Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 21, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Daily Affiliated with Khamenei Calls for Political Change in Lebanon to Favor Shi'ites - H. Varulkar (MEMRI)
    On November 8, 2006, the conservative Iranian Daily Kayhan, identified with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote that in light of the new strategic order that has emerged in the Middle East, the Shi'ites in Lebanon must receive the largest representation in Lebanese government institutions.
    See also Hizballah Threatens Protests to Topple Lebanese Government - Anthony Shadid (Washington Post)

British Muslims Fighting in Iraq Sent Back to UK as Al-Qaeda "Sleeper" Agents - Sean Rayment (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    British Muslims volunteering to fight against coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are being sent back to Britain to become al-Qaeda "sleeper" agents.
    MI5 agents believe that young Asian men, who have been trained to take part in the "global jihad" in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, are now regarded as too valuable an asset to be used fighting British and American troops.
    MI5 and MI6 are working on the assumption that they are being ordered to return to their communities in Britain with instructions to establish secret, autonomous cells and to conduct independent terrorist operations without any direct input from al-Qaeda's high command.

Requests for IDF Combat Service at All-Time High - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    In the November 2006 draft, the number of new Israel Defense Forces recruits requesting to serve in combat units passed the 70% mark, an all-time high.

Thousands of Palestinians Leave the Territories - Mark MacKinnon (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    10,000 Palestinians have left the territories in the past four months alone.
    A recent study by Bir Zeit University found that 32% of Palestinians, and 44% of young Palestinians, would emigrate if they could.
    "I want to get out - to Canada, to Norway, to Switzerland, to Nigeria even," said Fadi el-Fahr, 24.
    "Before, when we had a [Fatah] government, there were many opportunities, because [Abbas] had good relations with many countries. The problems came when the new Islamic government came and America did not support it," said Ahmed Abu Radi, 23.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Germany Investigates Plot to Blow Up El Al Plane - Mark Landler
    German authorities, investigating an alleged plot to hide an explosive device aboard a passenger jet in Frankfurt last summer, detained six men on Friday on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group. All but one of the men was released the following day, but German authorities said they are investigating additional people whom they believe sought to bribe an employee at Frankfurt Airport to place a bomb aboard the plane. German news sources, citing police officials, said the men were from the Middle East, possibly Jordan. Die Welt said the target was the Israeli airline El Al.
        German terrorism expert Rolf Tophoven said: "This is a new tactical development, because they tried to infiltrate the security infrastructure by hiring a person who had access to the airfield and aircraft....You can protect an airfield with electronic fences and X-rays, but you canít protect against human weakness." (New York Times)
  • Iran to Host Iraq Security Talks
    Iraq's President Jalal Talabani has accepted an invitation from his Iranian counterpart to discuss ways of tackling the violence in Iraq. Talabani's office said he would meet President Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Saturday. Some reports say Syria's President Bashar al-Assad may attend. The Iraqi government has also said Syria and Iraq are planning to restore full diplomatic ties, cut in 1982. Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem paid a visit to Iraq - the highest-ranking Syrian official to travel to Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 - and promised his country's support in helping Iraq restore security. (BBC News)
        See also Syria, Iraq Restore Diplomatic Ties (VOA News)
  • Australian FM: Western Appeasement Fuels Anti-Israel Fire - Yossi Aron
    Australia must set an example in the West by its continued refusal to appease Israel's enemies, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told a Jewish audience in Melbourne earlier this month. Downer said Australia must continue to actively oppose, rather than merely abstain from, anti-Israel resolutions at the UN. "We are always being told the best thing for diplomacy is to...abstain....And I say, Let's vote against it because it is wrong. The more we and other countries stand up to this sort of behavior, the more we stand a chance of success; the more we try to appease, the more [anti-Israel resolutions] we will encourage."  (Australian Jewish News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Critically Injures Israeli - Shmulik Hadad
    A worker at a Sderot factory was critically injured Tuesday morning by a Kassam rocket as four rockets hit the town. More than 12 rockets landed in Israel on Monday. On Monday evening a rocket hit an office building in a kibbutz in the western Negev. (Ynet News)
  • The Threat to Israeli Citizens from Gaza
    Since Israel's disengagement from Gaza last summer, 1,201 of the over 1,500 Kassam artillery rockets fired by the Palestinians against Israeli population centers adjacent to the Gaza Strip have landed in Israeli territory (as of 15 Nov. 06). Seven Israelis, one foreign worker, and two Palestinian civilians have been killed in Palestinian artillery attacks from Gaza, and over one hundred people have been injured. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 20Nov06)
  • Fears of Mideast "Shiite Bloc" Rise
    The fear of a powerful "Shiite bloc" has reached almost fever pitch across the Middle East and some of America's crucial allies are among the most worried. The violence in Iraq and the growing power of Shiite Iran are the main factors, while the Shiite Hizballah's new influence, after the summer war with Israel, is also key. Together, the trends are prompting a backlash from Sunni Arab governments, says Vali Nasr, an Iran expert at the Naval Postgraduate School in the U.S.
        In Saudi Arabia, newspapers are full of warnings from Sunni Muslim clerics who contend that Sunni Muslims across the Mideast are converting to become Shiite Muslims. In Jordan, authorities have rejected plans for a new Shiite mosque, while Sunni clerics speak darkly of Shiite plots to convert Sunnis and overtake the region. (Kuwait Times)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Syria Lends a Hand - Bret Stephens
    On Sunday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem paid a visit to Baghdad to pledge his cooperation with the Iraqi government and urge a timetable for American withdrawal. On Friday, the New York Times reported that Moallem had met in New York with James Baker's Iraq Study Group to explain why it is in Syria's "national interest to try to help stabilize the situation in Iraq." Who is Walid Moallem? Would the U.S. be wise to "engage" him and his government in the cause of Mideast peace?
        According to last year's Mehlis Report, which details the preliminary findings of the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others, Moallem met with Hariri two weeks prior to his assassination. Their exchange was secretly taped: Hariri: "I cannot live under a security regime that is specialized in interfering with Hariri and spreading disinformation about Hariri and writing reports to Bashar Assad....Lebanon will never be ruled from Syria." Moallem: "We and the [security] services here have put you into a corner. Please do not take things lightly." Moallem later falsely described the meeting to UN investigators as "friendly and constructive." He would thus seem to be guilty of obstructing an ongoing criminal investigation, if not actually of conspiracy to murder. (Wall Street Journal, 21Nov06)
        See also Don't Let Syria Get Away with Killing Rafik Hariri - Michael Young
    Syria never accepted its forced withdrawal from Lebanon last year, and has worked tirelessly since then to reimpose its writ there. Now there is new hope in Damascus: It was music to Syrian President Bashar Assad's ears to hear James Baker, co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, advocating dialogue with Syria and Iran in an interview last month. Syria's Lebanese foes fear they will pay if the U.S. and Damascus cut a deal. In 1990, Baker was a leading light in President George H.W. Bush's administration, which ceded Lebanon to Syria in exchange for President Hafez Assad's agreement to be part of the international coalition against Iraq. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Calibrating the Centrifuge - Zvi Bar'el
    Iran has already achieved its goal. It wields deterrence because it has the technology and potential to manufacture nuclear weapons and everyone believes it will indeed produce them. Iran also has one more "advantage": a president who looks like a poet and sounds like a lunatic, whose words swell like a radioactive cloud. His threatening rhetoric even makes one forget that he is not the one responsible for the nuclear development. Rather, it was his predecessors, Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammed Khatami, presidents who were considered moderate in the West. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    The Root of Palestinian Misery - Editorial (National Post-Canada)

    • On Sunday, Palestinians in Gaza were celebrating the victory of their "human shields" in thwarting an air strike against the home of wanted terrorist Wail Barud.
    • But the tactic may have backfired from a propaganda perspective. It is clear the Palestinians themselves do not believe their own propaganda about Israel's alleged thirst for blood. Otherwise, they never would have been able to recruit all those human shields. And if Israel really were as sadistic as its critics claim, it wouldn't have called off Sunday's bombing run.
    • Just imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, and hundreds of Israeli "human shields" positioned themselves in an unguarded cafe in the West Bank. Palestinian suicide bombers would be stepping over each other in an effort to attack the target. "Human shields" work only when your enemy fights like a human.
    • A second irony is that it is men like Barud who are at the root of Palestinian misery - for if they were not firing rockets at Israel from Gaza, and smuggling in weapons from Egypt, there would be no need for Israeli counterterrorist operations in Gaza. If Palestinians were more rational about where their society's interests lie, they would go to Barud's house not to offer protection, but to arrest him so that others in the area could live in peace.

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