Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 6, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran to Complete Nuclear R&D by March (Reuters)
    Iran will complete its nuclear research and development work by March 2007, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Tuesday.
    Tehran says it will expand its atomic work by installing 3,000 centrifuges, devices used to enrich uranium.
    Experts say with 3,000 centrifuges in place, Tehran could make enough material for at least one warhead a year.

Iran Urges Arabs to Eject U.S. Military - Jim Krane (AP/Washington Post)
    Iran's top national security official, Ali Larijani, urged Arab leaders at a conference in Dubai Tuesday to eject the U.S. military from American bases in the region and instead join Tehran in a regional security alliance.
    "The security and stability of the region needs to be attained and we should do it inside the region, not through bringing in foreign forces," Larijani said. "We should stand on our own feet."
    Larijani said Iran seeks "peaceful coexistence" and could replace the security umbrella of U.S. bases now present in the region, including in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar.

Iran to Host Forum on Holocaust Evidence - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP/Washington Post)
    Iran, whose president has described the Holocaust as a "myth," said Tuesday it will hold a conference to discuss the evidence that the Nazis committed genocide against the Jews in World War II.
    The two-day conference scheduled for Dec. 10-11 was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Urges Speaking Out Against Intolerance - Randall Beach (New Haven Register)
    Human rights activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel Tuesday told a Yale audience that civilized people must speak out against intolerance, especially the anti-Israel attitude of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
    Wiesel is astonished and outraged that the leader of any country could now try to deny the Holocaust occurred, that six million Jews were systematically exterminated by the Nazis.
    "I am waiting to hear the outcry," Wiesel said. "You cannot be silent when this man is threatening the existence of a nation....Civilized people, people with conscience, cannot accept this man."
    Wiesel said Iran should be expelled from the UN, a remark which drew applause from the audience.

U.S. to Test Israeli Anti-RPG System for Iraq - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    The Israeli-made "Trophy" system designed to protect tanks and troop transports from shoulder-fired rockets will be tested by the Pentagon for possible use by U.S. forces in Iraq, a senior Israeli defense source said Monday.
    Its manufacturer, Rafael, puts the system's reliability rate at about 95 percent.
    Lova Drori, Rafael's vice-president of marketing, said the Israel Defense Forces had requested several dozen Trophy systems to be installed on advanced battle tanks by the end of 2007.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Gates: No One Can Promise Iran Would Not Use Nuclear Weapons Against Israel - Eli Lake
    President Bush's nominee to be defense secretary, Robert Gates, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that he would counsel against a military strike targeting Iran except as a last resort and says he does not think the Iranian regime would use nuclear weapons in a first strike against Israel. Gates said he believed that Iran desired nuclear weapons and that Iran's president was "not kidding" when he spoke of his desire to wipe Israel off the map. But he also cautioned that President Ahmadinejad did not have the final say in the regime and that a nuclear weapon would likely be acquired as a deterrent to attack from others. When pressed, the nominee said, "If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, no one can promise that it would not use them against Israel." (New York Sun)
  • Peres: Palestinian Unity Government a "Facade" Because Hamas "Doesn't Want Peace"
    Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Wednesday that the national unity government the Palestinians were trying to establish would be nothing more than a "facade," because Hamas militants who would be represented aren't interested in peace. "Hamas doesn't want peace, even if we give them the '67 borders," Peres said. "Hamas wants to use Fatah as a facade to get money."  (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • Hizballah Gambles in Quest for Dominance - Anthony Shadid
    By mobilizing its rank and file and pouring them into downtown Beirut to topple the government, Hizballah has framed its pursuit for political power in the same martial language of this summer's war with Israel. A dominant theme is resistance to American influence in Lebanon. Banners condemn Jeffrey D. Feltman, the U.S. ambassador in Lebanon, who is often a target of Nasrallah's speeches. "The government of Feltman," one slogan reads, "We'll bring it down." (Washington Post)
  • Iraq's Arab Neighbors Meet, Afraid of Chaos - Jonathan Wright
    The foreign ministers of Iraq's Arab neighbors met in Cairo on Tuesday, dismayed at the danger of chaos spreading across borders but facing the same problems as the U.S. in finding Iraq policies that work. The Arab League's committee on Iraq includes representatives of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. With the exception of Syria, those closest to the debate are conservative governments ruled by Sunni Muslims fearful of the growing influence of Iran and its Shi'ite allies in Iraq. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Threatens to Renew Violence
    Hamas can direct an intifada even if it sits in power, Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Mashaal cautioned on Tuesday, adding that the hudna (calm), like violence, was a Palestinian tactic in the conflict with Israel. Even the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza and West Bank will not move Hamas to recognize Israel, as Palestinian lands would still remain "occupied," Mashaal told the Lebanese newspaper Al Safir. Mashaal reiterated threats to renew the "resistance" against Israel if the international community failed to set up a framework for a Palestinian state defined by the 1967 borders within six months, and assure the refugees' right of return.
        Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, speaking at the al-Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, said his government did not condemn resistance but embraced it. He emphasized that the Palestinian people would not give up a "single grain of the land of Palestine, nor would it relinquish the right of return for Palestinian refugees." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades: Cease-Fire Doesn't Apply to Us
    The Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades announced on Wednesday that they viewed themselves as exempt from the cease-fire with Israel and vowed to renew rocket attacks, Israel Radio reported. Other groups that refused to accept the truce with Israel included Islamic Jihad and Hamas' armed wing. Since the cease-fire began last week, Palestinians have fired at least 16 Kassam rockets at Israel from Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • It's a Myth that the U.S. Hasn't Already Engaged Syria and Iran - Joel Himelfarb
    America has been trying for decades to resolve differences diplomatically with Iran and Syria. The Bush administration, which has been repeatedly burned in recent years when it tried to engage these governments, prefers discretion and holding lower-level talks. These regimes insist on holding well-publicized summits that yield them P.R. windfalls without forcing them to substantively change their policies. The fact is that, since the Carter presidency, U.S. administrations of both parties have tried unsuccessfully to persuade these governments to end their support for terrorism and their efforts to sabotage Washington's efforts to facilitate peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. (American Spectator/Wall Street Journal)
        See also The Danger of Engaging with the Enemy - Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe)
        See also The Price of Iran's Help - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
  • Islam Gets Concessions; Infidels Get Conquered - Raymond Ibrahim
    After Israel's victory in the 1967 war, the Jews did not deface or convert the Al Aqsa mosque into a Jewish synagogue or temple, even though the mosque is deliberately built atop the remains of the Temple Mount, the holiest site of Judaism and, by extension, an important site for Christians. Moreover, since reclaiming the Temple Mount, Israel has granted Muslims control over the Al Aqsa mosque (except during times of crises).
        When Islamists wage jihad - conquering and consolidating non-Muslim territories in the name of Islam, never once considering to cede them back to their previous owners - they ultimately demonstrate that they live by the age-old adage "might makes right." But if we live in a world where the strong rule and the weak submit, why is it that whenever Muslim regions are conquered, such as in the case of Palestine, the same Islamists who would never concede one inch of Islam's conquests resort to the UN and the court of public opinion, demanding justice, restitutions, rights, and so forth?
        Put another way, when Muslims beat infidels, it's just too bad for the latter; they must submit to their new overlords' rules with all the attendant discrimination and humiliation mandated for non-Muslims. Yet when Islam is beaten, demands for apologies and concessions are expected from the infidel world at large. The writer, a research librarian at the Library of Congress, is author of the forthcoming The Al Qaeda Reader. (Los Angeles Times)
  • "Apartheid" Label Doesn't Fit Mideast - Cedric L. Suzman
    Former President Jimmy Carter's use of the word "apartheid" in the title of his new book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is highly regrettable because it is inaccurate and especially because it is unfair to black South Africans and the African National Congress in particular. The evils and injustices of apartheid were truly unique to South Africa and should not be denigrated by loosely using the word to describe other situations.
        Israel's actions must be viewed in the context of the overall conflict: the Palestinians' refusal since 1948 to recognize Israel's right to exist and their decision to resort to airplane hijackings, murder on the high seas, suicide bombings, and other forms of terrorism and armed conflict. Regrettably, Israel has never had a Mandela with whom it could negotiate. The writer is vice president and director of programming at the Southern Center for International Studies in Atlanta. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
        See also Carter's Compromised Statesmanship - David A. Harris
    It is startling that a former president who prides himself on his ongoing contribution to world peace would write a crude polemic that compromises any pretense to objectivity and fairness. Discussing President Bill Clinton's peacemaking efforts, Carter discounts well-established claims that Israel accepted and Arafat rejected a generous offer to create a Palestinian state. The extent that Carter goes in propping up an extreme version of the Palestinian narrative, and in burying and devaluing any trace of the Israeli and American versions of events, is deeply disappointing.
        In accepting the Palestinian narrative, Carter has conveniently revised history, excused the Palestinians for their tragic failure to come to terms with Israel each time the chance presented itself, and blithely ignored Israel's very legitimate security concerns. Carter's book will not help the cause of peace, and with its publication, the world has lost a statesman at a time when one is most needed. The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Limited Ability to Stabilize Iraq - Patrick Clawson
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • The Baker-Hamilton commission will presumably recommend reaching out to Iran to seek its involvement in stabilizing Iraq.
    • U.S. officials say Iran has had a major and direct role in Iraq's security problems. According to U.S. intelligence, Iran has provided explosives and trigger devices for roadside bombs and training for several thousand fighters inside Iran. To date, however, these efforts seem to have given Iraqi fighters the means to better carry out what they intended to do anyway.
    • Those Iraqis who accept Iranian support may not be as willing to accept Iranian orders that involve changing their course of action. It is by no means clear that Iran has the ability to dissuade the fighting groups it supports from continuing their violent attacks. Rather, the violence in Iraq seems to be increasingly led by local leaders who do not respond well to outside orders.
    • When the radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr ordered some commanders in the Mahdi Army to stop their random killing of Sunnis, they ignored him. As New York Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise wrote, "As many as a third of [al-Sadr's] militiamen have grown frustrated with the constraints of compromise and have broken off." If al-Sadr cannot control the Mahdi Army, it is unrealistic to think that Iran can order around fighters with whom it has often had a difficult relationship.
    • Iran's role in Iraq is asymmetrical: it can cause trouble, but it cannot bring peace. Iran can do more to destabilize Iraq than to stabilize it.
    • In sum, Iran has shown little interest in talks with the U.S. on Iraq, and, in any case, could do little to advance stability in Iraq. Counting on Iran to help improve security in Iraq is an exercise in extremely optimistic thinking.

      The writer is deputy director for research at the Washington Institute.

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