Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 20, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Group Seeks to Recruit British Suicide Bombers - Robert Tait and Ewen MacAskill (Guardian-UK)
    A Tehran-based group claimed Tuesday it was trying to recruit Iranians and other Muslims in Britain to carry out suicide bombings against Israel.
    The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign said it is targeting potential recruits in Britain because of the relative ease with which UK passport-holders can enter Israel.
    "The first target is Israel....All the Jews are targets, whether military or civilian," said Mohammad Samadi, a spokesman for the group.

Florida Professor Admits Ties to Terror Group - Pedro Ruz Gutierrez (Orlando Sentinel)
    Details of fired University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian's plea agreement emerged Monday after a federal judge unsealed documents in which Al-Arian admits being a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and helping others associated with the terrorist group.
    Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count of "conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad."
    In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped eight outstanding terrorism-related charges on which jurors deadlocked during a six-month trial.
    Prosecutors recommended that immigration officials "expedite" Al-Arian's expulsion after his sentencing.

Fatah-Loyal Media Taking Hamas to Task - Sarah El Deeb and Mohammed Daraghmeh (AP/Washington Post)
    The Hamas government's toughest detractors have popped up at home, criticizing the Islamic militant rulers in Palestinian newspaper cartoons, TV commentaries, and radio talk shows.
    Most of the Palestinian media are loyal to the Fatah party, defeated in January parliament elections, and Hamas is getting increasingly upset about the unflattering coverage.
    "The Palestinian media is now launching a campaign against the Hamas government," said Nashat al-Aqtash, a communications professor at Bir Zeit University.

U.S. Fighting Vehicles to be Equipped with Israeli Anti-RPG Technology - David Brinn (Israel21c)
    In live-fire tests conducted by weapons manufacturer General Dynamics Land Systems in Dahlgren, Virginia, last week, the Trophy Active Protection System - developed by Israel's RAFAEL Armament Development Authority - detected, tracked, and knocked out an inert RPG fired at a moving Stryker armored car using a small rocket automatically launched from the vehicle.
    The Trophy system is a miniaturized version of the anti-ballistic missile system that automatically detects an incoming threat and launches an interceptor rocket that homes in on the missile and destroys it at a safe distance.
    General Dynamics plans to introduce the system with every new and existing combat vehicle it produces, including Stryker, M-1A2, and FCS.
    According to Defense Weekly, the Trophy will intercept any incoming heat threat, including RPG rockets, at a range of 10-30 meters from the protected platform.

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  • Jordan Accuses Hamas of Smuggling Weapons - Jamal Halaby
    Jordan accused Hamas activists of smuggling missiles and other weapons into the kingdom and said Tuesday it was canceling a visit by Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, planned for Wednesday, a Jordanian government spokesman said. On Friday, Zahar went to Cairo, but Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said he was too busy for a meeting. Jordanian spokesman Nasser Judeh said "missiles, explosives, and automatic weapons were seized in the last couple of days." Hamas activists had managed to smuggle "such dangerous weapons into the country" and store them, he said. (AP/Washington Post)
        Hamas, which has a large following in Palestinian camps across Jordan, was also accused of using Jordan to engage in illegal anti-Israel activities. The Jordanian government spokesman also suggested that Hamas activists had planned sabotage on Jordanian soil, saying its members had been undertaking "surveillance activities for several vital targets in Amman and other cities." Much of Jordan's population is of Palestinian origin and the kingdom hosts the largest number of refugees outside the West Bank and Gaza. (Reuters)
  • Tel Aviv Bomb Hit U.S. Teen
    A 16-year-old American boy was gravely wounded by the suicide bomb that killed nine people at a Tel Aviv restaurant on Monday. Daniel Wultz of Weston, Fla., was in critical condition and fighting for his life after hours of surgery, said Karen Bronner, a spokeswoman for the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. His father, Tuly Wultz, an Israeli Army vet, suffered a broken leg in the attack. (New York Daily News)
        See also 28 People Still Hospitalized after Tel Aviv Bombing - Ran Reznick (Ha'aretz)
  • At UN, Attacks on Israel Reign Despite Bombing - Benny Avni
    On the day a Palestinian Arab suicide bomber killed nine people in Tel Aviv, two dozen speakers, mostly from Arab and Muslim countries but also from Cuba and Venezuela, lined up at the Security Council to denounce Israel. (New York Sun)
  • Many Arabs Favor Nuclear Iran - Jonathan Wright
    Some Arabs, mainly outside the Gulf, are positively enthusiastic about Iran's nuclear program, even if it acquires nuclear weapons. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, said this week it saw no harm in Iran developing nuclear arms. Analysts said they detected a surprising level of sympathy and support for Iran in the region. "Some think the Iranians are on the way to acquiring it (nuclear weapons capability) and are quite excited," said Hesham Kassem, editor of the independent Cairo newspaper Al Masry Al Youm. Mohamed el-Sayed Said, deputy director of the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a Cairo think tank, said: "People are very, very warm about it (Iran's nuclear program)." (Reuters)
  • UN Urges Lebanon to Disband Hizballah - Evelyn Leopold
    The UN urged Lebanon to set its borders with Syria and disband the Iranian and Syrian-backed Hizballah militia so it can be master of its own nation, a call Hizballah on Wednesday immediately rejected. (Reuters)
        See also UN's Annan Urges Iran to Cooperate in Lebanon - Edith Lederer
    Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged Iran as well as Syria to cooperate in trying to disarm Lebanese militias that still control parts of the country, the first time the UN chief has issued a report linking Tehran to instability in Lebanon. The secretary-general noted the "close ties, with frequent contacts and regular communication," that Hizballah has with Syria and Iran. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Wednesday that Annan's remarks showed "that Iran's financing terrorist groups in Lebanon and Syria has a significant impact on what happens in those two countries." (AP/ABC News)
  • In Rare Move, 2nd AIPAC Dismissal Hearing Set - Walter Pincus
    U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who is overseeing the prosecution of former pro-Israel lobbyists Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman who are charged with violating the 1917 Espionage Act, has set an unusual second oral argument for Friday on the defendants' motion to dismiss the charges. Rosen and Weissman are the first nongovernment civilians to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for receiving national defense information orally. Ellis, the prosecutors, and the defense attorneys have all noted that the two lobbyists were doing what journalists, academics, and experts at think tanks do every day. (Washington Post)
        See also Administration Leak Flap Seen Aiding Lobbyists' Case - Marc Perelman
    Allegations that President Bush authorized the leaking of controversial data on Iraqi weapons could bolster the defense of the two former staffers of the pro-Israel lobby charged with receiving and disclosing classified national defense information, legal experts said. (Forward)
        See also AIPAC Defense Brief (1M-pdf) (Project on Government Secrecy-Federation of American Scientists)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets toward Israel Thursday morning. One landed near the greenhouses of Nativ Haasara, and others landed in the area between Kibbutz Karmiya and Kibbutz Zikim, south of Ashkelon. On Wednesday evening, a rocket landed near a military base near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. (Ynet News)
  • Sen. Lieberman: U.S. for Settlement Blocs - David Horovitz
    Former prime minister Ariel Sharon helped shape a new consensus in American attitudes toward the settlement enterprise, to the point where there is now "solid, bipartisan support" for Israel's retention of the major settlement blocs, according to Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) in an interview to be published Friday. "I think the prevailing opinion here, particularly now with Hamas having won the elections on the Palestinian side, [is] that the Israeli government will be justified in taking unilateral action to secure defensible borders," Lieberman said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Horror of Hamas - Editorial
    The horror of Monday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv presented Hamas with an opportunity to break from its history as a supporter of terrorism. Instead, a spokesman for Hamas, which formed a Palestinian parliamentary government last month, described the attack as an act of self-defense. If there was any lingering doubt that the U.S. and Europe were right to ostracize the Hamas government and cut off economic aid, it has been dramatically dispelled. It remains part of the problem, not part of any Arab-Israeli solution. Israel has cause to crack down anew on Islamic Jihad and institute stronger security measures along the "green line" separating Israel and the West Bank - even if that means injuring and inconveniencing innocent Palestinians. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Suicide Rhetoric - Editorial
    Hamas' spokesmen quickly defended the sickening Passover attack at a Tel Aviv restaurant Monday. The result was to put the Palestinian government on record as an outlaw. Just before the bombing, Qatar announced a $50 million pledge, adding to $50 million already promised by Iran and an unspecified "emergency" grant by Russia. Both Russia and Qatar, as well as every other Arab League state, should have second thoughts. The Bush administration should use its leverage to stop both from paying up.
        Israel cannot be expected to accept a neighboring government's open embrace of suicide bombers who attack its cities. Though it has been in power for less than three weeks, Hamas' time is fast running out. (Washington Post)
        See also Saudis to Transfer $92 Million to PA (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Is Muhammad Abu al-Hawa Dead? - Caroline Glick
    Muhammad Abu al-Hawa, 42, and the father of eight, was shot seven times last Wednesday night and his body and car were torched. He was tortured and murdered because he stood accused of selling an apartment building in Israel's capital city to Jews. He was buried in a makeshift cemetery because the Palestinian Authority's mufti in Jerusalem, Ikremah Sabri, has barred all Muslims accused of selling land to Jews from being buried in a Muslim cemetery.
        Since 1994, dozens of Arab Israelis and PA residents have been murdered on suspicion of selling land to Jews. Abu al-Hawa's murder - like those that preceded it - tells us that any Palestinian state will be a racist, apartheid state where laws will be promulgated based solely on race and religious origin. Jews will be denied all basic human rights and Arabs who peacefully coexist with Jews will be accused of treason and made targets for murder. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    How to Lose Your Job at a Saudi Newspaper - Fawaz Turki (Washington Post)

    • I was unceremoniously fired this month by my Saudi newspaper, a leading English-language daily called Arab News. I had been the senior columnist on the op-ed page for nine years. I had committed one of the three cardinal sins an Arab journalist must avoid when working for the Arab press: I criticized the government. The other two? Bringing up Islam as an issue and criticizing, by name, political leaders in the Arab or Islamic world for their brazen excesses, dismal failures, and blatant abuses.
    • What Arabs have yet to learn is that the Western democracies work better than many others because to them the concept of accountability, expected from the head of state on down, is a crucial function of their national ideology. People have, for generations, existed with an ethic of fear - fear of originality, fear of innovation, fear of spontaneity, fear of life itself - and have had instilled in them the need to accept orthodoxy, dependence, and submission.
    • The Arab world today is ruled for the most part by authoritarian regimes that rely on coercion, violence, and terror to rule, and that demand from their citizens submission, obedience and conformity. And that includes "journalists," to whom, by now, responsibility to truth and logic has become irrelevant.

    Today's issue of the Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.

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