Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 30, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

UN Faults Lebanon for Rocket Attack that Set Off Border Clash with Israel - Leila Hatoum (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    The UN held Lebanon responsible for launching the first strike in Sunday's clashes along the border with Israel, after several Katyusha rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel.
    "It is the responsibility of the Lebanese authorities to respect the (UN-demarcated) Blue Line and prevent any attacks across this blue line," Milos Strugar, the senior advisor to the UN commander of the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon, said Monday.

    See also Katyusha Fire Boomerangs on Hizballah - Orly Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
    Following the worst clashes over the Israeli-Lebanese border since Israel's withdrawal, many Lebanese were increasingly vocal Sunday in their opposition to Hizballah's arms.
    See also Lebanese Leader Jumblatt: Syria, Iran Behind Rocket Attacks on Israel - Aaron Klein (Ynet News)

British National Arrested for Assisting Hamas (Prime Minister's Office/Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israel on 10 May 2006 arrested Iyaz Ali, a Pakistani-born British national, who admitted to being a member of the UK-based Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), which is suspected of supporting Hamas.
    He admitted to transferring funds and assistance to Hamas institutions and organizations including the Al Wafa and Al Tzalah associations, which have been outlawed in Israel.
    These associations' institutions incite against the State of Israel and advocate terrorist actions against it and its citizens.
    Ali will be deported from Israel in the coming days and will be barred from returning.

Iranian Dissident Tells of Assaults in Jail Run by Iran's Clerical Regime - Philip Sherwell (Telegraph-UK)
    A leading Iranian pro-democracy and women's activist, who was jailed on trumped-up charges last year, has revealed how the clerical regime cynically deploys systemic sexual violence against female dissidents in the name of Islam.
    Roya Tolouee, 40, was beaten up by Iranian intelligence agents and subjected to a horrific sexual assault when she refused to sign forced confessions.
    It was only when they threatened to burn her two children to death in front of her that she agreed to put her name to the documents.

Egypt to Purchase Gaza Offshore Gas (AFP/Gulf Times-Qatar)
    British Gas (BG) last week broke off protracted talks for the sale of Gaza natural gas to Israel, saying it would instead sell to Egypt.
    Gas is expected to bring a major windfall by 2010 to the Palestinian Authority.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iraq Poised to Become Main Iranian Ally - Tarek Al-Issawi
    To Iran's west lies a natural ally and perhaps its most potent weapon in the international fray over its nuclear program. All signs point to an increasingly robust relationship with Iraq now that Shiites have achieved a dominant role in the leadership. Iran and Iraq share a Shiite Muslim majority and deep cultural and historic ties, and Tehran's influence over its neighbor is growing. Iran will likely try to use Iraq as a battleground if the U.S. punishes Tehran economically or militarily, analysts say.
        Many key positions in the Iraqi government now are occupied by men who took refuge in Iran to avoid oppression by Saddam's Baathist regime. Iraq's powerful militias, meanwhile, have strong ties to Iran and have deeply infiltrated Iraqi security forces. They can be expected to side with Iran if the West should attack, said Paul Ingram of the British American Security Information Council. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Iranian-Backed Militia Groups Take Control in Southern Iraq - Tom Lasseter
    Southern Iraq is now dominated by Shiite Muslim warlords and militiamen who are laying the groundwork for an Islamic fundamentalist government, say senior British and Iraqi officials in the area. The militias appear to be supported by Iranian intelligence or military units that are shipping weapons to the militias in Iraq and providing training for them in Iran. "People are training on the other side of the border and then coming back," said Lt. Col. David Labouchere, who commands British units in the province of Maysan, north of Basra. "Saudi Arabia is trying to counter the rising power of Iran in Basra by giving money and weapons to fanatical Sunni groups operating there," said a senior Iraqi Ministry of Defense official in the city. (Knight Ridder)
  • Hamas Leader Zahar Rejects Abbas Referendum Plan - Jalil Hamid
    Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar on Monday rejected as a waste of time and money the referendum Mahmoud Abbas has said he will call unless Hamas changes its policy toward Israel. "This process needs money, we have no money. Nobody will recognize Israel, there is no need for a referendum," Zahar said during a visit to Malaysia. (Reuters)
  • British Lecturers Back Boycott of Israeli Academics - Benjamin Joffe-Walt
    Britain's National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe) voted Monday in favor of a boycott of Israeli lecturers and academic institutions. (Guardian-UK)
        See also American Association for the Advancement of Science Condemns Academic Boycott of Israel
    The AAAS, the world's largest general science society, urged the British teachers association to withdraw its motion. "Free scientific inquiry and associated international collaborations should not be compromised in order to advance a political agenda unrelated to scientific and scholarly matters," the group declared. (Medical News Today)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Special Forces in Gaza Ambush Islamic Jihad Rocket Crew - Amos Harel
    IDF special forces backed by a helicopter gunship ambushed an Islamic Jihad rocket crew in the ruins of the evacuated settlement of Dugit inside Gaza on Tuesday, killing at least three terrorists. On Monday, Palestinians fired a mortar shell into an army base in the western Negev, and fired two Kassam rockets that struck near Moshav Nativ Haasera, south of Ashkelon. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Prime Minister's Daughter Detained with Fake ID, Released
    Holah Haniyeh, daughter of PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, was released from custody Monday after being arrested for attempting to sneak into an Israeli prison to visit one of the prisoners, who she claimed was her fiance. Police plan to charge her with impersonating the prisoner's sister. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Abbas Referendum: Not a Peace Plan - Ben Fishman and Mohammad Yaghi
    Mahmoud Abbas' announcement of a national referendum was wrongly interpreted as a peace plan. The actual text of the document Abbas threatened to put to a popular vote much more closely resembles Hamas' own political program. There is no explicit statement that establishing a state within the pre-1967 borders would end Palestinian claims over Israeli territory. In fact, the document can be viewed as another iteration of the PLO's 1974 phased plan that declared a willingness to accept the establishment of a national authority in any part of historic Palestine as a step toward "completing the liberation of all Palestinian territory." (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Ethnic Tensions Could Crack Iran's Firm Resolve Against the World - Abbas William Samii
    During the last week of May, thousands of Iranians demonstrated in the northwestern city of Tabriz, and the previous week there were protests at universities in five cities. The protests were triggered by the official government newspaper - the Islamic Republic News Agency's Iran - publishing a cartoon which depicts a boy repeating "cockroach" in Persian before a giant bug in front of him that asks "What?" in Azeri. Azeri-Iranians - who make up approximately one-quarter of the country's population - were particularly offended by the cartoon. Ethnic Persians make up a little more than half the total population of 69 million, but there are sizable minorities including Azeris, ethnic Arabs, Baluchis, and Kurds. (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Domestic Threats to Iranian Stability: Khuzistan and Baluchistan - Michael Rubin (ICA/JCPA)
  • Egypt's Democrats Feel Betrayed - Bret Stephens
    This month, in Cairo, pro-democracy activists such as 39-year-old Ahmed Salah of the Egyptian Movement for Change and dozens of his colleagues were beaten, arrested, and detained - ostensibly for congregating publicly in groups larger than five. Ayman Nour, the imprisoned liberal politician who ran second to Mubarak in last September's rigged presidential election, lost his final appeal against a five-year prison sentence on forgery charges. Speak to opposition figures in Egypt and the sense of American betrayal is palpable.
        According to Gameela Ismail, a prominent journalist and Nour's wife, the culprit here is Gamal Mubarak, who despite avowals to the contrary is setting himself up as his father's successor. She also notes that despite the billions the U.S. provides Egypt, the Mubarak regime continues to stoke anti-American sentiment in its press campaigns against Nour. "They call my husband, 'Nour, the spy of the U.S.'" The regime needs to destroy liberal opponents such as Nour so that Hosni Mubarak, and eventually his son, can present themselves to the U.S. as the only viable bulwark against the Muslim Brotherhood. The regime and the Brotherhood depend on one another to exclude any decent middle way. (Wall Street Journal, 30May06)
  • Observations:

    Palestine on the Brink - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (New York Daily News)

    • Should the West any longer have an interest in establishing an independent state of Palestine now that Hamas has virtually transformed Palestine into a terrorist state that now threatens Jordan and Egypt, as well as Israel?
    • Hamas is not just another nationalist political party. It is a radical Islamist terrorist group with a totalitarian DNA. Its leaders continue to support suicide-bombing terrorism. They describe the random murder of innocent civilians as a legitimate form of "self-defense."
    • According to the Arab newspaper Al Hayat, their leading terrorist, Mohammed Deif, is even holding discussions with al-Qaeda. Hamas supported the Popular Resistance Committee, a terrorist group in Gaza, and appointed its leader, Jamal Abu Samhadana, as the head of a new Hamas security force, despite the fact that the PRC killed three Americans in the Gaza Strip in 2003 - not to mention dozens of Israelis.
    • Hamas is not a democratic government. Yes, it won an election, but a democracy is defined in practice by nonviolence, by respect for the rule of law, for minorities, and for individual rights, by an independent media and judiciary, and by a reasonable respect for agreements made by predecessor governments.
    • No one who knows the Hamas leaders expects them to mellow in office. They cannot accept a lasting peace with Israel because they cannot accept Israel.
    • The surprise plan proposed last week by Abbas, giving Hamas ten days to endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, is not to be taken seriously. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by Abbas' pathetic eleventh-hour gambit.

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