Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 28, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

British Hamas Publication Continues to Incite to Suicide Terrorism (Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center)
    Filastin al-Muslimah, a Hamas monthly distributed from the UK, continues to incite to terrorism, mainly suicide bombings.
    At the same time, it denies Israel's existence and expresses sympathy for global jihad.

Lebanon Admits Letting Syrian Arms Convoy Reach Hizballah - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    According to Lebanese sources, Lebanese soldiers halted a convoy of arms-laden trucks from Syria destined for Hizballah on Jan. 31. However, the Lebanese Defense Ministry ordered the soldiers to allow the convoy to proceed.
    The UN on Feb. 13 condemned the Lebanese government for having blatantly violated UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which, inter alia, calls for disarming the country's militias.
    The arms apparently originated in Iran.

Former Shin Bet Head: Israeli Minister's Killers in Jail or in Grave - Miri Chason (Ynet News)
    Referring to reports a Hamas-led government may release the murderers of former Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi, former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter said Monday:
    "I recommend to the PA not to release these men. I vow these killers will be either in prison or in the grave."
    Asked about Israel's targeted interceptions policy, Dichter said:
    "Let there be no mistake, we are talking about murderers and arch-murderers here. The targeted killings are aimed at protecting Israeli citizens, and we take great measures to make sure no civilians are hurt in the process."
    "However, I regret incidents in which our hesitation about hurting civilians enabled terrorists to escape and later carry out attacks against Israelis."

Egyptian Intellectuals Speak Out Against Muslim Brotherhood - A. Shefa (MEMRI)
    Abd al-Mun'im Sa'id, director of Egypt's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, wrote in the government daily Al-Ahram:
    "[Our past] experience with the Muslim Brotherhood speaks for itself: The slogan 'Islam is the Solution' was [adopted] in Afghanistan by [elements similar to] the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Burhan Al-Din Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Mas'ud, who were the first to rise into power in Kabul after the defeat of the Soviets."
    "The situation persisted until we [eventually] got the rule of the Taliban, Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden - a particularly radical 'special edition' of the slogan 'Islam is the Solution'."

Syria Opposition Says U.S. Funding Counterproductive - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters)
    Syria's liberal opposition said Monday it will not accept money from a U.S. offer to fund democratic groups in the country, saying that its credibility would be damaged if it took the cash.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • EU Bails Out Palestinians - Anthony Browne and Ian MacKinnon
    The EU has agreed to unblock £83 million in aid to Palestinians. More than half the EU money will go to a UN agency providing relief work for Palestinians, while £27.5 million will go towards paying electricity bills and £12 million for PA salaries. (Times-UK)
        See also EU Still on Board with Hamas Strategy - Herb Keinon
    Despite the EU's decision Monday to funnel some $143 million to the PA, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said Israel and Europe continue to have a common Hamas strategy. Unless Hamas recognizes Israel, disavows violence, and accepts previous agreements with Israel, the EU and Israel agree that "Hamas is not a partner for dialogue or recipient of international aid," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. The EU says funds should be halted to the PA only after Hamas forms a government and if it doesn't fundamentally change its policies. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Iran Promises Hamas $250 Million - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
  • 1,300 Killed in Iraq in Week Since Shrine Attack - Ellen Knickmeyer and Bassam Sebti
    Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, according to Baghdad's main morgue. Many were killed by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. (Washington Post)
  • EU: No Progress in Iran-Russia Nuclear Talks
    Negotiations between Iran and Russia on the Iranian nuclear program have made no significant progress despite talk of an agreement, the German and French foreign ministers said on Monday. "It appears that no decisive progress has been achieved," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after EU ministers discussed the negotiations at their monthly meeting in Brussels. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the Tehran talks had not achieved a breakthrough. (Reuters)
        See also IAEA: Iran Advancing Uranium Enrichment - Molly Moore and Dafna Linzer
    Iran is advancing its uranium enrichment program, but the UN atomic monitoring organization still cannot determine whether the country is secretly developing nuclear weapons, according to an IAEA report made public on Monday. The report criticizes Iran for failing to reveal "the scope and nature" of its nuclear program, and was distributed in advance of a meeting in Vienna next week to discuss greater international pressure on Tehran. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Strikes Kibbutz - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed in Kibbutz Zikim south of Ashkelon on Monday. The rocket landed close to residential homes and shattered several windows. "I saw the rocket right next to the homes. It's a miracle there were no casualties. But it's clear to us the current situation cannot continue," said kibbutz resident Ilana Mor. (Ynet News/Maariv-Hebrew)
        See also Israeli Town to Sue PA Over Rocket Attacks - Matan Tzuri
    After years of Palestinian rocket attacks, residents of the southern Israeli town of Sderot are planning to sue the PA for NIS 50 million (about $11 million) in compensation for damage caused to buildings, for businesses that went broke, and for the residents' emotional suffering. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Officer Cancels Studies in UK Due to Possible Legal Proceedings - Amos Harel
    The commander of the Israel Defense Forces division along the Gaza border, Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, was forced to cancel a planned stay at the Royal College of Defense Studies in the UK this summer after concerns were raised that he could be arrested on charges of war crimes. In 2002, he was a senior commander of the paratroopers in Jenin where 52 Palestinians and 23 IDF soldiers were killed. Military Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mendelblit instructed Kochavi to abandon his plans in light of an arrest warrant issued six months ago in the UK for another Israeli officer.
        Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday that Kochavi and other IDF officers operating in the field have full backing from the state. Mofaz called on states themselves suffering from terrorism at home to close the legal loophole and prevent legal steps from being taken against military officers who act legally as part of the ongoing war on terrorism. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Lawsuits a PR Opportunity for Israel? - Andrew Friedman
    Israel may be making a mistake by avoiding European lawsuits against Israeli officials for "war crimes." By running away, Israel leaves the impression it is guilty. In addition, Israel is missing a fantastic PR opportunity. Such a trial would allow Israel to pick up the gauntlet, turn the tables, and use the media spotlight to put the Palestinians on trial for both war crimes and propaganda excesses against Israelis. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Fake Controversy: Is Jerusalem's Museum of Tolerance Being Built on a Muslim Cemetery? - Lori Lowenthal Marcus
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been accused by Muslim leaders of building its new Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem atop a Muslim cemetery. In the early 1920s the grand mufti of Jerusalem issued a fatwa or religious decree declaring that the Mamilla Cemetery was no longer sacred ground, and was therefore available for building. Accordingly, in 1929 Arabs removed graves and built the Palace Hotel atop the cemetery's southern part. Shortly afterwards, the Muslim Supreme Council developed plans to build a university on a site that included the entire Mamilla Cemetery grounds. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Are We Playing for Keeps? - Michael Rubin
    Step-by-step, Iranian authorities are replicating in Iraq the strategy which allowed Hizballah to take over southern Lebanon in the 1980s. The playbook - military, economic, and information operation - is almost identical. As the Israeli army evicted the PLO from Lebanon in 1982, Ayatollah Khomeini dispatched his elite Revolutionary Guards to the Bekaa Valley to arm and organize its Shiites. Hizballah was born.
        Just as the Revolutionary Guards helped hone Hizballah into a deadly force, so do they train the Badr Corps, the militia of the Tehran-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution (SCIRI). The Badr Corps infiltrated Iraq even before U.S. forces reached Baghdad. The first Iranian charge-d'affaires in post-Saddam Iraq was Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Revolutionary Guard's former liaison to Hizballah in Lebanon.
        In January 2004, a yellow Lebanese Hizballah flag flew from SCIRI's headquarters in the southern city of Basra. In November 2005 in Jordan, an Iraqi Sunni insurgent leader acknowledged to me the "possibility" that some Iraqi Sunni insurgents took Iranian money, albeit unknowingly. (Wall Street Journal/AEI)
  • Radical Islamists Are On the Offensive - William Kristol
    From Copenhagen to Samara, the radical Islamists are on the offensive. From Tehran to Damascus, the dictators are trying to regain the upper hand in the Middle East. It would be nice if we lived in a world without jihadists who want to kill and clerics who want to intimidate and tyrants who want to terrorize. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in.
        As Marshall Wittmann of the Democratic Leadership Council observed last week, "The bombing of [Iraq's] Askariya Shiite Shrine is another indication of the world-wide jihadist offensive....From the cartoon jihad to the Hamas victory to the Iranian effort to obtain nuclear weapons to the attempt by al-Qaeda to foment an Iraqi civil war - our enemy is taking the initiative." (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    Charter Explicitly Details Hamas' Agenda - Mark Lavie
    (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette)

    • It was summer 1988. The first "intifada," or uprising, had erupted in the winter, leading to the emergence of Hamas. We were sitting in a cramped office in the Islamic University in Gaza City, the nerve center of Hamas. With us were two of the founders of Hamas - Mahmoud Zahar, a physician, and Atef al-Adwan, a professor at the university.
    • Hamas was a whole new concept for fighting Israel. The PLO, Israel's prototype enemy for decades, paled in comparison. A quick read through the Hamas charter revealed deep hatred for Israel, Jews, and Zionism from an Islamic religious point of view that made the PLO's political hatred look like the mere barking of a junkyard dog.
    • They explained to me why there must be no Jewish state in the Mideast. The Koran said the whole area is Islamic. Period. Jews (like me) who came from somewhere else must go home.
    • In kindergartens and schools Hamas set up in Gaza, children were taught to see the world through the blinders of the operative verses of the Koran: Israelis were non-believers and usurpers who must be fought and killed. Jihad was the only way.
    • The charter is not an old, dusty document written by an idealistic founding generation. Most of the people who wrote it are still around. The charter guides them because it sums up their core beliefs.
    • But they are patient. The deepest-held beliefs of Hamas dictate Israel's destruction. It's just a matter of timing.

      The writer, an Associated Press correspondent, has been covering the Mideast since 1972.

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