Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 31, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Europe Tries to Prevent the Next Attack - Paul Haven (AP/Washington Post)
    European intelligence networks have thrown a blanket of surveillance over a small but fiercely violent cast of Islamic militants, many homegrown with no direct links to al-Qaeda, whose fingerprints they expect to find on the Continent's next big terrorist attack.
    Senior security officials across Europe in interviews painted a picture of militants motivated by bin Laden's call for worldwide jihad.
    In Spain, authorities have tripled the number of agents concentrating on terrorism and are watching some 250 suspected radicals.
    In London, senior police officers say they are concerned about 40 to 60 people living in Britain who have received training at camps in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Another 400 are believed to be sympathizers.
    In Italy, authorities are watching 74 people on suspicion of financing terrorism. In Germany, about 170 potentially violent radicals are under surveillance in Hamburg.
    Tore Bjoergo, a terrorism expert at the Norwegian Police University College, put the number of thwarted attacks throughout Europe at 30 to 40 since 9/11.

Saudi Fighters Leading Surge in Attacks on British Troops in Iraq - Thomas Harding (Telegraph-UK)
    Foreign terrorists, led by fighters from Saudi Arabia, are behind an upsurge in attacks against British troops in Basra, military sources said Tuesday.
    The Saudi influence on terrorism in Basra has caused concern among military commanders because of their training, technology, and finance.
    There is also a strong belief, particularly among the Americans, that Iran is continuing to ferry bombs to Baghdad via Basra.

Iraq Says It Has Captured Key Militant (AP/Los Angeles Times)
    The Iraqi government said Tuesday it has captured Ahmed Hussein Dabash Samir al-Batawi, a key terror suspect who allegedly confessed to hundreds of beheadings of Iraqis.

Gunmen Attack Palestinian Stock Exchange (Palestinian Center for Human Rights-Gaza)
    On May 26, unknown gunmen fired shots at the Palestinian Stock Exchange in Nablus, causing material damage.
    Sources from the stock exchange indicated that the attack was motivated by losses incurred by some individuals due to the decline in stocks of some companies.

Lebanon Parliament Rejects Syria Bid to Arrest Jumblatt (AFP/Yahoo)
    Lebanon's parliament overwhelmingly rejected Syria's arrest warrants against prominent MP and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt who has called for regime change in Damascus.
    On May 3, Jumblatt, who has parliamentary immunity in Lebanon, was summoned by a Syrian military court to appear within seven days on charges of "inciting against Syria."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Enforcer Rails Against U.S. - Steven Gutkin and Sarah El Deeb
    Jamal Abu Samhadana, no. 2 on Israel's wanted list and head of the Popular Resistance Committees, who was appointed the Hamas-led PA government's new security chief, warned in an interview Monday in Gaza: "The American government and people will pay a dear price" for their "aggressive and criminal policy against the Arab and Muslim people." "We are happy when any American soldier is killed anywhere in the world, because the American Army is an aggressor against all the people in the world, particularly the Arab and Muslim worlds," he said. "The American people are known to be peaceful, so they are asked to move to bring down this terrorist government in Washington, so that the American people are safe from any attacks or retaliation." (AP/Washington Post)
        See also PA Prime Minister: U.S. Is Enemy of Islam and Muslims - Dudi Cohen
    Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called the U.S. an "enemy of Islam and Muslims" in an interview with the Iranian news agency IRNA. Haniyeh said "the United States is doing everything to bring about the downfall of the Hamas government." (Ynet News)
        See also The Popular Resistance Committees: Hamas' New Partners? - Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)
  • U.S. Accepts Draft on Iran that Omits Use of Force - Steven R. Weisman
    The Bush administration, seeking to enlist Russian support for a UN Security Council resolution on Iran, has agreed to language ruling out the immediate threat of military force, American and European officials said Tuesday. The resolution is to call on Iran to suspend various nuclear activities that are viewed in the West as part of a clandestine weapons program. Also being negotiated is a package of benefits in nuclear energy, economic activities, and security to be offered Iran if it cooperates in ending its nuclear activities. (New York Times)
  • China Urges Hamas to Renounce Violence
    China urged the Islamic militant group Hamas on Tuesday to renounce violence ahead of a visit to Beijing by its foreign minister. Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar is to attend a Sino-Arab forum in Beijing that opens on Wednesday and will meet his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing. "China does not favor political isolation and economic blockade. But at the same time we urge Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel, and accept agreements already reached," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. (Reuters)
  • Pro-U.S. Arab States Mobilize Against Israeli Unilateralism - Hala Boncompagni
    Pro-U.S. Arab leaders from Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are launching a diplomatic offensive to try to revive talks between Israel and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and head off Israeli threats to impose a unilateral peace. But analysts voiced skepticism about the attempt. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday for talks, while Jordan's King Abdullah II is to meet the Israeli premier in mid-June.
        "There are clear Arab and Palestinian attempts to form an international front to put pressure on the Israeli government to relinquish its plan for a unilateral withdrawal," said Hassan Barari, a researcher at the University of Jordan's Center of Strategic Studies. Barari said "the emergence of a real Palestinian partner" was key to the efforts to head off Israeli unilateralism. "That is why Arab efforts to make Israel refrain from a unilateral withdrawal must be matched with pressure on the Palestinians." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Gaza Rocket Strikes Near Israeli Defense Minister's House - Shmulik Hadad
    Defense Minister Amir Peretz tells how he awoke in Sderot to sound of the Red Dawn alert system before hearing a powerful explosion from a rocket that landed only a few dozen meters from his home. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rockets Hit Sderot Homes - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired four Kassam rockets at Israel early Wednesday. One rocket directly hit a home in Sderot, causing damage. The family was inside the house during the strike but was unharmed. Another rocket struck the roof of a house in Sderot and landed in the yard. The third rocket landed in another western Negev community, while the fourth landed in an open field. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Anti-Rocket Forces Have Been Operating in Gaza for Two Months - Amos Harel
    The IDF said Tuesday that small special forces units have been operating in northern Gaza for about two months. Earlier Tuesday, an IDF unit killed four Palestinian members of a Kassam rocket-launching cell in northern Gaza as they were preparing to fire a rocket at Ashkelon. Senior officers noted that infiltrating experienced soldiers into Gaza with a broad backup network enables Israel to hit terrorists with precision, reducing the risk of civilian casualties. They also explained that such operations have a cumulative effect by undermining the terrorist cells' sense of security and restricting their freedom of action.
        According to the IDF's Southern Command, there has been a 40% drop in the number of Palestinian rocket launches since military activity was stepped up in late March. The launches have also become less accurate. Islamic Jihad has lost more than 40 operatives via IDF operations in Gaza in recent months. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Appoints Terrorist Fugitive to Head His "Presidential Guard" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday appointed Col. Mahmoud Damra, also known as Abu Awad, who had been accused by Israel of involvement in terrorist attacks, as overall commander of his Force 17 "presidential guard" in the West Bank. The decision comes only days after Israel agreed to provide weapons and ammunition to Force 17. Damra was one of several fugitives who sought shelter in Arafat's Mukata compound in Ramallah in 2002 after Israel accused him of masterminding terrorist attacks. According to Israeli defense officials, Damra personally issued orders to carry out attacks and was in charge of supplying weapons and money.
        A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office in 2001 said Damra was responsible for arming and instructing three members of Force 17 who were involved in the killing of Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane and his wife Talia in December 2000. Israeli security officials also attribute to Damra's men a shooting attack near Neveh Tzuf in November 2000 in which two soldiers and a civilian were killed, a shooting attack at the Tapuah junction in November 2001 in which one civilian was killed, and a shooting attack on Route 443 near Givat Ze'ev in December 2001 in which a civilian was killed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Deterring Those Who Are Already Dead? - Laurent Murawiec
    Deterrence works because one is able credibly to threaten the center of gravity of the enemy. But deterrence only works if the enemy is able and willing to enter the same calculus. If the enemy plays by other rules, he will not be deterred. The religious believer accepts reality and works at improving it; the fanatic rejects reality, refuses to pass any compromise with it, and tries to destroy it and replace it with his fantasy.
        The politics carried out by the complex in power in Tehran - Ahmadinejad, the Pasdaran, the Basiji, the Ministry of Intelligence, Supreme Guide Khamenei - is apocalyptic and millenarian - but it also is autistic: nothing that contravenes their sense of what is and what ought to be, may be allowed to exist. Contemporary jihad is not a matter of politics at all, but a matter of faith. Consequently, attempts at dealing with the problem politically will not even touch it. The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Who Caused the Arab Refugee Problem? Refugee: Arab Leaders Told Us to Flee in 1948 - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
    In another corroboration by an Arab refugee that it was Arab leaders who were responsible for the flight of Arabs from the new State of Israel in 1948, an elderly woman, Asmaa Jabir Balasimah Um Hasan, told the PA newspaper Al-Ayyam on May 16, 2006, that it was Arab leaders and not Israel who told her and her neighbors to flee, for tactical military reasons. "They told us: 'The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate the village and return after the battle is over.'"
        This confirms earlier statements that have appeared in the PA press. On April 30, 1999, an Arab viewer called PA TV and quoted his father and grandfather, complaining that in 1948 the Arab District Officer ordered all Arabs to leave Palestine or be labeled traitors. On March 19, 2001, columnist Fuad Abu Higla wrote in the official PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida of Arab leaders "in the year of 1948, who forced us to leave, on the pretext of clearing the battlefields of civilians." It is well-known among Palestinians that Arab leaders bear responsibility for the mass flight of Arabs from Israel in 1948, and were the cause of the "refugee" problem. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Observations:

    The Justice of the Zionist Cause - Amnon Rubinstein (Jerusalem Post)

    • From the moment the decision in favor of partition was made, the Palestinian Arabs and Arab nations rose up against the Palestinian Jews. Instead of accepting the compromise decided upon by the supreme international organization, which also had the authority to decide on the future of the areas under the Mandate of the League of Nations, the Arab countries made a declaration of war and began to plan their invasion of the Jewish state by regular Arab armies and a Palestinian Arab army led by the mufti. Yet the small, barely armed Jewish population succeeded in repelling the invading armies at a terrible cost in human life.
    • Where justice is concerned, we must not forget that if the Palestinian Arab leadership and Arab countries had accepted the UN's compromise resolution, the Palestinian people would have been saved much suffering, and justice could have been done to both peoples. Similarly, we must remember that if the Arab countries had treated the Palestinian refugees who came to their countries as human beings rather than as bargaining chips, the refugees would have been saved considerable suffering and deprivation.
    • The majority in the UN General Assembly became convinced of the justice of the Zionist claim: that a persecuted nation was entitled to a homeland, that the establishment of a Jewish state would prevent further Jewish suffering, that the Palestinians could enjoy self-determination in a state of their own where they would be protected from becoming a minority, and that there was no other place in the world for Jewish independence than the Land of Israel. That is the justice of the Zionist cause. It remains far stronger than any pro-Arab claim.

      The writer is president of the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

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