Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 12, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Attack on U.S. Embassy in Damascus (Reuters/Washington Post)
    Four armed men attacked the U.S. embassy in Damascus on Tuesday, but the assault was repelled and Syrian officials said all diplomats were safe.
    The four attackers shouted religious slogans and threw a grenade into the embassy yard. The four were killed as well as at least one Syrian guard.

Israel Campus Beat
- September 10, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    Another "Madrid-Type" Peace Conference?

Iran Closes Top Reformist Paper after "Insulting" Cartoon - Nazila Fathi (New York Times)
    Iran's press monitoring agency shut down four publications on Monday including a major reformist newspaper.
    The reformist daily Shargh was shut down indefinitely because it refused to replace its director and because it published a cartoon considered insulting to the government, state-run television said.

Khatami Served with Summons at Gala Dinner - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
    When Iran's ex-president Mohammed Khatami was having his picture taken with admirers at a gala dinner sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, he received an unexpected summons to appear at the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
    On Thursday, lawyers representing seven Iranian Jewish families living in Los Angeles filed a lawsuit demanding that Khatami pay compensation for the disappearance of 12 of their relatives who were detained, imprisoned, and in some cases tortured as they tried to leave Iran for Pakistan between 1994 and 1997.

Dichter: Ahmadinejad Should Be Viewed as a Hitler with Nuclear Weapons (Ha'aretz)
    Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Monday said that Iranian President Ahmadinejad should be viewed as a new Adolf Hitler with nuclear weapons.
    Speaking at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, he said: "My recommendation to various countries is to ask themselves: 'How would Europe and the entire world look if, God forbid, Hitler had also had nuclear capability?' Ahmadinejad must be evaluated on the basis of these parameters. This is how the threat that this country [Iran] and this leader poses should be seen."
    See also Iran's Imperial Vision - Yaakov Lappin (Ynet News)

Paintball Imams Spread Militancy - Abul Taher and Ali Hussain (Sunday Times-UK)
    The young men who pursued each other last Sunday through the wooded grounds of Delta Force's paintballing park near Congleton, Cheshire, were instructed by an imam dressed in fatigues on the need to unite Muslims worldwide in an international empire.
    As undercover Sunday Times reporters were present, imam Ahsraf Bader, 34, described Osama Bin Laden as a "Muslim brother" and said it was the "responsibility" of every Muslim to bring back the Islamic caliphate.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S.: No Aid Renewal Until Palestinian Government Accepts "Three Principles of Peace" - Barry Schweid
    Any Palestinian government must renounce violence and accept Israel's right to exist to qualify for a resumption of full Western aid, the Bush administration said Monday after Palestinian factions announced a power-sharing agreement between Hamas and Fatah. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the Palestinian government must accept the "three principles of peace" - disavowal of terror and violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements between the two sides. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Palestinian Unity Government May Widen U.S.-EU Rift - Adam Entous
    A new Palestinian unity government could widen a rift between the U.S. and the EU and fracture an economic blockade of the Hamas-led administration. Washington does not want to lift international sanctions until the government recognizes Israel, renounces violence, and abides by interim peace deals, but at least some in the EU are signaling a willingness to settle for less. David Makovsky, a senior analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said there was a growing sense within the U.S. government that PA Chairman Abbas has been "complicit in assisting Hamas rather than serving as a counterweight."  (Reuters)
  • West Bank Militants Face Heat - Luke Baker
    As the stolen car driven by members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades pushes through a crowded alley in Balata near Nablus in the West Bank, some of the pedestrians seem reluctant to get out of the way, while others shoot looks of disdain at the muscle-bound young men in black T-shirts inside. These days there is less awe for the actions of groups like al-Aqsa, and a growing sense of scorn. "They've been corrupted. Instead of just fighting Israel, they are involved in disputes and crime, or they just like to show off their weapons," says local resident Ismail Hashash.
        Palestinian analysts say the number of those who use the term "militant" as a cover for a gang-like lifestyle of theft and non-political violence now exceeds those who might truly be regarded as fighters - a clear sign of decline. Israel's recent war against Hizballah in Lebanon has thrown the shortcomings into starker relief. (Reuters)
  • Hizballah Gives Hope to Palestinians - Matthew Schofield
    Last month, Murad abu Shadi Marshoud, 26, of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Balata, had a revelation. "We've been doing everything wrong," he said. "Hizballah has shown us the way [and]...given us hope." Marshoud and other Palestinians involved in the fight against Israel say they must emulate Hizballah's guerrilla war tactics and training, its political savvy, and its abundant funding from outside sources if it is to challenge Israel with any effectiveness. "For us a brigade is formed when four friends decide they are a brigade. I've never had a day of training. None of us have. Hizballah fights with anti-tank missiles - that they know how to use."
        To be sure, there are significant differences between the two militant organizations. Hizballah spent six years digging into southern Lebanon. The Palestinians, by comparison, live side-by-side with Israeli forces, dealing daily with military checkpoints and patrols. Beyond that, Hizballah is well-funded, and by sources outside the control of Israel. Moving money around the West Bank is much more difficult. And Hizballah trains and supports its fighters, while Palestinian fighters have fewer weapons and no training. (San Jose Mercury News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: No Basis for Talks with Hamas-Fatah Government - Aluf Benn, Avi Issacharoff, and Shmuel Rosner
    PA Chairman Abbas and Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh have concluded the parameters for establishing a national unity government, but Israel insists that the agreement does not meet the international community's conditions for ending its embargo of the PA. Hamas' spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, insisted Monday that the organization would never recognize Israel. "If the Palestinian government does not clearly accept the three conditions, we will not hold negotiations with it, nor will we renew the transfer of tax revenues," a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry source said Monday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Will a Palestinian Unity Government Lead to Peace Negotiations? - Danny Rubinstein
    While Hamas made a few concessions to enable a Palestinian unity government to be established, it is doubtful that these will be sufficient to completely end the embargo that has been imposed on the Palestinian government since February and allow the start of diplomatic negotiations with Israel. In the unity government agreement, the Hamas leadership agrees to recognize "the existing political reality in the region," but evades saying that it recognizes Israel. Regarding the condition that previous agreements be recognized, the new government's position is also vague. On the issue of a complete cessation of violence, all attacks inside Israel will stop, starting with the Kassam rocket attacks, but a green light is given for continued operations in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Soldier Killed in Gaza Clash - Hanan Greenberg
    An IDF soldier was killed Tuesday by sniper fire in the course of an army operation in Gaza. Exchanges of fire raged Tuesday between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Palestinian gunmen near the Kissufim crossing in central Gaza. The troops were operating near the border fence in a bid to uncover tunnels and terror infrastructure. (Ynet News)
  • Explosives Belt Blast Kills Palestinian
    A Palestinian youth was killed and his companion was wounded in an explosion in the Palestinian village of Na'ama near Ramallah as the two were apparently handling an explosives belt. An IDF spokesperson said the belt belonged to the father of one of the youths, who was arrested by IDF troops on Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Car Bomb Explodes Prematurely in West Bank
    A car bomb exploded prematurely in the West Bank Palestinian village of Harres near Ariel on Monday. A senior Aksa Martyrs Brigades operative confirmed that his group was planning to carry out an attack in Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Must Recognize Israel and Cease Violence - Editorial
    The threatened collapse of the [Palestinian Authority] executive has pushed Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, to join forces with Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas in the hope that sanctions will be lifted. Haniyeh wants the money, Abbas the restoration of authority denied by a hostile government. Hamas said the agreement did not amount to recognition of Israel. Hamas' political progression may be sufficient to release the foreign funds on which the territories depend, but it is unlikely to breathe much immediate life into the "road map" to peace. That requires a further compromise on the part of Haniyeh and his followers - explicit recognition of Israel and a renunciation of violence. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Containing Hizballah's Terrorist Wing - Barak Ben-Zur and Christopher Hamilton
    Throughout the recent military conflict with Israel, Hizballah used terror operations to augment its military effort. Between July 17 and August 9, Israeli security forces prevented nine terrorist attacks sponsored by Hizballah. All of these attacks, which would have been carried out by local Palestinian terrorist groups with Hizballah funding and operational support, were directed at targets within Israel's 1967 ceasefire lines. All three major Palestinian terrorist groups - Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - were beneficiaries of Hizballah support and guidance in the failed attacks.
        Given the important role of Hizballah's terrorist wing in its overall strategy, Hizballah will retain a potent offensive capability so long as its terror apparatus remains intact. Resolution 1701 focused on Hizballah's military, not its terrorist, capability, and says nothing about Hizballah's terrorist training camps in Lebanon. These camps have been among the most important sources of terrorist violence in the region. If not dismantled, they will be a continuing source of trained terrorists in the future. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Proxy Terrorism from Iran - Natan Sharansky (Los Angeles Times)

    • This summer, Hizballah launched an unprovoked attack on Israel. It is clear that Hizballah is a proxy of Iran. It is public knowledge that Hizballah receives more than $100 million a year from the Iranian regime, as well as sophisticated weapons and training. Yet the international community's weak response dealt the global war on terror a severe blow.
    • Iran has paid no price for its proxy's actions. No military strikes on Iranian targets, no sanctions, no threat whatsoever to Iranian interests. On the contrary, in the wake of the war, there have been renewed calls in the democratic world to "engage" Iran.
    • Symptomatic of the moral myopia in the West is a farce worthy of Orwell: Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, under whom students were tortured after a 1999 crackdown at Tehran University and whose rule was marked by the continued stifling of dissent, spoke Sunday at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence."
    • The Iranian regime calls for "wiping Israel off the map" and tells its followers to "imagine a world without America." It seeks to dominate the Middle East. By failing to hold Iran accountable for its brazen support of Hizballah, the free world has undermined a central pillar in the war on terror. Now the mullahs know they can attack a democratic country with impunity.
    • Considering the apocalyptic fanaticism of Iran's leader, it is an open question whether the current regime in Tehran is capable of being deterred through the threat of mutually assured destruction. But given how the world has responded to Hizballah, the point may be academic. For surely Iran would be better served by using proxies to wage a nuclear war against Israel. And if there is no accountability, why stop with Israel?

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