Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 1, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

90 Percent of Palestinian Youth Deny Israel's Right to Exist - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    A new poll released by Near East Consulting, a Palestinian research institute, asked Palestinians, "Does Israel have the right to exist?"
    Among young people ages 18-25, those who have been most influenced by PA education, between 84% and 93% denied Israel's right to exist.
    PA teachings denying Israel's right to exist are endemic throughout PA society and media, which would account for the high levels of denial of Israel's legitimacy throughout PA society.

Israeli Website Teaches Iranians about the Holocaust - Sonia Verma (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    An Israeli website, written in Persian, is aimed at convincing the people of Iran of the Holocaust's historical truth.
    The new website, designed by Israel's Holocaust museum, is an attempt to sway Iranian public opinion in the face of a growing nuclear threat.
    "Ahmadinejad is using Holocaust denial as a concrete tool to pave the way for nuclear strikes," said Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem.
    In the two weeks after its Jan. 27 launch, more than 10,000 people logged on in Iran and hundreds of e-mails flooded in, thanking the museum for providing information that some Iranians found difficult, if not impossible, to access in their country.

Is Tehran Targeting New York? - Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
    The New York Police Department is concerned that Iranian agents may already have targeted the city for terror attacks.
    In November 2003, security officials of the Iranian Mission to the UN, Ahmad Safari and Alireaza Safi, were detained by transit cops when they were seen videotaping subway tracks from Queens to Manhattan at 1:10 in the morning.
    "We're concerned that Iranian agents were engaged in reconnaissance that might be used in an attack against New York City at some future date," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told Newsweek.

Israeli Unemployment Rate Lowest in Decade (Jerusalem Post)
    The unemployment rate in Israel during the last quarter of 2006 fell to 7.7% of the civilian work force, the lowest level in a decade.

Three Iraqi Children to Be Operated On in Israel - Meital Yasur-Beit Or (Ynet News)
    Three Iraqi children suffering from heart defects are to arrive in Israel on Thursday to be operated on by cardiologists from the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon as part of the humanitarian project "Save a Child's Heart."
    Since the association was founded 12 years ago, more than 1,600 children from 25 different countries have undergone surgery in Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • British Arrest Another Suspect in Airline Bomb Plot
    Another suspect has been arrested in connection with a planned attack on U.S.-bound passenger jets using liquid explosives, Britain's Metropolitan Police announced Wednesday. Security sources said the alleged plotters intended to use an electrical charge to detonate liquid explosives in planes as they flew over the Atlantic Ocean. According to a British intelligence official, the planned near-simultaneous attacks - which one top U.S. official said were intended to be "a second September 11" - were foiled when a member of the UK's Muslim community contacted authorities after noticing an acquaintance acting suspiciously. (CNN)
        See also Lethal "Liquid Explosives" Confiscated by Lebanese Police
    British, U.S., and EU intelligence agencies have been searching since August for lethal liquid explosives after London said it unveiled a scheme to blow up passenger aircraft on flights across the Atlantic. On Tuesday Lebanese police confiscated the first batch of such deadly weapons in the vicinity of the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon. 31 explosive devices were discovered, made up of two tubes filled with blue liquid, fitted on a board and connected to "sophisticated electro-chemical timers-detonators that can be timed to explode after as late as 124 days," a police statement said. (Naharnet-Lebanon)
  • Egypt Freezes Muslim Brotherhood Assets - Omar Sinan
    An Egyptian court ordered a freeze Wednesday on the assets of 29 known financiers of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful opposition movement. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Border Police Kill "Mega-Terrorist" in West Bank - Yaakov Katz
    On Wednesday, the Israel Border Police's undercover unit killed Ashraf Sa'adi, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, who intelligence officials said was behind the dispatching of a would-be suicide bomber who was caught in Bat Yam on February 20. "Sa'adi was a mega-terrorist," said one of the commanders who participated in the operation. "He needed to be taken down." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Five Palestinian Rockets Strike Israel - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets toward Israel on Wednesday. Two rockets landed near Sderot, one landed near a kibbutz in the Negev and two landed south of Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
  • Shiite Cleric Defies Hizbullah - Pierre Akel
    The Shiite Mufti of South Lebanon, Sheikh Ali el Amin, has condemned Hizbullah's transformation from a "cultural" to a "military" movement vowing allegiance to Iran. His speech at the rally in Beirut commemorating the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri two years earlier was a signal of his firm commitment against Hizbullah's attempts to seize power in Lebanon. According to Sheikh el Amin, Lebanese Shiites are still largely "moderates." Whereas Hizbullah and its Amal allies could represent 40 percent of Shiites, the large majority remains committed to political moderation and to Lebanon's independence and democratic system.
        On Iran's attempts to mobilize Arab Shiites to support Teheran's policies, Sheikh el Amin said, "We have nothing to do with Iran's political strategies....The Iranians would never enjoy the allegiance of all Lebanese Shias." "Does it really serve Iran's interests to be viewed with awe and distrust by Muslims all over the world?" he asked. (Middle East Transparent)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran: The Radical Wins Again - Amir Taheri
    Just a few weeks ago, we were told that Ahmadinejad's star was on the wane, but he is emerging with his position in the Khomeinist establishment strengthened. Ahmadinejad has cast himself in the role of the proverbial Islamic holy warrior who will ride his white horse into Jerusalem to liberate it from the infidel. The nuclear program would not have been an issue in Iran just two or three years ago - most Iranians knew nothing about it. But today, largely thanks to Ahmadinejad's constant hammering of the theme during his ceaseless provincial tours, most Iranians are familiar with the issue. And because Ahmadinejad has presented the dispute as an attempt by the great powers to deny Iran nuclear energy, many Iranians support the regime's position. (New York Post)
  • Peace in Middle East a Palestinian Peace Ploy - Rachel N. Stephens
    As long as there is a fight over Israel, I'll always support the Jews because the Palestinians, as a whole, have no claim to the Land of Israel, nor are they trying to coexist peacefully. Just who are the Palestinians? And what is Palestine? After a Jewish revolt in 135 CE, the Roman procurator of Israel asked the scribes to identify the Jews' worst enemies. He was told, "The Philistines." To humiliate the Jews, he renamed the province, "Philistia" which became "Palaistina" and now "Palestine." Modern-day Palestinians are Arab. The Philistines were from Greece, Crete and Western Turkey. Arabs did not arrive in Israel until the 7th century CE - almost 2000 years after the Jews had settled on that land. Up to the 1940s, the term "Palestinian" was used for Jews in the land.
        PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein said: "The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism." (Daily O'Collegian-Oklahoma State University)
  • Israel's Critics: When Church Politics Goes Haywire - Rev. Kent L. Svendsen
    A number of religious organizations seem to glorify the Palestinians while demonizing the Israelis. For the life of me, I can't understand how they can be so unsympathetic to a nation who is surrounded by enemies who want to "drive them into the sea." I'm not unsympathetic toward the Palestinians, who have many hardships to face. But I have a hard time offering them sympathy and support after they voted Hamas into office. Hamas has openly declared as one of their main goals to eliminate the nation of Israel.
        Now we have the latest chapter coming from the critics of Israel. The Israel Antiquities Authority has begun salvage excavations in the Jerusalem Archeological Park, with the intention of building a permanent Mugrabi Gate ramp to replace a temporary wooden structure that had been declared hazardous. In reality, the work does not interfere in any way with the sacred mosque or the Dome of the Rock which are both sacred to Muslims. All they are doing is replacing a wooden ramp so it doesn't collapse when pilgrims go to the Temple Mount. The ramp is reported to be the only access non-Muslims have to be able to visit the Temple Mount. No ramp could mean no access. Could it be that what is wanted is to prevent non-Muslims from visiting the sacred site which is sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike? The writer, an ordained United Methodist minister and an Army Reserve chaplain, served for 10 months as the sole chaplain at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Sauk Valley Gazette [Illinois])
  • Observations:

    Hold Iran Accountable - Kenneth R. Timmerman (Washington Times)

    • Iran's leaders are testing us in Iraq, where Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) networks continue to fund both Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents. They are testing us at the International Atomic Energy Agency and at the UN, where they continue to defy demands by the international community to verifiably suspend their nuclear programs, which constitute a clear violation of Iran's commitments as a signatory of the Nonproliferation Treaty.
    • Voices are raised saying that we should negotiate with Tehran's leaders if we want to avoid war. But we simply don't need negotiations with the regime over its nuclear program. Through UN Security Council resolutions, we have set out the parameters of what the Iranian regime must do to avert steadily increasing international sanctions. They can accept those conditions, shut down their programs in a verifiable manner, or suffer the consequences. The U.S. should not settle for anything less than full, unconditional compliance from Tehran. There is nothing to negotiate.
    • The same goes for Iran's involvement in Iraq, its support for international terrorist groups, its refusal to recognize the right of Israel to exist, and its wretched disregard for its own citizens' political and human rights. Why should we negotiate down the standards of internationally acceptable behavior?
    • We should hold Iran's leadership accountable for its behavior by rolling up its networks in Iraq and striking the IRGC support structures across the border. We should insist Iran comply with the International Covenant of Political and Human Rights that it has signed. We should enforce the huge number of judgments against top regime leaders in courts around the world for their terrorist attacks.
    • For starters, we should insist that Iran comply with the UN Security Council demands on its nuclear programs by ratcheting up mandatory economic and diplomatic sanctions. Anything less is just not serious.

      The writer is president of the Middle East Data Project Inc. and executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran.

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