Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 9, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Swiss Hold Seven Suspected of Planning El Al Attack (Reuters)
    Seven people of North African origin are being held on suspicion of plotting to attack an Israeli El Al airliner in Switzerland, the Swiss Attorney General's office said on Thursday.
    "This cell had very seriously envisaged committing an attack in our country on an airliner belonging to the El Al airline," said a statement.
    Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported last month that Swiss and French intelligence agents had foiled a plot to shoot down an El Al plane over Geneva in December using a rocket-propelled grenade.

Israel HighWay
- June 8, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    The Palestinians Today

Hamas, Abbas Rivalry Spurs Palestinian Arms Race - Adam Entous and Haitham Tamimi (Reuters)
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' forces and their Hamas rivals are expanding their arsenals.
    New weapons and equipment can be seen on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, and black market gun and ammunition prices have soared.
    Western security officials in Gaza said members of one of Abbas' elite bodyguard units had shown them that they were now carrying anti-tank rockets concealed in backpacks.
    In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas' guard recently acquired four new U.S.-made armored vehicles worth an estimated $100,000 each.
    Palestinian security sources say Hamas is buying weapons and training fighters in the West Bank, where Fatah forces have long been dominant.
    In Gaza, where it has enough guns, Hamas has been buying up bullets.

Notes from the West Bank and Gaza - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
    Since Israel's evacuation from the northern West Bank and Hamas' rise to power, terrorism has surged and economic growth in Nablus has been curbed.
    The jesting slogan of the Palestinians, who have gone back to relying on Israel, is "Not Abu Mazen (Abbas) and not Haniyeh - we want only Idra al-Madaniyah" - the Civil Administration of the Israeli Military Government.
    The vast arsenal of weapons and explosives that has entered Gaza is frightening, and not only as an infrastructure for the export of terrorist attacks on the Israeli rear.

Palestinian Al Aksa Brigades Kills Suspected Collaborator (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Nihad Hashash, a Palestinian suspected of collaborating with Israel, was found dead on Thursday, shot seven times, on a street in the West Bank city of Nablus.
    The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades of Fatah claimed responsibility.

Arabs Urged to Invest $50 Million in Image-Building in U.S. (Gulf News-UAE)
    Parvez Ahmad, chairman of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), urged Arab businesses to invest in image-building in the U.S. to secure their long-term interests.
    A CAIR delegation held discussions with Al Habtoor group chairman Khalaf al-Habtoor and other businessmen in Dubai about a $50 million public relations campaign that the group has launched in the U.S. to change negative public perceptions about Islam.

Black Anti-Semites Storm Paris's Old Jewish Quarter - Nidra Poller (City Journal)
    On the last Sunday of May, 30 men in paramilitary formation, some wearing leather gloves with brass knuckles, stormed into the heart of the old Jewish quarter, terrorizing residents, shopkeepers, and Sunday strollers.
    The self-styled militia of the Ka Tribe, a black separatist group originally connected to the no-longer funny black comic Dieudonne' M'Bala M'Bala, embodied the worst fears of a Jewish community exposed to a new rise in anti-Semitic attacks.
    The police did not come until the militia had left.

Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? - Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The relationship between Europe and Israel is complex, tense, and historically loaded. Over the years a gap has developed between their political perspectives.
    Because Israel can much less afford the frequent hostility in European-Israeli relations than Europe can, it should take the initiative to see how the damage can be limited.
    Yet it should do so without endangering vital interests or remaining silent about the injustice Europe is causing it.

Birthright Welcomes 100,000th Participant - Shimshon Shoshani (Jerusalem Post)
    This week, Israel welcomed Taglit-Birthright Israel's 100,000th participant.
    Birthright Israel's free trips to Israel are open to young Jews who have not previously visited Israel in an organized peer tour, as opposed, say, to visiting with family.

Useful Reference:

19 Reports on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - 2004-2006 (MEMRI)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • How Surveillance and Betrayal Led to Zarqawi - Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti, and Richard A. Oppel Jr.
    In recent weeks, American officials say, they had begun following Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "spiritual adviser," Sheik Abd al-Rahman. "This gentlemen was key to our success in finding Zarqawi," said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the spokesman for the American military in Baghdad. "Through painstaking intelligence effort, they were able to start tracking him, monitoring his movements, and establishing when he was doing his link-ups with Zarqawi." According to a Pentagon official, an Iraqi informant inside Al Qaeda in Iraq provided the critical piece of intelligence about Rahman's meeting with Zarqawi. "We have a guy on the inside who led us directly to Zarqawi," the official said. (New York Times)
        See also List of Attacks Claimed by Zarqawi (AP/Fox News)
  • Ruling Palestinian Hamas Group Mourns Zarqawi
    The ruling Palestinian faction Hamas on Thursday deplored the killing by U.S. warplanes of the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, describing him as a casualty of a crusade against Arabs and Muslims. Hamas said it mourned Zarqawi as a "martyr of the (Muslim Arab) nation." "Hamas commends brother-fighter Abu Musab...who was martyred at the hands of the savage crusade campaign which targets the Arab homeland, starting in Iraq," a statement said. (Reuters)
        See also Hamas: Zarqawi's Death Will Not End Anti-U.S. Resistance
    Zarqawi's death was only a minor loss to the anti-U.S. resistance movement in Iraq, Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas said Thursday in Pakistan. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Jordan Asks America to Halt Plan for West Bank Union - Eli Lake
    Jordan's King Abdullah is becoming so nervous that a failing independent Palestinian Arab state may end up reuniting with his own kingdom that he has asked President Bush and Secretary of State Rice to publicly oppose the idea, an American diplomat said. The idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian federation is beginning to gain some momentum in Amman, Jerusalem, and Ramallah. (New York Sun)
        See also Palestinian-Jordanian Cooperation? - Michael Mclaughlin and Jessica Taylor
    Former Jordanian and Palestinian officials are pushing for greater economic and security cooperation, and even noting the distant possibility for the future confederation of their governments. (UPI)
        See also A West Bank-Jordan Alliance?
    With an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank possible, influential Palestinians and Jordanians are debating new models for much closer security, economic, and political cooperation between the West Bank and Jordan. Will West Bank Palestinians seek to ally themselves with an Islamist Gaza mired in lawlessness, or will they stake their security and economic fortunes to the Hashemite kingdom? (American Enterprise Institute)
  • U.S. Cancels Palestinian Pay Talks - Anne Penketh
    The U.S. has cancelled talks in which ministers had been expected to approve measures leading to the payment of Palestinian salaries, including those of the security forces, which were frozen after a Hamas government came to power. Western diplomats said a teleconference of the ministers of the Quartet had been scheduled for Wednesday. The U.S. envoy to the Middle East, David Welch, said there was "no basis" for talks if they included payment for the security forces. (Independent-UK)
  • Israel Trip Came Back to Haunt State Department Official - Josh Gerstein
    Daniel Hirsch, a veteran State Department employee who has served in 10 overseas posts, contends that a month-long trip he took to Israel more than two decades ago has contributed to the suspension of his security clearance, stalling and perhaps ending his career in the foreign service. Hirsch, 47, said Monday that investigators have seized on a trip he took in 1983, at age 23, with a group called Volunteers for Israel. He said he was already working for the CIA at the time and cleared it with the agency before going. (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Top Palestinian Terrorist Killed in Gaza Airstrike - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    An Israel Air Force strike on a Palestinian militants' training camp in Gaza on Thursday night killed the Hamas government's security chief, Jamal Abu Samhadana, who headed the Popular Resistance Committees. At least three other PRC operatives were killed and 10 more were wounded. The Israel Defense Forces said militants at the camp were planning a large-scale attack on Israel. Abu Samhadana, a 43-year-old explosives expert, had been a key target for Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        Samhadana's PRC was responsible for most of the Kassam rocket attacks against Israel and was a suspect in the fatal 2003 bombing of a U.S. convoy in the Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Popular Resistance Committees: Hamas' New Partners? - Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Meets Jordanian King in Jordan - Aluf Benn and Avi Issacharoff
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert traveled to Amman on Thursday in an attempt to calm King Abdullah's concerns over the convergence plan's possible detrimental effect on Jordan. In his meeting with Abdullah, Olmert said he was "encouraged" by Jordan's and Israel's mutual "commitment against global terror." He added that the Hashemite kingdom has a crucial role in maintaining stability in the Middle East and stressed that "Jordan is a partner to the peace process." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Prime Minister's Remarks in Amman, Jordan (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Egypt and Jordan Seek to Nix Unilateral Withdrawal - Avi Issacharoff
    On the eve of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to Jordan, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Egypt and Jordan were promoting a new initiative aimed at thwarting the convergence plan. The initiative advocates resuming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the basis of the road map. It claims there is a Palestinian partner for negotiations - Mahmoud Abbas, that the Hamas government accepts the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and that Hamas authorized Abbas to conduct peace talks on behalf of all Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rockets Hit Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets toward the southern Israeli town of Sderot Friday morning. One rocket landed in the yard of an apartment building, shattering the building's windows. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Militia Remains on Gaza Streets Despite Agreement - Avi Issacharof
    The Hamas-led government's 3,000-member private militia remained on Gaza's streets Thursday, despite a deal struck Wednesday with the rival Fatah movement to remove it from public areas. Black-clad gunmen stood guard on street corners throughout Gaza in full public view. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Death of Terrorist Leader Zarqawi

  • A Laudable Death - Eliot A. Cohen
    Few men have so richly deserved death as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He met a swifter and cleaner end than what he meted out to Arabs and Americans alike; his violence included torture and beheadings, videotaped not only for purposes of propaganda, but, one suspects, out of a near pornographic pleasure in capturing human suffering on camera. As the head of one of the most important insurgent groups in Iraq, his demise is not only an occasion for pride in the prowess of American forces, and satisfaction at retribution dealt out, but a real blow to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Zarqawi and allied Sunni fundamentalists used the opportunity to create a broader conflict. He helped change the complexion of the insurgency by stimulating sectarian hatred. His targeting of the Shiite community in Iraq has succeeded, in some measure: Not a day goes by in Baghdad without sectarian killings. Both communities have their death squads, often in the uniforms of the police, and in some areas the process of separation is well advanced. The writer is Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. (Wall Street Journal, 9Jun06)
  • Zarqawi's Life After Death - Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon
    Zarqawi's violence was so vicious and indiscriminate - killing so many Muslims - it created what some experts call "the Zarqawi effect": a Muslim repugnance at the jihadist movement that has probably turned more of his co-religionists away from radicalism than America's democratization campaign. According to the federal National Counterterrorism Center, Zarqawi's operatives are at work in 40 countries and linked with 24 extremist organizations. The jihadists comprise a social movement, not just a cluster of terrorist organizations, and they are totally opportunistic and endlessly plastic in how they accommodate to circumstances. We will get the better of them only when our thinking is as flexible and innovative as theirs. Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon are fellows, respectively, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations. (New York Times)
  • Killing Zarqawi More Important than Bin Laden - Yossi Melman
    Zarqawi is the terrorist responsible for the greatest number of casualties in recent years, and therefore, his liquidation has operational significance. Bin Laden's liquidation would have only moral significance. Reuven Paz, an expert in radical Islam, noted that Zarqawi's status in Iraq might have been waning over the past year anyway, due to his decision to wage a sectarian war against the Shi'ites. This may also have been what enabled the Americans to obtain information about his whereabouts. (Ha'aretz)
  • The End of Al-Qaeda in Iraq?
    "The death of Zarqawi signals the beginning of the end of the al-Qaeda organization and of Sunni rebellion in Iraq," predicted Iraq expert Prof. Amatzia Baram of the University of Haifa. "The blow that al-Qaeda took is a heavy one, but not mortal," Baram cautioned. "Nevertheless, we are talking about a very import symbol who had great influence on the insurgents' morale. They received their inspiration from him." "Organizationally, too, Zarqawi was the most efficient executor of mass terror attacks, especially against the Shiites, with car bombs and suicide bombers."
        "Most actions under al-Qaeda's inspiration are carried out by independent cells that will now, in the wake of Zarqawi's death, need to think very carefully about the chances of their success. On the one hand, his personal example will continue to be a source of inspiration. On the other hand, his elimination will constitute a warning sign for potential terrorists." (University of Haifa/IMRA)
  • Why Zarqawi's Death Matters - Christopher Hitchens
    The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is even more excellent if, as U.S. sources in Iraq are claiming, it resulted from information that derived from people who were or had been close to him. (And, if that claim is black propaganda, then it is clever black propaganda, which is also excellent news.) Zarqawi contributed enormously to the wrecking of Iraq's experiment in democratic federalism. He helped ensure that the Iraqi people did not have one day of respite between 35 years of war and fascism, and the last three-and-a-half years of misery and sabotage. He destroyed the UN headquarters in Baghdad (murdering the heroic envoy Sergio Vieira de Melo) almost before it could begin operations. (Slate)

    Other Issues

  • The Attacks That Didn't Happen - Editorial
    The lack of any significant North American attack since Sept. 11, 2001, has lulled many Americans into thinking that preparedness, vigilance, and resolve are yesterday's necessities. This Canadian case demonstrates the constant nature of the threat facing the U.S. and its allies - and the constant effort needed to preempt it. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Academic Arrogance - Editorial
    A British higher-education teachers' union passed a resolution on Israel at its annual conference recently that was stunning for its rejection of academic values and simple bigotry. For starters, why did the union focus on Israel, in a world full of noxious regimes? But beyond that, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education should not be in the business of political vetting, anymore than any other group that calls itself an academic organization. The single issue is the arrogance of those British academics so blinded by an ideological antipathy for Israel that they would undermine the very foundations of academic freedom. All they have achieved is to draw ridicule to themselves. (International Herald Tribune)
        See also Israel the Unfair Target of Selective Outrage - Cathy Young
    Anti-Semitic or not, the movement to boycott Israel is hypocritical, sanctimonious, and quite simply wrong. It is a shocking example of selective outrage. Maybe American institutions should consider responding to such anti-Israel boycotts with their own boycotts. So far, the American Federation of Teachers has sent a letter to Britain's National Association of Teachers strongly condemning the move. (Boston Globe)
  • Iranian Azeris: A Giant Minority - Ali M. Koknar
    Azeri Turks, concentrated mainly in the oil-poor northwest of Iran, make up an estimated one-fourth of Iran's population. Azeris often claim a population share close to 40%, a number that includes ethnic brethren such as the Turkmen, Qashgais, and other Turkic-speaking groups. Unlike other ethnic groups in Iran such as Sunni Kurds and Arabs, the Azeri Turks are Shiites like the Persians. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is of Azeri descent.
        The last fifteen years has seen a boom in nationalist publications for Iranian Azeris, and the creation of the South Azerbaijan National Awakening Movement (Gamoh), which opposes what it calls "Persian chauvinism." Its members are often jailed or harassed by Iranian security forces. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Iran's Volatile Ethnic Mix - Brenda Shaffer (International Herald Tribune)
  • Observations:

    As Islamists Grow Confident, It's Time for the West To Stand Firm
    - Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Yaalon (Forward)

    • In Europe I observed a widespread refusal to consider Hamas' January electoral victory beyond the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In reality, Hamas' rise to power has global ramifications. It opens a new front for radical Islamism in its confrontation with the West and provides encouragement to Islamists worldwide.
    • In a February 3 speech in a Damascus mosque, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal redefined Hamas' ambitions from the goal of destroying Israel to the much broader goal of defeating the West. He also revealed the growing confidence of Islamists in pursuing more ambitious goals.
    • Hamas' electoral victory is only the latest in a series of strategic successes that have given radical Islamists every reason to believe that God is on their side. They include international terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda and its supporters in the U.S., Spain, and Britain; the insurgency's perceived victories against coalition forces in Iraq; Muslim Brotherhood electoral successes in Egypt; and Hizballah's attainment of a cabinet seat in Lebanon.
    • Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leading terrorist in Iraq, recently declared that America "is breathing its final breath," while Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas branded the U.S. an "enemy of Islam."
    • Conceptually, the West should be wary of any diplomatic, economic, or military move that might serve to reinforce the Islamists' notion that they are winning. The current Hamas-led government must be made to fail, Hizballah should be disarmed in accordance with UN Resolution 1559, and the Iranian regime must be stopped in its pursuit of nuclear weapons and support for terrorist groups throughout the region. A unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would undermine any attempt to confront the advance of the global jihad movement; to the contrary, it would encourage and energize radical Islamists worldwide.
    • Confronting the advance of radical Islamist elements requires, first and foremost, striking at the confidence that has motivated their progress. This requires uniting behind a policy that refuses further concessions to terrorism, acts aggressively against future transgressions, and appropriately engages the next generation in the Muslim world.

      The writer, who served as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces from 2002 to 2005, is a distinguished military fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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