Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 22, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Al-Qaeda Terrorists Caught in West Bank - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Nablus residents Azzam Abu Al-Ades and Bilal Hafanawi were charged on Tuesday in a Samaria military court with planning a terror attack and membership in al-Qaeda.
    Israeli intelligence figures said Palestinians from Nablus and Jenin had made contact with groups identified with Al-Qaida and received financial support from them.
    The two met with al-Qaeda operatives in Jordan and were planning an attack on the French Hill section of Jerusalem that was to involve a suicide bomber and a car bomb.
    See also Israel Charges West Bank Palestinians with Al-Qaeda Link (AP/Asharg Alawsat-UK)
    Al-Ades and Hafanawi visited Jordan at least three times, together and separately, to meet their al-Qaeda handlers, named Abdullah and Abu Talha.
    Al-Ades made the first contact with Abdullah in May 2005 and the following month, during a visit to the Jordanian city of Irbid, Al-Ades introduced Hafanawi to Abdullah.
    Another member of the cell, Maher Samaro, was to get another 5,000 Jordanian dinars ($7,000) from a woman named "Naam" from the United Arab Emirates who was in contact with him by Internet, the indictment said.

    See also Al Qaeda Mega-Attack Thwarted in Jordan (Al-Bawaba, Jordan)
    A major suicide attack in Jordan by a group connected to al-Qaeda was thwarted earlier this month by Jordanian security forces after a terror cell affiliated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was apprehended.
    A separate warning also surfaced of a planned mega-attack in the northern Jordanian city of Irbid.

"Terror Plot Against UK Pubs and Trains" - John Steele and Duncan Gardham (Telegraph-UK)
    A terrorist cell linked to al-Qaeda planned to blow up pubs, nightclubs, and trains in a bombing campaign in Britain, the Old Bailey court was told Tuesday.
    Some of the seven-man gang, all British citizens, had trained at terrorist camps in Pakistan.
    Two of the plotters claimed to be working for al-Qaeda.
    One of the defendants, Waheed Mahmood, had been working for National Grid Transco which operates the high voltage electricity system in England.

CIA Recruited Saddam's Foreign Minister - Francis Harris (Telegraph-UK)
    Saddam Hussein's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, was recruited by the CIA to spy on the regime, NBC News reported.
    Sabri reportedly said Saddam had around "500 metric tons of chemical warfare agents," that production of the agents had been renewed, and that Iraq had additional stockpiles left over from the Iran-Iraq war.

British Face 20-Year War to Tame Taliban - Christina Lamb (Sunday Times-UK)
    The objectives of the British mission to Afghanistan could take as long as 20 years to achieve, according to a confidential British Ministry of Defense briefing.
    Helmand province is regarded as the center of Taliban activity in Afghanistan.
    Afghan intelligence reports suggest the 300 Taliban fighters in Helmand are under five local commanders, who are all under the control of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's one-legged former intelligence chief, who is believed to be based across the Pakistani border in Quetta.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Finance Minister: Palestinians Can Live Without EU Aid
    The Palestinian territories could survive without aid from the EU and would find funding elsewhere, minister designate Omar Abdul Razeq told the Financial Times Deutschland. "The consequences will be serious but not catastrophic." The EU is by far the biggest donor to the Palestinians, but the bloc has made future help conditional on the new cabinet recognizing Israel's right to exist, forswearing violence, and accepting previously reached accords. (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also Hamas Reiterates Refusal to Recognize Israel (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Security Council Stalled Over Iran's Nuclear Program - Warren Hoge
    After nearly two weeks of haggling, a deadlocked Security Council put off full consideration of Iran's nuclear program on Tuesday, amid indications that Iran was close to taking a major step in its efforts to enrich uranium. Britain and France had promoted a statement calling on Iran to abandon its uranium activities, which the West believes is part of a nuclear weapons program. With American support, Britain and France want a two-week deadline with threats of possible punishment, but have met resistance from China and Russia. The impasse generated frustration among European and American negotiators, who said within the last week that the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna had briefed officials on Iran's uranium activities at its Natanz complex. (New York Times)
        See also Britain Pushes for Military Option for Iran - Richard Beeston
    Britain is pressing for a UN resolution that would open the way for punitive sanctions and even the use of force if Iran were to refuse to halt its nuclear program. (Times-UK)
  • Some U.S. Officials Fear Iran Is Helping Al-Qaeda - Josh Meyer
    U.S. intelligence officials are struggling to understand the relationship between the new Tehran leadership and the contingent of al-Qaeda leaders residing in the country. Some officials, citing evidence from highly classified satellite feeds and electronic eavesdropping, believe the Iranian regime is playing host to much of al-Qaeda's remaining brain trust and allowing the senior operatives freedom to communicate and plan terror operations. They suggest that President Ahmadinejad may be forging an alliance with al-Qaeda as a way to expand Iran's influence.
        The Sept. 11 commission said Iran and al-Qaeda had worked together sporadically throughout the 1990s, trading secrets, including some related to making explosives. Iran nurtures such ties, U.S. officials say, to enhance its regional influence and punish Arab political foes through intimidation and violence. Imprisoned top al-Qaeda operatives have told U.S. officials that Iran let Islamic militants traveling to and from Afghanistan and Pakistan pass freely across its borders without passport stamps - including at least eight of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers. The Sept. 11 panel strongly urged the Bush administration and Congress to investigate the ties between Iran and al-Qaeda. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Suicide Bomber Caught on Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway - Efrat Weiss
    Israel Police on Tuesday apprehended a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist from the West Bank with a suicide bombing belt who planned to carry out an attack in Israel. "We managed to foil a multi-casualty terror attack in a crowded place," said Jerusalem District Police Chief Ilan Franco. Acting on an intelligence tip, "we set up a roadblock, and a van was nearing us close to the Harel bridge," police commander Ofer Dror said. "He first slowed down, and then I noticed the driver was Arab. He sped through and drove past the roadblock, and then the pursuit started."
        "He was driving very fast. Throughout the pursuit I requested assistance via radio, including a helicopter. At a certain stage, due to the roadblocks, a traffic jam emerged. The vehicle drove on the shoulder and a truck on the shoulder caused him to stop. I got out with other forces and went towards the vehicle with a drawn gun. A taxi driver was there too, who helped lock in the vehicle." Nine other Palestinians were in the vehicle, and police believe this is the reason why the suicide bomber did not detonate the device. (Ynet News)
  • Iran Pushing for Terror Attacks on Israel - Hanan Greenberg
    "Last month, Iran gave the Islamic Jihad $1.8 million to carry out attacks against Israel," Defense Minister Mofaz said in an interview. "Most of the money is transferred through Syria, and from there to the Islamic Jihad in the territories." "The axis of evil, including Iran, Syria, and Hizballah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood, is consolidating. Hizballah is also involved in some of the terror operations here and sends messages, as well as money, which arrives from Iran to the Islamic Jihad and to Hamas." (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Illusions of False Security - Hillel Halkin
    The Israeli raid on a Jericho jail last week was yet another lesson in the futility of third-party intervention in situations of national conflict. The captured men - five of them convicted, in a rare Palestinian trial of terrorists, of assassinating Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi - were imprisoned as part of an American-brokered deal that ended a 2002 Israeli siege of Arafat's Ramallah compound, in which they had taken refuge. The agreement was that they would be incarcerated in Jericho, with U.S. and British observers posted in the jail to make sure they didn't escape. It was last week's hasty departure of these observers, concerned for their safety under a Hamas government, that led to the Israeli action.
        In a word, as long as the PA was committed to keeping the men in prison, the observers were unnecessary. The minute there was a need for the observers, they vanished, obeying instructions from their superiors. Such is the fate of international interventions of this kind. They work perfectly when they are superfluous and collapse the minute they are not. This was similar to the UN peacekeeping force that fled Sinai in May 1967, paving the way for the Six-Day War. For Israel, the lesson is clear. Neutral "peacekeepers" between it and the Arab states are always undesirable. (New York Sun)
  • Iran Crisis Could Lead to a Nuclear-Armed World - Jessica T. Mathews
    The idea that "it's too late" to stop Iran's progress toward building nuclear weapons is technologically wrong. "There's nothing we can do about it" ignores a range of options between economic sanctions and going to war. This crisis is only proximately about Iran. More important, it is about the likely consequence that Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt would produce their own bombs and the nonproliferation regime would collapse. What is at stake is not a choice between 9 and 10 nuclear weapons states, but a choice between 9 and 30 or more.
        If we fail to pursue this effort with unwavering, clear-minded diplomacy, a nuclear-armed world will be the Bush administration's chief legacy, no matter how the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism turn out. The writer is the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Outreach to Iran: A Wise Choice? - Amir Taheri
    Iran and the U.S. are expected to begin talks on what they have both called "measures to benefit the Iraqi people." Iran has already scored a point by positioning itself as a power speaking for the Iraqi people. Iranian Foreign Minister Motakki has said that Iran's chief priority is to discuss the withdrawal of Coalition forces from Iraq. Thus, when the Americans and their allies start to leave, as they are certain to do later this year, Iran will pretend that it was its efforts that ended "the occupation." Worse, Iran sees Iraq as a corridor to Syria and Lebanon. If Tehran's influence is established in Iraq as it is in Syria and Lebanon, Iran would be able to project power in the Levant for the first time since the 7th century. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Israel Lobby - Ruth R. Wisse (Wall Street Journal, 22Mar06)

    • The thesis of Professors Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago is that a loose association of special-interest groups has persuaded the country to sacrifice its interests to a foreign power.
    • Organized as a prosecutorial indictment rather than an inquiry, their essay does not tell us why the "Israel Lobby" should have formed in the first place. The 21 countries of the Arab League with ties to 1.2 billion Muslims world-wide are nowhere present as active political agents.
    • There is no mention of the Arab rejection of the UN's partition of Palestine in 1948; no 58-year Arab League boycott of Israel and companies trading with Israel; no Arab attacks of 1948, 1967, and 1973; no Arab-Soviet resolution at the UN defining Zionism as racism; no monetary and strategic support for Arab terrorism against Jews and Israel; and no Hamas dedication to destroying the Jewish state.
    • The authors do not ask why Arab aggression and Muslim "rage against Israel" should have morphed into a war against the U.S. and the West. Israel's existence elicits Arab and Muslim hostility, hence in their view Israel is to blame for Arab and Muslim carnage.
    • When the authors imply that the bipartisan support of Israel in Congress is a result of Jewish influence, they function as classic conspiracy theorists who attribute decisions to nefarious alliances rather than to the choices of a democratic electorate. Their contempt for fellow citizens dictates their claims of a gullible and stupid America. Their insistence that American support for Israel is bought and paid for by the Lobby heaps scorn on American judgment and values.
    • Americans don't support Israel because of the strength of any lobby; Israel earns American support the hard way.

          See also Study Decrying "Israel Lobby" Marred by Numerous Errors - Alex Safian
      "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer is riddled with errors of fact, logic and omission, has inaccurate citations, and displays extremely poor judgment regarding sources. Is it true that U.S. policy in the Middle East, and specifically our support for Israel, is due almost entirely to the activities of the "Israel Lobby?" The authors are hardly the first to so argue, though their report ignores all prior serious work on the subject, including the seminal book refuting such claims by the late Professor A.F.K. Organski, The $36 Billion Bargain: Strategy and Politics in U.S. Assistance to Israel.
          The report is a deep embarrassment to both Harvard University and the University of Chicago. While Mearsheimer and Walt are free to make any assertions they like, no matter how baseless, Harvard University should have nothing to do with such shoddy, biased work. (CAMERA)

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