Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 25, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Prime Minister Denies Meeting Senior Saudi Official - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)
    Prime Minister Olmert on Monday morning denied a report that he had met with a senior member of the Saudi royal family, perhaps even with Saudi King Abdullah himself.
    The Yediot Ahronot daily reported Monday that Olmert secretly met about ten days ago with a senior member of the Saudi royal family.

CIA: Al-Qaeda Could Expand into Lebanon - Mark Trevelyan (Reuters)
    The U.S. is taking seriously the possibility that al-Qaeda could expand its activities into Lebanon, CIA chief John Negroponte said Friday at a conference of the Oxford Analytica think-tank.
    "There's been some evidence of al-Qaeda activity in Lebanon," he added.
    "Notwithstanding... the vigorous efforts we have taken to go after al-Qaeda, they still continue to plot against the U.S., the UK, and the West in general," he said.
    See also Al-Qaeda Could Use Non-Arabs to Attack Israel - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    Intelligence sources said al-Qaeda could try to execute a surprise attack on Israel using non-Arabs.
    Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden's deputy, is believed to be taking over the leadership of al-Qaeda, due to Bin Laden's illness.
    Bin Laden wants to act in the U.S. and Europe, while Zawahiri, of Egyptian origin, wishes to focus on Israel and the Arab states that cooperate with it.
    Zawahiri pushed to set up al-Qaeda cells in Sinai, initiated terror acts in Jordan, and was behind the idea to intercept an aircraft carrying Israeli tourists to East Africa and attack the hotel where Israelis were staying in 2002.

Report: Russian Military Maneuver "to Protect Iran from Possible U.S. Attack" (MEMRI)
    The Iranian website Baztab, affiliated with former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezai, presented the recent annual Russian military maneuver in the Caspian Sea region as preparing the Russian army to respond to a possible U.S. military assault on Iran.

Egypt Bans European Papers for Comments on Islam (Reuters)
    Egyptian Information Minister Anas el-Feki has banned editions of two French and German newspapers, Le Figaro and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, because of articles deemed insulting to Islam, the state news agency MENA said Sunday.
    "They published articles which disparaged Islam and claimed that the Islamic religion was spread by the sword and that the Prophet...was the prophet of evil," said el-Feki's decree.

Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan Begins - Yoav Stern and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Muslims began the month-long observance of Ramadan on Saturday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • West Blocks Arab Bid to Rap Israel at Atom Meeting - Mark Heinrich
    Western nations foiled a bid by Arab and Islamic states on Friday to declare Israel's reputed nuclear arsenal a threat that must be removed in a politically charged vote at a UN atomic watchdog meeting. Canada sponsored a 45-29 "no-action" ballot that prevented International Atomic Energy Agency member states from voting on a motion demanding Israel use atomic energy only for peaceful purposes and help set up a Middle East nuclear arms-free zone. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        Among those supporting Israel were the U.S., France, Germany, and Britain. Those abstaining included China and Russia. (AP/Mytelus)
  • Hizballah Chief Vows He Won't Disarm - Hussein Dakroub
    Hizballah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, in his first major appearance since the war, told hundreds of thousands of supporters at a "victory" rally Friday that no army could disarm his militia. Nasrallah said his guerrillas have replenished their arsenal and have more than 20,000 rockets. (Chicago Sun-Times)
        See also Lebanese Christians Rally Against Hizballah
    Anti-Syrian Christian leader Samir Geagea dismissed Hizballah's claims of victory as tens of thousands of his supporters rallied Sunday. "I don't feel victory because the majority of the Lebanese people do not feel victory. Rather, they feel that a major catastrophe had befallen them and made their present and future uncertain," he said. "When we find a solution to (Hizballah's) weapons, then it will be possible to establish the state as it should be."  (AP/CBS4-Boston)
  • Israeli Ambassador Denounces Foreign Affairs Group for Inviting Ahmadinejad to Speak - David E. Sanger
    Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon on Friday accused the Council on Foreign Relations of making a "terrible mistake" by inviting President Ahmadinejad of Iran to a meeting with the group earlier this week. "Some of those upset with the council's decision have compared it to hypothetically inviting Hitler to a meeting in the 1930s," Ayalon wrote. "In fact, meeting with Ahmadinejad is worse: Hitler did not openly call for genocide in the 1930s, and today we have the lessons of the 1930s to guide us. Foremost among those lessons is that appeasing fanatics like Hitler and granting them legitimacy leads to genocide and war." (New York Times)
        See also Council on Foreign Relations Chief Explains - Richard N. Haass (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Terror Groups Warn Against Recognition of Israel - Ali Waked
    Four armed Palestinian groups - the Popular Resistance Committees, al-Aqsa Brigades, Abu Rish Brigades, and the Tawhid Islamic group - issued a joint statement Sunday saying they would harm any PA government that would recognize Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues - Tova Dadon
    Palestinians fired two Kassam rockets from the northern Gaza Strip on Monday morning. One rocket landed near Kibbutz Mefalsim, causing damage to two cars. The other rocket landed near the town of Sderot. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinians Fire Kassam Rocket at Ashkelon
    Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket from the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday that landed near the community of Mavkiim, south of Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Needed: An Effective Response to the Rocket Threat - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Even though the Arrow and Patriot batteries are capable of intercepting ballistic missiles, they would not suffice should massive, intensive barrages be fired at Israel's home front and military sites, as the Iranians and Syrians plan and prepare to do. And Israel has no response at all for medium- and short-range rockets. Israel has been living with this threat since the 1960s. Yet never before had its enemies possessed missiles and warheads at such quantity and quality, which present a new type of threat. Other countries in the Middle East may go through regime changes and join the axis of radical Islam, along with the weapons and modern missiles such countries possess.
        In light of this, the foremost national defense mission faced by Israel is to create a multilayered response to the problem of ground missiles and rockets, including the most primitive ones. (Ynet News)
  • UN Force Treading Lightly on Lebanese Soil - Michael Slackman
    Members of the international force sent to help keep the peace in Lebanon say they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses, or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, they cannot stop it. Under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution that deployed them, they must first be authorized to take such action by the Lebanese Army. While there may have been some expectation that the international force would disarm or restrain Hizballah, or search for hidden weapons caches, the commanders on the ground say very clearly that those tasks are not their job for now.
        In Israel, skepticism about the effectiveness of the enlarged UN force has always been high, particularly about disarming Hizballah or enforcing the arms embargo on it. Israel also notes that UNIFIL is barely 5,000 troops now, just 3,000 more than the old UNIFIL, still a long way from the 15,000 foreseen in the UN resolution. (New York Times)
        See also After the War, Hizballah Reevaluates - Nicholas Blanford
    The deployment of foreign troops and Lebanese soldiers into south Lebanon, as well as tightened restrictions at Lebanon's sea and land entry points, suggests that Hizballah will be unable to revive its well-entrenched military presence along the border with Israel, casting into doubt a future role for its vaunted military wing. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: The Implications of Economic Sanctions - Shmuel Even
    The sanctions potentially available to the international community range from a freeze on financial transactions and cooperation agreements through restrictions on trade in sensitive materials and freezing of Iranian assets abroad all the way to a total economic embargo. A total embargo would inflict a heavy cost. Iran could withstand the sanctions for some time, but such an embargo would bring about a sharp drop in living standards.
        Iran needs to import gasoline because its refinery capacity to too small to satisfy local needs; an embargo would force Iran to cut back on gasoline consumption by about 37%. Moreover, sanctions would help prevent the import of raw materials and equipment for the development of non-conventional weapons and surface-to-surface missiles and would limit Iran's ability to export weapons. Iran would also be left with far fewer resources to support terrorist organizations and finance the export of the Islamic revolution to other countries, including Lebanon. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Pope's Message for Jewry - Caroline B. Glick
    In recent years, rather than recognize the prejudice of our detractors, we have devoted ourselves to attempting to understand and so justify the hatred they heap upon us. We tell ourselves we are hated because we are too strong - or because we are too weak. We are hated because we are too religious - or because we are not religious enough. We are hated because we insist on defending Israel - or because we are willing to compromise on Israel. Yet we are not hated because of what we do, we are hated because we are Jews. In light of this, the best way to defend ourselves, the best way to safeguard our freedom and our heritage, is to embrace and celebrate our identity as Jews. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Delusion in Damascus - Editorial (Washington Post)

    • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's bluster has successfully deterred the Lebanese and Western governments from taking serious steps to stop the traffic of arms and explosives from Syria to Lebanon.
    • The scores of roads and tracks crossing the border have been the principal routes for missiles and other arms supplies to Hizballah. They also carry the bombs that Syria's agents have used in a continuing assassination campaign against Lebanese politicians who favor the country's independence from Damascus.
    • Assad knows that if he attempts to supply Hizballah with new weapons he will invite an attack by Israel, which has vowed to prevent any resupply. But the Syrian president appears undeterred. In a speech last month he declared that Hizballah's "victory" in the war had ushered in "a new Middle East," one in which the "enemy" Israel would inevitably be defeated by force of arms.
    • When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived two weeks later to ask for Syria's cooperation, Assad treated him to "a diatribe...depicting the Western powers as bankrupt and powerless." Remarkably, Annan emerged from that meeting to tell the world that Assad had assured him that Syria would take steps to secure the border.
    • The many statesmen who have tried to do business with the Syrian president in the past - such as former secretary of state Colin Powell or Egypt's Hosni Mubarak - have discovered that such assurances are not only worthless but deliberately mendacious.

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