Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 22, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Saudi Ambassador Says Boycott of Israel Will Not End - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
    Saudi Arabia will not end its boycott of Israel despite its membership in the World Trade Organization, a body that prohibits such trade barriers between member states.
    Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki al-Faisal told the Brookings Institution on Monday that his country's primary boycott of Israel is a "matter of national sovereignty."
    The ambassador's comments contradict earlier agreements Saudi trade representatives made with their American counterparts to bring an end to the embargo, a condition of gaining American support for the kingdom's accession to the WTO.
    Stephen Norton, a spokesman for the office of the U.S. trade representative, said Tuesday: "In our view, maintaining the primary boycott of Israel is not consistent with Saudi Arabia's commitment to extend full WTO treatment to all WTO members."

Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq (Fox News)
    The U.S. has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.
    Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent."
    The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991, but they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions.

Egypt Releases Blogger Jailed for "Insulting" Mubarak - Jeff Black (Independent-UK)
    Egyptian authorities have ordered the release of Alaa Seif al-Islam, 24, a pro-reform blogger and activist who was imprisoned 45 days ago on charges including insulting President Mubarak.

Useful Reference:

Terrorism and Internet: Hamas' Websites and Their Hosting Providers (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies) (pdf)
    Hamas has invested large sums in an extensive Internet infrastructure which includes over 20 websites in eight languages (Arabic, English, French, Russian, Persian, Malay, Urdu, and Indonesian).
    It is run by Nizar Hussein for the Hamas information bureau in Damascus, and operates from the office of Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • International Red Cross Admits Israel - Alexander G. Higgins
    The Red Cross admitted Israel to the worldwide humanitarian organization Thursday, ending decades of exclusion. The organization simultaneously admitted the Palestinian Red Crescent society, making an exception to the rule that societies have to be under a sovereign state. An optional new emblem was adopted so that Israel could retain its red star of David instead of having to adopt the red cross. In a 191-72 vote, the body rejected a Muslim amendment that challenged Israel. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Israel to EU: Palestinians Should Renounce Terrorism Before Receiving Aid - Adam Entous
    Israel has asked the European Union to make Palestinians sign a document renouncing terrorism before they can receive EU help under a new aid program, Western officials said Tuesday. In addition, Israel has proposed running the names of Palestinian aid recipients through its own national security database. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said: "It must be clear that this sort of money is not going to people involved in terrorism." (Reuters)
  • A Year On, Ahmadinejad's Popularity Is Soaring - Ewen MacAskill and Simon Tisdall
    The popularity of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is surging almost a year after he won a closely contested presidential election, Iranian officials and Western diplomats said Tuesday. The perception that he was standing up to the U.S. on the nuclear issue was seen as boosting his standing. His attacks on the privileges enjoyed by some of Iran's ruling clerical elite and his recent unsuccessful attempt to allow women to attend soccer matches have also made a big impact.
        Nasser Hadian-Jazy, a professor of political science at Tehran University, said Ahmadinejad had been surprised by reaction to his criticism of Israel and denial of the Holocaust. "But once he got the reaction, he realized it could establish him as a strong leader among Muslims. It was a calculated move." His anti-Israeli statements made a big impact in the Arab world, said Sayed Mohammad Adeli, Iran's former ambassador to Britain. "He has become a hero of the people on the street." (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert, Abbas Meet in Jordan - Ronny Sofer
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Thursday in Petra, Jordan, with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah. The three decided to promote the establishment of a free trade zone in the Jordan Valley, east of Jenin. Olmert said he had decided to build an international joint airport in Aqaba, and promote a water pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, as well as joint copper mining in Timna and in Jordan.
        Abbas said Wednesday in Petra that "Israel must realize that we will not be able to accept a unilateral solution determined solely by its government....We will demand the 1967 borders." (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Two Kassam rockets launched by Palestinians in Gaza on Wednesday landed near the Kissufim crossing. One rocket landed near Ein Hashlosha. Two more rockets landed in the western Negev on Wednesday night. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Navy Stops Gaza Weapons Smugglers - Hanan Greenberg
    The Israeli Navy on Thursday fired at two Palestinians who were trying to smuggle weapons by swimming from Egypt to Gaza. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Confronting the New Nasser in Iran - Jonathan Paris
    Whether or not Ahmadinejad holds ultimate power within Iran, he has been given a platform by the kingmakers in Iran to be the new Nasser. What made the original Nasser so threatening to the West and to the region was his transnational appeal. Ahmadinejad's successful defiance of the international community is beginning to galvanize Muslims throughout the world behind a radical vision of puritanical Islam that rejects the liberal democratic model. If Ahmadinejad can prevent the West from confronting Iran, he will have shown the fence-sitters in the Muslim and non-aligned world, and also among the politically awakening Muslims in Europe, that you can win by defying America and the West. Hamas' extreme position against recognizing Israel only makes sense in this era of the new Nasserism filled with rhetorical illusion. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)
  • Has America Abandoned the Cause of Democracy in the Middle East? - David Schenker
    U.S. pursuit of stability in the Middle East over the course of many generations did not improve American security but rather accomplished the opposite: By supporting repressive regimes, we merely strengthened radical Islam. Moreover, the Hamas victory does not highlight the danger of democracy so much as the danger of an excessive focus on elections as a substitute for real democratic development - including the principles of rule of law, balance of powers, and accountability. Democratic development is an arduous and time-consuming process, and progress will not be linear. The administration's commitment to the democracy project was the right decision five years ago and remains so today. The writer is a senior fellow in Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New Republic)
  • America and Islam: Collision Inevitable? - Youssef Ibrahim
    Muslims need to re-evaluate where religious practice ends and tyranny practiced in the name of Islam begins. While Islam may appear a tolerant religion, that tolerance is highly conditional on the submission of others to Muslims' collective will. Virtually all Muslims, including self-described moderates and liberals, believe that Islam was God's final monotheist revelation. As such it supersedes, indeed cancels out, all previous revelations. It follows, then, that those who belong to any other faith are in need of conversion.
        Islam as practiced today in virtually all Muslim countries does not fashion itself merely as a spiritual value, but as a conquering force with a need to dominate. This orientation, relayed to the faithful by texts and preachers, has led to Islamic regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which uses its huge wealth to export reactionary Wahhabi ideologies to the world, setting up madrassas, mosques, and theological seminaries across the globe. The West does not have to bend backward. Indeed, it is time to push back - at the edge of the sword, if need be. (New York Sun)
  • Observations:

    Thinking the Unthinkable - Amnon Rubinstein (Jerusalem Post)

    • There appears to be no sign that international pressure, including a resolution passed by the UN Security Council, will succeed in preventing the nuclearization of Iran. We are well aware that a single, old-fashioned bomb would be enough to mortally wound our tiny, densely-populated country.
    • Could mutual deterrence of the type that saved the world during the Cold War protect Israel? It's unlikely, because what is driving the leaders of Iran is a deeply-held religious belief that the destruction of the State of Israel is mandated by Islam, and that in order to carry out this religious mission it is worthwhile to make great sacrifices, even though Teheran's leaders are certainly aware that any attempt to destroy Israel would lead to a second strike at Iran.
    • The fact is Ahmadinejad is not afraid to threaten Israel's existence even though he knows that a nuclear attack would also kill tens of thousands of Arabs living in Israel and the territories. The reality is that in Iran - though not only there - the Islamic willingness to commit suicide in order to murder has been elevated to the level of national policy.
    • Our government's rhetoric is that the response must come from the international community because a nuclear Iran endangers the entire world. This is true, but we all know who the first and main target of the Iranian bomb is.
    • So what can Israel do? First, it must prepare itself for a worst-case scenario, as Sweden did during the Cold War, and implement a comprehensive plan to build and renovate bomb shelters to protect Israel's home front.
    • The arming of Arab states and Islamists with nuclear weapons is just a matter of time. The absence of passive defense will only increase the Iranian appetite to carry out an attack.
    • Second, we must take advantage of our status in the current administration in Washington to have Israel join a defense alliance, preferably in the context of NATO.
    • This article discusses the unthinkable. But the history of the 20th century, especially that of the Jewish people, has proved to us that the unthinkable can happen when hate-filled dictators have the means to carry it out.

      The writer is president of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

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