Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 8, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Al-Qaeda in South Lebanon - Claude Salhani (UPI)
    Al-Qaeda has begun to infiltrate fighters into parts of southern Lebanon "with the discreet approval of Iran and Syria," a well-informed Arab politician has said.
    One major concern is that UNIFIL troops could become targets of al-Qaeda should either Syria or Iran ever wish to pressure France or Italy or any other contributing nation.
    France fears its contingent in southern Lebanon could become the target of attacks as a result of Paris' support for the Lebanese government and the international community to have an international tribunal examine the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Hariri.

Jordanian Islamists Accused of Plot to Assassinate Bush - Hala Boncompagni (AFP/Yahoo)
    Jordan on Wednesday put on trial three suspected Islamists for conspiring to assassinate President George W. Bush when he visited the country last year, as part of a previously undisclosed plot to bomb the U.S. and Danish embassies.

Syria Seeking New Russian Warplanes - Aryeh Egozi (Ynet News)
    Syria has approached Moscow with a request to purchase new Sukhoi 30 fighter aircraft as part of Damascus' drive to upgrade its army.
    The Sukhoi 30 has been compared with the U.S.-made F15 E Super Eagle.

State Department Report Parrots Biased NGOs - Yaakov Lappin (Ynet News)
    A recent report released by the U.S. State Department which contains criticism of Israel's treatment of Palestinian security prisoners merely parrots allegations made by biased non-governmental organizations (NGOs), an Israeli monitoring organization said.
    "NGOs such as Adallah, Moussawa, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and B'tselem (all of which receive funding from European governments) provide the bulk of the 'evidence' for the discussions on Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement in this report," said Professor Gerald Steinberg.
    "However, as NGO Monitor analyses have shown, these groups distort the facts and systematically erase the context of terror in order to promote their political goals."

U.S. Indicts Five Men Tied to Islamic Charity (Reuters/New York Times)
    A federal grand jury in Kansas City has indicted the Islamic American Relief Agency, an Islamic charity, and five of its officers and associates on charges of illegally transferring money to Iraq before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Former Iranian Defense Official Talks to Western Intelligence - Dafna Linzer
    Ali Rez Asgari, a former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guard, has left his country and is cooperating willingly with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hizbullah and Iran's ties to the organization, according to a senior U.S. official. Asgari served in the Iranian government until early 2005. His background suggests that he would have deep knowledge of Iran's national security infrastructure, conventional weapons arsenal, and ties to Hizbullah, but he was not involved in the country's nuclear program. Former officers with Israel's Mossad said Asgari had been instrumental in the founding of Hizbullah. (Washington Post)
  • No Western Aid Gush for Palestinian Unity Cabinet - Alistair Lyon
    Four weeks after their Saudi-brokered agreement to form a coalition, Fatah and Hamas are still arguing over the details. For now, the big powers are suspending judgment, but the U.S. will be in no rush to end a political and financial boycott it imposed on the PA after Hamas won power in January 2006. The Quartet has insisted any Palestinian government recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept past peace deals - conditions Hamas has refused to meet.
        "I have no expectation of a change in U.S. policy," said Mouin Rabbani, an International Crisis Group analyst. "The Europeans, despite what they might think or feel, are probably not going to get into a conflict with Washington over this." "Don't expect an immediate turning on of the tap of Western aid if a unity government is formed," a European diplomat said, adding that it might take six months for the PA's finance minister to bring donors a credible proposal. (Reuters)
  • Israel Criticizes Egyptian Media Attacks
    Israel's Foreign Ministry Wednesday criticized Egyptian media statements accusing Israel of killing 250 Egyptian prisoners of war during the 1967 War, based on an Israeli documentary film broadcast last week. Senior ministry officials viewed the documentary and concluded it "shows clearly that this was not a case of the 'murder of helpless POWs,' but rather a battle between Israeli soldiers and an Egyptian commando unit....The movie leaves no doubt that the soldiers were killed in battle and were not POWs."
        "Thirty years after Egyptian President Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem, and 28 years after the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and the beginning of a new era in the Middle East, it is inappropriate to dig up issues from the distant past, especially when there is no factual basis to the accusations," the ministry said. "Israel views with grave concern the campaign to slander and incite against Israel in the Egyptian Parliament and media" and hopes Egypt will "bring the facts" before its public and "restore quiet." (UPI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF: Hamas Terrorists Boosted by New Ability to Travel Abroad - Avi Issacharoff
    "Boosted by their newfound ability to travel abroad, Hamas militants have been going back and forth to hostile countries for training," Israel Defense Forces Head of Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant said Wednesday. "They are sending activists to Syria, Lebanon, Iran. And the opposite. People from Iran come inspect the situation in the area, give them the proper training and coaching, examine them and see if they hit the target they gave them." Galant said the training and technology from Iran has enabled Hamas to grow from a ragtag militia into a well-organized group resembling an army - complete with battalions, companies, platoons and special forces for surveillance, snipers, and explosive experts. Galant also called the Gaza cease-fire a tactical move for Hamas to strengthen itself. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Commander: Hamas Growing Stronger (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Wanted Palestinian Turns Himself In - Ali Waked
    Anaas Subhi Hashaash, 21, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades from Nablus, was tired of playing cat and mouse with Israel Defense Forces soldiers every night and turned himself in to IDF soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint. Hashaash's family said they encouraged him to make the decision. Salah al-Jarami, a Fatah activist from Balata, said other activists, including his own brother, have been surrendering themselves recently. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed near a kibbutz in the vicinity of Ashkelon Thursday morning. Another rocket fired at Israel landed inside Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Is It Racist to Condemn Fanaticism? - Phyllis Chesler
    In Afghanistan, married for two years to a Westernized Afghan Muslim whom I met at an American college, I saw how polygamous, arranged marriages and child brides led to chronic female suffering and to rivalry between co-wives and half-brothers; how the subordination and sequestration of women led to a profound estrangement between the sexes; how frustrated, neglected and uneducated women tormented their daughters-in-law and female servants; how women were not allowed to pray in mosques or visit male doctors (their husbands described the symptoms in their absence). I learned not to romanticize Third World countries or to confuse their hideous tyrants with liberators. I also learned that sexual and religious apartheid in Muslim countries is indigenous and not the result of Western crimes.
        Nevertheless, Western intellectual-ideologues have demonized me as a racist "Islamophobe" for arguing that Islam, not Israel, is the largest practitioner of both sexual and religious apartheid in the world and that if Westerners do not stand up to this apartheid, morally, economically and militarily, we will not only have the blood of innocents on our hands; we will also be overrun by Sharia in the West. I have denounced the epidemic of Muslim-on-Muslim violence for which tiny Israel is routinely, unbelievably scapegoated. The writer is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the City University of New York. (Times-UK)
  • Why Does Syria Need Two Ambassadors in Washington? - David Schenker
    Syria maintains not one but two ambassadors to Washington. Officially, Syrian president Bashar Assad's top diplomat in the U.S. is Ambassador Imad Moustapha. Assad's second, unofficial - but reliably pro-Syria - envoy is Lebanon's ambassador to Washington, Farid Abboud. Abboud, who has been in Washington for eight years, was appointed by the pro-Syria Lebanese president Emile Lahoud. As a matter of policy, the administration has treated Abboud as a Syrian official and has studiously avoided contact. The absence of a Lebanese ambassador to Washington who is accountable to his own government reflects the ongoing Syrian influence in Lebanon. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute. (Weekly Standard/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The New Demographic Balance in Europe and its Consequences - Raphael Israeli
    European Muslim leaders make no secret of their intent to change Europe to their tune, not to adapt to it. They demand their own school systems, in their own native languages, financed by the host state and, in the long run, to its own detriment. There are already areas in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Britain where Muslim children constitute the majority of the school population. In addition, there are a growing numbers of converts to Islam in major European countries such as France and Britain - 50,000 in each in the past decade. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Islam Converts Change Face of Europe - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Gall of the Hashemites - Editorial (New York Sun)

    • Jordan's King Abdullah II, speaking before a joint meeting of Congress Wednesday, seemed to blame Israel for all the world's problems. "The denial of justice and peace in Palestine," the king said, "is the core issue. And this core issue is not only producing severe consequences for our region, it is producing severe consequences for our world."
    • Balderdash is the kindest way to describe it. If the terrorists are upset about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, why are they setting off bombs in Indonesia and Spain and Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which are hardly in the vanguard of support for Israel? Given that the terrorists state publicly that their end goal is to make all of Europe and America subject to Islamic law, why should we believe that in fact they have the far more modest goal of merely seizing land belonging to the Jewish state?
    • The gall of the son of King Hussein, who perpetrated what the Arabs call Black September on the Palestinians [when Jordan expelled the PLO in 1970], to lecture the Americans on Palestinian Arab dispossession is astounding. Abdullah well knows that Jordan controlled the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967. If the Palestinian Arabs were dispossessed during that period, it was no one's fault but the Hashemites', who didn't exactly use those decades to establish a Palestinian Arab state.
    • Abdullah made reference to a Saudi proposal from 2002 that he described as the "Arab Peace Initiative." That plan would be more accurately described as the Arab Destruction of Israel Initiative. Its aim was to give the Palestinian Arabs half of the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, [force an Israeli] retreat to militarily indefensible borders, and absorb within those borders enough Arab "refugees" so that its character as a Jewish state would be eradicated.
    • One of the effects of the Islamist terrorist onslaught of recent years is that more Americans have thought more deeply about these matters. They will not be gulled by a foreign potentate offering up Israel as a scapegoat for troubles that originate with the failings of the Arab and Islamic world and their nondemocratic leaders, Abdullah among them.

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