Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 6, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Digging Tunnels for Next Battle with Israel - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    Hamas is setting up a new military infrastructure for a serious confrontation with Israel.
    It is digging combat tunnels, improving rocket performance and quantity, and collecting weapons, mainly antitank and antiaircraft missiles through smuggling.
    The tunnels will allow mobility underground to the expected points of battle with IDF forces entering Gaza.
    The fighters will be able to surface quickly, launch missiles or rockets, and disappear, only to surprise IDF forces at another spot.
    The tunnels are also meant to hold explosive devices that would be detonated when IDF forces try to enter Gaza.
    Tunnels could also be used to infiltrate Israeli territory.

Lebanese Hizbullah Supporting Anti-U.S. Forces in Iraq - Niles Lathem (New York Post)
    The Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah is operating in Basra and elsewhere in Iraq to carry out "armed resistance" against U.S. troops in Iraq.
    Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared in a Jan. 19 interview with his group's al-Manar TV:
    "We support the option of a comprehensive Iraqi resistance, with all its aspects, especially the military aspect. We believe that the solution in Iraq begins with adopting the option of armed resistance - jihad against the occupation forces."
    Members of "Hizbullah in Iraq" are believed to be Iraqis who received training in Iran and Lebanon, and they function openly with the tacit approval of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.

Saudi-Funded School "Teaches Religious Hatred" - Caroline Davies and Graeme Paton (Telegraph-UK)
    A Saudi-funded Islamic school in London has been accused of poisoning the minds of pupils as young as five years with a curriculum of hate.
    Colin Cook, 57, who taught English for 18 years at the Academy, claims textbooks of the Saudi government's Ministry of Education used by children at the King Fahd Academy in Acton, west London, describe Jews as "repugnant" and Christians as "pigs."

Useful Reference:

Middle East Internet Usage as Percent of Population (Internet World Stats)
    Internet penetration as of Jan. 11, 2007:
    Israel 51%
    UAE 35%, Qatar 27%, Kuwait 26%, Bahrain 21%, Lebanon 15%, Jordan 12%, Iran 11%, Saudi Arabia 11%, Oman 10%, PA-West Bank 8%, Syria 6%, Yemen 1%, Iraq 0.1%

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Defying UN, Iran Installs Centrifuges - George Jahn
    Shrugging off the threat of tougher UN sanctions, Iran has set up more than 300 centrifuges in two uranium enrichment units at its underground Natanz complex, diplomats and officials said Monday. The move potentially opens the way for larger scale enrichment that could be used to create nuclear warheads. Iranian leaders have repeatedly said the Natanz underground hall would house first 3,000 centrifuges and ultimately 54,000 machines. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Palestinians Fear Infighting Hurts Their Case - Steven Erlanger
    The fierce internal clashes among Palestinian factions have shocked many Palestinians and Arab governments, who fear that the bloodshed is damaging the Palestinian case before the world, Palestinians say. "Arab support for the Palestinians is beginning to evaporate. Arabs are looking at us as fighting ourselves now...and Arab officials are saying that we're not very serious about establishing a state," said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza. (New York Times)
        See also Palestinian Recriminations - Martin Peretz
    Palestinian infighting does hurt their case and the cause. What are their Western partisans going to say now when the essential minimum of peoplehood turns out to have been sheer rhetoric? Edward Said's rhetoric about the nobility, the delicacy of "the children of stones" now shows itself to be empty. The Palestinians were so much more civilized than the other Arabs. Please, enough about how civilized they are. They are on their way to being Iraqis. (New Republic)
  • Muslims Oppose Muslim Extremists in Britain - Minette Marrin
    Nine British Muslims were arrested last week on suspicion of plotting to behead a British Muslim soldier as a traitor to Islam, and to show a videotape of the act on the net to terrify us. The plot was uncovered with the help of a brave Muslim soldier who allowed himself to be used as bait to draw out the suspected kidnappers. That was courage and patriotism well beyond the call of duty. We ought to be grateful, too, to the Muslim informants who give police and secret services invaluable information; a source told me last week that there is no lack of volunteers despite the intimidation. (Sunday Times-UK)
        See also From an Angry Young Muslim - Murad Ahmed
    I'm an angry young Muslim - really angry that radical Islamists decided to declare their jihad against us as well. The plot to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier, if true, is a blatant attempt to intimidate members of their own community. Plenty of Muslims are in a rage now that they have become targets in a fight the radicals have picked and they don't want any part of. Just like everyone else, we wonder whether we'll get blown up on the Tube. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hizballah Plants Bombs Along Israel's Northern Border - Amos Harel
    The Israel Defense Forces on Monday discovered five explosive devices hidden in containers that looked like boulders that were placed recently by Hizbullah along the Israel-Lebanon border near Moshav Avivim. (Ha'aretz)
        See also UNIFIL Ignoring Hizbullah Hostilities - Yaakov Katz
    Israeli defense officials slammed UNIFIL and the Lebanese government Monday, claiming that their "slackness" was what enabled Hizbullah to plant five deadly explosive devices along the border between Israel and Lebanon. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shin Bet: Gaza Weapons Smuggling Increases Six-Fold, Iran Training Palestinian Terrorists - Amos Harel
    The director of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, said Monday the central problem facing Israel in the West Bank and Gaza is the crumbling of the PA's governmental control. Gaza in particular has seen "disintegration and a return to the clan stage. There is more clan loyalty today than organizational loyalty." He said the fact that senior Fatah figures in Gaza understand their situation as a war of survival has instilled a spirit of fighting among their members.
        Diskin said the Philadelphi Route along the Gaza-Egypt border has become "one big rabbit tunnel." Hamas in 2006 smuggled more than 30 tons of explosive materials from Sinai to Gaza, compared to five tons in 2005 and less than a ton in 2004. He said that since Israel's disengagement from Gaza, terror organizations there have gained significant capability. He also warned that the number of Palestinians traveling abroad and undergoing paramilitary training, especially in Iran, is troubling. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Yes, Iran Can Be Stopped - Daniel Doron
    Iran's nuclear project can probably be stopped by significantly cutting its oil income. The ayatollahs cannot hope to maintain their hold on power if they cannot feed the tens of millions of destitute citizens now kept afloat with immense welfare outlays. If reduced means compel a choice, the survival instinct will force them to choose rice rather than enriched uranium.
        The Iranian economy is in shambles. In an effort to please their lower-class supporters in the wake of the revolution, the ayatollahs slapped price controls on agricultural products. Within several years this resulted in the devastation of what was once a prosperous agricultural sector. Millions of farmers left their farms and moved to shanty towns near major urban centers where they were fed by Islamic charities financed by the confiscated assets of the shah. Charity was allocated by family size, which encouraged higher birth rates and caused a population explosion, putting further strain on Iran's welfare system. If not for ever-higher income from oil, Iran's inefficient and corrupt economy would have collapsed long ago. The writer is president of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress. (Weekly Standard)
  • Anti-Semitism in Islam: Israel Didn't Start the Fire - Timothy R. Furnish
    Conventional wisdom has it that anti-Semitism in the Islamic world constitutes a not unreasonable reaction to the late 19th century Zionist movement which led to the creation of the State of Israel right after World War II. In this view, were Israel to totally withdraw from the West Bank as well as enact the "right of return" and/or compensate displaced Palestinians, anti-Semitism in the Islamic world would dissipate like a mirage.
        Unfortunately, hatred of Jews runs much deeper than a century or so into the past. In fact, it originates in the actions of the founder of Islam himself. In the process of the Islamization of Arabia, a paradigm of Muslim-Jewish conflict was established. Several of the tribes of Madinah were Jewish and refused to accept the prophethood of Muhammad. There is no getting around the fact that the man whom Muslims believe to have been God's last spokesman on Earth not only denigrated, but ordered the slaughter of, his fellow monotheists - long before Theodor Herzl ever existed. The writer is assistant professor of history at Georgia Perimeter College. (History News Network-George Mason University)
  • Observations:

    Israel Sets an Example of Freedom and Tolerance - Reda Mansour
    (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    • My grandfather, who lived to be more than 100 years old, used to say, "I've seen them all and there are none like the Jews." When Israel was established in 1948, for the first time, the homes in our small Druze town had electricity and running water and every child received a quality, free education. For the first time in his life, my grandfather, a retired factory worker, received a pension and had access to quality health care. He said that a society could be judged by the way it treats the elderly, sick and unemployed, and that Israel had proved itself both strong and compassionate.
    • That is the untold story of Israel, a nation that measures its strength not by its wealth or military prowess but by the vibrance of its civil society, where there are now more than 40,000 independent civic associations.
    • Arab-Israelis have a standard of living higher than any of their brethren living in the region. They are full citizens who can vote and be elected to public office. They have the right to worship, assemble and speak freely without fear of intimidation or oppression. The freest Arabs in the Middle East reside in the Jewish state of Israel.
    • In my hometown, I have seen the fulfillment of the Israeli dream: young professionals of all faiths who have established successful careers in law, medicine, business and diplomacy. None of us would have had that opportunity were it not for the free and open society in which we live.
    • Today, our freedom is threatened by the vile ideology of hate spewed by Hamas, Hizbullah and other similar organizations. With the support of their backers in Tehran and Damascus, these extremists rain rockets down upon Israeli villages and send suicide bombers into our buses and markets.
    • The defense against this onslaught requires military action, but the solution to the complex issues that have brought us to this point is found in the strong bond that has developed between Arabs and Jews in Israel. If we peacefully co-exist in Haifa and Ussifiya, why not in Gaza, Beirut or the rest of the region? Today, we look to our borders wondering when our neighbors will embrace the dream of peace rather than the nightmare of war.

      The writer is Israeli consul general for the U.S. Southeast.

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