Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 11, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda: Next Target Israel - Miral Fahmy (Reuters)
    In a video aired on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on al-Jazeera television, deputy al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahri said Israel and the Gulf Arab states would be its next targets.
    In remarks addressed to Western leaders, he said: "I tell them do not bother yourselves with defending your forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. These forces are doomed to failure. You have to bolster your defenses in two areas...the first is the Gulf, from which you will be evicted, God willing, after your defeat in Iraq and then your economic doom will be achieved.... And the next (target) is Israel. The current of holy war is closing on it."

Poll: More Palestinians Support Terror - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    61% of Palestinians support "military operations" inside Israel compared with only 32% who reject such attacks, according to a new poll by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University in Nablus.
    Many Palestinians interpret the term "military operations" as a reference to suicide bombings inside Israeli cities, and the poll reflects an increased trend of radicalism among the Palestinian public.

Syria Denies Acceptance of European Border Monitors (SANA-Syria)
    Syria has denied acceptance of European border guards to supervise the Syrian-Lebanese border, Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said Sunday.
    He emphasized that no one can impose on Syria to accept deployment of foreign forces on her borders with Lebanon, and that "keeping security on the borders with Lebanon is a Syrian affair that Syrian border guards are responsible for."
    See also Italy Says Syria OKs EU Border Personnel - Zeina Karam (AP/Washington Post)

Video of Iranian Missile Test Is Fake, Pentagon Says - Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times)
    U.S. military intelligence has determined that a video released by the Iranian government purporting to show a test of a new submarine missile is bogus, three Pentagon officials confirmed.
    U.S. intelligence officers analyzed the plume of smoke from the missile, determined it matched a video of an earlier Chinese test, and are certain that the video is not of an Iranian sub in the Persian Gulf.

How Hi-Tech Hizballah Called the Shots - Iason Athanasiadis (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
    Hizballah's ability to repel the Israel Defense Forces during the recent conflict was largely due to its use of intelligence techniques gleaned from allies Iran and Syria that allowed it to monitor encoded Israeli communications relating to battlefield actions, according to Israeli officials.
    "Israeli EW [electronic warfare] systems were unable to jam the systems at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, they proved unable to jam Hizballah's command and control links from Lebanon to Iranian facilities in Syria...and they hacked into Israeli operations communications in the field," said Richard Sale, intelligence editor for UPI.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel: "No Magical Quick Fixes" to Peace with Palestinians
    Israel on Monday dismissed an Egyptian call to fix a border for a Palestinian state before resolving other issues, saying the sides should first take confidence-building measures under a U.S.-backed plan. "There are no magical quick fixes," Mark Regev, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said of Egypt's proposal to bypass some requirements of a 2003 "road map." Regev said Israel wanted to "reengage with" the Palestinians, but Israel wants to stick to the road map, which calls first for confidence building steps such as disarming militants. (Reuters)
        See also Gaza Businesses Urge End to Border Crossing Attacks
    Palestinian businessmen appealed for armed groups to halt attacks near crossing points into Gaza in order to allow Israel to reopen them and boost economic activity. Gaza Chamber of Commerce official Mohammed al-Qidwa told a press conference the Palestinians themselves were to blame for Israel's blockade: "We are the ones who gave (Israel) the reasons and opportunities to close the crossing points....Without security, there can be no crossing points." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Hizballah Lies Just Below the Surface - Alfred de Montesquiou
    The only hint of Hizballah fighters is the parked motorbikes, but support for the Islamic militant group has only grown among Shiites in southern Lebanon. One resident of the village of Srifa said he was ready to take up weapons again at a moment's notice. "My motorbike is ready and my gun is ready," said the young man in his 20s. He pointed at his cell phone: "One text message and I'm with my unit." (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Lebanese Greet UN Soldiers with Suspicion - Clancy Chassay
    UN peacekeepers preparing to take over from Israeli forces in southern Lebanon are facing hostility and suspicion from a population that still looks to Hizballah for protection. (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S. Moves to Isolate Iranian Banks - Glenn Kessler
    The Bush administration has stepped up a broad effort to choke off Iran's ability to finance militant groups and acquire weapons technology by cutting off suspect banks and firms from the international banking system, U.S. officials said Friday. The Treasury Department said it had cut off one of Iran's largest state-owned banks from the U.S. financial system, accusing Bank Saderat of funneling $50 million to a Hizballah-controlled firm since 2001. The bank has also been used by Iran to transfer money to Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
        "This is certainly an example of the variety of different levers that are available not only to the United States, but other countries as well about how to bring about a change in behavior in the Iranian regime," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. (Washington Post)
  • Former Iran President Praises Hizballah During Harvard Visit - Svea Herbst-Bayliss
    Speaking Sunday at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said Hizballah was a symbol of Arab resistance and that groups or nations fighting oppression could not be equated with terrorists. Khatami also denied Iran financed terrorist groups, contradicting assertions by the U.S. (Reuters)
        See also Bush Personally Signed Off on Khatami Visit
    President Bush personally signed off on a visa allowing former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to visit the U.S. because he wanted hear his views, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Military Intelligence: Syria to Create Its Own Hizballah - Attila Somfalvi
    Head of the IDF Intelligence Branch Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin said that Syria is considering the creation of a group modeled on Hizballah in order to relaunch the struggle over the Golan Heights. (Ynet News)
        See also Military Intelligence: World Unlikely to Stop Iran - Herb Keinon
    International pressure and UN sanctions will not stop the Iranian march toward nuclearization, the head of military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, told the Israeli cabinet Sunday. He said the Iranians are playing for time, and the UN Security Council was acting slower than expected regarding sanctions. He said Iran's confidence was growing, and this was causing concern in the Sunni Muslim world.
        He noted that Hizballah had no intention of disarming on its own volition, or letting anyone else do it for them. He said Hizballah was trying to rehabilitate its military capacity, but at a "very, very low volume." Yadlin said that while Hizballah was not interested in a "second round," it was interested in encouraging Palestinian terrorism. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Torch Kalkilya YMCA
    Palestinian gunmen Saturday attacked and set fire to the YMCA in Kalkilya, a West Bank city controlled by Hamas. Local government sources identified the attackers as members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The building sustained serious damage, YMCA officials said.
        In April, major Muslim organizations in the city in conjunction with local mosques, the city's mufti, and municipal leaders sent a letter to the PA accusing the YMCA of missionary activities. Joseph Medi, the YMCA manager in Kalkilya, said, "There is no missionary activity here whatsoever." There are 50-100 Christians in the town of 28,000. (Ynet News/WorldNetDaily)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S., Israel Ponder How to Slow Iranian Nuclear Weapons Development - David A. Fulghum and Douglas Barrie
    The Iranians purposefully have not followed Iraq's 1981 model of concentrating their nuclear development in a single area. Yet U.S. and Israel officials suggest that not every nuclear-related site need be struck to hobble any nascent nuclear weapons program. "There are lots of links in the chain you can attack," says a former senior Israeli diplomat. "There may be 40 facilities, but you select only four. You don't have to attack all of them. For example, some targets are vulnerable to movement, like centrifuges. They need stability, so if you create enough [vibration or Earth tremors], their alignment can be distorted." U.S. officials have estimated there are as many as 70 Iranian nuclear sites, of which a minimum of 15 would have to be attacked.
        A senior U.S. Air Force official contends that evidence of plutonium, centrifuge use, cooling and power generation/transmission will provide the proper targeting signatures for "a couple of handfuls of attacks - less than a dozen" to shut down Iranian nuclear progress for years. Yet the fact that many of the Iranian targets are underground presents a problem. U.S. weapons like the GBU-28 can penetrate 30 ft. of hardened materials or 100 ft. of earth. But Iranian facilities are reportedly buried 100-200 ft. below the surface. "Conventional weapons can't penetrate to 200 ft., and the U.S. won't use nuclear weapons," a retired Israeli air force general notes. (Aviation Week)
  • The Roots of Hizballah's Clout Lie in Iran - Borzou Daragahi
    A tour of Hizballah's state within a state in southern Lebanon reveals a replica of the distinctive institutions and styles of Iran's ideological machinery. Charities modeled after Iranian organizations provide healthcare to the poor. Religious schools funded with help from an Iranian bank educate thousands of children. Islamic foundations with ties to Iran make loans to home buyers.
        Iran opened its purse to Hizballah with the group's inception in 1982, in part because the militants provided direct access to the Arab-Israeli conflict. In a 2004 study, one secular Shiite political party estimated that Hizballah had an annual budget of $600-700 million and was providing jobs to 37,000 people. "The Iranians have knitted a carpet. You have to have patience to unravel it," said a critic of Hizballah in southern Lebanon. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Our First Duty Is to Stand Together Against Bin Ladenism - Christopher Hitchens
    An unspoken advantage of the current awful strife in Iraq and Afghanistan is that it is training tens of thousands of our young officers and soldiers to fight on the worst imaginable terrain, and gradually to learn how to confront, infiltrate, "turn," isolate, and kill the worst imaginable enemy. These are faculties that we shall be needing in the future. It is a shame that we have to expend our talent in this way, but it was far worse five years ago, when the enemy knew that there was a war in progress, and was giggling at how easy the attacks would be, and "we" did not even know that hostilities had commenced. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Western Leaders See the Danger of Islamic Extremism, But Our Public Still Does Not - Prime Minister Tony Blair (Ha'aretz)

    During a visit to Israel, the British prime minister said Sunday in an interview:

    • There is one major strategic question that has changed in the whole of the international community. People everywhere now see this global movement of extremism, they see Iran putting itself at the head of it, and there is a huge strategic interest that includes America, Europe, Israel, and any Arab and Muslim countries that want a modern making sure that that extremism doesn't succeed.
    • I think that there emerged from the Lebanon conflict a clearer notion of how this came about and how Iran and to an extent Syria are pulling the strings and ensuring that there is such conflict. And so I think there has been that greater clarity amongst the leaders in Europe. Amongst the people in Europe and Western opinion there is a big battle to be won. I think there is a desire not to face the fact that we are fighting a global struggle.
    • There is sometimes a naivete about organizations like Hizballah and the activities of Iran. I think there is a battle, and it is important that we take our case out and win that battle. And one part of winning the battle is making the case as to why Israel is entitled to its security and why it's important to revitalize the Palestinian process.
    • The first way to win a battle is to realize you're in a battle. That's part of the trouble: We don't yet really understand this is a global movement and it requires a global strategy to beat it. You can't beat it simply by security or military means. This is an ideological battle.
    • When you have the president of a country as powerful as Iran say those things, it may be very foolish of us to assume he doesn't mean them. And when he's also trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, then I think the warning signs are pretty clear....I think for a president of a country to say they want to wipe another country off the face of the earth and at the same time he's trying to acquire a nuclear weapons capability - if we don't get worried about that, future historians will raise a few questions about us and about our judgment.

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