Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 7, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Plans to Kill Israelis in Jordan - Smadar Peri (Ynet News)
    Classified information received in Jerusalem over the weekend warns of a plan by terror group al-Qaeda to abduct Israeli citizens in Jordan, execute them, and later publish photos of the murder, Yediot Ahronot reported Monday.
    Al-Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is behind the plan.
    Another warning refers to a planned mega terror attack on Israeli factories that provide a living for thousands of Jordanians in Irbid, Jordan.
    The products of Irbid are sold in America customs free.
    See also Al-Qaeda Haunts Jordan - Sana Abdallah (UPI)

Report: North Koreans Helping Iran Develop Long-Range Missiles (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian exile group, claimed Monday that North Korean weapons experts are aiding Iran's missile production.
    The group claims North Korean experts in guidance systems, warhead production, missile fuel systems, and explosion and blast systems are working at the Hemmat Missile Industries complex, northeast of Tehran, to develop a new ballistic missile with a range of 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles).

Defense Minister: Ten Warnings of Suicide Bombings (Jerusalem Post)
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday there are at least ten warnings regarding planned suicide bombings, Israel Radio reported.

Egypt Fears Iran Nukes (Ynet News)
    The Egyptian media have been stressing the "danger of the Shiite bomb," which is being developed to fortify the Iranian ayatollahs' position in the region.
    An editorial in the state-run Egyptian newspaper El-Gomhuriah called on Iran to refrain from developing nuclear arms, as they would strategically threaten the Gulf states.

Saudi Arabia to Host Israel Boycott Event - Michael Freund (Jerusalem Post)
    Despite a promise made to Washington last November to drop its economic boycott of Israel, Saudi Arabia plans to host a major international conference next week aimed at promoting a continued trade embargo.
    Saudi Arabia continues to prohibit entry to products made in Israel or to foreign-made goods containing Israeli components, in violation of pledges made by senior Saudi officials to the Bush administration last year.

Useful Reference:

The Hamas Charter (MEMRI)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Russia and West Split on Iran Nuclear Issue - Elaine Sciolino
    Russia split with the U.S. and Europe on Monday over Iran's nuclear program when the Russians floated a last-minute proposal at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency to allow Iran to make small quantities of nuclear fuel. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns said Monday the administration would reject any proposal that did not require the Iranians to stop domestic nuclear enrichment and reprocessing activities. "The United States will not support any halfway measures," he said. (New York Times)
        See also Iran Renews Threat to Withhold Oil - Karl Vick
    Iran's chief negotiator renewed a threat to interrupt petroleum exports if the IAEA board of governors followed through on its vote last month to report Iran to the Security Council. (Washington Post)
  • Iraqi Tribes Strike Back at Zarqawi's Insurgents - John Ward Anderson
    Tribal chiefs in Iraq's western Anbar province and in an area near the northern city of Kirkuk, two regions teeming with insurgents, are vowing to strike back at al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is waging war against Sunni tribal leaders who are cooperating with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military. Maj.-Gen. Rick Lynch, a U.S. military spokesman, said, "What we're finding is indeed the people of al-Anbar - Fallujah and Ramadi, specifically - have decided to turn against terrorists and foreign fighters." (Washington Post )
  • Mideast Investment Up in U.S. - Paul Blustein
    Middle Eastern investment in the U.S. is once again picking up steam. Spearheading the trend is Dubai's Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktum. The ports deal is just one of a series of recent purchases by companies he controls. Other acquisitions include a $1 billion portfolio of 21,000 apartments in U.S. Sun Belt cities; a 2.2% stake in the automotive giant DaimlerChrysler AG that cost another $1 billion; and a Manhattan landmark building, 230 Park Ave. On Thursday came news of yet another Dubai acquisition, of plants in Georgia and Connecticut that make precision components used in engines for military aircraft and tanks. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Airstrike Kills Two Islamic Jihad Terrorists - Hanan Greenberg
    Senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Munir Abu Sukar and Jihad member Iyad Abu Shaluf were killed Monday in an Israeli air force strike on a vehicle in Gaza. Three passersby also died in the strike. The IDF said Abu Sukar was involved in the placement of explosive devices and directed the firing of Kassam rockets at Israeli targets. In recent days, Palestinians have boosted their rocket attacks on Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Overturns Pro-Abbas Legislation - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The new Hamas-controlled parliament on Monday voted to curb the powers of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas by voting to cancel a number of measures enacted by the previous council after the parliamentary election. Angry Fatah legislators in Gaza City stormed out of the chamber in protest. The annulled measures had empowered Abbas to revoke laws and even to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council. They also gave Abbas the authority to appoint a new constitutional court without seeking legislative approval. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Security Before Peace - Amir Oren
    The American general who serves as "security coordinator" for the Palestinian-Israeli arena, Keith Dayton, told a congressional hearing last week that there won't be security - and there won't be a Palestinian state - without the unification and purging of the security mechanisms. There won't be U.S. involvement if Hamas is running the government in general, and the security mechanisms in particular. Dayton spoke with disappointment about Abbas' weakness even before the elections, noting that "the lack of political will resulted in little progress in either security sector performance or reform."
        Dayton's message, like that of his counterparts in the IDF and Shin Bet security service, is bleak: Things will get bad or very bad - and soon. The relatively small number of lethal terror attacks is misleading. The terror organizations are not waiting until after the elections in Israel. Only the success of preventive operations is preventing the escalation. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Will the Next Israeli Government Divide Jerusalem? - Nadav Shragai
    The IDF is uneasy over proposals to redivide Jerusalem. "This would pose a serious danger to Jerusalem residents," said a senior source on the General Staff. "The city today is a mosaic of Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. Any redivision, with borders, walls and fences, is likely to increase the circle of hostility on the part of tens of thousands of Palestinians who today enjoy various economic benefits such as national insurance, health insurance, good jobs, and freedom of movement throughout the city." "Any such division is also dangerous since these would not really be 'defensible borders.'...We have already had the experience of light weapons fire on the neighborhoods of Gilo and Har Homa, and another division is likely to expose additional Jerusalem neighborhoods to Palestinian gunfire and even mortar fire."
        When the division of Jerusalem between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods was being discussed at the time of the Clinton parameters, experts at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies opposed the plan. They warned of urban and planning chaos that would harm the lives of both sides. They said that under the Clinton parameters there would be a need for tens of crossing points between the eastern and western parts of the city, which would further complicate daily life. (Ha'aretz-Hebrew, 7Mar06)
  • Debating Terror in Hamas' Backyard - David Frum
    The terrorism of Hamas is aimed at Israel, but the ideology behind it will rebound on the Arab world. The ideology of Hamas is the ideology that blew up the mosque in Samarra. It is the ideology that tyrannizes Iran. It is the ideology that triggered the 1994 civil war that killed between 40,000 and 100,000 Algerians. (American Enterprise Institute)
  • Observations:

    The Radical Politics of Islamic Fundamentalism - Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
    (New Republic)

    • Political Islam is now fully on the offensive. We are witnessing a new multipronged, intercontinental intifada. A Sunni Muslim cleric, having helped organize anti-cartoon protests in Beirut, explained the protests' significance: "The war [with the West] has already started."
    • In Gaza, demonstrators demanded the hands of cartoonists be cut off, and an imam at the Omari Mosque declared, "We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible." This is not normal politics. This is not even the normal excess of normal politics.
    • Some will want to believe that Hamas will tame itself now that it faces the responsibility of governing. Hamas, under crippling diplomatic and financial pressure, is seeking to do the minimum necessary to get the willfully gullible in the West to sign onto its political legitimacy.
    • By identifying political Islam (not Islam itself but a political Islamic movement with a coherent and distinctive political ideology and goals), we emphatically do not implicate all Muslims or all Islam. The phenomenon includes only Islamic-grounded political regimes and organizations that share a common ideological foundation about Islam's political primacy or its need to systematically roll back the West. Therein, political Islam resembles the international communist movement in its heyday.
    • Political Islam is totalitarian, aggressive, conquering, cocksure about its superiority and destiny to rule, intolerant, bristling with resentment, and only tenuously in touch with aspects of reality. What marks it most distinctively are its religious consecration of its tenets, emotions, and goals, which are putatively grounded in Allah's will and to which slavish (indeed literally mindless) devotion is due; and its cult of death, which produces its extreme danger.
    • The Iranian and Palestinian elected leaderships' support for the destruction of Israel shows that Israel's conduct is simply not the issue for political Islam. Its hostility to Israel is not, and never was, based on Israel's policies. It is Israel's - and an independent Jewish community's - existence in the Middle East that political Islam wishes to obliterate.

      The writer, an affiliate of Harvard's Center for European Studies, is the author of Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust.

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