Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 13, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

UK On Alert for Christmas Bombings by Islamists (Sunday Times-UK)
    Scotland Yard issued a nationwide alert on Dec. 2 that Islamist terrorist cells may be plotting a Christmas bombing campaign.
    The warning follows a series of operations by police and MI5 aimed at disrupting possible attacks by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda.
    It said there was evidence to suggest that Islamist terrorists were planning to carry out bomb attacks against "crowded areas" such as shopping centers, football grounds, and train stations.
    Senior officers say the alert is not routine.

French Police Detain 20 Islamist Suspects (Reuters)
    French police said on Monday they had arrested about 20 people in the greater Paris region in what they described as a "major operation aimed at disbanding an Islamist network linked to terrorism."
    Despite its strong opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, France remains the target of Islamist militants.

Annan Attends UN Ceremony Featuring Israel-Free Map (Eye on the UN)
    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other dignitaries attended a UN "Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" on Nov. 29 at which a large map of "Palestine" on which Israel does not exist was prominently displayed.
    See also Annan Regrets Map Incident - Eitan Amit (Ynet News)
    UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday that "Secretary General Annan believes it was regretful that the map was in the room during his speech. We have informed the event's organizers that such an incident should be prevented from repeating in the future."

Iraqi Citizens Turn Over the "Butcher of Ramadi" (U.S. Department of Defense)
    The terrorist known as "the Butcher of Ramadi" was turned in by Iraqi citizens Friday in Anbar province, U.S. military officials reported.
    Amir Khalaf Fanus, a high-ranking al-Qaeda in Iraq member, was well known for his crimes against the local populace.

Israeli Nano-Armor: Protecting the Soldiers of Tomorrow (
    ApNano, an Israeli company in Nes Ziona, has recently tested one of the most shock-resistant materials known to man.
    Five times stronger than steel and at least twice as strong as any impact-resistant material currently in use as protective gear, the new nano-based material is on its way to becoming the armor of the future.
    The material withstood the shock pressures generated by the equivalent of dropping four diesel locomotives onto an area the size of one's fingernail.
    The material proved so strong that after the impact the samples remained essentially identical compared to the original material.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Investigators Say Syria Interfered in Hariri Probe - Colum Lynch
    Syria has interfered with a UN probe into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri by burning intelligence archives and intimidating a key witness who had tied senior Syrian officials to the killing, according to testimony made public Monday by UN investigators. The investigators' second report said new interviews have provided further "probable cause" to conclude that senior Syrian and Lebanese officials plotted and carried out the assassination of Hariri and 22 others in a car bombing in Beirut. (Washington Post)
        See also UN Considers Action on Killings in Lebanon - Evelyn Leopold (Reuters)
  • Syria Eyed in Death of Lebanese Editor - Sam F. Ghattas
    Journalist and lawmaker Gibran Tueni, a relentless critic of Syria who spent months in France fearing assassination, was killed Monday in a car bombing only a day after returning to his homeland. Suspicion quickly settled on Syria. Tueni, 48, was general manager of Lebanon's leading newspaper, An-Nahar, founded in 1933 by his grandfather. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Syrian Hardball Tactics in Face of UN Sanctions - Nicholas Blanford
    If Syria was responsible for Tueni's death, it would tally with the Baathist regime's reputation for playing uncompromising hardball politics. (Times-UK)
  • Saudi Prince Gives Millions to Harvard and Georgetown - Karen W. Arenson
    Harvard University and Georgetown University each announced Monday that they had received $20 million donations from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a Saudi businessman and member of the Saudi royal family, to finance Islamic studies. The prince was fifth on the Forbes 400 list of wealthy people this year, with a fortune of $23.7 billion.
        In October 2001, then New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani returned a $10 million check from the prince after a news release quoted the prince as calling on the American government to "re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause." (New York Times)
        See also Saudi Arabia Announces Record Budget Surplus
    Oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia said it will post a record budget surplus of $57 billion in 2005 on the back of surging crude prices. Saudi Arabia had initially projected a balanced budget for 2005 using an oil price of $17 a barrel before prices rocketed to $70. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hizballah Recruits al-Aqsa Brigades Member - Efrat Weiss
    Majdi Amer, 31, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from a village near Nablus arrested two months ago, received funds to purchase arms and plan attacks on IDF soldiers from a Palestinian Hizballah agent in Gaza, Israeli security officials said Monday. Hizballah is "a good source for obtaining funds, and these funds are being used to carry out attacks against Israeli targets," Amer told his interrogators. In recent months, Hizballah has set up terror cells in Gaza whose aim is to set up a terror network in the West Bank. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Rocket at Israel - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket that landed in the western Negev on Monday. In response, the IDF directed artillery fire at rocket launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip. (Ynet News)
        The rocket fell at a water company facility not far from Prime Minister Sharon's western Negev home. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah Gunmen Threaten to Disrupt PA Election - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah gunmen took to the streets in several areas in the West Bank and Gaza on Monday, vowing to prevent the PA from holding parliamentary elections, after reports that PA Chairman Abbas had decided to name his own candidates for the Fatah party and ignore the results of primary elections held over the past two weeks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Killed By His Own Grenade
    Ayad Hashash of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was killed on Sunday when a grenade he tried to throw at Israel Defense Forces troops exploded prematurely in Balata near Nablus. Another Palestinian in the Nablus area sustained burns when he tried to throw a firebomb at IDF troops. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ending Terrorism Against Israel - Editorial
    The terrorist group known as Palestinian Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya. Five people were killed and more than thirty were wounded in the attack. U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said: "The Palestinian Authority must take immediate steps to prevent these attacks, to end the violence, and to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism." To achieve the goal of an independent Palestinian state, the Palestinian Authority must put a stop to terrorism. And so must those governments that support terrorist groups against Israel.
        Palestinian Islamic Jihad is based in Damascus, Syria. State Department deputy spokesman Ereli says it is time Syria took action against this terrorist group. President Bush says the U.S. "is determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran," said Mr. Bush, "have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror." An editorial reflecting the views of the U.S. Government. (VOA News)
  • Syria and Political Change - Scott Lasensky and Mona Yacoubian
    Despite abiding tribal/clan solidarity, new rifts are appearing among the Alawite ruling elite. Signs of an emboldened, if leaderless, opposition suggest the possibility of a more cohesive counterweight to the regime, although the likelihood of a renewed crackdown is high. The Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the most powerful opposition force, inside and outside the country. It is beginning to forge important links with secular opposition groups, though it is unlikely in the near-term that disaffected blocs will form a grand alliance. (U.S. Institute of Peace)
  • Iran's Not-So-Secret Hatred - Editorial
    Many countries must be exhausting their supply of adjectives to condemn the statements of Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He might be dismissed as just another bigot were he not the president of a nation of 68 million people that has nuclear ambitions. Since taking office, Ahmadinejad has pushed Iran further into hatred, intolerance and theocratic tyranny - quite a feat in a repressive country that funds terrorists around the world. In a way, Ahmadinejad's angry rhetoric is valuable. Iran has tried with some success to keep its nuclear ambitions under wraps, but its zealotry and hatred have been put on display for all the world to see. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Absentee Journalism - Zvi Bar'el
    Hebrew Jewish society (as opposed to the state) is almost completely missing from the Israeli Arab press. Thus, for example, the mouthpiece of the Balad party has a column called "Israeli affairs," as if it were a column devoted to foreign news. The affairs of the State of Israel hardly appear at all in the mouthpiece of the Islamic movement, Sawt al-Haq wal-Hurriya.
        It seems the underlying assumption of the newspaper editors and of a large portion of the Arab public is that an effort to recognize the other must come only from one side: from the Jews to the Arabs, and not vice versa. Thus, Arab cultural isolation is perceived as an edict of fate, which the Arabs can do nothing to oppose. Arab media and society cannot wash their hands clean when they demand that Jewish society not only recognize them, but also get to know them. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Why is Little Israel Being Left to Fight the World's War? - Saul Singer (National Review)

    • What a perfect arrangement: The only country that every country has a right to condemn can be relied upon to do the world's dirty work. This is the underlying mindset as the West contemplates a nuclear Iran. When push comes to shove, the Israeli air force will take care of the problem, so the world can go into spasms of righteous indignation while enjoying the fireworks.
    • Everyone has in mind the 1981 Osirak operation, where Israel dealt a fatal blow to Saddam Hussein's dreams of mass destruction by destroying his nuclear reactor. But the Iranians are not idiots, and they have taken into account the possibility of an Israeli air strike in designing their program.
    • Why is little Israel being left to fight the world's war? The real answer is that the enlightened post-modern European refusal to lift a finger - let alone a gun - to defend itself is consigning us all to a dark age of terrorism and war.
    • How much terrorism does a state have to sponsor, how many member states does it have to threaten with destruction, and how far does it have to get in obtaining the ultimate means to carry out such threats before the collective obligations of free nations under the UN Charter are remembered?
    • We are not your hired hitmen; don't depend on us to save you. Take your beloved international law seriously and throw the book at Iran. It may not be too late, with common will, to force Iran to back down without firing a shot. And if it is too late for peaceful means, that shot should be fired together, legally, in the name of international peace and security.

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