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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 10, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Prepares for War - Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen (FrontPageMagazine)
    Hamas is busily preparing for war. A Hamas official identified as Abu Huzeifa, in an interview with the Gaza City newspaper Dunia al-Watan, revealed that since Israel left the Gaza Strip, Hamas has built training camps in all Palestinian cities.
    These camps are training new cadres of Jihadists. The basic training lasts a month, followed by three more months of advanced instruction in battle skills, endurance building, marksmanship, missile launching, commando fighting, hand-to-hand combat, crawling under fences, and urban warfare.
    The instructors are Hamas members trained internationally, most likely in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.
    Each training camp occupies over five acres and accommodates dozens of trainees.

Israel HighWay
- March 9, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Theater in Israel

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood MPs: "Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Al-Zarqawi Are Not Terrorists" (MEMRI)
    Egyptian MP Ragab Hilal Hamida, from the Muslim Brotherhood, said during a parliamentary session that he supports the activities of Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi.
    Another MP from the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Ahmad 'Askar, supported Hamida's statements, and MPs from the governing National Democratic Party (NDP) did not denounce them.

Lebanese Leader: No Need for Anti-Israeli Militia - Evelyn Leopold (Reuters)
    Lebanon's anti-Syrian Druze opposition leader on Thursday questioned why his country needed armed resistance groups like Hizballah nearly six years after Israel had pulled its troops out of the country.
    "There is no other state in history that accepts a regular militia within a state," Walid Jumblatt said after meeting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York.

New Saudi Islamic TV Channel Launched - Javid Hassan and Naif Al-Shehri (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Saudi Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal on Wednesday launched Al-Resalah (The Message), an Islamic satellite channel to project Islam as a religion of moderation and tolerance.
    Prince Alwaleed said the 24-hour channel would target the Arab audience, and will be the forerunner of an English-language Islamic channel for the Western audience at a later stage.

Russia Shuts Down Fatah.Net Website Promoting Suicide Bombings to Children (MosNews-Russia)
    A major Moscow Internet provider has blocked a Palestinian website preaching the moral desirability of being a suicide terrorist via cartoons and children's stories.
    The site glorified martyrdom and presented the deaths of terrorists attacking Israelis as a cause for celebration.

How Close Did We Come to Bin Laden? - Michael Smerconish (Philadelphia Daily News)
    Right after 9/11, it was CIA officer Gary Berntsen's job to get Osama bin Laden.
    After the fall of Kabul, our best shot at bin Laden came in mid-November at Tora Bora, where Berntsen had an eight-man team, four CIA, four military from Delta Force.
    "They were able to visually spot his camp at Milawa...[and were] able to call in air strikes for 56 hours. There were hundreds of them there....We are able to hear bin Laden. After we took a radio off of a dead fighter, we could hear him. We were very close," Berntsen said.
    On Dec. 15 or 16, bin Laden escaped into Pakistan.

South America's Terror Connection - Trish Regan (CBS News)
    A large, influential Arab population flourishes in the tri-border region where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet.
    Members of the American military have charged that the region harbors radical Islamic terrorists, and that the area is a growing threat to U.S. security interests.
    "Everybody from Hizballah to people who are connected to al-Qaeda" is there, says Walt Purdy of Washington's Terrorism Research Center.
    According to U.S. and Israeli intelligence, Ciudad del Este served as the launch pad for the Hizballah car-bombing attacks on the Israeli embassy in Argentina in 1992 and the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994.
    Counter-terrorism sources say Hamas is sending delegations to the tri-border area to raise money.

1.2M Israeli Households Connected to Internet - Guy Hadass (Globes)
    1.2 million Israeli households had an Internet hook-up at the end of 2005, 9% more than in 2004, according to a Business Data Israel survey.
    BDI also found that the proportion of households with a high-speed Internet hook-up is one of the highest in the world - 45% of all households in 2005.

Israeli Firm Plans Gigawatt-Capable Solar Plants - Leah Krauss (UPI)
    Israel could be relying on solar energy for 80% of its power needs in 30 to 40 years.
    Dov Raviv, the founder and CEO of renewable energy company MST Ltd., has conceived a plan to use existing technology to build the first gigawatt-capacity solar power plants on a large scale.
    Before entering the field of renewable energy, Raviv conceived and developed the Arrow anti-ballistic missile.

Haman, Ahmadinejad, and Us - Avi Shafran (Jerusalem Post)
    There's more than passing irony in the fact that the most infamous anti-Semite of antiquity, the hater whose downfall Jews celebrate on Purim next week, was a prominent official of an empire centered in modern-day Iran.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Rattles Nuclear Saber - Statements from Tehran Take a More Threatening Tone
    Iran's president warned Thursday the West will suffer more than his country if it tries to stop Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments came as Tehran struck an increasingly threatening tone, with the top Iranian delegate to the UN nuclear agency warning a day earlier that the U.S. will face "harm and pain" if the Security Council becomes involved. Some diplomats saw the comments as a veiled threat to use oil as a weapon, though Iran's oil minister ruled out any decrease in production. Iran also has leverage with extremist groups in the Middle East that could harm U.S. interests. (AP)
        See also Ayatollah Enters Iran Nuclear Row - Mike Theodoulou
    Iran's supreme leader Thursday publicly backed the defiant stand of the country's hardline president on Tehran's nuclear program. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran's ultimate arbiter of power, told Iranian officials not to yield to Western pressure as he prepared Iranians for a possibly "painful" showdown with the U.S. (Scotsman-UK)
  • Iran Only Months from Bomb Technology, Says Britain - Simon Tisdall and Ian Traynor
    Britain claimed Thursday that Tehran could acquire the technological capability to build a bomb by the end of the year. A day after the International Atomic Energy Agency referred the dispute to the UN Security Council, British officials also indicated that London would back Washington's efforts to impose a UN deadline of about 30 days for Iran's compliance with international demands. A senior Foreign Office official said that while it could take Iran several years to build a serviceable nuclear weapon, it might gain the technical knowhow within months. "By the end of the year is a...realistic period," said the official. "It would be really damaging to regional security if Iran even acquired the technology to enable it to develop a nuclear weapon."
        Iran has 85 tons of uranium gas stockpiled for enrichment at its Isfahan facility, held under UN seals. American officials say this is enough for 10 bombs. (Guardian-UK)
        See also UN "Has Less Than a Year" to Stop Iran Going Nuclear - Bronwen Maddox
    A British official warned the UN Security Council Thursday that it should move fast as it was "reasonable" to think that Iran could acquire the technology to make nuclear weapons "within a year." An official added: "We will be looking to impede ways that Iran might develop nuclear technology, and to bring home to the Iranian leadership that it cannot defy international community without some penalty."
        On Wednesday, the Iranian paper Keyhan ran an analysis of the strength of Iran's position which may well reflect President Ahmadinejad's thinking: "What we have is worth [all the trouble], because an Iran that possesses nuclear capability would be an unrivalled regional power." "One cannot put a price on such an advantage....This is not something that any rational politician would like to give up as soon as he hears some hue and cry or faces some empty threats." (Times-UK)
  • Rice: "Our Problem Is the Iranian Regime"
    Secretary of State Rice told the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday: "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be 180 degrees different than the Middle East that we would like to see develop. This is a country that is determined, it seems, to develop a nuclear weapon in defiance of the international community that is determined that they should not get one. It is the country that is the central banker for terrorism, whether that terrorism is in southern Iraq or in the Palestinian territories or in Lebanon."  (State Department)
  • Dubai Company Drops U.S. Port Deal - David E. Sanger
    The state-owned Dubai company seeking to manage terminal operations at six American ports dropped out of the deal on Thursday, bowing to an unrelenting bipartisan attack in Congress. (New York Times)
  • Hamas Prepares to Present Cabinet - Joshua Brilliant
    The radical Islamic Hamas movement is likely to present its cabinet next week and it seems the nationalist Fatah, which led the PA in the last decade, is not going to join it, said a senior Hamas source. The PA security services might formally come under a Hamas minister of interior, but 82% of its 70,000 members voted Fatah. "They are loyal to Fatah, not Hamas," Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki told the Dayan Center in Tel Aviv. Some 70,000 bureaucrats, including the PA's senior bureaucracy, include Fatah loyalists and any Hamas attempt to dismiss them would "most likely be confronted by violence from Fatah," he added. Nor can Hamas dissolve Fatah's militia, he noted. (UPI)
        See also Hamas Will Ask Saudi Arabia to Continue Support
    A delegation of Hamas leaders led by Khaled Meshaal will begin a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday to seek aid for a Palestinian government headed by the Islamic militant group. Saudi Arabia has been one of the PA's biggest financial backers. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal publicly spurned a U.S. call to isolate Hamas during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Rice last month. (Reuters)
  • Saudi Boycott Meeting Eyed for WTO Violation - John Zarocostas
    Saudi Arabia may be breaking the promise it made when it entered the World Trade Organization last year by hosting a meeting next week on the Arab economic boycott of Israel. "I think this is a bit too much," said Itzhak Levanon, Israel's ambassador to the WTO, noting it has been only three months since Saudi Arabia was admitted to the organization on terms that require it to treat Israel like any other WTO member. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Former IDF Chief of Staff: There Is a Military Option for Iran - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon told the Hudson Institute in Washington that Israel has a military option against Iran, and that the use of such an option could significantly damage Iran's nuclear program and set it back a number of years. However, Yaalon said Iran is expected to respond with Shihab missiles, as well as missiles from Lebanon and Kassam rockets from the territories. "There will be a need to attack a few dozen sites. The air forces of Israel, the United States, and Europe can carry this out," he said. He added that Iran "would have nuclear technology within a year and a half, and will have the bomb within 3-5 years."
        "Israel has the ability to disrupt the Iranian air defense system. Israel can strike Iran through a number of ways, not only though an aerial attack." "Just as we succeed in striking a lone terrorist, we can also strike a nuclear site without causing major damage to the environment and harming innocents."  (Ynet News)
        See also Responding to the Iranian Threat - David Horovitz
    Former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle, now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told the AIPAC conference in Washington on Monday that, while he hoped it wouldn't come to this, Iran's prime nuclear facilities could be devastated on a single night, in a single strike, by a small fleet of U.S. B-2 bombers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Six Suicide Bombings in Jerusalem Foiled in 2005 - Jonathan Lis
    Israeli security forces foiled six suicide terror bombings in Jerusalem in 2005, Jerusalem District police commander Ilan Franco said Thursday. Two of the bombings were foiled once the terrorists had already infiltrated the city. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Attacks from West Bank Expected - Margot Dudkevitch
    The fear that West Bank terror groups will eventually succeed in manufacturing Kassam rockets that will threaten the heart of Israel is a real one, Haruv Battalion commander Lt.-Col. Arik Hen said Thursday. Since disengagement, terror organizations in the Gaza Strip have intensified their attempts to transfer knowledge, funds, and directives to those operating in the West Bank, he said.
        "Until now we have witnessed preliminary attempts by terrorists to build rockets, but I would like to remind you that that is how it started in Gaza. The first rocket had a 500-meter range and the second reached a kilometer, and from there it progressed," he said. Once the terror groups attain the capability, it will force the army to change its deployment and adopt a different strategy, and possibly intensify its presence in West Bank cities, Hen said. "It is a situation that we will be unable to accept." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Sunni-Shia Rift - Martin Peretz
    Hamas is weaved of the Muslim Brotherhood cloth. But hatred can bring Israel-haters together opportunistically. Even before Fatah's humiliating defeat in the Palestinian elections, Shia help had been trickling into Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and also to the "Marxist" factions of the revolution. But it is difficult to imagine a stable alliance between Sunni extremists and the perfervid Shia in Lebanon and Iran. The blood between them is not very rich. Too much of it has been shed. Still, Hamas seems to assume that it will be drawing on a substantial bank account in Tehran. Will Hamas allow itself to become as dependent and pliant as the optometrist in Damascus? The Sunni-Shia rift is very deep, and even hatred of the Jews will not bridge it in the long run. (New Republic)
  • Iran and the West: Who Needs Whom? - Gil Feiler
    Iran is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC, holding about 10% of the world's crude oil reserves. Iran is second only to Russia in natural gas reserves. The ability of China and India to manufacture cheap goods and services is dependent on affordable Iranian oil. Any severe disruption to Iran's economy would have significant economic repercussions on the Chinese and Indian economies. Thus, China and India are sure to protect Iran against any Western attempt to impose sanctions.
        On the other hand, Iran is neither an economic nor a military superpower. International sanctions would hamper Iranian technological progress, and its oil industry is not in good shape. In fact, Iran is a net importer of refined oil products, including gasoline. Oil wealth by itself cannot guarantee Iran's 70 million citizens a high standard of living without developing downstream industries. Iran's other allies certainly cannot compensate for decreased European investment. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)
  • Iranians Concerned of World Reaction to Nuclear Program
    Menashe Amir, an Iranian affairs expert from Israel Radio's Persian broadcasts, discussed what he is hearing from Iranian listeners on Israel Radio Tuesday: "Iran is really afraid of its case being brought before the Security Council. Iran is afraid that this will become a snowball that will continually grow and that will place the current government in danger and lead to sanctions on Iran." "All Iranians want to have a nuclear bomb...but many have said not under this type of government....They fear that a nuclear bomb will give this brutal government a certificate of security."
        "I would not say that the Iranians chose Ahmadinejad. Those elections were planned and their outcome was determined ahead of time. And certainly Ahmadinejad does not represent the Iranians. He represents the governing authority." "I hear this from people who listen to Voice of Israel Radio in Persian, who call in to the station and have expressed their opinions that they don't want nuclear bombs under the leadership of Ahmadinejad." (
  • A Human Rights Sham - Editorial
    The UN Human Rights Commission is set to begin its annual meeting in Geneva next Monday, drawing together some of the most oppressive nations on Earth. No, not to haul them up on charges. They'll be welcomed as members of the commission. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Mubarak's Son Climbs Party Ranks as Country's Leaders Undercut His Rivals - Daniel Williams
    The son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and a group of close associates have moved into key political positions. Last month, Gamal Mubarak was named one of three deputy secretaries general of the governing National Democratic Party, whose grass-roots organization underpins his father's rule, and 20 of his associates took other high-ranking posts in the party. Mubarak had served as head of the party's policies committee, which helped fashion economic reforms. Political observers saw in the move a shift toward putting the NDP at the service of the president's son. (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt's Brotherhood Discovers Cost of Free Speech - Christine Spola
    The Muslim Brotherhood, with sizable numbers in parliament for the first time, is exercising free speech so freely that some of its activists are being locked up. The Brotherhood in Egypt is a strain of Islamist politics intent on presenting itself as a mainstream political alternative. Last week Egyptian security forces arrested 15 Brotherhood members - none members of parliament - in what analysts and Brotherhood leaders have described as political retaliation for talk about government corruption and ineptitude.
        The Brotherhood and Hamas are brethren in Islamist politics, and Brotherhood leaders support Hamas' fight against Israel. Recently, leaders in Cairo pledged to raise money to help the new Hamas government. (Chicago Tribune)
  • The Kurd Card - Charles Krauthammer
    In an important political development, the Kurds in Iraq have switched sides. In the first parliament, they allied themselves with the Shiite slate to produce the current Shiite-dominated government. Now the Kurds have joined with the opposition Sunni and secular parties to oppose the Shiite bloc. The result is two large competing coalitions: (a) the Kurd-Sunni-secular bloc, which controls about 140 seats in the 275-seat parliament, and (b) the Shiite bloc, which itself is a coalition of seven not-always-friendly parties and controls 130 seats. (Washington Post)
  • Europe: Choosing Between Israel and the Arabs - Interview with Avi Pazner
    When the EU has to chose between its Arab interests and its Israeli ones, it clearly favors the Arab side. In 1973 the Arabs frightened the Europeans with the major oil embargo during the Yom Kippur War. Europe realized how dependent it was on the Arab world. Europe today wants peace and quiet, and does not want anything to interfere. The depth of ignorance in Europe creates misconceived ideas about Israel's aims and policies. Avi Pazner is a former Israeli ambassador to Italy and France. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Weekend Features

  • Al-Qaeda Sympathizers Creating Internet Communities - Kasie Hunt
    Al-Qaeda sympathizers are using Orkut, a popular, worldwide Internet service owned by Google, to rally support for bin Laden, share videos and Web links promoting terrorism, and recruit non-Arabic-speaking Westerners, according to terrorism experts. On Orkut, at least 10 communities are devoted to praising bin Laden, al-Qaeda, or jihad against the U.S. The largest bin Laden community has more than 2,000 members. Visitors to the sites can find videos of attacks, see pictures of dead U.S. soldiers, and read an English translation of the Iraq-based wing of al-Qaeda's latest communique before it is available in English anywhere else, says Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute in Washington.
        "You are creating what I call a virtual community of hatred and seeding these ideas very early," says Jerrold Post, director of the political psychology program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. However, Bruce Hoffman, director of the RAND Institute's counterterrorism center, says, "The jihadists are already using the Internet. The real issue is how we counter these messages of hate and radicalism." (USA Today)
  • Israeli Anti-Terror Training Aids U.S. Security - Tom Lochner
    A make-believe suicide bomber stood amid an imaginary crowd of commuters, poised to "detonate" his weapon and sow tragedy and terror, when a BART police SWAT team officer sneaked up from behind and yanked his legs out from under him. Then the counterterrorism officer straddled his back and pinned his arms outward, preventing the hands from setting off the charge. After last year's bombings of London's transit system and the previous year's bombings of Madrid's commuter trains, BART ratcheted up its counterterrorism training, said BART spokesman Jim Allison.
        "Weaponless takedown," the title of a demonstration for the news media, came on the last day of a four-day seminar for the 18-member BART SWAT team conducted by Los Angeles native Aaron Cohen, who said he served in a counterterrorist unit with the Israel Defense Forces. Today, Cohen runs IMS Security, an anti-terrorist institute that he said has consulted for U.S. government agencies.
        Reporters were not privy to all that went on during the four-day class. "We're selective about what we tell the media," said Sgt. Paul Garcia. "We don't want it to become training material for our opponents." Cohen also taught about "red flags" that can give away a bomber, such as profuse sweating, white knuckles (from gripping a package hard), clothing that does not match the season, a glazed look, and avoidance of security measures or personnel. (Contra Costa Times)
  • Nazis Back in Berlin - Roger Boyes
    Swastikas fluttered over Berlin Monday, German soldiers raised stiff arms in the Hitler salute, and hundreds of bedraggled spectators shouted approval as the Nazi leader delivered a faltering speech. Nazi symbols and Hitler salutes are banned in Germany, yet the Finance Ministry - once Hermann Goering's Luftwaffe headquarters - was draped in huge red and black swastikas. "My God," said Benny Zimmerman, a tourist from St. Louis, "They're back!" Dani Levi, an Israeli director, was attempting to recapture the atmosphere of Nazi Germany for a new comedy about Adolf Hitler. "The film is to be called 'Mein Fuhrer,'" said a spokeswoman for Levi. (Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Iran Military Options Open - Interview with Martin Indyk by Tony Jones (ABC-Australia)

    Martin Indyk served as assistant secretary of state and was Bill Clinton's Middle East advisor at the National Security Council. He is currently director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

    • Q: The U.S. frequently says that Iran will not be allowed to build nuclear weapons. Do you honestly believe that there is a military option on the table along with all the other options?
      Indyk: "Of course there is. It's not a good option, it's not a simple option to take out perhaps 37 Iranian hardened facilities that are located in built-up areas. Civilian populations would be affected by that, but I think more important than all of that is the kinds of things that Iran can do in retaliation that could severely complicate America's other positions in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq."
    • "The Iranians have been for many years now building up cards that they can play in confrontation with what they refer to as 'the great Satan, the United States.' They have seen the United States as a threat to their ambitions in the region and that is why they have, first of all, built a position of influence in Lebanon through Hizballah, which, by the way, also has an international infrastructure of terrorism that's sitting on the shelf and can be mobilized."
    • "They have gone to great pains to take control of a Palestinian card through direct control of Palestine Islamic Jihad - the terrorist organization that's been responsible for all the terrorist acts in the last year or so - and also through their relationship with Hamas, which is now going to take over the government in Palestinian areas."
    • "They also have a card now that they have built after we toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq, particularly in southern Iraq, where they have control over the Moqtada Sadr militia....The Iranians have built up this sphere of influence in Iraq which they can use, by the way, with Hizballah people from Lebanon to cause, I think, considerable damage to American forces there if they so choose."
    • "The Israelis see this as an existential threat. They have been preparing for the possibility that Iran will have nuclear weapons for the last 20 years, so to say that they don't have a military option is, I think, an illusion. They have, I think, already built a military option."
    • Q: You mean the technical military ability to destroy bunkered facilities?
      Indyk: "To attempt to destroy bunkered facilities. But, will they succeed? Will they get them all? Do they know where all of them are? These are very big question marks and, of course, they would much prefer that the United States do it because the United States has a much greater capability than Israel has. But to imagine that the Jewish state, whose leaders have sworn that the Jewish Commonwealth will never be destroyed again, will sit back and hope that somebody else will take care of an existential threat is simply not facing the reality of their situation."

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