Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 22, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Europeans Ransomed Iraq Hostages - Daniel McGrory (Times-UK)
    France, Italy, and Germany sanctioned the payment of $45 million in deals to free nine hostages abducted in Iraq, according to documents seen by The Times.
    According to the documents, held by security officials in Baghdad who have played a crucial role in hostage negotiations, sums from $2.5 million to $10 million per person have been paid over the past 21 months.
    Western diplomats who have seen the list are angered at the behavior of the three governments, arguing that it encourages organized crime gangs to grab more foreign captives.

Israel Campus Beat
- May 21, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    Israeli Identity and Judaism

"Al-Qaeda in Palestine" Threatens Abbas - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A group calling itself al-Qaeda in Palestine threatened on Sunday to assassinate PA Chairman Abbas and other Fatah leaders.
    The group also claimed responsibility for Saturday's attempt on the life of Tarek Abu Rajab, commander of the PA's General Intelligence Service.
    Meanwhile, PA security officials revealed that Hamas was purchasing more weapons ahead of a possible confrontation with Fatah.
    "They are even buying large amounts of weapons from Fatah dealers," said one official.
    See also PA Intelligence Chief Hurt in Gaza Blast - Arnon Regular and Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    Palestinian intelligence service chief Gen. Tarek Abu Rajab sustained moderate to serious wounds in an explosion that tore through the headquarters of the Palestinian general intelligence service in Gaza City Saturday.
    One person was killed and nine were wounded in the explosion.

Islamic Jihad Leader Killed in Air Strike - Joshua Brannon (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli airstrike Saturday killed Muhammad Dadouh, considered Islamic Jihad's most senior military commander in the Gaza Strip.
    Three others were also killed and five wounded.
    Dadouh was personally involved in the firing of a Grad-type Katyusha rocket that fell near Netiv Ha'asara last Tuesday.

Welcome to Al-Aksa University in Neve Dekalim - Rafael D. Frankel (Jerusalem Post)
    Welcome to Al-Aksa University's Neve Dekalim campus, located in a renovated building that was once the largest boys school in Gush Katif.
    Posters of "martyrs" and photo exhibits of the Nakba adorn the walls.
    Building crews are renovating the former municipal building, gymnasium, shops, and supermarket in Neve Dekalim's central square.

Al-Jazeera Cars Torched in Ramallah - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Three cars belonging to the al-Jazeera news network were torched in Ramallah on Saturday night.
    Sources said Fatah was responsible. Its supporters were angry because al-Jazeera had not covered an anti-Hamas demonstration by Fatah earlier in the day.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Olmert: Iran Close to Atomic Bomb Know-How - Ramit Plushnick-Masti
    Iran is just a few months away from acquiring the technological know-how that will allow it to build an atomic bomb, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told CNN on Sunday. "This technological threshold is nearer than we anticipated before. This is because they are already engaged very seriously in enrichment," Olmert said. "The technological threshold is very close. It can be measured in months rather than years," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Olmert: Abbas Powerless to Speak for Palestinians - Nancy Waitz
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told CNN Sunday that Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was powerless to speak on behalf of his people. "He is helpless. He's unable to even stop the minimal terror activities among the Palestinians," Olmert said. "So how can he represent that government in the most crucial, complex and sensitive negotiations, about which there are so many divisions within the Palestinian community?" In Israel, Abbas is widely seen as a weak leader unable to engage in peacemaking while the militant group Hamas is in power. (Reuters)
        See also Transcript: Interview with Ehud Olmert - Wolf Blitzer (CNN)
  • Israeli Ministers Meet Palestinian Leader - Scott Wilson
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Vice Premier Shimon Peres spoke Sunday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for 30 minutes at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Draft Law on Dress Has Many Worried - Tarek Al-Issawi
    A draft law aimed at encouraging Islamic dress raised fears Saturday that Iran's hard-line government plans to re-impose veils and head-to-toe overcoats on women. On Friday, a Canadian newspaper, the National Post, quoting Iranian exiles, said the law would force Jews, Christians, and other religious minorities to wear special patches of colored cloth to distinguish them from Muslims. A copy of the draft law obtained by the Associated Press made no mention of religious minorities or any requirement of special attire for them, and the Post later backed off the report. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Proposing European Shield for Iran Missiles - Michael R. Gordon
    The Bush administration is moving to establish a new antimissile site in Europe that would be designed to stop attacks by Iran against the U.S. and its European allies. The administration's proposal calls for installing 10 antimissile interceptors at a European site by 2011. Poland and the Czech Republic are among the nations under consideration. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Exercise with Turkey Aimed at Iran - Steven R. Weisman
    The U.S. will hold a joint military exercise with Turkey next week aimed at demonstrating a determination to stop missile and nuclear technology from reaching Iran and other countries, Bush administration officials said Sunday. (New York Times)
  • Pressed by U.S., European Banks Limit Iran Deals - Steven R. Weisman
    Prodded by the U.S. with threats of fines and lost business, four of the biggest European banks - UBS and Credit Suisse of Switzerland, ABN Amro of the Netherlands, and HSBC based in London - have started curbing their activities in Iran, even in the absence of a Security Council resolution imposing economic sanctions on Iran. Top Treasury and State Department officials have traveled to Europe and the Middle East in the past six months, invoking antiterrorism and banking laws to limit Iran-related activities of major banks.
        Stuart A. Levey, the undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said: "We are seeing banks and other institutions reassessing their ties to Iran. They are asking themselves if they really want to be handling business for entities owned by a government engaged in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorism." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Bush to Tell Olmert to Include Jordan in Future West Bank Decisions - Nathan Guttman
    President Bush will stress in his talks with Prime Minister Olmert on Tuesday the need to consult with Jordan before moving to change the situation on the ground in the West Bank. A senior administration official said that Bush intends to ask Olmert about the role that Israel sees for Jordan in any decision regarding the West Bank, and noted that the issue of the border along the Jordan River also affects Jordan. Over the weekend Jordan's King Abdullah wrote to Bush warning against endorsing the Israeli unilateral withdrawal plan. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S.: No Reason for Us to Pay PA Salaries - Shmuel Rosner and Aluf Benn
    A senior U.S. administration official said Sunday that the deteriorating situation in the territories makes Washington even less enthusiastic about funneling aid to the PA. "If Hamas has money to finance its people, who are riding about in cars and brandishing rifles, it should use it to pay teachers and doctors," he said. "Who's paying for their gas?" "The Hamas government is the one that ought to take care of its workers," he continued. "We have never paid the salaries of Palestinian Authority employees, and there is no reason for us to do so now." The official insisted that the U.S. and Europe have identical views of the Hamas government. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Israeli School - Hanan Greenberg
    Palestinians in Gaza fired Kassam rockets at Israel Sunday morning, one of which landed inside a classroom at a religious high school in the town of Sderot. At the time, all the students were at the school's synagogue for a prayer service. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF to Fortify Schools Near Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    The Israel Defense Forces was ordered to prepare an immediate plan to fortify schools in communities in the Gaza vicinity after a Kassam rocket hit a Sderot high school Sunday. Home Front Command officials said there is an instruction not to teach in classrooms on the top floors of schools located around the Gaza Strip, for fear a rocket will directly hit the building. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Lands near IDF Base in Western Negev
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket Sunday evening that landed near an army base in the western Negev. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • This Is a Saudi Textbook (after the Intolerance Was Removed) - Nina Shea
    A 2004 Saudi royal study group recognized the need for reform after finding that the kingdom's religious studies curriculum "encourages violence toward others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the 'other.'" Since then, the Saudi government has claimed repeatedly that it has revised its educational texts. The problem is: These claims are not true.
        A review of a sample of official Saudi textbooks for Islamic studies used during the current academic year reveals that an ideology of hatred toward Christians and Jews and Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine remains. First Grade text: "Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam): Every religion other than ____ is false." The writer is director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House. (Washington Post)
  • Dear President Ahmadinejad... - Gerald Steinberg
    If Israeli President Moshe Katsav were to send a letter to the president of Iran, this is what he might write: Unless we begin to communicate directly, with civility and mutual respect, we will soon be in a conflict which will cause unimaginable destruction. As Israelis listen to your rhetoric and watch your actions, we see many of the danger signals that have preceded the catastrophic wars that have been waged against us. We have no choice but to consider the day when these words threatening our annihilation can be backed by the missiles and nuclear weapons you are acquiring.
        If you are unaware of the trauma resulting from our failure in 1973 to preempt the Egyptian and Syrian attacks, can you know how our leaders will act when faced with growing threats of destruction from Iran? Let us communicate, Mr. President. Failure to do so could lead to unilateral action. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Turkey Is Boiling - Michael Rubin
    At the funeral last week of Justice Ozbilgin, Turkish crowds booed Foreign Minister Gul. Prime Minister Erdogan was a no-show. They applauded President Sezer and the generals who attended. We have been charting the evolution of the ruling party's assault on secularism. Erdogan may not have pulled the trigger, but he certainly greased the gun. Most recent U.S. ambassadors to Turkey have peddled the fiction that the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] was conducting business as usual. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Diplomats to Sue Ahmadinejad at International Court of Justice in The Hague - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)

    • A group of Israeli diplomats plans to turn to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague and demand that it launch legal proceedings against Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for conspiring to commit crimes against humanity. The legal file against Ahmadinejad is almost ready for submission.
    • Among the forum members are former Israeli Ambassador to the United States and France Meir Rosen, former Foreign Ministry Director-General Eytan Bentsur, and former Minister Dan Naveh. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, headed by former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold, is providing logistic assistance in preparing the lawsuit.
    • The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 1948 as the international community's response to the revelations on the Holocaust. The Convention defined genocide as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. The acts for which countries can be punished as part of the Convention include "direct and public incitement to commit genocide."
    • Rosen and Gold write that "Ahmadinejad's remarks constitute without a doubt a 'direct and public incitement' to commit genocide. The Iranian regime supports terror organizations, such as the Islamic Jihad, which continuously carries out murderous terror attacks against innocent Israeli citizens. However, the gravity of Ahmadinejad's remarks is particularly outstanding in light of Iran's attempts to develop mass destruction weapons."
    • The document also stated that "the State of Israel must act against Iran through clause 9 of the Convention. According to this clause, disagreements between states that signed the Convention regarding its implementation must be solved by turning to the International Court of Justice in The Hague." Both Israel and Iran signed and approved the treaty in the 1950s.
    • The forum plans to take additional steps against Ahmadinejad in European countries with legislation against Holocaust denial.

          See also Israelis to Sue Ahmadinejad over "Plotting Genocide"  (AP/Ha'aretz)

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