Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 21, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Former CIA Official: "U.S. Could Wipe Out Iran Nukes in Two Days" - Yigal Grayeff (Jerusalem Post)
    Gary Berntsen, the former senior CIA operative who led the search for bin Laden in Afghanistan in late 2001, said in an interview he believes the U.S. has the ability to easily destroy Iran's nuclear facilities using bunker-buster bombs and other weapons.
    "We can take care of it in a couple of days with air strikes and they wouldn't be able to stop us....It wouldn't be difficult to plan."
    "I've worked against the Iranians for years. They are determined to get this no matter what, and they will lie and cheat and do whatever they have to do to get themselves a weapon."

Global Jihad in Chechnya - Umalt Dudayev (Mosnews-Russia)
    After the death of Aslan Maskhadov, the moderate leader of the Chechen separatists, one year ago, the leadership passed to the radicals led by Russia's most wanted man, Shamil Basayev.
    Maskhadov's successor as rebel president, Abdul-Khalim Sadullayev, is officially working with Basayev and has announced the creation of a "Caucasus Front" that stretches beyond Chechnya to the rest of the North Caucasus.
    In January, Basayev said in an interview that Sadulayev planned to hold a big "majlis" or assembly in spring 2006 to unify the Chechen fighters.
    Basayev also said he "intends to cross the river Volga" in the summer.

Russia's Islamist Fears - Paul Goble (UPI)
    In what may presage a broader Russian crackdown against Islamist groups, regional Federal Security Service (FSB) head Aleksandr Krivyakov said that Islamic extremists have moved from the "first" to the "second" level of activity, one level before the point at which such groups will organize "mass disorders" and try to "seize power."
    Such a development would not have been possible "without organizational and financial support from abroad," a fact confirmed by the Chelyabinsk courts last fall when they convicted representatives of Hizb ut-Tahrir from Central Asia of "extremist activity."
    Krivyakov added that "it is well known that the expansion of Wahhabism in Russia is taking place stage by stage, according to a definite plan. We already over the course of several years have noted cases of distribution in the region of literature and leaflets of Wahhabi content."
    "At the present time, the second stage of this so-called expansion is taking place: the formation of missionary groups among the members, to whom an anti-government ideology is being disseminated."
    Unless something is done quickly, he insisted, these Islamist radicals will move to the final, third stage in which there will be "a sharpening of inter-ethnic and inter-confessional relations," and "the activization of national radicals."
    Three years ago, FSB analysts began to talk about what they called the "three-stage process" of the Islamist threat to the Russian Federation, learning of this plan from captured Wahhabist documents.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Warns Iran: "We Will Use Military Might to Protect Our Ally, Israel"
    President Bush said Monday in Cleveland: "The threat from Iran is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel. That's a threat, a serious threat. It's a threat to world peace; it's a threat, in essence, to a strong alliance. I made it clear, I'll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally, Israel." (White House)
  • Key Hamas Cabinet Posts Go to Hard-Liners - Ilene R. Prusher
    Hamas introduced a cabinet Sunday that creates a hard-line Palestinian government - lacking moderate forces and led by some of the Islamic organization's most militant actors. It's a signal, say analysts, that the Palestinian leadership appears willing to forgo much of the funding it has been receiving from Western nations. The crucial diplomatic position of foreign minister went to Mahmoud Zahar, who is adamantly opposed to any softening of Hamas' position that Israel should be destroyed.
        Zahar is known for his fiery rhetoric and vocal support for the organization's use of suicide bombings. Zahar has long said that all of historical Palestine is holy to Islam and must be liberated. From Israel's point of view, Zahar as foreign minister is simply a symbol of what Israel faces with Hamas at the helm. (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Defiant Hamas Packs Cabinet with Hardliners - Stephen Farrell (Times-UK)
  • Hamas Victory Buoys Jordan's Islamists - Thanassis Cambanis
    In the lobby of an Islamic school in Amman, a map shows a green wave washing over the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. ''The Muslims Are Coming!" declares a banner above the map. The victory of the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas, just across the Jordan River in the West Bank, has invigorated Jordan's steadily growing Islamist movement and reinforced its conviction that democratic elections will pave the way to an Islamic republic in Jordan. The school and the Islamic Action Front in parliament are both wings of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has followed the same blueprint as Hamas.
        Now politicians in the Islamic Action Front are boldly breaking with the gentlemen's rules of Jordanian politics, under which opposition parties never directly criticize the monarchy, nor point out government corruption, or call for major democratic reforms. In recent weeks, Islamist politicians have declared that without the monarchy's repressive control over parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood would win 40-50% of the vote. (Boston Globe)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Gun Battles Erupt Throughout Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    At least 12 Palestinians were wounded in fierce gun battles throughout the Gaza Strip on Monday between Palestinian policemen and disgruntled Fatah militiamen. Most of those wounded were policemen who tried to prevent Fatah gunmen from taking over government buildings and security installations. The attackers said they were protesting against the PA's failure to provide them with jobs and money. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jenin Al-Aqsa Brigades Leader Admits Hizballah Funding and Influence - Reuven Erlich
    Zakaria Zubeidi, chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, has admitted that his organization receives direct assistance from Hizballah. In an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag on March 6, Zubeidi noted that Hizballah assists his group with funds, arms, and military training. "Without the assistance of our Hizballah brothers, we would not have been able to persist with our struggle." "We coordinate our operations with them," he added. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy - James Taranto
    The New York Sun reports on a paper, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, about the allegedly far-reaching influence of an "Israel lobby." White supremacist David Duke, a one-time Ku Klux Klan leader, called the paper "a great step forward." The "working paper" claims a network of journalists, think tanks, lobbyists, and largely Jewish officials have seized the foreign policy debate and manipulated America to invade Iraq. Included in this network, the authors say, are the editors of the New York Times, the scholars at the Brookings Institution, "pro-Israel" senior officials in the executive branch, and "neoconservative gentiles" including columnist George Will.
        Walt and Mearsheimer's method of analysis presumes Israel's guilt. Every past or present Israeli transgression is evidence of its wickedness, whereas Arab ones, if they are acknowledged at all, are "understandable." This approach is anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent. It is telling that David Duke finds their ideas congenial. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Critics Question Harvard Paper - Meghan Clyne
    Marvin Kalb, founding director of the Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, said, "It clearly does not meet the academic standards of a Kennedy School research paper....It is a rather sensational example of 'realist' journalism....Walt would be better advised to stick to scholarship and leave journalism to journalists, who generally check their 'facts' before publishing them." President Clinton's special Middle East envoy, Dennis Ross, said the authors displayed "a woeful lack of knowledge on the subject....It is masquerading as scholarship." (New York Sun)
        "The content [of the paper] is not significant," said the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein. "Those seeking to damage the U.S.-Israel relationship have been saying this for a while. The fact that it carries the imprimatur of the Harvard Kennedy School is. Those that don't know better would assume it has validity, when it doesn't." (New York Sun)
  • Growing Iran-Syria Ties - Peter Brookes
    Iran is expanding its alliance with its evil twin, Syria. The rising Damascus-Tehran axis means more trouble for the U.S./Israel in the Middle East, more Iranian/Syrian support for terrorism and insurgency across the region - and, worst of all, the specter of nuclear cooperation between the two. Last September, Ahmadinejad announced a willingness to share "peaceful" nuclear technology with other "Islamic" states. Damascus is the most likely recipient of Tehran's nuclear largesse. The writer is a senior fellow for national security affairs at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. (
  • Camps Spotlight Double Standard - Michael J. Jordan
    Armed gunmen roamed freely in UN refugee camps, stockpiling weapons, recruiting refugees, and launching cross-border attacks. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the "separation of armed elements from refugee populations" to maintain the camps' civilian character. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1208, criminalizing the militarization of refugee camps - in Africa in 1998, when civil wars in Rwanda, Burundi, and Liberia unleashed torrents of refugees.
        Defenders of Israel question why the world body has never applied Resolution 1208 to the 27 UN refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Annan hasn't voiced similar outrage regarding Palestinian militancy in UNRWA camps. (JTA/Jewish Journal of LA)
  • Observations:

    Lobbyists' Trial Could Embarrass Top U.S. Envoy - Michael Isikoff (Newsweek)

    • The upcoming trial of two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of sharing classified U.S. government information with Israeli diplomats is causing anxiety within the State Department in the wake of a subpoena to David Satterfield, a top U.S. diplomat who now serves as Washington's deputy ambassador to Iraq.
    • Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, both of whom worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to communicate national defense information. The Justice Department is prosecuting the lobbyists under the World War I-era Espionage Act - a rarely used and vaguely-worded law that prohibits the dissemination of classified "national defense information."
    • The case is unusual because the persons charged are not U.S. government officials but private lobbyists who could only have learned whatever classified information they had from others inside the government. Some legal commentators have cited the use of the law in these circumstances as unprecedented.
    • Two legal sources close to the case confirmed that Satterfield is the anonymous official referred to in the indictment as "U.S. government official - 2" (USGO-2) who had two meetings with Rosen in early 2002 in which classified information allegedly was discussed.
    • Abbe Lowell, the defense lawyer for Rosen, asks how can his client, a private citizen, be charged with disseminating classified information when the government official who allegedly gave it to him in the first place is not charged at all?
    • Like many others - including lobbyists, journalists, and policy analysts - Rosen and Weissman had frequent conversations with U.S. government officials about national security issues that may have touched on classified matters. But the burden should be on the government officials to protect the information - not private citizens who receive it, the lawyers argue.

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