Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 27, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Authority May Have Concealed Bird Flu Outbreak (USAgNet)
  "We suspect that the avian flu outbreak in Israel originated in the Palestinian Authority," Agriculture Minister Ze'ev Boim said Thursday, while touring the sites of the outbreak in southern Israel.
    "There is reason to suspect that the PA tried to conceal the outbreak from Israel."

    See also Israel Says Bird Flu Under Control But Fears New Outbreak (AFP/Yahoo)
    "The current wave [of bird flu] has ended, but the flu will return because we are surrounded by it from Gaza and Jordan," Israel Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman Daphna Urista said Sunday.
    Israeli authorities culled 1.2 million poultry, at a total cost of $5 million.
    See also Gaza Farmers Refuse to Cull Possibly Infected Birds - Lior Greenbaum (Globes)

Israel Campus Beat
- March 26, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    Attacking the "Israel Lobby" Article

Israel on High Alert for Election-Linked Terror (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli security forces were put on high alert Sunday, 48 hours before the Israeli Knesset elections on Tuesday, as more than 70 warnings of planned terror attacks were registered, 16 of them specific warnings, Israel Radio reported.
    Military intelligence has received information that Islamic Jihad and Fatah in the northern West Bank are trying to launch attacks against Israeli targets.

60% of Palestinians Reject Israel - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    Nearly 60% of Palestinians oppose recognition of the State of Israel by Hamas, compared to 37% who support Hamas recognizing Israel, according to a public opinion poll released Sunday by Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
    According to the survey, 55% of the Israeli public believe there are "low" or "very low" chances that Hamas will moderate over time.

    See also Palestinian Poll: 63% Say PA Shouldn't Honor Commitments to Israel - Nabil Kukali (Palestinian Center for Public Opinion)
    A Palestinian poll asked: Do you think the Palestinian Authority should abide by the agreements concluded with Israel, or not?
    Yes 33%; No 63%.

Russians Helped Iraq, U.S. Military Study Says - Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White (Washington Post)
    Russian officials collected intelligence on U.S. troop movements and attack plans from inside the American military command leading the 2003 invasion of Iraq and passed that information to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to a U.S. military study released Friday.
    The intelligence reports, which were provided to Hussein through the Russian ambassador in Baghdad at the height of the U.S. assault, warned accurately that American formations intended to bypass Iraqi cities on their thrust toward Baghdad.
    The reports provided some specific numbers on U.S. troops, units and locations, according to Iraqi documents dated March and April 2003 and later captured by the U.S.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Leader to Accept Hamas Cabinet - Scott Wilson
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas notified Hamas officials Saturday that he would accept their proposed cabinet even though its program does not endorse previous agreements or peace initiatives that recognize Israel. Ismail Haniyeh, whom Hamas designated to become prime minister, said the PA parliament would approve the new ministers Wednesday, a day after Israel's national elections. (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Nuclear Steps Quicken, Diplomats Say - Alissa J. Rubin and Maggie Farley
    With efforts to halt its nuclear program at an impasse, Iran is moving faster than expected and is just days from making the first steps toward enriching uranium, said diplomats who have been briefed on the program. If engineers encounter no major technical problems, Iran could manufacture enough highly enriched uranium to build a bomb within three years, much more quickly than the common estimate of five to 10 years, the diplomats said. New information about Iran's program came from diplomats representing countries on the UN Security Council. They were briefed by senior staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which maintains monitors in Iran. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Egypt Names Islamist Group Behind Sinai Attacks
    Egypt for the first time blamed an Islamist movement that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda for a string of deadly bomb attacks in Sinai resorts. State security court prosecutor Hisham Badawi said the group Al-Tawhid wal Jihad (Unity and Holy War) was behind the attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh last year and Taba in 2004 which together killed about 100 people. Previously, Egyptian officials have blamed local Bedouin with links to Islamist groups for the bombings and insisted they were not working with international terror groups. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Damages Building in Ashkelon - Hanan Greenberg
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket Saturday evening that damaged a building in Ashkelon's industrial zone. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. IDF officers claimed that while Hamas was not taking an active part in launchings, it participated in transferring the rockets "behind the scenes." Hundreds of rockets were fired at the western Negev region in southern Israel in recent months. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Kills Two Palestinian Terrorists at Gaza Border Fence - Yaakov Katz
    Israel Defense Forces soldiers were involved in a gun battle Monday morning with a terror cell that approached the northern Gaza Strip security fence just east of the Karni Crossing. A tank killed two of the attackers, while two more terrorists fled the scene. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Arrested at Tel Aviv Bus Station with Dagger
    Security guards at Tel Aviv's central bus station on Sunday apprehended a 24-year-old Palestinian with a concealed dagger who said he was planning a stabbing attack in the station. (Ha'aretz)
        The Palestinian told police he was offered NIS 1,000 for every Jew he stabbed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shin Bet: Two Palestinian Terrorists Caught at Gaza Border Crossing -
    The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) disclosed Sunday that earlier in March it apprehended two Palestinians at the Erez crossing who were trying to enter Israel from Gaza to carry out a terror attack. Samih Hadad, an Islamic Jihad operative, had planned to enter Israel by using falsified medical papers in an attempt to carry out a suicide bombing. Ihab Tisis had been instructed to establish a military infrastructure for the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Islamic Jihad Increases Activity Against Israel (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • How Will the Hamas Government Deal with Fatah? - Danny Rubinstein
    The troubles will begin when the Hamas cabinet begins to take action - transferring money, firing workers, and appointing new ones. A Hamas review of the PA bureaucracy indicates that nearly 60,000 people (out of more than 150,000) who receive salaries are not actually workers. Salaried non-workers include the wives of senior Fatah officials who sit at home and get the salaries of directors-general. Some 20,000 armed youths, who are members of Fatah militias, receive salaries but do not belong to the security services. Thousands of people who receive salaries are not even located here. They left for Jordan, Tunisia or Egypt, but no one has stopped paying them. The Hamas government must deal with this, and when they start implementing reforms and firing people, the real crisis is likely to begin. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Dangerous Prosecution - Editorial
    The case against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is heading toward trial. Their conviction would herald a dangerous aggrandizement of the government's power not merely to prosecute leaks but to force ordinary Americans to keep its secrets. While it is reasonable for the government to demand that its employees and contractors protect the information it entrusts to them, it's not okay to criminalize discussions among people who do not work, directly or indirectly, for the government. Under the government's theory, countless conversations and publications that take place every day are criminal acts. (Washington Post)
        See also Espionage Act's Merits Tied into Ex-Lobbyists' Case - Walter Pincus
    Attorneys for former lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman will argue for dismissal of the indictment based in part on the claim that the Espionage Act was meant to cover spying, not the possession of leaked classified information, particularly leaked information possessed and transmitted by people who are not government employees. The attorneys say what Rosen and Weissman are charged with "is what members of the media, members of the Washington policy community, lobbyists, and members of congressional staffs do perhaps hundreds of times every day." (Washington Post)
        See also Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act? - Gabriel Schoenfeld
    "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts." Thus ran the headline of a front-page news story whose repercussions have roiled American politics ever since its publication last December 16 in the New York Times. If Rosen and Weissman are now suspended in boiling hot water over alleged violations of the Espionage Act, why should persons at the Times not be treated in the same manner? There can be little argument over whether, in the case of the Times, national-defense material was disclosed in an unauthorized way. (Commentary)
  • Observations:

    The Harvard/Chicago Paper on the Israel Lobby

    An Unfair Attack - David Gergen (U.S. News)

    • It brings no joy to issue a public rebuttal against a valued colleague, but there are moments that demand no less. The occasion is the publication of a nerve-jangling essay by professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, the academic dean and my colleague at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
    • Not only are these charges wildly at variance with what I have personally witnessed in the Oval Office over the years, but they also impugn the loyalty and the unstinting service to America's national security by public figures like Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and many others.
    • As a Christian, let me add that it is also wrong and unfair to call into question the loyalty of millions of American Jews who have faithfully supported Israel while also working tirelessly and generously to advance America's cause, both at home and abroad. They are among our finest citizens and should be praised, not pilloried.
    • Over the course of four tours in the White House, I never once saw a decision in the Oval Office to tilt U.S. foreign policy in favor of Israel at the expense of America's interest.

        See also America Takes Side of Israel - Jeff Jacoby
    A Gallup poll released last month puts American support for Israel at near-record levels. In short, solidarity with Israel is an abiding feature of American public opinion. (Boston Globe)
        See also The Israel Conspiracy - Bret Stephens
    Has there ever been an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that does not share the basic features of the Mearsheimer-Walt hypothesis? The late editor of the Wall Street Journal, Robert Bartley, is cited by Mearsheimer and Walt. Robert Bartley was a man of modest Christian beliefs and principled political convictions. He supported Israel for much the same reason he supported Great Britain, Poland, and Taiwan - because they were friends of the U.S., because they were democracies, because they were places where his core beliefs in free men and free markets held sway. (Wall Street Journal, 25Mar06)
        See also Harvard's New Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion - Lowell Ponte
    Anti-Semitism can appear in many forms, many disguises. Although ballyhooed as a work by two major scholars, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" is neither peer reviewed nor published in any scholarly journal. (FrontPageMagazine)

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