $127 million project that includes 210 buildings. (UPI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Seeking Diplomatic Means to End Syria's Sponsorship of Palestinian Terror Groups - Ronny Sofer
    Israel will seek diplomatic means to end Syria's sway over Palestinian terror groups which it harbors in Damascus, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Tuesday in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones. Shalom presented intelligence data showing the high motivation pervading terror groups to wage attacks against Israel from the West Bank and Gaza. He said a large part of the instructions for Monday's terror attack were relayed from Damascus.
        "Israel has a right to protect its residents in every way and America will support every one of its moves," Jones said. "We will do whatever is possible to see that the PA assumes responsibility for the situation. By failing to do so, it harms the Palestinian people." (Ynet News)
  • PA Police Give Up on Islamic Jihad Arrests - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hours after Monday's terror attack, PA security forces tried unsuccessfully to detain an Islamic Jihad terrorist in Jenin. Eyewitnesses said scores of Fatah and Islamic Jihad gunmen, backed by many civilians, foiled the attempt. Local members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's armed wing, voiced support for the suicide attack, pledging to use force to thwart any attempt by the PA to detain Islamic Jihad members. Another attempt to detain Jihad activists in the Balata and Askar refugee camps near Nablus also failed after dozens of gunmen drove back the PA security forces with stones. However, on Tuesday the PA security forces managed to take into custody three Jihad members from Nablus but said they were not involved in the Netanya attack. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Gears Up for Crackdown on Islamic Jihad - Arieh O'Sullivan
    A senior IDF officer said the aim of the operation was to get their hands on all of the Islamic Jihad terrorists operating mainly in the northern West Bank, in a sweep that will last at least a month. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • "Jihadistan" in the Northern West Bank? - Alex Fishman
    The Islamic Jihad tried to establish a "Jihadistan" autonomous region in the Jenin-Nablus-Tulkarm region of the northern West Bank, and failed. In the past two months, Islamic Jihad has lost more than 110 members in the region: ten have been killed, 28 injured, and the rest are now in Israeli custody. The organization lost two senior leaders: Louie Sa'adi was killed and Iad Abou al-Rob was arrested. Bombers, helpers, financiers, and couriers have been arrested, but the group's life-line has not been broken: hundreds of thousands of dollars continue to arrive monthly from Damascus.
        The organization has scaled back, but new leaders have replaced the lost ones, and the fight continues. There is no depth to this war. The slightest drop in awareness, the smallest easing up of the campaign against them, missing the smallest signal - and they are already here. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Preparing for Possibility of Nuclear Iran - Samuel Segev
    Israel last week sent three powerful signals that it is preparing for the possibility that Iran does become a nuclear power. Israel launched its improved version of the Arrow anti-missile missile on Friday, at a distance equal to the range of the Iranian "Shihab-3" missile. Equally dramatic was the formal German decision to equip the Israeli navy with two additional Dolphin-class submarines, capable of launching cruise missiles with conventional or nuclear warheads. The new subs can be submerged for weeks and are difficult to detect.
        Finally, Israel allowed the publication Friday of news that Israeli companies are building a new military and civilian airport in Kurdistan, financed by the U.S. Should the Bush administration or any future administration decide to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities, this airport, close to the Iranian border, could serve as the launching pad for such an attack. (Winnipeg Free Press)
  • Egyptian Islamists' Success Due to Rivals' Failures - Sara Khorshid
    The real reason behind the Muslim Brotherhood's relative success in the Egyptian elections is the weak performance of its rivals - the ruling NDP and the opposition parties - says Amr al-Shobky, a political analyst with the government-run Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS). (Middle East Times-Cyprus)
  • Observations:

    Israel and the Middle East, 2005: A Strategic Overview
    - IDF Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash)
    (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)

    • A major factor shaping Israel's security environment is the internal forces at play within the Arab countries. The leading issue on the agenda is a worldview that holds al-wataniya (nationalism) above all else. The interest of the nation now takes precedence over interests of pan-Arabism, the Arab world, and the Arab League. Urdun awalan ("Jordan first") is the initiative of King Abdullah. The same is true of the call of Lubnan l'lubnani-in ("Lebanon for the Lebanese"). Such phenomena signify a turn inward. Foremost on the agenda is safeguarding the national homeland and promoting the necessary changes.
    • If the Palestinians were once portrayed as the victims and Arafat was heralded as an Arab symbol, the Palestinian issue has now been relegated to a secondary role. Other voices are sounded that reflect increasing doubt about the effectiveness of resistance. Debates within Hamas and Islamic Jihad currently include speculation that perhaps their future lies in the political system, and that they may therefore also need, for the moment, to give up firing Kassam rockets and pursuing active resistance. Also in a unique position today is Hizballah in Lebanon, which understands that its existence is guaranteed if it is enmeshed in the political system in Lebanon, where the group has two Shiite government ministers in its service.
    • The Egyptian Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, merged with al-Qaeda in January 2001, nine months prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. The new organization was called Qaedat al-Jihad, and Ayman al-Zawahiri is the organization's number two man. Junud al-Sham (Soldiers of al-Sham) is actually al-Qaeda in Syria. Additional groups linked to al-Qaeda in the region include Egyptian Jihad soldiers at Jabal Hilal, in the center of the Sinai Peninsula, and the Egyptian Unity and Jihad group. There is also Abu Musa Zarqawi's group that operates in Jordan and is al-Qaeda's representative in Iraq.
    • Today, the Arab world is a target for terrorism. Israel is located in the center of the Islamic world in which the caliphate should be established. The struggle in Iraq and the ejection of the Americans is merely a preparatory stage for the establishment of the caliphate. The confrontation with Israel is of particular importance to al-Qaeda for both theological and strategic reasons.
    • A connection with al-Qaeda could inflict great damage on Palestinian interests. Al-Qaeda's struggle will not end with the ejection of American forces from the region, but rather only after a proper Islamic regime is established on the ruins of Israel and the current Arab regimes.
    • The bloc in the north - Lebanon, Hizballah, and Syria - is disintegrating. Syria has lost Lebanon. This is important from our perspective because it means that an independent Lebanese interest is emerging in many areas. My assessment is that Hamas is currently at one of its lowest points ever in terms of operational capacity, though not in terms of motivation. Similarly, this does not mean that it is unable to carry out an attack when it decides to do so.
    • The elements responsible for calm between Israel and the Palestinians at the moment are the IDF, the Israeli security apparatus, and Hamas. I would like to make clear that no security body within the Palestinian Authority is playing a part in maintaining the calm. This includes Abbas. The preservation of calm has been an independent decision of Hamas, which will be able to reactivate the violence when it decides to do so.

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