Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 24, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Saddam, Al-Qaeda Did Collaborate, Documents Show - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
    Former Democratic senator and 9/11 commissioner Bob Kerrey says a recently declassified Iraqi account of a 1995 meeting between Osama bin Laden and a senior Iraqi envoy presents a "significant set of facts," and shows a more detailed collaboration between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
    In an interview Thursday, Kerrey said the new document shows that "Saddam was a significant enemy of the United States."
    On Thursday ABC News reported on five recently declassified documents captured in Iraq. One of these was a handwritten account of a February 19, 1995, meeting between an official representative of Iraq and bin Laden himself, where bin Laden broached the idea of "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia.
    When Saddam was informed of the meeting on March 4, 1995, he agreed to broadcast sermons of a radical imam, Suleiman al-Ouda, requested by bin Laden.
    The new documents suggest that the 9/11 commission's final conclusion in 2004, that there were no "operational" ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, may need to be reexamined in light of the recently captured documents.

Israel HighWay
- March 23, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Hamas - One Month Later

Gaza Faces Bird Flu - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    The A-Shimali clan manages five commercial poultry farms in Gaza about two kilometers from the border with Israel.
    The farms contain some 35,000 chickens, but bird flu was discovered there on Monday, so no one bothers to collect the eggs any longer.
    Thousands of cartons of eggs in the warehouse can no longer be sold.
    "There will be blood shed here if anyone [from the PA's veterinary service] tries to destroy our chickens without giving us compensation," warned one member of the family, Nabil A-Shimali.
    To emphasize the point, some of the men are carrying Kalashnikov rifles.

U.S. and British Jericho Prison Monitors Feared Kidnapping - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    British sources said that underscoring the insecurity the unarmed U.S. and British prison monitors felt at the Jericho prison was "very specific" intelligence information regarding the danger of the monitors being kidnapped and held for ransom.

Top Syrian Officials Suspected in Hariri Murder Linked to Fraud - Benny Avni (New York Sun)
    A Lebanese fugitive who was arrested last week in Brazil, Rena Koleilat, transferred funds she had seized from a bank that collapsed in mid-2003 to top Syrian officials, according to investigators in New York.
    Some of the same Syrian officials have been mentioned by UN investigators in connection with the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

In Egyptian Movies, Americans Are the Heavies - Daniel Williams (Washington Post)
    The wildly anti-American Egyptian-made film, "The Night Baghdad Fell," has done a brisk business for two months.
    In the film, Egyptians fret about an American invasion of Egypt and the potential destruction of their capital.
    Americans are bullies, rapists, and mindless killers. By the way, the film is a comedy.

Four Injured by Gunfire at Palestinian Wedding (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
    On Wednesday, an armed man fired a gun during a friend's wedding in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, injuring the groom and three others.

Politicized Islam Grows in Serbia's Sandzak (Jane's-UK)
    The strategic Muslim-majority Sandzak region of Serbia and Montenegro, which borders Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, has seen a marked increase in politicized Islam over the past few years.
    Religious schools and an Islamic university are educating increasing numbers of young people, filling a vacuum left by failing republican and municipal administrations.
    There are also growing numbers of so-called Wahhabis who follow Islamic practices imported from Saudi Arabia.

Israel's Unemployment Rate Drops - Einav Ben-Yehuda (Ha'aretz)
    The Central Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday that Israel's unemployment rate decreased in January 2006 to 8.7%.
    This figure stood at 10.4% in 2004.

There's Water Under the Judean Desert - But It's Hardly Being Used (
    The one place in water-short Israel where natural groundwater is available and not being fully exploited is in the mostly uninhabited Judean desert, according to a thorough hydrological mapping study done at Hebrew University by Leehee Ben-Itzhak.
    The Judea Aquifer, an underground water reservoir beneath the Judean desert, contains an average yearly volume of 100 million cubic meters of water, of which only about 20% is currently used.

Israeli Doctors to Assist Vietnam in Heart Surgery for Children (VNA-Vietnam)
    A group of Israeli heart doctors from the Save a Child's Heart (SACH) organization arrived in Vietnam on March 22 to accelerate cooperation in children's heart surgery.
    The cooperation will focus on organizing training courses for Vietnamese doctors at Israel's Wolfson Medical Center, and sending Israeli experts to Vietnam to exchange experiences with Vietnamese colleagues and give treatment to poor Vietnamese children.
    The Israel-based humanitarian organization has since 1996 conducted heart operations for 1,400 children in 24 countries.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Says It Won't Arrest Militants Who Attack Israel - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Incoming Palestinian interior minister Saeed Seyam, chosen by Hamas to oversee three security services, said on Thursday he will not order the arrest of militants carrying out attacks against Israel. "The day will never come when any Palestinian would be arrested because of his political affiliation or because of resisting the occupation," Seyam said. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Delays Aid Decision Until After Hamas Sets Up Government - Adam Entous
    The Bush administration is expected to wait until after a Hamas-led government is in place to make final decisions on the fate of U.S. aid programs, U.S. diplomats said on Thursday. A delay of several weeks could buy the administration time to try to iron out differences with its partners in the Quartet over how to sideline the Islamic militant group without collapsing the Palestinian economy. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Envoy Accuses Iran of Duplicity on Iraq - Jonathan Finer and Ellen Knickmeyer
    Iran is publicly professing its support for Iraq's stalemated political process while its military and intelligence services back outlawed militias and insurgent groups, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Thursday. Iranian agents train and arm Shiite Muslim militias such as the Mahdi Army, linked to Iraq's powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and also work closely with Sunni Arab-led insurgent forces including Ansar al-Sunna, blamed for dozens of deadly attacks on Iraqi and American soldiers and Shiite civilians. (Washington Post )
        See also below Weekend Features: Muqtada al-Sadr: Statesman by Decree (Newsday)
  • Coalition Forces Free Three Western Hostages in Iraq - Kirk Semple
    Acting on a tip from a detainee, American and British troops stormed a house in western Baghdad Thursday and rescued two Canadians and a Briton who had been held hostage for four months, who were discovered bound but unguarded. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Freezes Hizballah Media Assets - Jeannine Aversa
    The Bush administration moved Thursday to freeze the assets of several Lebanese media outlets, alleging that they helped raised money and recruits for Hizballah's terrorist network. The Treasury Department's action is against al-Manar, a satellite TV operator, al-Nour Radio, and their parent company, the Lebanese Media Group. "Any entity maintained by a terrorist group - whether masquerading as a charity, a business, or a media outlet - is as culpable as the terrorist group itself," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Al-Manar also has provided support to other terrorist groups, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the department said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Germany: Islamist Terror Threatens Europe, Israel - Louis Charbonneau
    Ernst Uhrlau, head of Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency, said on Thursday that the success of Germany and other countries in hunting down terrorists has done little to reduce the threat "Islamic terrorism" poses to Europe and Israel. "Europe is no longer just a recruitment and financing area but has become a target of Islamic terrorism," Uhrlau told a conference on Islamic extremism organized by the American Jewish Congress. "In the foreseeable future international terrorism will remain one of the most serious threats to our society. More than ever before Israel and Europe as a single risk area are caught in the crosshairs of international terrorism," he said. (Reuters)
  • Terrorism Victims Seek Redress from Iran - Michael E. Ross
    A group of Americans is suing Iran, hoping to seize antiquities to satisfy a judgment against Tehran for sponsoring a deadly terrorist attack in Jerusalem. On Sept. 4, 1997, three suicide bombers attacked a pedestrian mall in Jerusalem, killing five people and injuring nearly 200 others. The militant Palestinian group Hamas claimed responsibility.
        Eight Americans who were "severely and permanently injured" in the carnage filed two suits against Iran, widely believed to fund Hamas. In September 2003, ruling that Hamas "has a close relationship with Iran," and that the bombing "would not have occurred without Iranian sponsorship," U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered Iran to pay $423.5 million in damages. Realizing it would be impossible to collect from the Iranian government, attorney David J. Strachman set his sights on Iranian antiquities, arguing that museums illegally removed historical artifacts from sites in Iran during the 1930s, making them a legitimate form of compensation for his clients. (MSNBC)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: Palestinian Corruption Causing Shortages in Gaza; New Palestinian PM "Has Jewish Blood on His Hands" - Yaakov Katz
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz explained the situation at border crossings between Gaza and Israel in an interview: "After we opened Karni [on Monday] someone started running to attack it, and the IDF commander there immediately closed it down. So every day now we are reassessing the security situation there." "We decided to open the Kerem Shalom crossing and told the Palestinians, 'Whatever you want to send through Karni, send through Kerem Shalom.' But there are people there who have an interest in not opening Kerem Shalom, since they get a cut of whatever goes through Karni. This is part of the Palestinian corruption."
        "The Hamas are terrorists. [Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail] Haniyeh was the bureau chief of [Sheikh Ahmed] Yassin and he has Jewish blood on his hands. Mahmoud Azhar [slated to be the PA foreign minister] is a terrorist in every way." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket Thursday night that landed near Netiv Haasera in the Negev. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Under Fire in Kalkilya - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Earlier this week, unidentified gunmen opened fire at the car of Acting Kalkilya Mayor Hashem al-Masri outside his home. A few days earlier, Masri was beaten on the head with a club as he left a mosque. The attacks are believed to be part of a power struggle between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas leaders in the city warned Thursday of a conspiracy designed to oust them from the municipality, which they have been controlling for nearly eight months.
        "Ever since we won the municipal election, we have been subjected to a campaign of intimidation and incitement by Fatah activists," one Hamas official said. These events are seen as an indication of what awaits Hamas after it forms the cabinet and takes control of the PA. Many are convinced that Fatah members would do their utmost to undermine Hamas' control. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gunmen Destroy Bethlehem TV Studio - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Unidentified gunmen on Thursday went on a rampage inside the studios of the private Shepherds' TV in Bethlehem, destroying most of the equipment. "They threatened one of the workers who was sleeping inside the station with their rifles," said one of the employees. "Then they forced him to stand facing the wall as they started smashing cameras and other electronic equipment, including computers." The station was forced to suspend its broadcasts. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Live From the West Bank - Rebecca Sinderbrand
    Welcome to the barely controlled chaos of Palestinian television. Almost anyone who wants to start a TV station can. At least 45 stations have sprouted up in the West Bank in the past 13 years, most run by local media mavens who sell ad time to local businesses. The content is a mixture of strident homegrown political commentary and lowbrow pan-Arab entertainment. About one-third of what's aired is produced locally. (Wired)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Terror's U.S. Breeding Ground - Adam Brodsky
    In Anaheim, Calif., last week, a banquet to raise money for former Florida professor Sami al-Arian - who was indicted in 2003 for raising money for the Islamic Jihad terror group - drew top officials from a host of "mainstream" Muslim-American civic groups: the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the American Muslim Taskforce, and the American Muslim Alliance.
        Across America, terrorist sympathizers operate perfectly legal schools, mosques, and community centers, often with funding from Saudi sources. At the very least, these centers often win "hearts and minds" for the enemy - stoking the notion that America oppresses Muslims; that their brand of Islam must, and will, ultimately prevail; and that terrorists' grievances are legitimate and that their means are defensible. (New York Post)
  • Outrage in Afghanistan - Editorial
    What's the point of the U.S. propping up the government of Afghanistan if it's not even going to pretend to respect basic human rights? President Bush himself said it was "deeply troubling" that an Afghan man is facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity. In fact, the case is more than deeply troubling; it's barbaric. This is a country that was liberated from the Taliban by American troops and whose tenuous peace is enforced by those troops. If Afghanistan wants to return to the Taliban days, it can do so without the help of the U.S. (New York Times)
        See also Abdul Rahman and the Future of Shari'a - Jay Bryant
    Oddly enough, the Rahman case represents progress. It has caused an uproar in the West. It has focused attention on the problem with the radical Islamic law code, shari'a. It makes it more difficult for the moderate Muslims to do nothing about the problem. (RealClearPolitics)
  • Iran's Icon - Editorial
    Akbar Ganji, who on Friday was released from Tehran's Evin prison after serving a six-year sentence, first incurred the Iranian regime's wrath when, as a journalist in the late 1990s, he implicated former president Rafsanjani in the killing of dozens of opposition figures. From prison, which Ganji mainly spent in solitary confinement, he also wrote his "Republican Manifesto" calling for an end to clerical rule. That manifesto has become a bible of sorts to Iranian opposition groups, especially the politically potent student movement.
        Last year, Ganji went on a three-month hunger strike, which nearly killed him but also brought international attention to his plight. In the end, the authorities were forced to keep him alive - an implicit admission that the conscience and will of a single man could compel the regime's surrender. "My views have not changed at all," a rail-thin but still defiant Ganji said upon his release. "Today, I'm more determined to say what I said six years ago." Iranians will be listening. So should we. (Wall Street Journal, 24Mar06)
  • False Symmetry - Martin Sherman
    While Palestinian civilians have been hurt by the actions of Israel's armed forces, they are never the purposeful target of such action. By contrast, Israeli civilians are almost invariably the intended victims of Palestinian violence.
        Against all odds, Israelis succeeded in establishing a state despite ferocious Arab and Palestinian opposition. On the other hand, the Palestinians have failed to establish a state despite manifest Israeli acquiescence (and at times even active endorsement) and massive international support. Israelis have built an advanced industrialized country, with the world's highest per-capita rate of scientific publications and patents filed. The county is a world leader in agriculture, hi-tech, and medicine. By contrast, despite being the world's highest per capita recipients of international aid, the Palestinians have excelled at producing crazed martyrs, corruption, and...well, little else. (Ynet News)
  • Confronting European-Israeli Misunderstandings - Interview with Dr. Johannes Gerster
    The Islamic fundamentalists view Christianity as too secularist and weak to be counted as a religious power. It is Western democracy they consider as a threat to the Islamic fundamentalist culture. Many Europeans do not realize that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is part of this larger battle. A democracy located in the Arab world is a thorn in its side. Radicals are like wolves. The first prey that stills the initial hunger does not satiate them; on the contrary, it makes them more hungry.
        Dr. Gerster, the representative of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Israel from 1997 to 2005, was president of the German-Israeli parliamentarian group in the Bundestag and has been working for improved Israeli-German relations for forty years. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Weekend Features

  • Double Standard Exists on Terrorism - Arthur Cohn
    The Palestinian film, "Paradise Now," which describes in an understanding way the lives of two Palestinian terrorists, won a string of important awards from major film festivals, culminating in this month's Oscar nomination as best foreign film. How is it possible that such a film is acclaimed by many people of culture and art, after all the tragic events caused by brutal terror? Why the double standard for terrorism? The main reason is that suicide terrorists (we should call them "genocide terrorists") are, when active in Israel, regarded by many not as murderers but as freedom fighters whose motives should be understood.
        There is one word that is the basis for the acceptance of Palestinian terrorists: "occupation." All land that was not part of Israel until 1967 is termed "occupied territory." By that definition, it is stolen land, and all means seem to be justified to force Israel to return the theft. The use of the term "occupied territories" is dangerous, irresponsible, and fully unjustified. Israel didn't take any land from a sovereign state. The "occupied territories" were in 1967 illegally in the hands of Jordan and Egypt. The areas captured in 1967 were promised for Jewish settlements by the League of Nations in 1922, and all the resolutions of this international body were transferred to the United Nations.
        If Israel's demand for security lacks a basis of law, justice and morals, if we don't stress our rights in the Land of Israel, if we basically justify the Arab position that large parts of Israel belong only to them and are forcefully stolen, we cannot wonder when we see so many young students on American university campuses accepting the Palestinian propaganda against Israel. The writer is the Academy-Award-winning producer of numerous films, including "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis" and "One Day in September." (Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)
  • Muqtada al-Sadr: Statesman by Decree - Mohamad Bazzi
    As he walked into one of Shia Islam's holiest shrines, the cleric was greeted by hundreds of believers waving his picture and pumping their fists in the air, chanting, "With our blood, with our souls, we will sacrifice for you, Muqtada." Such a reception is typical for Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq, where he commands a wide following. But this was Damascus, Syria, a secular dictatorship where visiting religious leaders usually do not rate a hero's welcome. "I pray that all Muslims will unite against Western injustice and tyranny," al-Sadr told the crowd during his Feb. 10 visit.
        Once a renegade Shia cleric with a ragtag militia fighting U.S. forces, al-Sadr has transformed himself into a statesman. He controls a key bloc in the new Iraqi parliament, and he's become a kingmaker in the selection of the next Iraqi prime minister. For the U.S., al-Sadr may pose a greater threat as a politician than he did as a militia leader. "The Syrian regime is trying to form a united front with Iran and Islamist groups in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine," said Marwan Kabalan, a political science professor at Damascus University. "Al-Sadr is a major part of that effort." (Newsday)
  • Observations:

    The Harvard/Chicago Paper on the Israel Lobby

    The Basis of the U.S.-Israel Alliance: An Israeli Response to the Mearsheimer-Walt Assault - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • On December 27, 1962, President John F. Kennedy told Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir: "The United States has a special relationship with Israel in the Middle East really comparable only to what it has with Britain over a wide range of world affairs." In 1981, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor of Iraq's Saddam Hussein. In October 1991, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney thanked Israel for its "bold and dramatic action" a decade earlier.
    • In the 1980s, several memoranda of understanding between the U.S. and Israel on strategic cooperation were followed by regular joint military exercises, where U.S. forces were given access to Israel's combat techniques. The U.S. Marine Corps and special operations forces have particularly benefited from these ties, though much of the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship is classified.
    • Saudi Arabia has tried to tilt U.S. policy using a vast array of powerful PR firms, former diplomats, and well-connected officials, with the result being that America is still overly dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Given the ultimate destination of those petrodollars in recent years (the propagation of Islamic extremism and terrorism), a serious investigation of those lobbying efforts appears to be far more appropriate than focusing on relations between the U.S. and Israel.

    The Graves of Academe - Melanie Phillips (

    • The authors try to wrap themselves in the mantle of heroic fighters against the attempt by the "Israel lobby" to stifle them. But open the Guardian or Independent any day of the week, and these "stifled" claims of the Israel/Jewish/neocon global conspiracy/world evil pour from their pages in an unstoppable torrent of bile.
    • The fundamental misrepresentations and distortions in this paper are quite astonishing. Take this claim, for example, that Israeli citizenship "is based on the principle of blood kinship." This is totally untrue. [More than a million] Arabs and other non-Jews are Israeli citizens.
    • This is but the latest example of a poisonous pathology which has gripped the intelligentsia of the West, centered around a visceral loathing of America, Israel, the neocons, and the Jews. The intelligentsia have become the fifth columnists of the West, an engine of war that is being deployed by the enemies of life and liberty to sow terminal confusion, self-loathing, and demoralization that are progressively sapping the ability of the free world to defend itself.
    • The university world is not a disinterested bystander at the current struggle between freedom and genocidal clerical fascism. It is instead an active player - and on the wrong side.

    Stephen Walt's War with Israel - Richard Baehr and Ed Lasky (American Thinker)

    • Walt and Mearsheimer's attacks on Israel fail every basic test of fairness, and lead one to believe they would prefer a world without Israel. Israel is demonized by the authors, while thuggish terror-supporting states such as Iran and Syria are presented as potential important allies of America, and are insulated from any criticism.
    • The professors' attempt to promote the good deeds of Syria in the war on terror is particularly laughable. Syria has opened its border to virtually every jihadist willing to kill Americans in Iraq.
    • The authors deliberately choose to ignore the Israeli offers of peace after the 1967 war. These offers were roundly and proudly rejected by the Arab world in the infamous "3 Nos" of the Khartoum Resolution: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.

        See also Dershowitz: "Study Is Ignorant Propaganda" - Nathan Guttman
    Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz argues that "the challenge is to find a single idea in the piece that does not already appear in hate websites. There is no scholarship here whatsoever." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The U.S.-Israel Special Relationship - Eli E. Hertz (Myths and Facts); Pseudo-Scholarship on Israel from Harvard - Mitchell G. Bard (Jewish Virtual Library)

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