Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 11, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Lebanon: War Could Start Again Over Shebaa Farms - Clancy Chassay (Guardian-UK)
    Hizballah will resume its military campaign unless Israel withdraws from the disputed Shebaa farms area and other pockets of territory, Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, warned in an interview with the Guardian.
    Hizballah will remain armed and fully operational in south Lebanon, despite the newly deployed UN forces, until Israel withdraws from all Lebanese territory, and ceases its air, sea, and land violations, Berri said.

Federal Investigators: 29 Michigan Men Tied to Hizballah - Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press)
    Federal investigators in metro Detroit have increasingly targeted local residents tied to Hizballah. According to a Free Press review of court records, prosecutors have tried to link at least 29 men in Michigan.

U.S. Judge Refuses to Dismiss Terror Finance Suit vs French Bank (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    For the second time in a week, a U.S. judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit accusing a European bank of knowingly providing financial services to charities allegedly controlled by a terrorist organization.
    The ruling on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Charles P. Sifton in Brooklyn denied a defense motion by a French bank, Credit Lyonnais, to dismiss the suit brought by families of Americans who were victims of terrorist bombings and shootings in Israel between 2001 and 2003 that were linked to Hamas.
    Last week, Sifton denied a motion to dismiss a similar suit against a British bank, National Westminster Bank.
    The suit - filed under the Anti-Terrorism Act - accuses Credit Lyonnais of improperly doing business with a French-based charity that has been designated a terrorist organization by the Israeli and U.S. governments.
    The plaintiffs allege the bank knew the charity was funneling millions of dollars to Hamas to finance terrorism.

Jordan to Add Tower to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (Reuters/Ynet News)
    Jordanian King Abdullah II stated Monday that his country intends to construct an additional tower at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
    King Abdullah also announced a contest to design the tower, which will be the mosque's fifth.

Tehran Demonstrators Hurl Firebombs at Danish Embassy (AFP/Yahoo)
    Demonstrators angered over a satirical video of the Islamic prophet Mohammed hurled firebombs and rocks at the Danish embassy in Tehran on Tuesday.
    Earlier Tuesday, a majority of Iran's MPs called on President Ahmadinejad to cut economic ties with Denmark over the video.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel: No Syria Talks Unless It Shuns Militants - Corinne Heller
    Israel said on Tuesday it would not negotiate with Syria as long as the country continued to back militant groups, rebuffing remarks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he was ready for peace talks. Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office, said that for Israel to agree to renew negotiations, Syria would first need to change "simple things - not allowing all the terrorist organizations to have their headquarters openly in Damascus....To not have the foreign minister of Syria say he wishes he could be fighting with Hizballah would be a great step in the right direction." (Reuters)
        See also Syrian Leader Courts Israel Talks (BBC)
        See also Peres: Syria's Assad Welcome in Jerusalem
    Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad was welcome to come to the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem if he wants to reach a peace agreement. "Imagine Assad would come and say 'I'm coming to the Knesset,'" Peres told Israel Television Channel One. "Wouldn't we let him come?...Why can't Assad do what others have done? Saadat came here." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Palestinian Power Stalemate Continues as Qatari Mediation Efforts Falter - Ken Ellingwood
    Qatar's foreign minister Sheik Hamad Jassim ibn Jaber al Thani cut short his mediation effort and left Gaza on Tuesday after failing to bridge differences between the ruling Hamas movement and its chief rival, Fatah. Qatar proposed a six-point deal that included a call for a two-state solution and a cease-fire with Israel. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also below Observations - Intransigent Hamas: It's Easy to Call for a Middle East Peace. But What If Palestinian Leaders Don't Want It? - Editorial (Washington Post)
  • Tehran's Secret War Against Its Arab Minority - Peter Tatchell
    Under the cover of secrecy, the fundamentalist regime in Tehran is waging a sustained, bloody campaign of intimidation and persecution against its Arab minority. These Arabs believe that they are victims of "ethnic cleansing" by Iran's Persian majority. Sixteen Arab rights activists have been sentenced to death, according to reports in the Iranian media, found guilty of insurgency in secret trials before revolutionary courts. Most of the defendants were convicted on the basis of confessions extracted under torture. Ethnic Arabs comprise 70% of the population of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, known locally as Ahwaz. In the past year, 25,000 Ahwazis have been arrested, 131 executed, and 150 have disappeared, the Ahwazi Human Rights Organization (AHRO) reports.
        Nearly 250,000 Arabs have been displaced from their villages, and dozens more towns will be erased by the creation of a military-industrial security zone bordering Iraq, making a possible further 400,000 Ahwazis homeless. Tehran has a grand plan to make the Ahwazi a minority in their own land through "ethnic restructuring." Financial incentives are given to ethnic Persians to settle in Ahwaz and new townships are planned which will house 500,000 non-Arabs. (Times-UK)
  • Across Europe, Worries on Islam Spread to Center - Dan Bilefsky and Ian Fisher
    Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: more people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values. "You saw what happened with the pope," said Patrick Gonman, 43, the owner of Raga, a funky wine bar in downtown Antwerp. "He said Islam is an aggressive religion. And the next day they kill a nun somewhere and make his point." His worry is shared by centrists across Europe angry at terror attacks in the name of religion on a continent that has largely abandoned it, and disturbed that any criticism of Islam or Muslim immigration provokes threats of violence.
        Now those normally seen as moderates - ordinary people as well as politicians - are asking whether once unquestioned values of tolerance and multiculturalism should have limits. Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain, a prominent Labor politician, seemed to sum up the moment when he wrote last week that he felt uncomfortable addressing women whose faces were covered with a veil. The veil, he wrote, is a "visible statement of separation and difference." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Thwarts Terror Attack at West Bank Checkpoint - Efrat Weiss
    On Tuesday, two Palestinians who arrived at the Reihan Crossing near Jenin raised suspicion with the local Border Guard policemen manning the checkpoint. Following a search of the two, soldiers found two pipe bombs, weighing about one kilogram each. On Monday, a Palestinian man was shot and killed at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus after attempting to stab IDF soldiers. (Ynet News)
  • Report: Lebanese Forces Confiscate Weapons from Hizballah in South - Yoav Stern
    The Lebanese Army has confiscated arms apparently belonging to Hizballah in south Lebanon, Lebanese Defense Minister Michel al-Murr said Tuesday, but he declined to provide further details. (Ha'aretz)
  • Ya'alon: Israel Still Seen as Regional Superpower - Greer Fay Cashman
    Israel still enjoys the image of a regional superpower even after the campaign in Lebanon, said former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday. Ya'alon explained that Israel's enemies are trying to avoid a head-on confrontation with the IDF in the conventional battlefield and are targeting the civilian population instead of military installations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 100,000 Take to the Streets in Annual Jerusalem March - Neta Sela
    Close to 100,000 participants, among them almost 30,000 tourists from abroad, took part Tuesday in the 49th annual Jerusalem March, a 100% increase over last year. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Support Freedom in the Arab World - Radwan A. Masmoudi and Amr Hamzawy
    As Arab and Muslim intellectuals and activists concerned about the promotion of democracy in our region, we call on America and its president to reaffirm - in words and actions - its commitment to sustained democratic reform in the Arab world. We know that some, worried by recent Islamist gains among voters in Palestine and Egypt, are having doubts about the wisdom of pushing for freedom and democracy in the Middle East. These worries are exploited by despots in the region to perpetuate the untenable status quo. Democratic participation is the only way to combat extremism and pressure all groups, including Islamists, to moderate their stance in order to maximize their share of the vote.
        From an open letter to President Bush signed by 103 other Arab and Muslim activists who have worked in support of democracy (see (Washington Post)
  • Watch the Syrians, Very Carefully - Mordechai Nisan
    The war in Lebanon has sparked considerable Syrian political bombast directed at Israel. The Arab culture code instinctively perceives weakness and reacts to it with battle-ready arrogance. Syria does not have to definitively win a war against Israel to acquire major political gains. In October 1973, boldly initiating war and undermining Israel's military self-confidence were sufficient benefits for Syria.
        Syrian aggression designed to "recover" the Golan Heights from Israeli "occupation," even without a conclusive military victory for Damascus, could nonetheless politically unfreeze the standoff between Syria and Israel, prompting Israeli territorial concessions. Assad's threat to open an insurgent guerrilla front on the Golan cannot be dismissed as haughty bravado. The writer lectures on the Middle East at Hebrew University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Intransigent Hamas: It's Easy to Call for a Middle East Peace. But What If Palestinian Leaders Don't Want It? - Editorial (Washington Post)

    • While stirring but thoughtless appeals for a Middle East peace settlement continue to ring out around the world, the foreign minister of Egypt, Ahmed Aboul Gheit - who has spent the past several months immersed in a failing effort to restore the broken connections between the Palestinian Authority and its international donors, as well as Israel - placed the blame exactly where it belongs: on the Palestinian political leadership. "The Palestinian situation is marred by sharp divisions and battling; it is a misery and shameful for any Arab and any Palestinian," the minister told the government newspaper al-Ahram.
    • Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, and Western aid to the Palestinian government, can't go forward because the governing Hamas movement refuses to recognize Israel or previous Israeli-Palestinian accords. It also won't renounce the use of violence against Israeli soldiers or civilians, or release the soldier its militants abducted from inside Israel in June.
    • Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh spelled out Hamas' position at a rally last weekend: "I tell you with all honesty, we will not recognize Israel, we will not recognize Israel, we will not recognize Israel."
    • It's easy enough for global leaders to issue flowery appeals for action on the Middle East or to imply that progress would be possible if only the United States used its leverage with Israel. The stubborn reality is that there can be no movement toward peace until a Palestinian leadership appears that is ready to accept a two-state solution.

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