Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 21, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Thousands of Israel Supporters Rally for Release of Kidnapped Soldiers - Annie Karni (New York Sun)
    Tens of thousands of supporters of Israel gathered across the street from the UN Wednesday to protest President Ahmadinejad of Iran and to call for the unconditional release of kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
    Speakers challenged the UN to take preventative action against the Iranian leader who threatens the Jewish people with genocide.
    "This is a message to the leaders of the world that we reject Ahmadinejad and his message of hate and the immorality he represents," said the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, Malcolm Hoenlein.
    See also Photos: Stand By Israel Rally at the UN (Little Green Footballs)

Bush on Iran: Israel's Worries Justified - Wolf Blitzer (CNN)
    In an interview Wednesday, President Bush was asked: Do you think the [Iranians] would drop a bomb or launch a missile on Israel?
    Bush: "My judgment is you've got to take everybody's word seriously in this world. Again, you can't just hope for the best. You've got to assume that the leader, when he says that he would like to destroy Israel, means what he says. If you say, well, gosh, maybe he doesn't mean it, and you turn out to be wrong, you have not done your duty as a world leader."

Israel Blows Up Hizballah Bunkers as Troops Withdraw - Harry de Quetteville (Telegraph-UK)
    Israeli soldiers may be pulling out of Lebanon, but they are not going quietly. On Wednesday, Israeli sappers blew up a network of Hizballah tunnels within Kalashnikov range of Israeli homes.
    According to senior Israeli commanders, just a few hundred soldiers remain in Lebanon.

Report: Islamists in U.S. Prisons Pose Threat - Jerry Seper (Washington Times)
    Islamic extremists in U.S. prisons have taken advantage of a lack of religious monitoring to embrace violent interpretations of the Koran, posing a threat to national security, a study conducted for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Tuesday.

Israel Sends Disaster Aid to Ivory Coast (Israel Foreign Ministry)
    Israel Wednesday sent an emergency shipment of humanitarian aid to the Ivory Coast in response to an international appeal by its government for help following the recent ecological and health disaster caused by the spillage of poisonous waste in the lagoon surrounding the capital, Abidjan.
    The aid shipment comprises primarily antibiotics and medical equipment for treating poisoning victims, whose number is estimated at several score thousand.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Supports Abbas in Bid to Assemble Unity Cabinet
    The Bush administration expressed support on Wednesday for efforts by Palestinian Chairman Abbas to establish a national unity government with Hamas, but said the U.S. would continue to withhold aid from the Palestinian Authority. (New York Times)
        See also Quartet Approves PA Government with Hamas - Nathan Guttman
    The international Quartet (the UN, U.S., EU, and Russia) declared its support on Wednesday for PA Chairman Abbas' efforts to form a unity government with Hamas. It was the first time the U.S. had supported the idea of a Palestinian government that included Hamas. The Quartet said it hoped the new PA unity government would recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and accept previously signed agreements, but did not set these three principles as a condition for its acceptance of the new proposed government. Israeli diplomats were surprised by U.S. support for a Hamas-Fatah government. Senior sources in Jerusalem said Israel would not recognize Hamas, nor any organization of which Hamas was a member. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Text of Quartet Statement (United Nations)
  • Bush Makes Show of Support for Abbas - Steve Holland
    President Bush and PA Chairman Abbas met for 40 minutes on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. Bush told Abbas, "I assure you that our government wants to work with you in order so that you're capable of delivering the vision that so many Palestinians long for." Presidential aide Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council said Bush stuck to his insistence that the new PA unity government meet international demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept past peace accords. Washington has said it will not deal with Hamas unless it fulfills the three conditions laid down by the Quartet. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Briefing by Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams After Bush-Abbas Meeting (White House)
  • Mubarak's Son Proposes Nuclear Plan - Michael Slackman and Mona El-Naggar
    Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egypt's president, proposed Tuesday that his country pursue nuclear energy, drawing strong applause from the nation's political elite. Raising the topic of Egypt's nuclear ambitions at a time of heightened tensions over Iran's nuclear activity was seen as a calculated effort to raise the younger Mubarak's profile and to build public support through a show of defiance toward Washington, political analysts and foreign affairs experts said. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Targets Iranian Funding of Palestinian Terror - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    Israel Defense Forces troops raided the offices and homes of 14 Palestinian moneychangers in the West Bank on Wednesday, seizing some NIS 6 million ($1.5 million). (Ha'aretz)
        The army said the money came mostly from Iran and was earmarked for terrorism. It said the cash traveled through Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizballah offices in Syria and Lebanon. Palestinian militant groups were using the money to produce explosives belts, rockets, and car bombs. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev says Israel wants to make sure "that that money won't come back to haunt us all in suicide bombings." (VOA News)
  • Palestinian PM: We Won't Recognize Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
    PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reiterated his opposition to recognizing Israel's right to exist and halting terrorism on Wednesday. Haniyeh said the Hamas-led government would not accept the conditions set by America and the rest of the Quartet for resuming financial aid to the Palestinians. "They are imposing unacceptable conditions on our people," he said, adding that the Palestinians have the right to continue the "resistance" against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Apartment Building in Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    An apartment building in the Israeli town of Sderot suffered damage after being directly hit by one of five rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza Thursday morning. Palestinians have been firing rockets nearly every morning in the past few days. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Courting Terrorists - Zalman Shoval
    Adolf Hitler did not gain power in 1933 in Germany as a result of an election victory - in the elections held that year the Nazi Party actually lost 2 million votes. But joining a coalition with other, more moderate parties, Hitler and his henchmen soon subverted the new government and grabbed absolute power. One important lesson is that whenever a coalition is formed between moderates and anti-democratic extremists, it is only a matter of time until the extremists take over. This is what's probably going to happen soon on the Palestinian political scene, where Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas terrorists have announced the imminent formation of a national unity government.
        While Abbas will now embark on a flurry of diplomatic activity to convince the world that the new Palestinian unity government isn't the damaged goods it is, by dealing with it, the international community would irresponsibly extend a helping hand to a government headed by Hamas, which has not changed any of its jihadist and annihilative aims against Israel. (Washington Times)
  • The Pope Was Right - George Weigel
    In a brilliant lecture at the University of Regensburg last week, Pope Benedict XVI made a number of crucial points that are now in danger of being lost in the polemics about his supposedly offensive comments about Islam. The pope said that irrational violence aimed at innocent men, women, and children "is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the [human] soul." If adherents of certain currents of thought in contemporary Islam insist that the suicide bombing of innocents is an act pleasing to God, then they must be told that they are mistaken. We know that, in the past, Christians used violence to advance Christian purposes. The Catholic Church has publicly repented of such distortions of the Gospel and has developed a deep theological critique of the misunderstandings that led to such episodes.
        By quoting from a robust exchange between a medieval Byzantine emperor and a learned Islamic scholar, Benedict XVI was trying to illustrate the possibility of a tough-minded but rational dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The writer is a senior fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The U.S. vs. Iran: One Side Is Playing for Real, the Other Only for Time - Michael Rubin
    Earlier this month, I traveled to the Middle East to meet Shiite tribal leaders and urban notables from southern Iraq. They described how Iran has transformed its consulates in Karbala and Basra into distribution points for everything from money to shaped charges. While the West approaches diplomacy with sincerity, the Islamic Republic mocks diplomatic convention to shield subversion.
        While diplomacy necessarily involves talking to adversaries, Washington should not assume that the ayatollahs operate from the same set of ground rules. Tehran may still conduct diplomacy to fish for incentive and reward but, at its core, Iranian diplomacy is insincere. The Iranian leadership will say anything and do anything to buy the time necessary to acquire nuclear capability. Diplomacy cannot succeed if one side is playing for real and the other only for time. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Foreign Minister to UN: Iran Leaders Threaten the World, No to Palestinian Terror State (Israel Foreign Ministry)

    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday:

    • "An ancient people in the heart of the Middle East - great in history but small in number - we have been a constant target of those that oppose our very existence. We face this conflict on different fronts: as Jews against the dark forces of anti-Semitism, as Israelis against the enemies of our statehood, and as members of the free world against the merchants of global terror."
    • "There is a critical moral difference between the terrorists that hunt down civilians, and the soldiers that target terrorists, while trying to avoid civilian casualties. To protect its integrity, the international community must uphold this basic moral distinction. Terror is terror - even when it's called resistance. It cannot be justified and it cannot be equated with the actions of those seeking only to defend themselves against it."
    • "The leaders of Iran deny and mock the Holocaust. They speak proudly and openly of their desire to wipe Israel off the map. And now, by their actions, they pursue the weapons to achieve this objective, to imperil the region and to threaten the world....The international community is faced with no greater responsibility than to stand against this dark and growing danger - not for Israel's sake, but for its own."
    • "The international community has insisted that the state of Palestine that emerges next to Israel cannot be a terror state. It is the last thing our troubled region needs. It is for this reason that the Road Map requires an end to terror. It is for this reason that the international community has demanded that any Palestinian government fulfill three basic conditions: renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and accept existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements."
    • "Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority is dominated today by a terrorist organization that teaches children to hate and seeks to transform the conflict from a resolvable political dispute into an endless religious confrontation. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the consequence and not the cause of this ideology of intolerance and hatred."

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