Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 23, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Al-Qaeda Forges West Bank Terror Link; Zarqawi Seeking Better Grip in Jordan - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Global Jihad and al-Qaeda based in Jordan have stepped up their attempts to infiltrate Israel and were in close contact with Palestinian terror cells based in the West Bank, Head of IDF Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh said on Wednesday.
    "We recently caught several local terror cells that were in touch with the international global Jihad based in Jordan," Naveh said at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
    "Hamas is gathering strength and a dangerous axis starting in Iran, continuing through Iraq and Jordan, is in the process of conception."
    "I don't want to be a prophet but I am not sure there will be another king after King Abdullah."
    "Zarqawi and his men are trying to get a better grip in Jordan," Naveh continued. "They are in the midst of trying to create ideological and religious cells in Gaza and the West Bank and their next stage is to connect themselves to local terror cells."
    The Jordan Valley, Naveh said, was a "strategic security asset" that created a barrier between Israel and terrorism from around the world.

    See also Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi, and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (JCPA)

Fatah-Hamas Tensions Boil in Appointments Dispute - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Scores of Fatah supporters demonstrated outside the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah on Wednesday in protest against the new Hamas speaker's decision to freeze all appointments and promotions approved by his predecessor following the January 25 parliamentary election.
    Chanting anti-Hamas slogans, members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, joined the demonstration along with dozens of PA and PLC employees.
    The PLC has 560 employees, most of whom are affiliated with Fatah and who fear that the new Hamas speaker is planning to replace them with Hamas activists.

How The U.S. Nabbed Alleged Terrorists in Toledo - Brian Bennett (TIME)
    A retired U.S. Special Forces soldier helped the FBI uncover a nascent terror cell in Toledo, Ohio, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney in Cleveland Thomas Getz.
    Three men, two U.S. citizens originally from Jordan and one U.S. resident from Lebanon, had asked the former U.S. commando for help in coordinating "jihad training exercises," but the retired soldier was working with investigators all along.
    The suspects had studied how to build explosives and suicide vests with the intention of traveling to Iraq to engage in "holy war" by attacking American soldiers.

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  • Blast at Shiite Shrine Sets Off Sectarian Fury in Iraq - Robert F. Worth
    A powerful bomb at the Askariya Shrine in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, shattered the golden dome at one of Iraq's most revered Shiite shrines on Wednesday, setting off a day of sectarian fury in which mobs formed across Iraq to chant for revenge. Shiite militia members flooded the streets of Baghdad, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at Sunni mosques. (New York Times)
        By the end of the day more than 90 mosques lay damaged or destroyed, as Iraq's political and religious leadership struggled to avert a full-blown civil war. The attack in Samarra has succeeded in igniting Shia rage where thousands of deaths have failed. The 9th-century shrine is the burial site of two imams related to the Prophet Muhammad and is one of Iraq's four holiest sites. Mouwafak al-Rubaie, Iraq's National Security Adviser, blamed terror cells of al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunnah. (Times-UK)
        See also Iran: U.S., Israel Destroyed Iraqi Shrine - Nasser Karimi
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad blamed the U.S. and Israel on Thursday for the destruction of a Shiite shrine's golden dome in Iraq. "You have to know that such an act will not save you from the anger of Muslim nations," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Envoy in Iraq Accuses Iran of Assisting Insurgents - Nelson Hernandez
    U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad accused Iran on Monday of providing weapons, training, and support to Iraqi militia and insurgent groups responsible for the country's continuing violence. (Washington Post)
  • Saudis Rebuff Rice on Hamas Aid
    Saudi Arabia will not deny aid to a Palestinian government led by Hamas, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice repeated the U.S. position that it will continue humanitarian aid but end assistance to a Hamas-led government. "For the United States, Hamas is a terrorist organization....We cannot give funding to a terrorist organization. It's really that simple." (BBC News)
        See also Rice Visits Cairo as Quartet's Line on Hamas Blurs - Daniel Dombey and William Wallis
    There are growing signs that the controversy over funding for the Palestinian Authority and contacts with militant Islamist groups could lead to a rift between Washington and European powers. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Rice Makes Surprise Visit to Lebanon - Glenn Kessler (Washington Post)
  • U.S. and Allies Eye Sanctions on Iran - Farah Stockman
    The Bush administration and its European allies are exploring ways to enact ''targeted sanctions" against the Iranian regime, including banning international travel by its leaders and freezing their bank accounts as well as preventing international airlines from flying to Tehran, according to European diplomats and U.S. officials. Any tough economic sanctions against Iran must also include India, which is negotiating a multibillion-dollar pipeline deal with Tehran and which provides 40% of Iran's refined gasoline. (Boston Globe)
        See also Russia's Nuclear Initiative on Iran Fails - Jeremy Page (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Fourteen Suicide Bombers Nabbed in Three Weeks - Margot Dudkevitch
    In the past three weeks, fourteen potential suicide bombers have been arrested by the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) in the West Bank, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky said Wednesday. Shin Bet sources were quick to stress that the capture of the suicide bombers did not necessarily mean the bombings had been thwarted. "Only after the bomb to be used in the attack has been found and all those involved in planning the attack have been caught can we say an attack was actually thwarted," sources said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Fire Five Rockets at Israel
    Palestinians launched five Kassam rockets at Israel on Thursday from the evacuated northern Gaza Strip settlement of Dugit. Two rockets landed near Netiv Ha'asarah; three others landed near Karmiya and Yad Mordechai. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinians Fire on Israeli Bus in West Bank
    Palestinians fired on an Israeli bus near Mevo Dotan in northern Samaria on Wednesday, causing damage to the bus. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Members of PA Intelligence Murdered IDF Soldier - Margot Dudkevitch
    Nadim Awad, 32, a member of the Palestinian intelligence forces, was recently arrested for involvement in the murder of IDF Sgt. Tal Gordon on the Jericho bypass road in December 2000. Awad told investigators that two senior Palestinian intelligence officers planned the shooting attack, which he carried out with Abed Al Karim and Hamed Ahmed Shatia, two other members of the intelligence force. The cell operated under the direct orders of Hussein Ali Mahmud Ayash, the commander of special forces in the Jericho area, and Mussa Fadilat, a senior officer. Awad and Shatia shot at Israeli cars under Ayash's orders. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO - Ronald D. Asmus
    What can the NATO alliance do to help address the growing likelihood that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons? European capitals would be within striking distance of Iranian nuclear arms. NATO would have to return to its classic mission of defending Europe by deterring a nuclear threat. But the country most threatened by a future Iranian nuclear capability is Israel. If the West opts for a policy of deterrence and long-term peaceful regime change, it must also take steps to ensure Israel's protection for the interim period.
        The best way to provide Israel with additional security is to upgrade its relationship with NATO, the collective defense arm of the West. What must be clear is that the West is prepared to match the growing bellicosity against Israel by stepping up its commitment to the existence of the Jewish state. Several leading Europeans have called for NATO to embrace Israel, but this debate will not get serious until the U.S., Israel's main ally, puts its weight behind the idea. The time has come to do so. The writer, executive director of the German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Center in Brussels, served as deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs from 1997 to 2000. (Washington Post)
  • First Do No Harm: A Critique of the Human Security Approach to Arms Control - Gerald M. Steinberg
    When the President of Iran calls for "wiping Israel off the map," while his country provides weapons and training to terror groups, and the International Atomic Energy Agency officially declares that it is in violation of its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty prohibiting the development of nuclear weapons, what can the advocates of human security and multilateral disarmament offer in response? The idealists who were responsible for the abundance of protocols and treaties after World War I share responsibility for the carnage that followed. They did not prevent German rearmament under the Nazi regime, and mass marches for pacifism that took place in Britain blocked a credible deterrent.
        In contrast, during the Cold War, mutual deterrence was an essential element in preventing another, even more horrendous, conflagration. In regions characterized by deep hatred and protracted conflicts, the legitimate sovereign state and the deterrence that is provided by defense forces remain the only credible insurance against Iranian threats to "wipe Israel off the map." (JCPA)
  • Observations:

    A Failure of the Press - William J. Bennett and Alan M. Dershowitz (Washington Post)

    • Since the war on terrorism began, the mainstream press has had no problem printing stories and pictures that challenged the administration and, in the view of some, compromised our war and peace efforts.
    • For the past month, the Islamist street has been on an intifada over cartoons depicting Muhammad that were first published months ago in a Danish newspaper. The mainstream U.S. media have covered this worldwide uprising, yet it has refused, with but a few exceptions, to show the cartoons that purportedly caused all the outrage.
    • To put it simply, radical Islamists have won a war of intimidation. They have cowed the major news media from showing these cartoons. The mainstream press has capitulated to the Islamists.
    • A new policy from the mainstream media has been promulgated: If a group is strong enough in its reaction to a story or caricature, the press will refrain from printing that story or caricature. At bottom, this is an unacceptable form of not-so-benign bigotry, representing a higher expectation from Christians and Jews than from Muslims.
    • Our understanding of the First Amendment and a free press is informed by the fact that without broad freedom, without responsibility for the right to know carried out by courageous writers, editors, political cartoonists, and publishers, our democracy would be weaker, if not nonexistent. There should be no group or mob veto of a story that is in the public interest.
    • When we were attacked on Sept. 11, we knew the main reason for the attack was that Islamists hated our way of life, our virtues, our freedoms. What we never imagined was that the free press - an institution at the heart of those virtues and freedoms - would be among the first to surrender.

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