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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 21, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Jordan: Secret Hamas Arms "Smuggled from Syria" (Gulf Daily News-Bahrain)
    Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet said Thursday that weapons seized from a secret Hamas arms cache in Jordan had been smuggled from Syria.
    An alarming sign for Jordanian intelligence beyond the discovery of the arms cache was that several Hamas activists had been arrested while engaged in "surveillance of vital installations," a security source said.

    See also Jordan, Hamas' Love-Hate Affair - Oreib Rintawi (UPI)
    The most serious challenge to the Jordan-Hamas relationship since 1999, when Amman closed Hamas offices and evicted four of its leaders, occurred Tuesday following accusations that the group was smuggling arms to Jordan as a prelude to attacking vital targets.
    The Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was the main sponsor for Hamas in the early 1990s. When Khaled Meshaal became Hamas politburo chief in 1996, he was still an active member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

Hamas Leader: The Palestinian Authority "Was Never Our Aim" - Amira Howeidy (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
    The Palestinian Authority "was never our aim," said Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. "We found ourselves [in the position of running a government] and now we have to take up the challenge. But if it is no longer helpful for the Palestinians and becomes a burden we wouldn't hesitate to resort to other options."
    Liberation, he explained, "is the original target, but we are here in the government and we shall manage our battle with Israel."

Threats to Israel from Syria and the Global Jihad - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's strategic planning must take into account the threat of a long-distance strike on the Israeli home front at a time when quiet prevails on the borders.
    A surprise move by Syria on Israel's northern front could manifest itself in the launching of rockets into the heart of Israeli territory.
    Syria is currently channeling a great deal of money toward the purchase of rockets, missiles, and launchers.
    Iran and North Korea are helping Syria develop its rockets to achieve longer range and greater accuracy, and develop sophisticated warheads including a chemical warhead.
    It is also possible that the global jihad movement will try to surprise Israel from the northern border with a large action.

Slain Al-Qaeda Aide Was Palestinian - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Husam Abu Baker, 32, one of Osama bin Laden's most trusted aides who was recently killed in Afghanistan, was a Palestinian from the West Bank, PA security sources revealed Thursday.
    Husam was married to the daughter of Ayman Zawahiri, the number-two man in al-Qaeda.

Palestinian's Sorry - that He Only Killed 66 - Bill Hutchinson (New York Daily News)
    Hamas operative Abdullah Barghouti, 33, serving 67 life sentences for plotting a series of bloody suicide attacks in 2001 and 2002 in cafes in Jerusalem, told CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday, "I feel bad because the number is only 66."
    Barghouti masterminded the bombing at a Sbarro's pizzeria in Jerusalem that killed 15, including Passaic, N.J., teacher Judith Greenbaum and Malka Roth, 15, whose family had emigrated from New York. The bombing also severely injured Hanna Tova Nachenberg of the Bronx.
    Barghouti also was behind the suicide bombing at Hebrew University's Jerusalem campus that killed Janis Coulter, 36, of Brooklyn.

IMF Lists Israel as "Developed Country" with Positive Outlook - Moti Bassok (Ha'aretz)
    The International Monetary Fund has included Israel in its list of 29 developed countries in its World Economic Outlook, published Thursday. Until now, Israel was categorized with emerging economies.

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ": Legitimizing Anti-Semitism - Interview with Abraham H. Foxman (JCPA)
    Mel Gibson's film cast the Jews in a very negative light. The movie is likely to be shown in Christian circles for a long time to come and may harm the image of Jews among Christians.

Ancient Ostrich Eggs Found in Israel - Raanan Ben Zur (Ynet News)
    Tests are being conducted on four whole ancient ostrich eggs discovered on Sunday near Kibbutz Yakum.
    The heavy rains that fell in the area two weeks ago created a one-meter channel in the ground that apparently uncovered the eggs.
    "On the face of it, it appears that these eggs are from thousands of years ago," said Dr. Yariv Melihi, an ecologist with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Useful Reference:

News Photos of Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza Nominated for Pulitzer Prize - Carolyn Cole and Brian Vander Brug (Los Angeles Times)
    View photo gallery.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Mideast "Axis" Forms Against West - Nicholas Blanford
    Rising tension between the West and Iran is coinciding with the emergence of an anti-Western alliance spanning the Middle East. The alliance includes Syria, Lebanon's Hizballah, radical Palestinian organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, as well as some Iraqi allies that share its hostility toward Israel and the U.S. "The alliance that is emerging in this part of the world is a creation of Iran," says Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst. "It wants to bolster its position by allying itself with countries or groups that can temporarily enhance its regional role and influence."
        On Tuesday, Israel's UN envoy Dan Gillerman dubbed this alliance the "new axis of terror," following a suicide bombing claimed by the Iranian-funded Islamic Jihad in Tel Aviv the previous day that killed nine Israelis. "A dark cloud is looming above our region, and it is metastasizing as a result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria, and the newly elected government of the Palestinian Authority," Gillerman said. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • A Failed Hamas State?
    A massive fiscal squeeze on the Hamas-led government has led to warnings that the Palestinian people could become residents of a failed state even before they achieve independence. The government can no longer pay salaries. Although the government has received pledges from other Muslim countries, the cash has yet to materialize and represents a fraction of the sums required. Former finance minister Salam Fayad said the freeze in aid had scared banks off: "All of a sudden the banks have become nervous. If you skip a payment, they are not going to ask for what they are due, they are just not going to give you any more." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Iran's Former Nuclear Chief Hits Out at Hardliners - Gareth Smyth
    Hassan Rowhani, who led Tehran's nuclear negotiations with the EU for two years before stepping down as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) after Ahmadinejad's victory, has called for "more balance...more reason, and less emotion" in Tehran's approach to the nuclear crisis. "Unfortunately, with the new administration, nuclear policy and tactics were changed," Rowhani said. He attacked "those who consider getting close to foreigners to be like getting close to Satan." (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Iran Students Asking Regime to Suspend A-Bomb Effort - Eli Lake
    Tahkim Vahdat, Iran's largest student organization and a pillar of the 1979 revolution, on Tuesday publicly urged the Tehran government to suspend uranium enrichment and cooperate fully with the international community. A former member of its central committee, Reza Delberry, said the group did not refute Iran's right to enrich uranium, but rather was concerned that the regime's prioritization of a nuclear program was detrimental to other, more pressing needs. A spokesman for Tahkim Vahdat, Saber Sheykhlou, said, "The irrational and confrontational behavior of those who are in power has put the country and the nation on the threshold of a war or devastating sanctions."  (New York Sun)
  • Police in Tehran Ordered to Arrest Women in "Un-Islamic" Dress - Robert Tait
    Police in Tehran have been ordered to arrest women failing to conform to the regime's stringent dress code. Offenders could be punished with £30 fines or two months in jail. Officers will also be authorized to confront men with outlandish hairstyles and people walking pet dogs, an activity long denounced as un-Islamic by the religious rulers. A bill before Iran's parliament proposes that fines for people with TV satellite dishes rise from £60 to more than £3,000. Millions of Iranians have illegal dishes, enabling them to watch Western films and news channels. (Guardian-UK)
  • What Muslims Hear at Friday Prayers - Daniel Steinvorth and Bernhard Zand
    Correspondents visited mosques from Nigeria to Indonesia this month to listen to the sermons of the imams. Have the mosques been transformed from a place of prayer into a hotbed of extremism and center of Islamist indoctrination? Radical preachers have actively contributed to this impression. In a Berlin mosque, a television crew secretly recorded the sermon of a Turkish imam who described the Germans as godless and railed against their alleged stench. In London, hate preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri called upon the faithful to murder improperly clad female tourists in his native Egypt. Other agents of the Koran speak moderately when addressing Western audiences, but their words turn decidedly more radical when directed towards Muslims. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: Orders to Carry Out Tel Aviv Attack Came from Damascus - Ronny Sofer
    "Orders to carry out the last attack at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv came out of Damascus and a report on the execution was sent back to Damascus," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told members of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee in Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
  • Gaza Rocket Chief Gets Top PA Security Post - Ali Waked
    Jamal Abu Samhadana, the number two man on Israel's most wanted list and commander of the Popular Resistance Committees, was appointed Thursday as director-general of the Palestinian Interior and National Security Ministry. Samhadana's group is behind countless rocket attacks on Israeli targets. The Popular Resistance Committees was also responsible for the 2003 attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Gaza in which three Americans were killed. (Jerusalem Post/Ynet News)
        See also PA to "Guide the Resistance" - Ronny Sofer
    Popular Resistance Committees Commander Jamal Abu Samhadana told the Palestinian news agency Ramtan: "The (Interior) Ministry will be investing great efforts in guiding the resistance....The Ministry will be cooperating with resistance organizations." Samhadana, appointed to oversee Palestinian security forces, said the Palestinian government did not ask him or his group to curb rocket attacks at Israeli targets. "The government made it clear to us that the decision regarding the firing or an end to the fire belongs to the resistance organizations," he said. "The military actions are related to the resistance and its circumstances and have no connection to the government."
        In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack denounced the move, saying it showed "the true nature and the true tactics of this particular Hamas-led government." (AP/Ynet News)
        See also Hamas to Form New Security Force in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Interior Minister Said Siam announced this week that he had decided to establish a new security force, to consist largely of members of armed groups in the Gaza Strip, that would assist in ending anarchy and lawlessness. Khaled Abu Hilal, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said, "This force is going to include the elite of our sons from the freedom fighters and the holy warriors." Sources said the force would actually consist of Hamas militiamen who would operate parallel to the PA security forces. "We're talking about several thousand Hamas fighters who would become part of a new security force under the command of the Interior Minister," said one source. "We must not forget that the Palestinian security forces consist solely of Fatah members who are refusing to cooperate with the new Hamas administration." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Seeks Closure of Kalkilya YMCA - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Islamic religious leaders in the West Bank city of Kalkilya have called on the new Hamas cabinet to shut down the local YMCA under the pretext that it is involved in "missionary activities." "How can there be such an organization in a city which does not even have one Christian living in it?" said their petition. The Hamas-controlled municipality has expressed support for the call. The campaign against the YMCA began earlier this week when arsonists set fire to some of its offices. The PA-appointed governor of Kalkilya, Mustafa Malki, pointed out that all of YMCA's workers were Muslims. "All the non-governmental organizations operating in the Palestinian territories are run or funded by Christians. I never heard anyone object to their presence," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Hamas' Suicidal Answer - Editorial
    On Monday, a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself outside a packed Tel Aviv fast-food restaurant in one of the deadliest bombings in Israel in more than a year. The reaction from Hamas leaders, who control the Palestinian parliament, was swift and resounding: They cheered. This is, simply, stunning. And sickening. Hamas is the Palestinian government. It speaks for the Palestinian people. And now it says that strolling into a falafel palace and blowing up innocent civilians is a legitimate way to air political grievances. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Hamas Ideology Reeks of Al-Qaeda - Editorial
    Anyone with doubts about Hamas' intentions can consult its charter, which contains such gems as "Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors." Hamas represents colonialism by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in the West Bank and Gaza. Its ideology reeks of al-Qaeda and bin Laden. Americans know that the victims slain Monday at a restaurant in Tel Aviv are no different from those slain on September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. They are casualties in a war being levied by an enemy that aims to reestablish the caliphate and enforce Islamic law worldwide, an enemy that kills civilian women and children while Western sympathizers make excuses. (New York Sun)
  • The Terrorist PA - Editorial
    The PA's current governing power, Hamas, doesn't even try to keep up appearances. Hamas leaders unanimously and demonstratively refused to condemn the latest slaughter in Tel Aviv, an action of the sort that Hamas itself perfected. Hamas' behavior further vindicates the consensus in the West that this is a government that must moderate or fall, and that must not be financially sustained in the interim. Israelis and other Westerners must exercise the inherent right of self-preservation - and seek, resolutely, to thwart the murderous ambitions of the bombers, the Kassam rocket cells, the PA government that champions them - and the ambitions, too, of the Iranian regime that helps inspire and fund them. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Five Minutes to Midnight for Hamas - Editorial
    The elected Hamas leaders in the Palestinian territories have further isolated themselves by unconscionably condoning Monday's suicide attack in Israel. Time is running out for this radical, anti-Israel Islamic group to come around. The financial squeeze that Europe, the U.S., and Israel have put on Hamas as a designated terrorist organization is already taking effect. Arab nations often fail to live up to their pledges to the Palestinians, and it's hard to imagine their limited donations as a substitute for the $1 billion which Europe and the U.S. are withholding. They rightly demand that Hamas recognize Israel, forswear violence, and abide by past Palestinian-Israeli agreements. (Christian Science Monitor)

    Other Issues

  • Facing Down Iran - Mark Steyn
    Anyone who spends half an hour looking at Iranian foreign policy over the last 27 years sees five things: 1. contempt for the most basic international conventions; 2. long-reach extraterritoriality; 3. effective promotion of radical pan-Islamism; 4. a willingness to go the extra mile for Jew-killing; 5. an all-but-total synchronization between rhetoric and action. The cost of de-nuking Iran will be high now but significantly higher with every year it's postponed. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Jordan's Rising Islamists Demand More of a Say in Governance - Curtis R. Ryan
    Jordan's Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, is now positioning itself to demand more of a role in governance. Hamas' electoral victory has emboldened the Front to translate its popularity into greater political clout. In 1989, when the Hashemite regime initiated elections for the lower house of parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood secured 22 seats (out of a total of 80), while independent Islamists won an additional 12. In the 2003 elections, the first under King Abdullah II, the IAF gained 17 seats in a parliament now expanded to 110 members.
        In November 2005, al-Qaeda suicide bombers struck three luxury hotels in central Amman. The government meanwhile called for pre-emptive war on militant forms of Islamism, which the IAF and Muslim Brotherhood feared might be used against them. In January 2006, the government charged IAF leader Jamil Abu Bakr with "harming the dignity of the state." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Disengagement Lessons - Sever Plocker
    Eight months after the withdrawal from Gaza, or what was referred to as a "unilateral disengagement," Gaza did not calm down and the PA did not take matters there into its own hands in order to establish the Middle Eastern Hong Kong. The handing over of the border crossing with Egypt to Palestinian control also failed to lead to the expected results. The Palestinians failed to implement their sovereignty. Even the removal of the settlements is no longer perceived as such a huge victory by the Palestinian people. The thousands of good jobs at the settlements have disappeared, and instead unemployment and poverty grew. (Ynet News)
  • Islamists and Pragmatic Governance - Joseph Braude
    Does power moderate Islamists? Recent history is riddled with examples of power emboldening, not moderating, Islamists. Small examples include Hizballah's failure to moderate after taking control of the energy ministry in Lebanon. Large examples include the failure of Islamists to moderate after seizing whole countries, like Afghanistan and Iran. Yet, for some reason, the idea that the mundanities of daily governance will inevitably and necessarily pacify Islamists continues to hold appeal in the West. (New Republic)
  • AIPAC's Complaint - Eric Alterman
    John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt recently published an essay that critically and unsentimentally examines the role of the "Israel lobby" in the making of U.S. foreign policy. For authors whose work I have long admired, their paper has surprising weaknesses. The authors offer up the lobby as virtually the only determinant of U.S. Middle East policy, as if the oil states, oil companies, and the vast wealth they represent count for bubkes. That's just silly. Why the authors treat this factor so dismissively is a mystery. (Nation)
  • The Military Battle Against Terrorism: Direct Contact vs. Standoff Warfare - Gabriel Siboni
    Technological advances in long-distance precision strike abilities led the IDF to develop and exercise a range of abilities in the latest conflict against Palestinian terrorist elements in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. However, "standoff warfare" should not be expected to provide a complete answer to the challenges of terrorism. The continued terrorist activity and high trajectory weapons fire from Gaza prove this all too clearly. Only if we are wise enough to develop balanced fighting capabilities based on constant assessments of their operational effectiveness will it be possible to maximize terror fighting abilities and reduce terror to a reasonable level. (Strategic Assessment/Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Concentration Camp Escapee Who Warned of Auschwitz Dies at 81 -
    Rudolf Vrba, who described the horrors of Nazi death camps after escaping from Auschwitz, died in Vancouver on March 27 at age 81. Vrba escaped from Auschwitz in 1944. His firsthand account of what went on inside the walls along with reports of other escaped Jewish inmates has been credited with raising the alarm and helping to save tens of thousands of Jews who would have been shipped off to their deaths. Following his escape, Vrba fought with the Czechoslovak Partisan Units until the end of the war, and later emigrated to Canada. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Iran: A Threat that Can't Be Outsourced Any Longer - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

    • Iran's announcement this month that it has enriched uranium to reactor-grade levels marks a watershed. Iran now owns the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Technically, uranium enrichment to reactor-grade constitutes the most difficult phase of the process; moving from there to bomb-grade is much easier.
    • President Ahmadinejad claims Iran is "conducting research" on an advanced centrifuge obtained from rogue Pakistan scientist A.Q. Khan, indicating that Iran has a more extensive covert nuclear program than previously recognized, and that it is much closer to its goal than generally assumed. Put simply, the idea that Iran is still a decade away from a bomb - as was suggested by last year's National Intelligence Estimate - now looks like wishful thinking.
    • The threat of comprehensive sanctions might persuade Iran's religious leaders that there is a prohibitive price to pay for going nuclear. But we doubt it. The chances of the international community imposing sanctions - and sticking to them - are vanishingly small.
    • Iran has consistently lied to the IAEA, trashed its agreements with Europe, openly flouted a UN Security Council resolution, provided explosives to insurgents in Iraq, developed ballistic missiles of increasing range, selected a president with apocalyptic religious impulses, and engaged in vitriolic anti-American and anti-Semitic rhetoric.
    • This is not the behavior of an ordinary state that aims to "normalize" its position in the world through diplomacy. Rather, they are the acts of a revolutionary regime seeking to spread its ideology and power by force and intimidation.
    • The President must begin to educate the American public about what is at stake in Iran and what the U.S. might be prepared to do about it. Until he does so, he will be hostage to a series of increasingly distressing Tehran "announcements," the pace and timing of which will be dictated by the clerics and zealots who wish us ill.

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