Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 15, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Russia Having Second Thoughts on Nuclear Aid to Iran - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    The state-owned Russian company building the Iranian nuclear plant at Bushehr announced Monday that the plant would not be launched in September and nuclear fuel will not be delivered to the station this month as planned, due to unpaid bills.
    However, American and Israeli experts see a strategic decision by Russia that represents a changing diplomatic stance.
    For the past five years, Russia has used various excuses to delay the transfer of low-level enriched uranium to the Bushehr plant.
    Twice in the past two weeks, U.S. spokesmen have praised Russia's stance in delaying the completion of the Bushehr reactor.

Judge: Sudan Liable for USS Cole Bombing (AP/CBS News)
    U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar said Wednesday in Norfolk that Sudan is responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole but he needs more time to determine damages for the families of the 17 sailors killed when terrorists bombed the ship in 2000.
    Four experts on terrorism, including R. James Woolsey, CIA director from early 1993 to early 1995, testified Tuesday to support the families' position that al-Qaeda needed Sudan's help to carry out the attack.
    Experts testified that Sudan has given safe haven to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network since 1991 - long before Yemeni operatives blasted a 40-foot hole in the side of the Cole in Yemen's port of Aden on Oct. 12, 2000.

How Many Jews Did Mama Kill? (MEMRI)
    On March 8, 2007, Hamas TV broadcast an interview with the children of Palestinian suicide bomber Rim Al-Riyashi.
    Interviewer: "Let's talk with the two children of the jihad-fighting martyrdom-seeker Rim Al-Riyashi, Dhoha and Muhammad. Dhoha, where did Mama go?" Dhoha: "To Paradise."
    Interviewer: "What did Mama do?" Dhoha: "She committed martyrdom."
    Interviewer: "She killed Jews, right? How many did she kill, Muhammad?" Muhammad: "Five."

Monument to Ethiopians Who Died En Route to Israel Dedicated in Jerusalem - Ayanawo Farada Sanbetu (Ha'aretz)
    A monument commemorating the more than 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who died in Sudan while attempting to reach Israel was dedicated at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
    "This is a thank you to the Jews of Ethiopia who died en route to Zion, while dreaming of Zion," said Uri Rada, 40, who fought for years to have the monument erected.

Israel's Eurovision Song Contest Entry Accepted (STT-Finland)
    The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in Helsinki on Wednesday that the Israeli group Teapacks would be allowed to take part in this year's Eurovision song contest with their "Push the Button," a track tackling the sensitive issue of nuclear annihilation.
    The final of this year's contest is to take place in Helsinki in May.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Suspected Leader of 9/11 Attacks Confesses - Adam Liptak
    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, long said to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed to them at a military hearing held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Saturday, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon Wednesday. Mohammed described himself as the "military operational commander for all foreign operations around the world" for al-Qaeda, and took responsibility for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali.
        He also outlined a vast series of plots that were not completed. Among his targets were office buildings in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York; suspension bridges in New York; the New York Stock Exchange; the Panama Canal; British landmarks including Big Ben; buildings in Israel; American embassies in Indonesia, Australia and Japan; Israeli embassies in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Australia; airliners around the world; and nuclear power plants in the U.S.; as well as assassination plots against former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II. (New York Times)
        See also Transcript of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's Confession (U.S. Defense Department)
  • Rice: Saudi Initiative Not a Negotiating Document, Rather a Vision for Arab-Israeli Reconciliation
    After meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni in Washington, Secretary of State Rice said: "In terms of the Arab initiative, I hope that this speaks to the clear need for an Israeli-Arab reconciliation to accompany the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....We think it's a very good thing that this initiative was put forward....Obviously, the Israelis would have their own ideas about how an Israeli-Arab reconciliation could take place. But I always think that it's a favorable matter when people are talking about resolution of longstanding conflicts....The Arab initiative is not a negotiating document...but rather a framework, a vision for how Israel and the Arabs might reconcile." (U.S. State Department)
        See also Analysts Skeptical of Saudi Plan - Arshad Mohammed
    Aaron Miller, a former State Department Middle East negotiator, questioned whether the renewed talk of the Saudi proposal would lead to anything, given its call for Israel to return to the 1967 borders and for Palestinian refugees to have a right of return. "The Saudi initiative is not an initiative. It is a set of principles which I am persuaded neither the Arabs nor the Israelis can adhere to. The Israelis can't do what (it) calls for and the Arabs are not prepared to reciprocate," said Miller. "I don't take a whole lot of this seriously." (Reuters)
  • EU Backs Syria on Golan Heights
    The EU supports Syria's goal of regaining the Golan Heights from Israel, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said after meeting President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday. "We would like to work as much as possible to see your country Syria recuperate the territory taken in 1967," he said. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Israeli Officials Slam Solana Remarks - Herb Keinon
    Israeli officials expressed disappointment Wednesday that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana backed a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights following talks in Damascus with Syrian leaders, rather than publicly calling Syria to task for supporting terrorism. "This is not the message that Syria needed to hear at this time. Syria needed to hear that it must stop supporting terrorism, stop trying to undermine the government in Lebanon, stop supporting Hizbullah and Iran," one official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: Platform of New Palestinian Government "a Step Backward" - Josef Federman
    The platform of the new Palestinian government is a major "step backward" for peace prospects, and Israel will lobby the international community not to work with the coalition, a senior Israeli official said Thursday. "Anyone who looks carefully at the document will see that there is a regression on a number of important issues," the official said, noting the platform's call for the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel and its affirmation of the Palestinian right of "resistance." "This is not a step forward. It's a step backward," he said. (AP/USA Today)
  • Media Fight Request to Close Parts of Israel Lobbyists' Trial - Jerry Markon
    Defense lawyers and media organizations, which include the Washington Post, are objecting to what they say is a government effort to bar the public from the upcoming trial of two pro-Israel lobbyists charged with violating U.S. espionage laws. Last week defense lawyers filed a motion seeking "to strike the government's request to close the trial." (Washington Post)
        See also A Clash Looms on Secrecy in AIPAC Spy Case - Josh Gerstein (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abbas, Hamas Nix Changes to Saudi Plan - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian refugees must return to their original homes inside Israel and not to the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas minister Atef Udwan said Wednesday in response to reports that Israel and the U.S. had demanded certain changes in the 2002 Saudi initiative. Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, also said, "We are opposed to making any changes in the Arab plan." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel, PA, Jordan Agree to Build Agro-Industrial Park in West Bank
    Israel, the PA, and Jordan agreed on a plan Wednesday to build an agro-industrial park near Jericho in the West Bank, part of efforts backed by Japan to promote economic cooperation and development in the Middle East. Much of the funding for the park would come from Japanese development assistance. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed near a kibbutz in Israel's Negev region Wednesday night. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S. Gets More Scrutiny - Neil MacFarquhar
    With violence across the Middle East fixing Islam smack at the center of the American political debate, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an organization partly financed by donors closely identified with wealthy Persian Gulf governments, has emerged as the most vocal advocate for American Muslims - and an object of wide suspicion. Critics accuse CAIR of pursuing an extreme Islamist political agenda and say at least five figures with ties to the group or its leadership have either been convicted or deported for links to terrorist groups. CAIR has raised some suspicion by accepting large donations from individuals or foundations closely identified with Arab governments. Some Muslims, particularly the secular, find CAIR overly influenced by Saudi religious interpretations, criticizing it for stating in news releases, for example, that all Muslim women are required to veil their hair. (New York Times)
  • Avoid the "Grand Solution" Temptation - Gerald M. Steinberg
    The rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the revival of the 2002 Saudi-Arab League initiative, is not the result of a sudden outbreak of mutual understanding or the dedicated work of special Middle East peace envoys. Rather, the cause is rational self-interest. The Saudi monarchy, in concert with Egypt, Jordan and other Sunni Arab regimes, views Shi'ite power, led by the triumphant revolutionary government in Iran attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, as the greatest threat to its survival. Under these circumstances, a strengthened strategic relationship with the U.S. and a tacit alliance with Israel against Iran are vital for the Saudi and "moderate" Arab regimes. Beyond shared strategic concerns regarding Iran, the time is long overdue for Saudi leaders - political and religious - to end support for incitement and anti-Semitism. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Editor: Palestinian Factions Abusing Democracy
    The editor-in-chief of the Palestinian daily Al Hayat, Hafiz Barghouthi, on Wednesday accused the Palestinian factions of abusing democracy. Barghouthi said that what is delaying the formation of the Palestinian unity government was not political differences but the absence of internal democracy within the factions. He accused the factions of "turning the national project into a project for employment and posts." (Maan News-PA)
  • Observations:

    America and Israel Are at War with a Common Enemy - Pastor John Hagee (Jerusalem Online)

    Pastor John Hagee, who founded Christians United for Israel, told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy forum in Washington on Sunday:

    • Israel, you are not alone. The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened.
    • There are millions of evangelical Christians across America who consider the Jewish people the apple of God's eye; there are 50 million Christians standing up and applauding the State of Israel.
    • Iran poses a threat to the State of Israel that promises nothing less than a nuclear Holocaust. We must stop Iran's nuclear threat and stop it now and stand boldly with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. Iran's president has not limited his maniacal threats to Israel. He has also asked his fellow Iranians to imagine a world without America. This is a clear threat to destroy the United States of America.
    • Why do Christians support Israel? Because Christians deeply believe we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people. If you took away the Jewish contribution from Christianity, there would be no Christianity. Judaism does not need Christianity to explain its existence, but Christianity cannot explain its existence without Judaism.
    • America and Israel are at war with a common enemy. It is a war of good vs. evil. It is a war of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness vs. the culture of death.

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