Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 17, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Targets Israeli Diplomats - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Al-Qaeda published images of three Israeli diplomats in a "black list" of foreign diplomats presented as enemies which should be struck.
    The pictures were posted on an al-Qaeda site next to British, American, and Australian diplomats, under the title: "Our enemies."
    Following publication, security was increased around Israeli representatives serving in embassies in the Mediterranean basin.

Palestinians Demand Resumption in Funding - Raphael Minder (Financial Times-UK)
    Mahmoud Abbas warned the European parliament on Tuesday of "an explosion of anger" if funding for the Palestinian Authority was not resumed immediately.

Letters from a U.S. Jihadist - Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch)
    Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar wrote six letters to the Daily Tar Heel, student newspaper of the University of North Carolina, where he tried to kill students for Allah by running them over in an SUV.
    "Due to my religious motivation for the attack, I feel no remorse and am proud to have carried it out in service of and in obedience of Allah."
    "Considering that I injured several people both physically and psychologically, who were also American taxpayers, I feel that I succeeded in obeying Allah's commandment to fight against the enemies of His followers."

U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords Against Islamists in Somalia - Emily Wax and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post)
    More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, the U.S. has returned, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.

Saudi King Warns Newspapers: No Photos of Women (AP/New York Times)
    King Abdullah has told Saudi editors to stop publishing photographs of women because they could lead young men "astray," newspapers reported.
    In recent months, newspapers have published pictures of women - always wearing the traditional Muslim head scarf - to illustrate articles, usually about women's issues.

Amnesty International Has Disproportionate Focus on Israel and the U.S. (NGO Monitor)
    The Capital Research Center (CRC), based in Washington, issued a report in May on Amnesty International (AI) charging that the group has adopted "double standards on human unrealistic view on armed conflict, and propaganda against America and Israel."
    A statistical analysis of AI's published material from 2005 to May 2006 shows that Israel is the subject of the greatest number of AI publications per million citizens with 56 times more reports per million than North Korea and 25 times more than Egypt.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran to Continue Nuclear Enrichment
    Iran insisted on Tuesday that it would continue to enrich uranium in defiance of UN demands to halt the sensitive nuclear work. "Iran's decision to preserve this right (to enrichment) is definite and irreversible," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said. He said that any European proposal on its nuclear program should not violate this right. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Help with Reactor Included in European Offer to Iran - Steven R. Weisman
    The leading nations of Europe, working with the U.S., are preparing to offer Iran new assistance in building a light-water nuclear reactor for civilian use in return for Iran's ending activities suspected of being a cover for a weapons program, European and American diplomats said Tuesday. The hope of the U.S., Britain, and France is that if the latest incentives are rejected by Iran, Russia might be more inclined to move a step toward possible sanctions. But that is a hope more than an expectation, European diplomats said. (New York Times)
        See also Ahmadinejad Scorns EU Atomic Incentives - Christian Oliver
    Accepting EU incentives that urge Iran to stop making atomic fuel would be like trading candy for gold, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday. "They say we want to give Iranians incentives but they think they are dealing with a four-year-old, telling him they will give him candies or walnuts and take gold from him in return." (Reuters)
  • China Urges Hamas to Recognize Israel
    China on Tuesday urged Hamas, an Islamic militant group sworn to Israel's destruction, to recognize the Jewish state and return to peace talks. Zhai Jun, director-general of West Asian and North African Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry, told reporters: "Our minister Li (Zhaoxing) says democracy is a beautiful mother which gives birth to an ugly child. We don't necessarily agree with Hamas policies, but we respect the people's choice. On this basis, we can urge the Hamas government to respect agreements previously signed with Israel, to recognize Israel, and to return to talks."  (Reuters)
        See also China Invites Hamas Foreign Minister
    China said Wednesday it will host the foreign minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Zahar is among 23 ministers from Arab states and entities invited to Beijing late this month for a conclave on China-Arab relations, said Zhai Jun of the Chinese foreign ministry. (China Post-Taiwan)
  • Arabs Evading Economic Boycott of Israel
    The Arab economic boycott of Israel is losing steam as many Arab countries, especially the oil-rich Gulf states, are evading the embargo. A source close to the four-day conference of the Arab Boycott Bureau convening in Damascus said Tuesday, "the majority of Arab countries are evading the boycott, notably the Gulf states and especially Saudi Arabia." The source said "an important reason for not observing the boycott rules by the Arab countries is the growing U.S. pressure in the direction of normalization with the Jewish state." (UPI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Prime Minister's Aides: Bush Won't Embrace Convergence - Ronny Sofer
    President Bush is not expected to express his support of Prime Minister Olmert's convergence plan following their upcoming meeting in Washington, the prime minister's aides estimated Tuesday after meeting with Secretary of State Rice and senior White House staff. Yoram Turbowicz, the Prime Minister's Office chief of staff, and political advisors Dov Weisglass and Shalom Turgeman had discussed the key issues for the visit with the Americans. Israel is aware of the U.S.'s traditional stance, which supports setting permanent borders in an agreement and not unilaterally. European governments also back this stance. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Troops Kill Two Islamic Jihad Terrorists, Find 20Kg Bomb in Nablus - Amos Harel
    Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed two Islamic Jihad terrorists in a gunbattle during an arrest raid in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday. A third was moderately wounded and a fourth was arrested. A 20-kilogram bomb was found with the men, believed intended for a terror attack inside Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Kill Hamas Member, Wound Two in Gaza - Arnon Regular
    Palestinian gunmen shot dead Mohammed Tatar, 25, a member of Hamas' military wing, in Gaza City on Tuesday. Masked gunmen in the Khan Yunis area of Gaza shot and wounded two more Hamas members. "People who are behind these incidents must be caught by security and executed in the public square," said Marwan Abu Ras, a Hamas official. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in northern Gaza fired five Kassam rockets at Israel on Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Libya Lesson - Editorial
    By 2003, Libya was in possession of 4,000 advanced uranium centrifuges and sufficient quantities of highly enriched uranium to make a 10-kiloton bomb, or nearly the yield of the bomb on Hiroshima. This is vastly more advanced than what Iran is suspected of possessing. What changed Gadhafi's mind? A decade of international sanctions had an effect. A more proximate cause was Gadhafi's belief, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in Oct. 2001, that he was next. The decisive factor was Gadhafi's belief that his best hope of escaping the American onslaught was to abandon his nuclear dreams.
        Normalizing ties with Libya does not require the U.S. to be friends with Libya or abandon imprisoned dissidents. But it does give the Administration a chance to show that it is willing to co-exist with cruel and unsightly regimes so long as they meet a threshold of global respectability: no WMD; no sponsorship of terrorism; no threatening of their neighbors. (Wall Street Journal, 17May06)
  • Casus Belli - Editorial
    The Associated Press story that brought us the news of the death of Daniel Wultz, the 16-year-old Florida high school student mortally wounded in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, reported, "According to the American Embassy, more than 200 American citizens have been killed or wounded in terrorist attacks in Israel since 1992." American courts have found Iran and its leaders liable for $6 billion in damages for more than a dozen Americans killed or wounded in Iranian-sponsored attacks. The State Department's Web site,, lists dozens of Americans killed or wounded in terrorist attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby listed at least 51 Americans murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists in a recent ten-year period.
        An attack of this magnitude on American soil would be a casus belli and trigger an American retaliation. As the death toll mounts, there's too much patience, and not enough justice. (New York Sun)
  • How Europe Unwittingly Fuels Bloodshed in Israel - Daniel Hannan
    Palestinians are already, by some measure, the largest per capita recipients of overseas aid in the world. Yet the level of violence in Gaza and the West Bank has risen in proportion to the amount of assistance received. When Hamas was elected earlier this year, the EU brushed aside American objections and handed over 120 million euros. Palestinians responded by ransacking EU diplomatic missions and kidnapping European citizens. The EU, as the largest overseas donor to the PA, has created a subsidy-based society, as sulky, lethargic and corrupt as any on earth. But it doesn't have to be this way. The EU, in its well-intentioned but doltish way, is fueling the conflict.
        The Jewish state represents the supreme vindication of the national principle: that is, the desire of every people to have their own country. The EU, by contrast, is founded in the belief that national loyalties are artificial, transient, and ultimately discreditable. Simply by existing, Israel challenges the main assumption on which European integration is based. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Popular Resistance Committees: Hamas' New Partners? - Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Said Sayyam, the Palestinian interior minister in the Hamas government, has appointed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, Jamal Abu Samhadana, to be in charge of building the core of a new Palestinian army. Formally, he will be under the overall supervision of the Interior Ministry.
    • The Popular Resistance Committees is a terror organization that has carried out hundreds of attacks against Israeli targets in the Gaza Strip and within Israel, and was apparently responsible for the roadside bomb attack in which three American security guards were killed in Gaza in October 2003.
    • The PRC, which espouses an extreme Islamic worldview, has formed a strategic alliance with Hamas and Hizballah, which help finance its activities and train its operatives. According to Israeli intelligence, the PRC also maintains contact with al-Qaeda, which over the past year has created a presence in Gaza and the West Bank.
    • Israel is acting militarily against the PRC as it does toward other Palestinian terror organizations. At the same time, the PRC is not included in Israel's official list of terror organizations. This may stem from the mistaken assumption that the PRC is part of the military wing of Fatah. The U.S. and EU also did not include the PRC in their blacklist of terror organizations.

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