Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: "I Decapitated American Jew Daniel Pearl" - Dafna Linzer and Josh White (Washington Post)
- March 15, 2007
Issue of the Week:
Unusual Places to Visit in Israel
Iranian Military Force Finds Its Wealth Under Attack - Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Gareth Smyth (Financial Times-UK)
Report: Egyptian Forces Arrest Palestinian Wearing Explosives (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
Saudi King Abdullah Used Peace Initiative to Stabilize His Rule - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
Gaza Evacuation Shows How to Destroy Israel - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
Putin's New Friends: Moscow Hosts Hamas - Matthew Levitt (Weekly Standard)
Terror Camp in China Had Links to Al-Qaeda (AP/Jerusalem Post)
Muslim Women Can Reshape Islam - Editorial (Christian Science Monitor)
Israel No. 2 in Hours On-Line - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
Buffing Israel's Image - Eric Simons (East Bay Express)
UNESCO Report on the Mughrabi Gate Dig in Jerusalem (UNESCO)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Hamas-led Palestinian government, boycotted by the West since its election more than a year ago because of Hamas' support of terrorism, announced Thursday a unity coalition with Fatah in hopes of ending the boycott. But the political document guiding the new government does not fulfill the international community's three demands - to recognize Israel, forswear violence, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements - and Israel announced that it would therefore not deal with the new government or any of its ministers, Hamas or not. The U.S. is expected to follow suit but the EU will face a fierce internal debate. (New York Times)
See also New PA Government Seen Complicating Rice's Middle East Effort - Glenn Kessler
The completion of a Palestinian unity government that includes ministers from the radical Islamic group Hamas will further complicate Secretary of State Rice's efforts to rekindle peace efforts in the region. U.S. officials privately acknowledge that Abbas' announcement last month that he had struck a deal with Hamas was a blow to U.S. and Israeli efforts to elevate Abbas as an alternative to Hamas. Israeli officials have rejected any dealings with the new government, saying even the respected figures it contains are shills for terrorists. (Washington Post)
See also Cool Reception for Palestinian Government - Tim Butcher (Telegraph-UK)
Israel and the U.S. intend to use restrictions on banks to limit the ability of donors to transfer funds to a Palestinian unity government, senior Israeli and American sources said. International, regional and Palestinian banks will still be able to send funds directly to Mahmoud Abbas' office, but the sources said this week that Israel and the U.S. were not prepared to give a green light to banks to resume transfers directly to the unity government. "As long as the demands of the U.S. and the Quartet are not fulfilled, no money will be allowed to be transferred to the government itself. That's the decision," a senior Israeli security source said. Banks that make transfers without authorization risk being frozen out of the U.S. banking system.
"The question for the banks is, from the perspective of due diligence and reputational risk, do you really want to be doing business with an entity like Hamas?" said Matthew Levitt, who until Jan. 31 was U.S. deputy assistant secretary of Treasury for intelligence and analysis. (Reuters)
After three weeks of intense negotiations, the UN Security Council's five major powers and Germany have agreed in principle to ban all Iranian arms exports and freeze the financial assets of 28 Iranian officials and institutions, including several commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. (Washington Post)
See also Ahmadinejad Seeking to Address the UN - Benny Avni
Iranian President Ahmadinejad officially filed a request to address the UN, setting up a dramatic showdown as early as next week. Iran asked the State Department for entry visas for Ahmadinejad and 38 associates. Jewish organizations Thursday urged America to deny Ahmadinejad's visa request "on numerous grounds, including his violation of the United Nations Charter and the Genocide Convention with his threats to annihilate the State of Israel." The leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations made their statement in a letter to Secretary of State Rice and Attorney General Gonzales.
Interpol announced Thursday that it would issue capture notices on five Iranians charged recently by Argentina with a 1994 terrorist bombing of Jewish targets in Buenos Aires. (New York Sun)
Hamas is busily fortifying Gaza with the help of Iranian expertise and funding. "They're digging bunkers and tunnels 20 meters underground equipped with air conditioning," retired Israeli intelligence officer Brig.-Gen. Shalom Harari said. "That's something the Iranians taught them." Since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza 18 months ago, hundreds of Hamas fighters have gone to Iran for intensive military training sometimes lasting months, according to Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin. Harari said: "Hamas and Iran have formed a strategic alliance. Iran sees Hamas as part of a pincer aimed at Israel." The other arm of the pincer is Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Iran is also funding militant groups in the West Bank, which borders Israel's heartland. However, Israeli forces are still deployed in the West Bank and arrests of militants have prevented Hamas from gaining traction. (The Australian)
A new militant Islamic organization called Fatah al-Islam, whose leader is a fugitive Palestinian named Shakir al-Abssi, has set up operations in a refugee camp in Tripoli, Lebanon, training fighters and spreading the ideology of al-Qaeda. A former associate of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia who was killed last summer, Abssi was sentenced to death in absentia along with Zarqawi in the 2002 assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan, Laurence Foley. Just four months after arriving in Tripoli from Syria, Abssi has a militia estimated at 150 men and an arsenal of explosives, rockets, and even an antiaircraft gun. Intelligence officials say he has 50 militants from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries fresh from fighting with the insurgency in Iraq.
Intelligence officials have warned that al-Qaeda is reforming as an alliance of small groups around the world that share a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam but have developed their own independent terror capabilities. If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed represents the previous generation of Qaeda leaders, Abssi and others like him represent the new. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Four years ago, when the U.S. and Great Britain brought Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq to an end, there was a collective sigh of relief within the Israeli defense establishment. The "Eastern Front" had ceased to exist. The nightmare scenario of the Republican Guards' armored brigades sweeping across the lightly defended Hashemite Kingdom to attack Israel on its long and unfortified Jordan Valley border could be taken off the list of threats. Nor would Hussein's Scud missiles be once more pointed at Tel Aviv.
For more than three decades, ever since the Yom Kippur War, the Arab states haven't tried to use their conventional forces against Israel. Two facts, though, seem unavoidable. Any prospective president planning to win the November 2008 U.S. election will have to promise a clear time frame for extricating American troops. And whenever that evacuation is over, there will still be sizable groups of terrorists of various stripes and colors holding out who will celebrate the U.S. departure as their victory.
At that moment, the Eastern Front will once again become a threat for Israel. Thousands of Islamist fighters, both Sunni and Shi'ite, will be anxious to take on "Little Satan." Flushed with what they will obviously see as their success at having evicted Big Satan from the land of Islam, they will believe that the same thing can be done to the Zionist entity. Their arrival will boost the capabilities of Hizbullah, Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups and further encourage them to seek violent confrontations with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel Fears U.S. Iraq Exit Could Topple Jordanian Regime - Shmuel Rosner and Aluf Benn
Israel is worried a hasty American withdrawal from Iraq could topple the Hashemite regime in Jordan. Prime Minister Olmert has received an assessment from the security services that says a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq before that country has stabilized would have immediate repercussions on the domestic situation in Jordan. These effects could even threaten the stability of the Hashemite monarchy. Israel views Jordan as a strategic asset whose stability is a vital Israeli interest. (Ha'aretz)
A senior Israeli official says it is necessary to welcome the idea inherent in the Saudi initiative, that the Arab world is prepared to accept Israel. However, Israel will not agree to absorb even a single refugee in its territory. What Foreign Minister Livni did this week, and which Secretary of State Rice echoed to some extent after their meeting, was to propose that they reverse the order. Instead of waiting with the normalization for Israeli-Palestinian peace - normalize now, and thus help advance the peace process. (Ha'aretz)
See also Egypt: Normalization Later
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Thursday that Arab countries will not accept a normalization of relations with Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. (AFP/Yahoo)
The political program of the new Palestinian Authority unity government has been drafted in such a way as to allow both Hamas and Fatah to argue that neither had totally abandoned its traditional position. The program sets a number of conditions for halting the "resistance": ending the "occupation" and achieving independence and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, as well as an end to Israeli security measures including the construction of the security fence. In other words, Fatah and Hamas are saying that the violence will continue as long as Israel does not meet these demands. It also makes no mention of the two-state solution.
The program states that the new government will only "respect" agreements signed by the PLO. Hamas leaders have explained that there is a huge difference between "respecting" an agreement and making a pledge to fulfill it. In other words, Hamas is saying that while it accepts the agreements with Israel as an established fact, it will not carry them out. (Jerusalem Post)
The Israel Foreign Ministry on Thursday launched a campaign to ensure that the Quartet's three conditions that a PA government needs to accept to gain international legitimacy and funding remain intact in light of the new Palestinian unity government. Since the conditions were first enunciated on January 30, 2006, there has been concern that they would soon be thrown by the wayside. Yet they have survived the last 13 months, and Israeli government officials sounded confident Thursday that they would continue to last - especially since the U.S. is firmly behind them - for the foreseeable future.
Four days after Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan read out the Quartet's statement: "It is the view of the Quartet that all members of a future Palestinian government must be committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map." (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed in Israel's western Negev region on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
Clashes between Hamas and Fatah erupted Wednesday in Gaza, leaving one Fatah militant dead, nine other Palestinians injured, and 12 abducted. (Maan News-PA)
See also Assailants Kill Palestinian Intelligence Officer in Gaza Friday - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Already there are signs of domestic discontent within Iran, and targeted financial measures can produce further political pressure within Iran. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the nuclear crisis (and subsequent sanctions) "is imposing a heavy opportunity cost on Iran's economic development, slowing down investment in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, as well as in critical infrastructure projects, including electricity." A 2003 World Bank report on Iran noted the "daunting unemployment challenge" facing Iran and concluded: "Unless the country moves quickly to a faster path of growth with employment, discontent and disenchantment could threaten its economic, social and political system."
We are already seeing the benefits of this strategy. Banks like UBS, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Commerzbank, and others have decided to cut off or curtail dealings with Iran. Some foreign banks are refusing to issue new letters of credit to Iranian businesses, and Iran now faces a standoff with Russia over Tehran's apparent desire to pay for Bushehr in euros, not dollars. Targeted financial measures are not symbolic sanctions. They have teeth, and Tehran is wary of their bite. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
"The Muslim Brotherhood has at its disposal media that transcends borders, from newspapers to satellite channels, which have taken over the minds of millions...throughout the entire Arab world," wrote Mamoun Fandy about the movement's relationship with the Al-Jazeera satellite network in the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat. "If you watch a debate program presented on Al-Jazeera...you will be amazed at the supreme effort...to defend the Muslim Brotherhood," Fandy says. Pierre Akel, founder and editor of a prominent Arabic reformist Web site, Metransparent.com, concurs: "When it comes to satellite television in the region, Al-Jazeera is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood." Many leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood use Al-Jazeera for their own platform. To understand this network better, we should listen to what Arab reformists who are battling the culture of hate within their society are saying about it. (MEMRI/New York Sun)
The BBC World Service plans to start an Arabic television service this fall. The BBC has been broadcasting in Arabic on the radio for more than 60 years and has a huge audience. But if the BBC's Arabic TV programs resemble its radio programs, then they will be just as anti-Western as anything that comes out of the Gulf, if not more so. They will serve to increase, rather than to diminish, tensions, hostilities and misunderstandings among nations.
The authoritarian regimes and armed militants of the Arab world get sympathetic treatment on BBC Arabic. When a State Department representative referred to Syria as a dictatorship, his BBC interviewer immediately interrupted and reprimanded him. By contrast, the words and deeds of Western leaders, particularly the American president and the British prime minister, are subject to minute analysis, generally on the assumption that behind them lies a hidden and disreputable agenda. The writer is a professor in the department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a visiting scholar at New York University. (New York Times)
On 26 February 2007, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that the July 1995 massacre of an estimated 7-8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb Forces was an act of genocide. Since it has now been ruled that states can be tried for genocide, a case can probably be brought under the Genocide Convention against Iran since Article III of the Genocide Convention describes incitement to genocide as a punishable act. The ICJ ruling may have applicability to the Palestinian Authority, as well. The Charter of Hamas, the leading party in the PA, calls for genocide. As recently as 12 March 2007, Hamas announced that it was still seeking Israel's destruction. (ICA/JCPA)
We Lebanese should do the obvious and honorable, and make a wholehearted peace with Israel. We need to end, once for all, and permanently, for the sake of all children, this futile bleeding conflict we were pushed into on behalf of the anti-civilization forces. We have lost 60 years of our lives, our brightest have emigrated, our country is ravished, left at the crossroad of partition, fighting for its life. Peace with Israel means opening new trade and shipping routes southward, with and through Israel, then to Jordan and Egypt, nations with open borders and honored peace treaties with Israel. Peace with Israel means economic cooperation, massive foreign investments, and faster economic development for Lebanon.
All these beautiful possibilities are threatened by the current bloody Syrian dictatorship. There will be no peace for Lebanon, and by consequence none for Israel, unless the Assad dictatorship is defeated or brought to justice for its crimes. (Global Politician)
French Jews living in South Florida say hostility from Islamic militants in France after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. spurred them to leave. Departures surged after last year's abduction and death of Ilan Halimi in France. Officials in U.S. Jewish organizations said the number of French Jews could be anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 in South Florida. ''I would say they're in the thousands now,'' said Mendy Levy, a rabbi at The Shul synagogue in Surfside. Jewish Agency figures show that almost 14,000 French Jews have resettled in Israel since 2001. Vanessa Elmaleh, an attorney who specializes in French Jewish immigration, said perhaps more than 50,000 French Jews are moving or actively planning to move to Israel and more than 10,000 are in South Florida. (Miami Herald)
AIPAC Policy Conference
When Israel is threatened, America's interests in the region are threatened. America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakable. As we all know, the source of Hizbullah's weapons is Iran. President Ahmadinejad continues with hate-filled rhetoric about the U.S., Israel and the Holocaust. His recklessness with words underscores our concerns about his development of nuclear weapons. Iran must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. It threatens the security of Israel, the stability of the region and the safety of the world.
There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In truth, the history of the conflict has never been about the occupation. It is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist. The success of Hamas in last year's election, followed by the decision by Abbas to form a unity government, is a major disappointment. Peace efforts are at a standstill because of Hamas' failure to meet the most basic standards of the international community: first, recognition of Israel's right to exist, second, renunciation of terror, and third, there must be acceptance of prior agreements. (AIPAC)
The enemies of America and Israel are the same. And the rise of radical Islamic fundamentalism has real security implications for both nations. And the same ideology that's been at work to destroy Israel is the same ideology attempting to destroy America and its allies. We didn't start this war with radical Islam. They started the war with us. A lot of people believe that America wasn't involved in this until the attacks of 9/11. But look at what happened in Tehran in 1979, when they took 400 of our hostages in Iran. Look at what happened in Beirut in 1983, when radical Islam attacked our Marine barracks. Somalia in 1993. The Khobar Towers attack in 1996. Our two embassies that were bombed in 1998 in Africa. The USS Cole off the coast of Yemen. All attacked by radical Islamic fundamentalists, intent on bringing war to America.
The rise of radical Islamic fundamentalism continues to grow throughout the world. And it's not just growing in the Middle East. It's growing in Europe, it's growing in Asia and it's growing in Africa. People are being taught to hate Israel and to hate America, and they're being raised this way and they're raising armies of people to take us on. And they don't believe that we have the fortitude to stand up and to protect Israel, or the fortitude, as Americans, to stand up and protect ourselves. (AIPAC)
This week saw yet another reminder of the awesome power of the American-Jewish lobby. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) brought more than 6,000 activists to Washington for its annual policy conference. They heard from the four most powerful people on Capitol Hill - Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner from the House, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell from the Senate - as well as the vice-president (who called his talk "The United States and Israel: United We Stand"). Several first-division presidential candidates held receptions.
Congress has more Jewish members than ever before: 30 in the House and a remarkable 13 in the Senate. (There are now more Jews in Congress than Episcopalians.) About two-thirds of Americans hold a favorable view of Israel. Arab-Americans have been growing in numbers and influence for years - there are probably about 3.5m. Institutions such as the Arab American Institute and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have plenty of access to Middle Eastern money, but so far their performance has been unimpressive. Arab-Americans are split between Christians (63%) and Muslims (24%). (Economist-UK)
What Was Once a Revolutionary Guard Is Now Just a Mafia - Mohsen Sazegara (Forward)
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