Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see


March 22, 2007

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Training Iraqi Death Squads? - Claude Salhani (UPI)
    According to the Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e-Khalq, Iran's al-Quds force is heavily involved in training Iraqi death squads and militias.
    The group accuses the Iranian regime of secretly engaging in "the organization and training of large Iraqi terrorist networks in Iran and sending them back to Iraq."
    The Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has allocated bases in Tehran, Karaj, Qom, and Isfahan, as well as in provinces close to the Iraqi border such as Kermanshah, Ilam, Kurdistan, and Khuzestan, to train death squads and terrorist networks.
    Training includes urban guerilla warfare, instruction on use of light and semi-heavy weapons, mortars, missiles, sniping techniques, use of explosives, and firing shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.
    The Iraqi militias are trained under the command of IRGC Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Shahlaei, a veteran commander of the Quds Force in the Ramezan base.
    See also President Bush and the Qods Force Controversy: Lessons Learned - Dan Diker (ICA/JCPA)

Italy Swapped Five Jailed Taliban for a Hostage - Ian Fisher (New York Times)
    An Italian journalist who was held hostage for 15 days by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan was ransomed for five Taliban prisoners, the Italian government and Afghan officials confirmed Wednesday.
    It appears to be the first time prisoners have been openly exchanged for a hostage, a move that drew immediate criticism from Washington, London, and other European capitals.
    "We donít negotiate with terrorists, and we donít advise others to do so either," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
    The exchange sent "the wrong signal to prospective hostage takers," a spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office said.

Poet Loses Case After Slandering Israel - Maryclaire Dale (AP/Anchorage Daily News)
    An appeals court in Philadelphia ruled Wednesday against former New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka, who lost his job after suggesting Israel had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
    Baraka had claimed his First Amendment rights were violated, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, said the firing was legislative and not political in nature.

Useful Reference:

Iran's Developing Nuclear and Missile Program - Anthony Cordesman (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
    This report provides assessments of Iran's nuclear program and information on the latest in missile procurement and development.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Wary of Hamas, U.S. Is to Trim Aid to Palestinian Forces - Helene Cooper
    The Bush administration will reduce by about 40% the aid it is seeking from Congress for the security forces of Mahmoud Abbas, and set new conditions for monitoring the money because of concerns that some of it could end up with Hamas, administration officials said Wednesday. Secretary of State Rice told a House panel on Wednesday that she would soon send Congress a revised package that would try to restrict the use of the money to security forces loyal to Abbas. (New York Times)
  • Rice: PA Must Recognize the "Foundational Principles for Peace"
    Secretary of State Rice told a Congressional committee Wednesday: "It is extremely important to continue to show American commitment to the development of a political horizon so that the Palestinian people can see that their future rests with moderate forces like Abu Mazen [Abbas], not with those forces that are extreme. In that regard, frankly, the formation of the Palestinian unity government has provided something of a challenge because the Palestinian unity government as formed does not meet the Quartet principles. I have stopped calling them the Quartet principles; I now call them the 'foundational principles for peace,' because quite clearly you cannot have peace unless you recognize the right of the other party to exist, unless you're prepared to renounce violence, and unless you're prepared to live up to past agreements."
        "The U.S. is not prepared to change its assistance policies toward this government because it does not recognize those foundational principles for peace. We will nonetheless not suspend our contacts with those in the Palestinian government who have a record of fighting for peace." (State Department)
  • Quartet: PA Government Must Demonstrate "Credible Commitment to Quartet Principles"
    Representatives of the Quartet discussed by telephone on Wednesday the establishment of a Palestinian national unity government. The Quartet reaffirmed its previous statements with regard to the need for a Palestinian government committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. The Quartet expressed its expectation that the unity government will act responsibly and demonstrate clear and credible commitment to the Quartet principles. (State Department)
        See also Israel Welcomes, Palestinians Slam Quartet Boycott Extension (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Cracks Appear in Palestinian Coalition - Diaa Hadid
    The appointment of Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan as security adviser to Mahmoud Abbas and head of the National Security Council is threatening the new Palestinian unity government just days after its inauguration. Dahlan is in charge of bringing order to the chaotic security services, including Hamas' own militia. Analysts say the issue is so sensitive that it could break up the new government and return Gaza to civil strife. On Wednesday, one man was killed and two were seriously wounded in an armed clash between Fatah and Hamas in northern Gaza. Later, an Islamic university professor affiliated with Hamas was kidnapped by gunmen south of Gaza City. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • MK Melchior: Alert Abbas to PA Textbooks - Haviv Rettig
    "You can't have agreements while this kind of hatred is inculcated in the children," Knesset Education Committee Chairman Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) said on Tuesday after seeing new 12th-grade textbooks published by the PA. Melchior's statements followed a Palestinian Media Watch presentation at the Knesset showing Palestinian 12th grade textbooks teaching children in the PA that pursuing Israel's destruction was a religious duty.
        The schoolbooks, the products of the official education arm of the PA, written by Fatah-appointed officials at the Center for Developing the Palestinian Curricula and published by the PA Ministry of Higher Education, are also used by schools in east Jerusalem that are under the jurisdiction of - and receive funding from - Israel's Education Ministry. According to Melchior, the report's findings indicate a trend from "a conflict over land, which can be resolved by partition, to an existential religious conflict that cannot be resolved."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Report on Newest Palestinian Schoolbooks: "From Nationalist Battle to Religious Conflict" - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Turkish Delegation Inspects Dig Near Temple Mount - Lilach Shoval
    A seven-man team of Turkish experts arrived in Israel Tuesday to inspect construction work near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Firebomber Killed
    The Israel Defense Forces shot and killed Mohammed al-Barghouti and wounded his companion, Hatem Barghouti, on Monday near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Palestinian police confirmed the two were throwing firebombs. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Carjack UN Vehicle in Gaza City
    Four masked Palestinian gunmen carjacked a UN Relief and Works Agency vehicle driven by a Palestinian staff worker in Gaza City on Thursday, a spokesman for the UN's refugee mission in Gaza said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • "Talks" with PA Ready to Disappoint - Editorial
    Those who want to reopen the aid spigot should remember that giving money directly to the terrorists running the PA has never made the suffering people on the West Bank any less miserable. But it will enable terrorists to launch more attacks against Israel, a democratic ally, and the West. The West Bank regime is in fact a zombie state, kept alive by Western aid and without any real way to sustain itself. It's the UN's own fault. It has kept Palestinians in "camps" for more than 50 years, turning them into long-term welfare cases and keeping alive through countless anti-Israel UN resolutions the hope that, someday, they'll be able to drive Israel into the sea.
        We're perplexed by the Western powers' need to engage in endless rounds of pointless "talks" when those talks inevitably lead to disappointment and violence, not peace. There's one, and only one, path to peace. The PA must recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce the use of terrorism. (Investor's Business Daily)
  • Engaging Syria Won't Affect Iranian Nukes - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
    The nuclear threat in Iran will exist even if Syria completely cuts its ties with the country. Therefore, there is no real basis for those who say that the political process with Syria will help us against the Iranians. This is an illusion. The nuclear threat must be dealt with directly with the Iranians. There is no way to get around this by dealing with the Syrians. (MERIA Journal-Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya)
  • A Columnist's Blind Spot on Israel - David A. Harris
    Nicholas Kristof is a respected New York Times columnist who earned acclaim for focusing our attention on the unfolding tragedy in Darfur. But when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he has a blind spot. Frankly, Israel doesn't need lectures from well-intentioned journalists on the need for peace. Israel needs well-intentioned partners for peace.
        There's no partner because in the January 2006 elections the Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel's annihilation. The Hamas Charter spells that out clearly and unambiguously. Should Israel sit down and talk with Hamas, which controls 11 of the 17 cabinet posts in the new PA government, about the timetable for Israel's own destruction? Given the reality on the ground, and after the Gaza and Lebanon experiences, Olmert can't risk further shrinking Israel without a negotiated deal and solid international guarantees.
        Israel has sought peace and coexistence with its Arab neighbors since its establishment in 1948. But peace doesn't come by waving a magic wand or wistfully projecting one's aspirations on others. When a serious and determined Palestinian peace partner emerges as the examples of Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Jordan's King Hussein amply prove, the Israeli people will not need coaxing from an American journalist. The writer is the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    No Special Status: Israel Does Not Enjoy Any EU Preference
    - Oded Eran (Ynet News)

    • In 1994 a German visionary leader, Helmut Kohl, led the Council of the European Union to adopt a statement in the German city of Essen, according to which "preferred status" would be granted to Israeli relations with the EU. Thirteen years after that statement, there is no preference and no special status.
    • Significant implementation of the Essen Declaration would only be possible if one of the following scenarios are realized, and some say both: First, that Turkey and the EU would reach the conclusion that Turkey would not be granted full membership in the EU, and the parties would agree on a "minus membership." This would include opening the EU's institutions, agencies and plans, currently only open to member states, to Turkey as well. At such a stage, neighbors such as Israel and Ukraine could demand a similar status.
    • The second scenario entails achieving a diplomatic settlement regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are those in Israel who believe that the EU should offer Israel and Palestine membership in its ranks in order to accelerate an agreement. As I am familiar with the workings of the EU, I am afraid that this idea would further delay the coming of the Messiah rather than hastening it.
    • The possible and desired change would call for a structural change in the EU and a strategic change of thinking in Israel. The EU would have to enable Turkey, Ukraine and Israel - perhaps others as well - to join the "Euro space," if they are interested in doing so. Israel would have to decide to join the unified European market - a decision that would be made easier if Chancellor Angela Merkel succeeds in creating a free trade zone between the EU and the U.S.

      The writer is Israel's ambassador to the European Union.

    Subscribe to the Daily Alert

    Unsubscribe from the Daily Alert