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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 8, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Build Electronic Fence on Egyptian Border - Meir Ohayon (Ynet News)
    The Israel Defense Forces is planning to prevent smuggling across the Israel-Egypt border by building an electronic fence equipped with security cameras, beginning with the 12 km next to Eilat, from Netafim to Gesharon.
  The border between Israel and Egypt stretches over 400 km, separated by a low fence with no electronic security devices.
    Since January 2006, 291 people have been caught trying to infiltrate into Israel through the Egyptian border.

Israel HighWay
- September 7, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    The Summer that Was No Vacation

Cyprus Halts Syria-Bound Ship (Reuters/Al-ArabOnline-UK)
    A ship suspected of carrying illicit cargo from North Korea to Syria has been impounded in Cyprus and its crew arrested while police search the cargo, after having received intelligence from Interpol, Fokas Riris, the head of maritime security at Limassol, said Thursday.
    Police discovered 21 mobile radar units.
    The vessel was en route to the Syrian port of Latakia but was diverted to Limassol.

Tank Defense System May Be Ready in Months - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The Trophy anti-missile defense system, developed by the Rafael Armament Development Authority, will be ready for installation on IDF tanks in "several months" if the Treasury decides to fund the purchase of the system.
    Rafael's Business Development Manager Didi Benyoash said Thursday, "The war in Lebanon proved that active-protection systems are the only real way today to protect tanks."
    He added that Rafael was conducting "advanced negotiations" with the Pentagon over the purchase of several models to be used in trials on armored vehicles operating in Iraq.
    The U.S. Senate has ordered Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to bring in outside experts to assess tank defense systems for the U.S. Army following an NBC investigation into why the army decided to purchase Raytheon's active protection system, which would only be ready in five years, while the Trophy was already operational and ready to be purchased.

9/11 Prisoners Reveal British Terror Targets - Sean O'Neill and Daniel McGrory (Times-UK)
    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda's operational planner, was plotting suicide attacks on Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf, and the British Embassy in Cambodia, according to intelligence gathered in secret American prisons and made public Thursday.
    Al-Qaeda leaders had spent months devising a plan to hijack several aircraft bound for London and crash them into crowded terminals and fuel depots.
    Recruiting of suicide hijackers began in 2002, and at least four Saudis, thought to be still at large, had volunteered.

Egypt Sentences Three Sinai Extremists to Death - Ashraf Sweilam (AP/Washington Post)
    An Egyptian security court Thursday sentenced three members of the Tawhid and Jihad Islamic militant group to death for their role in attacks in Taba and Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt's Sinai peninsula that killed dozens of people in the past two years.

Palestinians Seek to Ban Israeli Exhibition at Venice Architecture Conference - Susannah Tarbush (Al-Hayat-Lebanon)
    There is a growing international and Palestinian campaign to cancel the exhibition in the Israeli pavilion at the 10th International Architecture Biennale in Venice.
    The Israeli exhibition, entitled "Life Saver: Typology of Commemoration in Israel," comprises architectural details of 15 memorials commemorating dead soldiers or intelligence officers, and the Holocaust.

NYPD's Terror Trackers - Alison Gendar (New York Daily News)
    With nearly twice as many officers as the FBI, the New York Police Department now works on the premise that the city must fend for itself in the war against terrorism.
    The NYPD intelligence division - run by a former CIA spymaster, David Cohen - now has detectives permanently stationed at nine foreign posts, including Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France, as well as London, Israel, Singapore, Madrid, the Dominican Republic, and Amman, Jordan.

UN Conference to Support Palestinians Opens (UN/ReliefWeb)
    The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People on 7 and 8 September 2006 at the UN Office in Geneva.

The Episcopal Church's Anti-Israel Media Campaign - Dexter Van Zile (CAMERA)
    The Episcopal Church's public pronouncements regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict exhibit a troubling antipathy toward the Jewish state and help to delegitimize Israel as a country with a rightful place among the nations of the world.

Palestinian Gunmen Kill Palestinian in Nablus (IMEMC)
    Ziad Halada, 28, was shot in the head and killed in the center of the West Bank city of Nablus during factional fighting between Palestinian groups on Thursday.
    Local sources reported that after he was shot, his family attacked and set fire to two shops belonging to families suspected to be involved in the shooting.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Lifts Blockade of Air Access to Lebanon - Scott Wilson
    Israel lifted its eight-week-long air blockade of Lebanon on Thursday, but maintained its sea cordon after determining that not enough international forces had taken up positions along the coast to enforce an arms embargo against the Shiite Muslim militia Hizballah. Israeli officials said German and Lebanese troops had taken up posts in the airport's passenger and cargo terminals to prevent arms from reaching Hizballah. Mark Regev, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that Israel hoped to stop its sea patrols but that the timing depended on how quickly the international forces deployed. "The internationals are taking longer, unfortunately, to enforce the sea blockade," Regev said. "When they are ready to do so, we will be ready to leave. The timing depends on them." (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: Gen. Amidror on Hizballah's Recovery Timetable - Joshua Brilliant (UPI)
  • U.S. Blacklists Hizballah Financial Firms - Jeannine Aversa
    The U.S. Treasury Department took action Thursday against two Lebanese financial companies - Bayt al-Mal and its head, Husayn al-Shami, and the Yousser Company for Finance and Investment - accusing them of functioning as Hizballah's "unofficial treasury." Americans are forbidden from doing business with them, and any bank accounts or other financial assets belonging to these three in the U.S. must be frozen. Bayt al-Mal operates under the direct supervision of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. "As Hizballah's main financial body, Bayt al-Mal serves as bank, creditor, and investment arm for Hizballah," and its central headquarters was located in Hizballah's stronghold in Beirut's southern suburbs, the department said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Spain to Send 1,100 Troops to Lebanon -
    Spain will send 1,100 troops to Lebanon, after its parliament voted by 306-0 on Thursday in favor of the mission, making Spain the third-largest contributor to the expanded UN force, behind France and Italy. (AP/Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • Bush: "We Stand with Democracies" - Katie Couric
    President Bush said Wednesday in an interview: "We stand with democracies and our friend Israel. If the United States ever says, 'Oh, my goodness, I don't want to defend democracy because somebody might harm us,' we will have lost our soul." (CBS News)
  • Big Protest Rally Taking Shape to Greet Ahmadinejad at UN - Eli Lake
    If Iran's president addresses the UN General Assembly later this month, he will be met by a crowd of thousands of protesters. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is organizing a rally outside the UN to protest Ahmadinejad's presence on American soil and show solidarity with Israel and the war on terrorism. The organization's executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein said, "We'll be ready for him." "I hope the government will restrict his movements and makes sure to take his fingerprints," Hoenlein said. "We hope the UN and many other leaders might reconsider being in the room when he speaks." (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Syria Disrupting Negotiations on Return of Soldier Kidnapped to Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Negotiations over the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit have stalled because of the intervention of Syria, which is exerting pressure on the Hamas leadership not to accept proposals made by Egyptian mediators for a prisoner swap with Israel, PA officials in Ramallah said Thursday. "Syria is playing a very negative role," said one official. "[Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal, who is based in Damascus, is refusing to approve an Egyptian-brokered deal because the Syrians are inciting him." Another senior PA official said, "Had it not been for the intervention of the Syrians, the Israeli soldier would have been released a long time ago." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Held for Jerusalem-Area Stabbing - Etgar Lefkovits
    Fatah member Ramaz Da'ar Haj, 24, of the West Bank village of Beituniya near Ramallah, was apprehended Tuesday after stabbing and seriously wounding Israeli Ran Shimon, 63, in the Atarot industrial zone north of Jerusalem. The Palestinian, who previously worked at two factories in the zone, had planned the attack well in advance, telling investigators that he had repeatedly practiced stabbing on his bedroom mattress.
        Haj told investigators that he planned to carry out an attack on a Jew a year and a half ago in the city's northern French Hill neighborhood but changed his mind after encountering police in the area. On the morning of the attack, he came upon the factory worker and stabbed him in the shoulder from behind. The attacker had also concealed a second knife in the sole of his shoe, planning to stab his police investigators as well. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel from Gaza Continues
    Palestinians fired two Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip Thursday that landed in open areas in the western Negev. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Syria Problem - Lee Smith
    Before Hizballah's war with Israel, an alliance of Sunnis in Lebanon with Saudi-U.S.-French support was counting on the UN investigation into the murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri to break Syria's hold on Lebanon and punish Damascus to an extent that the Assad regime might have trouble surviving. William Harris, a professor of political studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand, says Nasrallah wasn't fighting on behalf of the Iranian nuclear program, but to move the Hariri investigation to the bottom of the international agenda for Syria.
        This theory also explains the media campaign Bashar al-Assad's regime is now openly waging against Saudi Arabia. "Assad's inner circles are charging the Saudis with all kinds of sins," says Tony Badran, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of Syria Monitor. "Everything from accusing the Saudi military attache of reaching out to Syrian tribal leaders trying to get them to revolt against Assad, blaming Prince Bandar for coordinating with Assad's opponents, former VP Abdel-Halim Khaddam and Muslim Brotherhood head Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni, and claiming Riyadh supports the Israelis." It's no secret that Riyadh wanted Hizballah defeated and their Syrian and Iranian patrons pushed back. Many Israelis are surprised to find themselves, all of a sudden, on the same side as the region's conservative Sunni regimes. The writer is a Hudson Institute visiting fellow based in Beirut. (Weekly Standard)
  • Israel Focusing on Hizballah, Not Palestinians - Dean Yates
    Israel's war with Hizballah pushed the Palestinians to the sidelines, and the war's complicated aftermath could keep them there for many months. Despite a push by Europe and the Arab League to revive the Middle East peace process, peace talks are seen in Jerusalem as fanciful. Prime Minister Olmert is focused on rehabilitating rocket-hit northern Israel and dealing with what Israelis see as the country's biggest security challenge - Hizballah's main sponsor, Iran. "The broad sense in Israel is that the events in the north represent developments that are potentially far more dangerous than the Palestinian threats, especially when we are talking about Iran," said Israeli analyst Yossi Alpher. (Reuters)
  • Making Sense of Ahmadinejad - Amir Taheri
    The U.S. and Europe offered Iran massive economic, scientific, and technological aid, not to mention international acceptability. So why did Ahmadinejad, no doubt with the consent of "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei, choose to reject the package and vindicate the "regime change" faction in Washington? First, Ahmadinejad believes the Bush administration will not be in a position to turn the heat on Iran at least until the November mid-term elections in the U.S. If Democrats win control of one or both chambers of Congress, Bush would face a political elite and public hostile to any new confrontation in the Middle East. The failure of Americans to develop bipartisan positions on issues of vital national interest plays into the hands of adventurers like Ahmadinejad. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Anti-Judaism - William Kristol
    University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer came to Washington last month along with his sidekick, Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Speaking to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, they attacked the "Israel Lobby" (of which they claim I am a part) for its pernicious deeds, and singled out several Jews who served or serve in the Bush administration. These Jews, they explained, have special "attachments" in the Middle East. The attachment? Their religious belief - Judaism. Bigotry now has an academic cachet.
        As Robert Goldberg reported in the Washington Times, after one member celebrated the defeat of "Jew Lieberman," 95% of those who responded to the post on the Moveon Web site expressed their approval. Jews are under attack. And no one seems very concerned. Much of the world is in denial about the jihadist threat. But the jihadists are on the move. Recently in Gaza, kidnapped journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig were forced to "convert" to Islam before being released. What would have happened to them if they had been Jewish? And, incidentally - if they had refused to "convert," as some Jews and Christians have in the past - what would have happened then? (Wall Street Journal, 8Sep06)
  • Return of the Taliban - Editorial
    Over the past 48 hours the last vestiges of government control over the world's most impenetrable refuge of Islamist extremism have been quietly withdrawn. That refuge is Waziristan, the mountainous borderland between Peshawar and Afghanistan from which President Musharraf of Pakistan has pulled all his remaining troops after losing 700 of them in three years of inconclusive fighting. It leaves the Taliban and what remains of al-Qaeda's high command free to restock their arsenals and plan future operations unmolested by a national army.
        The case for invading Afghanistan and removing the Taliban after 9/11 was iron-clad. The moral case for maintaining the military presence necessary to rebuild the country remains as strong as ever, and the practical one for preventing the return of medievalism and state-sponsored terrorism is even stronger. NATO's current mission in Afghanistan is, in fact, a major counter-insurgency effort in which defeat is not an option, and those leading the campaign must be given the resources they need to prevail. (Times-UK)
        See also Opium Harvest at Record Level in Afghanistan - Carlotta Gall
    Afghanistan's opium harvest this year increased almost 50 percent from last year, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Saturday in Kabul. He said the increase in cultivation was significantly fueled by the resurgence of Taliban rebels in the south, the country's prime opium growing region. As the insurgents stepped up attacks, they encouraged and profited from the drug trade, promising protection to growers if they expanded their opium operations. (New York Times)
  • Wanted: Global Teamwork on Terrorism - Jim Hoagland
    There is one way, at least, in which Americans are safer from surprise attack five years after Sept. 11, 2001. They live in a world that is more on guard against jihadist terrorism and more ready to act to foil it. Other nations have also had to come to terms with the threat of indiscriminate attacks on their soil or citizens by radical Islamic extremists who see their struggle as a global one. A transatlantic poll released by the German Marshall Fund on Wednesday reported that Americans and Europeans are in close agreement that the three greatest threats to global peace over the next decade are terrorism, Iran getting a nuclear weapon, and radical Islamic fundamentalism.
        But the international response to the threat of terrorist assaults has remained far from unified or coherent. The greatest task in the post-Sept. 11 era is to create and manage a truly integrated international campaign to displace and contain jihadist terrorism as a political weapon. (Washington Post)
  • Al-Qaeda Is a Shadow of Its Former Self - Youssef Ibrahim
    Some say the West must try to "understand" the gripes of Muslims worldwide, placate the Palestinian Arabs, and replace Arab and Muslim dictators with so-called Muslim moderates. But the truth is that the West, and especially America, can do virtually nothing to prevent the inevitable bloodbaths inherent in the skewed Islamic cultures and failed governments that characterize virtually all Muslim societies today. Nor can any amount of indulgence heal the deep gashes that Muslim dictatorships, corruption, and cultural hypocrisies inflict upon the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.
        In The Looming Tower, Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker documents in amazing detail how vacuous bin Laden and his cohorts were. They lost every battle they ever engaged in against the Soviets in Afghanistan, were hugely despised by their fellow Afghan fighters, lied about their mythical achievements, and gathered the largest bunch of losers they could find under their tent. Wright also documents how they were recruited, guided, and manipulated by a variety of competing Arab regimes. They received hundreds of millions of dollars from the Saudi royal family and were granted sanctuary by the genocidal Sudanese government and the fanatical Pakistani army and intelligence systems, as well as numerous Arab regimes and thousands of freelance preachers across the Muslim landscape. (New York Sun)

    Weekend Features

  • The Women Behind the Men Running Iran - Azadeh Moaveni
    Fatemeh Rajabi, the wife of Ahmadinejad's spokesman and chief of staff, is a regular contributor to the most extremist publications in the country, a hardline pundit who argues that Islam and democracy are incompatible. She made headlines by taking issue with the recent trip of former President Mohammad Khatami to the U.S., and called for Khatami to be defrocked. Mrs. Rajabi believes Ahmadinejad is a divine miracle. (TIME)
  • Threats Halt Woman Lawyer Who Fought Muslim Forced Marriages in Germany - Kate Connolly
    Seyran Ates, 43, a women's rights advocate who was named Germany's woman of the year in 2005, has gone underground after receiving death threats for defending Muslim women who have been forced into marriage. The prominent Berlin lawyer had repeatedly spoken out against forced marriage, headscarves, and honor killings. Ates said police had refused to protect her despite threats against her life, including a shooting incident in which a colleague was killed and she was seriously injured. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israeli Teens Bolster Emergency Frontlines - Jennie Matthew
    In Israel, thousands of teenagers spend their evenings and weekends working in the ambulance corps, fire service, and police. "You see a lot of scary things," admits Yulia Tskhay, 17, fresh from a shift riding ambulances as a fully trained medic in her hometown of Tiberias, which was bombarded by Hizballah rocket attacks. "Kids in Israel learn from when they are small about security and emergency problems," says professional firefighter Oded Ziv, whose six-year-old daughter turns up at forest fires with water to help. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Setting Aside Politics to Lift Weights - Avi Issacharoff
    New fitness centers have popped up all over Ramallah - dubbed the Palestinian "bubble," the Tel Aviv of the territories - attracting hundreds of members, mostly men, but also more than a few women. While Gaza is rapidly turning into a faded version of Afghanistan, and the northern West Bank is turning into a zealot stronghold for Islamic Jihad activists and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Ramallah seems a world apart with its dozens of cafes, restaurants, designer stores, and wealthy properties. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rescue, Expulsion, and Collaboration: Denmark's Difficulties with its World War II Past - Vilhjalmur Orn Vilhjalmsson and Bent Bludnikow
    Denmark's Second World War past is much darker than usually presented. Only the rescue of most of the Danish Jews to Sweden in October 1943 is widely known. It emerges that from 1935, Denmark rejected Jewish refugees at its borders, and it expelled 21 Jewish refugees to Germany in 1940-43, most of whom were eventually killed. Danish firms also used Jewish slave laborers. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • California Jewish Leaders Discuss Safety - Louis Sahagun
    Concerned for the safety of their congregants during the coming High Holy Days, more than 60 Jewish security chiefs gathered at the ADL headquarters in Los Angeles Wednesday to learn how to, as one of them put it, "harden our targets." Jews continue to be the most frequently targeted religious group in the state, said California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, accounting for nearly 69 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Gen. Amidror: Hizballah's Recovery Timetable - Joshua Brilliant (UPI)

    • Hizballah needs "at least two years" to rebuild the capabilities it lost in the war with Israel, which is why it is holding fire now, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror told foreign diplomats Wednesday at a briefing organized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
    • Amidror maintains the war enhanced Israel's deterrence. The decision to launch the war, to continue fighting despite the barrage of some 4,000 Hizballah rockets hitting northern Israel, "made everyone around us...understand that there are some red lines that if (they) will be crossed, by the Syrians, or the Palestinians or the Lebanese, the retaliation...will be (dis)proportional on purpose." "As a little country fighting terrorists, guerrilla organizations and other states, we cannot allow ourselves to react proportionally and that is a very important message to the people around us. They understand it. We know they understand it," Amidror stressed.
    • Israelis realized they had erred by not reacting to Hizballah provocations since May 2000 when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon. That is not going to happen again, he predicted.
    • Israel identified 440 dead guerrillas by name and address, and experience shows that Israeli figures are half to two-thirds of the enemy's real casualties. Therefore, Amidror estimated, Hizballah's death toll might be as high as 700.
    • Hizballah launched three unmanned drones, each carrying 45 kilos of TNT. Their range was enough to reach Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, but one crashed into the sea because of a technical failure and the air force downed two others, he said.

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