Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 14, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda: "Eliminating Israel Is the Duty of Every Believer" - Lee Keith (AP/Washington Post)
    Al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri said "eliminating Israel is the duty of every believer" in a video posted Thursday on the Internet.
    He also denounced President Bush as the "caesar of Washington," and called on Muslims to support his "beloved brother" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who heads al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Israel HighWay
- April 11, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Israel Forms a Government

Hamas, Al-Qaeda Leaders Met in Yemen - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    In another sign of the Palestinian leadership's growing alliance with al-Qaeda, Damascus-based Hamas head Khaled Mashaal recently met in Yemen with Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, a representative of al-Qaeda wanted by the U.S. for his involvement in supporting and funding global terror.
    See also Bin Laden Loyalist Zindani in Support of Palestinian Suicide Bombers at Hamas Fundraiser (MEMRI)

Moussaoui Tells Court 9/11's Toll Was Too Low - Jerry Markon and Timothy Dwyer (Washington Post)
    Zacarias Moussaoui proudly reaffirmed his involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist plot Thursday and said his only regret was that more Americans didn't die.
    Moussaoui said that the sobbing Sept. 11 survivors and family members who testified against him were "disgusting," that the testimony of one man who crawled out of his burning Pentagon office was "pathetic," and that executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was "the greatest American."

Bill Gates Secretly Paid for Gaza Greenhouses - Aaron Klein (WorldNetDaily)
    Microsoft founder Bill Gates largely was responsible for transferring to the Palestinians the high-tech Jewish greenhouses of the Gaza Strip prior to Israel's evacuation of the area.
    The greenhouses reportedly have been stripped and looted by Palestinian gangs.
    Forbes Magazine stated the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided most of the money - $10 million - to purchase the greenhouses.

Terrorists Seen Turning to Campuses for Skills - Sebastian Rotella (Los Angeles Times)
    Two years ago French investigators, aided by U.S. intelligence, detected calls from Iraq to a suspected extremist cell in Montpellier comprised of Moroccan students from a North African terrorist group allied with Abu Musab Zarqawi.
    The group is sending fighters to Iraq, developing alliances across North Africa, and plotting attacks in Europe, investigators say.
    Officials say the case illustrates a wider effort by terrorist networks to use universities and the Internet to replace former training camps in Afghanistan.

Kuwaiti Reformist: Muslims Responsible for Hatred Towards Them in the West (MEMRI)
    Dr. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, a reformist Kuwaiti intellectual and political science lecturer at Kuwait University, argues that the Muslims themselves are responsible for the rising hatred against them around the world.
    He says that Muslims living in the West have failed to repay the kindness of the countries that accepted them, and instead have followed the lead of the Muslim clerics and threatened to attack these countries from within.

Israelis Unveil Next Generation in Security - Sharmila Devi (Financial Times-UK)
    A new system developed by an Israeli company utilizes physiological and psychological responses assessed by a computer to detect suicide bombers at airports and border crossings.
    Arriving passengers place their passports on a scanner and a hand on a sensor.
    They then answer a series of questions on a computer screen while physiological responses are measured via the hand sensor.

The Dead Sea: Soon There'll Be Nothing Left - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    The Dead Sea, the lowest place in the world, has been drying up swiftly in recent decades - every year the water level goes down by an average of 1.2 meters.
    In certain places, the water has receded two kilometers or more from the beach since the 1960s.
    Stopping the Jordan River's water from reaching the Dead Sea is the main reason for its sinking sea level.

For the Traveler: Jerusalem, Now - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
    The level of violence is down: tourists are returning, restaurants are opening, and taxi drivers and tour guides are happier in both sides of the city - the mostly Jewish west and the mostly Arab east.

Nepal: 1,500 Israelis Take Part in Seder (AFP/Ynet News)
    About 1,500 Israelis celebrated the Seder in Katmandu, Nepal, sponsored by Chabad.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Blocks UN Criticism of Israeli Military Operations - Peter Heinlein
    After three days of closed-door negotiations, the UN Security Council took no action on a proposed statement that would have criticized Israeli military strikes in the Palestinian territories. Washington's UN Ambassador John Bolton said Thursday the U.S. had rejected the text because, in his words, "it distorts the reality of the region." "We think it was disproportionately critical of Israel and unfairly so, and needlessly so," he said. The U.S. had argued that any statement should mention the obligations of both Israelis and Palestinians under the UN-backed Roadmap, and should balance criticisms of Israeli actions with a mention of Palestinian attacks on Israel. (VOA News)
  • Syria's Assad Congratulates Iran for Joining World Nuclear Club
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad congratulated the Iranian nation and government on the occasion of Iran's joining the world nuclear club at a meeting in Damascus Wednesday with Chairman of Iran's Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. The Syrian president also said the "glorious victory of Hamas in Palestine has taken aback the enemies, including Israel, and delighted the hearts of the Palestinian nation's friends." "The occupiers, particularly the Americans and Israelis, have to leave this region," he added. (IRNA-Iran)
  • Muslim Brotherhood Aspires to Power in Jordan; Would Cancel Peace Treaty with Israel - Daniel Williams
    Islam as a political force is moving to center stage in Jordan. The path to greater influence and perhaps dominant political power may be through municipal elections this year and balloting for parliament in 2007, independent political observers say. "We not only have the right to participate in elections, but to form a government if we win," said Zaki Saad, leader of the Islamic Action Front. Saad predicted that if his party was to achieve a dominant place in government, Jordan's relations with both the U.S. and Israel would change. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. "We reject this treaty," Saad said. (Washington Post)
        See also Militant Uprising Quelled at Jordanian Prison - Hassan M. Fattah
    Jordanian security forces stormed a high security prison outside Amman on Thursday, quashing a daylong uprising by Islamist prisoners and leaving one inmate dead and more than 35 guards and inmates wounded. It was the second such riot in Jordan in less than two months, adding to rising concerns that the growing Islamist population within prisons is organizing and giving al-Qaeda a new avenue for control.
        Arab prisons have become recruitment centers where al-Qaeda is building its ranks, said Hassan Abu Hanieh, who studies militant movements in Amman. As governments have cracked down on Islamists, the militants have flooded into prisons and become a much more powerful part of the population there. "The authorities have a problem:...if they combine them with other prisoners, they will recruit; but if they leave them together, they will only solidify their networks," said Faris Breizat, an analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies at Jordan University. (New York Times)
  • Bush Waives Restrictions on PLO's Washington Office -
    The Bush administration on Thursday extended a waiver of restrictions on the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Washington office, saying it remained a useful channel for ties with Palestinian Chairman Abbas. (Reuters)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Protest Hamas Government - Mohammed Daragmeh
    About 20 Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades gunmen seized the PA Cabinet building in Ramallah for about an hour on Thursday, protesting the refusal of the new Hamas government to meet their demands for perks and promotions. Elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinian police found the charred and beaten body of Mohammed Hijazi Abul-Hawa, 47, a Jerusalem Arab believed killed as punishment for selling property to Jews. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Enters Gaza for First Time Since Disengagement - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday entered PA territory in the Gaza Strip openly for the first time since last summer's disengagement. IDF soldiers penetrated about 100 meters to examine the place in which two armed Palestinians were killed on Wednesday and to ensure that no bombs had been planted there. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Passover Attack Thwarted at Gaza Crossing - Hanan Greenberg
    Two Palestinian gunmen from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were killed in an exchange of fire Wednesday after they were spotted crawling in the direction of the Kissufim crossing in the southern Gaza Strip. Security authorities are contending with 78 warnings to carry out terror attacks, including 16 concrete warnings, up from 13 the previous day. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. "Understands" Israel Stopping Payments to PA - Herb Keinon
    U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones said Tuesday, "We understand why the Israeli government is not providing funds for a terrorist organization....We ourselves have legal inhibitions on providing funds to terrorist organizations." "The U.S. is deeply concerned about the direction of the Hamas-led Palestinian government because of that government's continued refusal to commit to non-violence, recognize Israel, and respect previous agreements and obligations between the parties," Jones said. Until the Hamas government abides by these principles, the U.S. would be unable to support the government, and that government "must take responsibility for the consequences of its policies." (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Maintain a Military Presence in Every Corner of West Bank - Yaakov Katz
    The IDF would recommend retaining a military presence across the West Bank even after a unilateral withdrawal under the convergence plan, a high-ranking military officer told the Jerusalem Post. "The IDF cannot leave the West Bank and will need to retain control over every corner there to ensure security for the Israeli people," he said. "As long as there isn't someone on the other side to take over the reins, then we need to be in control." "The West Bank requires a different solution to the one in Gaza....We need to be in control to prevent the firing of Katyushas or mortars from Kalkilya to Netanya." (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Owes Israeli Industries NIS 100 Million - Tani Goldstein
    Palestinian businesses owe Israeli industry NIS 100 million, and the government should deduct this from funds transferred to the PA, Israel Manufacturers Association managing director Yoram Blizovsky said Monday. Israeli banks stopped accepting checks from PA banks, and therefore the Palestinians companies cannot pay their Israeli providers. (Globes /Ynet News)
  • Egypt Frees 900 Islamist Militants
    More than 900 members of Jamaa Islamiya, the Islamist group in Egypt, including its founder, were freed on Tuesday, the Egyptian Interior Ministry has said. Jamaa Islamiya merged in the late 1970s with another Islamist group, Al-Jihad. They are held responsible for the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981. Jamaa was also responsible for a wave of violence across Egypt in the 1990s, notably a November 1997 attack at Luxor that killed 58 people, most of them foreign tourists. The group has claimed to have moved away from violent tactics, and published a book in 2003 explaining its ideological shift. (AFP/Aljazeera-Qatar)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • After Diplomacy Fails: Think Imaginatively about Iran - Mark Helprin
    With an intermediate-range strategic nuclear capacity, Iran could deter American intervention, reign over the Persian Gulf, further separate Europe from American Middle East policy, correct a nuclear imbalance with Pakistan, lead and perhaps unify the Islamic world, and thus create the chance to end Western dominance of the Middle East and/or with a single shot destroy Israel. Iran's claim of innocuous nuclear ambitions comports both with the Islamic doctrine of taqqiya (literal truth need not be conveyed to infidels) and the Western doctrine of state secrecy, and it is part of a strategy of deception and false compromise deployed to buy time. (Washington Post)
  • We Need More Than Prayer to Disarm Iran - Sidney Zion
    If they build it, they'll come after us. That's the only scenario the world can count on, given the vision and the track record of the Iranian mullahs as they approach their nuclear option. Diplomacy keeps trying, always fails, and sanctions never get it done. If there is no military option, the Iranians have a clear way to the nuclear option.
        Israeli intelligence sources tell me, "We know, and of course the U.S. knows, where the nuclear capability lives in Iran....America can take it out without our help....Even though Israel is the nearest target of Iran, it's a worldwide target they have in their crosshairs." "America and the world can't allow the mullahs to control the Saudi oil supply. And they can't permit Iran to have the power to deliver nuclear bombs to other terrorist regimes, who can hit New York and Washington." Will it require us to use nuclear weapons? "Conventional weapons are more than enough," said my Israeli sources. (New York Daily News)
  • Playing Poker in Teheran - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad's boast that his country has joined the nuclear club appears to be an admission of weakness, rather than a show of strength. The operation of a few centrifuges to obtain a low level of enrichment for small amounts of uranium is far from having an indigenous fuel cycle that can be used to produce fissile material in any useful amounts. With so much more to do to reach their goal, why are the leaders of the radical regime in Teheran engaging in such dramatics now? The reasons appear to be both fear of external intervention capable of stopping their efforts and the need to claim a victory to bolster low levels of domestic political support.
        Iran might consider the efforts of Saddam Hussein, who greatly exaggerated his military capabilities in the years prior to the 2003 war, and boasted about chemical and biological weapons capabilities. His strategy backfired - his threats did not prevent the attack, but rather hastened it. (Jerusalem Post)


  • Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad - Matthew Levitt
    The notion that Hamas' military, political, and social "wings" are distinct from one another is belied by ample evidence. Hamas meets in its own mosques and hospitals to plan terror attacks, buries caches of arms and explosives under its own schoolyard playgrounds, and transfers and launders funds for terrorist activity through local charity committees. The social welfare organizations of Hamas answer to the same political leaders who play hands-on roles in Hamas terrorist attacks. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Image and Reality - Abdel-Moneim Said
    Hamas' strategic point of view, as expressed by its spokesmen on Arab satellite stations, is based on several assumptions. The first is that global leadership, throughout history, has rotated. The Soviet empire fell, and the same will happen to the American empire, as a result of resistance in Iraq and of internal fractures within American society and an increasingly indebted economy. The second is that other international powers are rising - China, Japan, Europe, India, and to a lesser extent Russia, which still harbors its own dreams of empire. This will result in an external sapping of relative American power. The third assumption is that the world will quickly rid itself of the American domination that characterized the 1990s. It is no coincidence that Khaled Mashaal has announced his intention to visit Venezuela.
        Any setback in the circumstances of the U.S., Hamas argues, involves a concomitant setback in the circumstances of Israel, and as power balances shift, the Palestinian national movement will, in the future, be able to secure the kind of gains it has failed to make in the past. However, it would be foolish to assume that the other emerging international powers will automatically adopt a position on the Palestinian issue opposed to America's. And what, after all, is Chavez expected to do to liberate the Palestinian territories?
        Hamas now has a mandate to build a state and achieve what others - Fatah - did not. To achieve this its leaders cannot live in a world of delusion. Lenin accepted the Brest-Litovsk Treaty during WWI in order to establish socialism in one state. Mustafa El-Nahhas accepted the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty in 1936 to secure Egypt's presence in the League of Nations before WWII. The Irish accepted a state lacking its northernmost six counties because English settlers had made themselves a majority in that area. Malaysia accepted Singapore, realizing the presence of a flourishing neighbor need not bring evil.
        Of course, it is Hamas' right to retain its revolutionary spirit; it is just that it will further postpone the emergence of a Palestinian state. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)

    Weekend Features

  • Saddam's Secrets - Melanie Phillips
    In London Tuesday, I met General Georges Sada, who was Air Vice Marshal in Saddam's Iraq. Last year, Sada announced that he knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that Saddam had hidden his weapons of mass destruction in 2002-3 by transporting them to Syria. "I am...a former general officer who not only saw these weapons but witnessed them being used." "I know the names of some of those who were involved in smuggling WMDs out of Iraq in 2002 and 2003. I know the names of officers of the front company, SES, who received the weapons from Saddam. I know how and when they were transported and shipped out of Iraq. And I know how many aircraft were actually used and what types of planes they were."
        "Posing as shipments of supplies and equipment sent from Iraq to aid the relief effort [in Syria after a flood in June 2002] were Iraq's WMDs. Weapons and equipment were transferred both by land and by air....There were fifty-six sorties. He [Saddam] arranged for most of these shipments to be taken to Syria and handed over to ordnance specialists there who promised to hold everything for as long as necessary."
        "In addition to the shipments that went by air, there were also truckloads of weapons, chemicals and other supplies that were taken into Syria at that time." Sada told me that the pilots told him that they saw yellow barrels with a skull and crossbones being loaded onto the planes. Yellow signals the presence of chemicals. (
  • Historians: Nazis Planned Holocaust for Palestine - Thomas Krumenacker
    Nazi Germany planned to expand the extermination of Jews beyond the borders of Europe and into British-controlled Palestine during World War Two, two German historians say. In 1942, the Nazis created a special "Einsatzgruppe," a mobile SS death squad, which was to carry out the mass slaughter of Jews in Palestine similar to the way they operated in eastern Europe. The director of the Nazi research center in Ludwigsburg, Klaus-Michael Mallman, and Berlin historian Martin Cueppers say an Einsatzgruppe was all set to go to Palestine and begin killing the roughly half a million Jews there at the time.
        In the book Germans, Jews, Genocide: The Holocaust as History and the Present, published last month, they say "Einsatzgruppe Egypt" was standing by in Athens, ready to disembark for Palestine in the summer of 1942, attached to General Erwin Rommel's "Afrika Korps." The plan was for the 24 members involved in the death squad to enlist Palestinian collaborators so that the "mass murder would continue under German leadership without interruption." "The history of the Middle East would have been completely different and a Jewish state could never have been established if the Germans and Arabs had joined forces," the historians conclude. (Reuters/Boston Globe)
  • Observations:

    Israel and the Palestinians - Neutrality Is Not Possible - Jeffrey Gedmin (Die Welt-Germany)

    • I cringe every time I hear the BBC or CNN report about Palestinian "militants." They are not willing to call the suicide bombers "terrorists".
    • In a Tagesspiegel article, Israelis who die at the hands of Palestinians lose their lives to "the resistance" (Widerstand), while Hamas members who perish in the conflict are "murdered" (ermordet) by the Israelis. This does not seem terribly even-handed.
    • I was in Israel recently and visited a Palestinian women's NGO in eastern Jerusalem. I heard a young woman from the group explain how wife beating in her community was somehow understandable. Palestinian men suffer so much, she explained, from the Israeli "occupation."
    • It seems some people will always blame the Jews. After the incursion into Jenin several years ago, the UN accused Israel of "genocide." The Israelis, after exercising much patience, had gone into this Palestinian camp to hunt down terrorists. Less than 60 Palestinians were killed in Jenin. Nearly all of them armed combatants. Mass murder?
    • For years everyone has been talking about "land for peace." Every time the Israelis try giving land, Palestinian "militants" respond with more war. Sharon gives up Gaza. Israel gets Katyusha missiles fired at its civilian populations.
    • Someone asked me once why I am so pro-Israeli. I keep wondering why so many are the opposite.

      The writer is director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin.

    Today's issue of the Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Hol Hamoed Pesach.

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