Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 26, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Ahmadinejad Meets Hamas Leaders in Damascus (Al Jazeera-Dubai)
    Speaking to Hamas leaders in Damascus on Friday, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that the Middle East conflict has become "the locus of the final war" between Muslims and the West, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.
    During his visit to Syria, Ahmadinejad told Hamas leaders, who included Khalid Mashal, the head of the group's political bureau, "Today, victory in Palestine has become a matter of life and death for the Islamic world."
    The Iranian president called on all Islamic states to make use of their economic potential to "cut the hand of the enemies."

Exploring Iran's Military Options - Ali Nourizadeh (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    If several Western countries, headed by the U.S., are currently weighing the options at their disposal, the Islamic Republic of Iran is, in turn, preparing itself for a confrontation, either on the military or economic front.
    President Ahmadinejad and extremist leaders in the Basij forces, the Revolutionary Guards, and the security services, especially supporters of Sheikh Mohammed Taqi Mosbah Yazdi, the president's spiritual guide, support a military attack, with some even calling for pre-emptive strikes.
    An officer in the Jerusalem Corps said, "We should carry out a hundred suicide operations, simultaneously, and aim a hundred missiles against Israel and the U.S. bases in Qatar and Iraq, as well as a number of oil and economic installations in the region, prior to being attacked."
    "In this manner, we will paralyze the American forces and their allies. If Washington were to attack us afterwards, we can incite a hundred popular uprisings in Muslim countries."

4,000 UK Troops to be Sent to Troubled Afghan Province - Philip Webster (Times-UK)
    UK Defence Secretary John Reid is said to be ready to announce that 4,000 British combat troops will be sent to Helmand province, one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan.
    There are about 1,000 British troops in Afghanistan now.
    Officially the role of the new troops will be to help the Afghan government with provincial reconstruction, but ministers expect that they may be deployed against al-Qaeda groups and drug barons.
    Al-Qaeda forces have killed 100 U.S. soldiers and thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda group in Iraq is believed to have set up a new insurgency unit in southern Afghanistan.
    See also Al-Qaeda Sees Resurgence in Pakistani Tribal Areas - Brian Ross (ABC News)
    Al-Qaeda and its former protectors - the Taliban - are in the midst of a powerful resurgence in Pakistan's Waziristan Province.
    "It has regrouped, reformed, and re-emerged with new vigor," said Akbar Ahmed, professor of Islamic studies at American University.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Wins Palestinian Vote
    The Islamic militant group Hamas said Thursday it won control of the Palestinian parliament and officials from the ruling Fatah Party confirmed the estimate. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as well as Fatah officials said Hamas had won about 70 seats, a majority in the 132-seat parliament. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Hamas Wins 77 Seats, Fatah 48 - Barak Ravid (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Palestinian PM and Cabinet Resign
    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie and his cabinet resigned on Thursday after the Islamic militant group Hamas claimed victory over his ruling Fatah party in a parliamentary election. (Reuters/ABC News)
  • Bush: U.S. Will Not Deal with Hamas Until It Renounces Desire to Destroy Israel
    In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Thursday, President Bush said: "Hamas must, one, reject and get rid of their platform that says the destruction of Israel. You can't be a peaceful democratic political party, yet part of your platform is to destroy your neighbor....So you're getting a sense of how I'm going to deal with Hamas if they end up in positions of responsibility. And the answer is not until you renounce your desire to destroy Israel will we deal with you." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hamas to Keep Weapons, Won't Change Charter
    "The Europeans and the Americans are telling Hamas to choose between arms and parliament. We say we will go for arms and parliament and there is no contradiction between the two of them," Ismail Haniya, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, said Wednesday. Gaza Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said the group "will not change a single word in its covenant" calling for the destruction of Israel, and would continue its path of "resistance," even as it serves in the Palestinian parliament. (Reuters)
        See also Hamas: Recognizing Israel Not on Our Agenda
    After Hamas won a decisive victory in legislative elections, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said on Thursday, "Negotiations with Israel is not on our agenda....Recognizing Israel is not on the agenda either." (AP/Forbes)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Kenya Asks Israel to Train Rescue Crews - Margot Dudkevitch
    In the wake of the Israeli rescue operation after a building collapse in Nairobi on Monday, Kenya has requested Israel's assistance to train and set up a rescue-and-relief team similar to the IDF's Home Front Command, said Lt.-Col. Yishai Malka, head of the command's operation division. The Israeli team was preparing to leave the country Thursday after arriving Tuesday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jordan: Palestinians Planned to Attack U.S. in Iraq
    Jordan's military court Wednesday convicted four Palestinians in two separate plots to attack U.S. forces in Iraq. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Don't Deal with Terrorists - Daniel Pipes
    An increasing number of voices are calling for Hamas to be recognized, arguing that the imperatives of governance would tame it. The historical record, however, refutes this "pothole theory of democracy." Mussolini made the trains run, Hitler built autobahns, Stalin cleared the snow, and Castro reduced infant mortality - without any of these totalitarians giving up their ideological zeal nor their grandiose ambitions. Like al-Qaeda, Hamas should be destroyed, not legitimated, much less courted. (USA Today)
  • Don't Go Wobbly on Iran - Jeff Jacoby
    The Bush administration - and, increasingly, leading Democrats - have been speaking out with growing urgency about preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear threat. What is not stressed enough is that Iran is not just a potential menace - it is a clear and present danger right now. The radical Islamists in Tehran bankroll the world's deadliest terrorists. They foment violence in Iraq. Fanatic, apocalyptic, totalitarian, the mullahs who rule Iran see their destiny as waging jihad and extending theocracy across the entire Middle East. Under no circumstances can such enemies be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons - or to doubt that we will do what we must to make sure that they don't. (Boston Globe)
  • Iran's Threat, Bush's Dilemma - Max Boot
    The only thing the Europeans did was buy time for the Iranians to better camouflage and defend their research and production sites. Some experts estimate that Iran will need only three more years to build its first nuclear bomb, and it will pass the point of no return much sooner. It already has Shahab-3 missiles that place Israel and U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan within easy range. In the works are a Shahab-4, which would be able to hit Western Europe, and a Shahab-5, which would reach North America. In sum, a terrorist-sponsoring state led by an apocalyptic lunatic will soon have the ability to incinerate Tel Aviv or New York. Sooner rather than later, President Bush must face a hard choice: Either order air strikes (or acquiesce to Israeli strikes) or accept a nuclear-armed Iran. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Disarming Questions - Rory McCarthy
    In southern Lebanon, in the towns and villages near the border with Israel, it is rare to see the Lebanese national flag. Instead the yellow flag flutters of Hizballah, the fundamentalist, armed Shia movement. In the south, Hizballah is more than just an armed movement; it is a de facto government. For 20 years, its guerrillas have been fighting against the Israeli military. Since Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon five years ago, questions have increasingly been asked about whether Lebanon still needs an armed Hizballah. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt demands that the movement give up its weapons: "Those who liberated the south from Israel must show allegiance to Lebanon."
        The dramatic decline of Syrian influence in Lebanon in the past year could have put pressure on Hizballah. But the movement has responded by using its political and its street strength to position itself as a guardian of Lebanon's large Shia community. (Guardian-UK)
  • A Star Rises in Bethlehem - Hamas's - Michael I. Krauss and J. Peter Pham
    Christmas scenes from Bethlehem notwithstanding, Bethlehem is no longer a Christian city. Muslims now vastly outnumber the departing Christians, and minarets outnumber church spires. At the present rate, in 15 years the only Christians in Bethlehem will be the holiday tourists. And just last year, the terrorist group Hamas won elections in the city.
        If one wants to know what the situation would be like if Hamas took power, one need look no further than storied Bethlehem. In an interview published in the Wall Street Journal just before Christmas, Bethlehem city councilor and local Hamas leader Hassan El-Masalmeh advocated a special tax on non-Muslim residents of the future Palestinian state. The tax, known as al-jeziya, is required by the Koran for dhimmis, second-class Jews and Christians. "We in Hamas intend to implement this tax someday....We say it openly - we welcome everyone to Palestine but only if they agree to live under our rules." (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Hamas Won't Change Its Stripes - Barry Rubin (Ottawa Citizen)

    • Members of the EU are preparing to do business with Hamas despite the fact that it is on their list of banned terrorist groups.
    • Their rationale is "that heavy-handed actions by the EU could prove counterproductive, pushing Hamas further from the political mainstream."
    • In other words, if the EU is tough on Hamas it might become radical! Why it might even demand Israel's destruction, dispatch suicide bombers, and be anti-Semitic! (Yes, that is what they are already doing.)
    • Is it really so hard to understand that a group that calls for genocide against Jews, extols terrorism, and demands a Taliban-style regime for Palestinians is not about to become moderate?

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