Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 4, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Protesters Call for Israel's Annihilation - Ramin Mostaghim and Kim Murphy (Los Angeles Times)
    More than 150 students pelted the British Embassy in Tehran Sunday with firecrackers and a smoke grenade, demanding an apology and the closure of the mission following Iran's detention of 15 British sailors and marines in the northern Persian Gulf.
    Shouting slogans such as "Death to Britain" and carrying banners with a call to "finally wipe Israel from the face of the Earth," hard-line Islamist students attempted to scale the embassy walls.

Saudis Claim 80 Percent Success in Re-educating Al-Qaeda Militants - Ian Black (Guardian-UK)
    Officials in Riyadh say they have seen an 80-90% success rate in a "counter-radicalization" campaign designed to wean extremists detained by the security forces off the "takfiri" ideology that permits the killing of fellow Muslims.
    Abu Suleiman, 33, a holy warrior-turned financial analyst, has seen the error of his ways:
    "I got involved in jihad when I was 20," he explained in the American-accented English picked up during four years spent in Guantanamo Bay after his capture at Tora Bora in 2001.
    "I had good intentions. I wanted to help Muslims round the world, but I felt I was being used for other purposes."
    Prisoners undergo social and psychological profiling, take part in 10-week courses, and are helped to find jobs and even wives as part of intensive after-care support that includes cash handouts for their families.

BAE Hired Actresses for Saudis - David Leppard (Sunday Times-UK)
    A secret slush fund set up by BAE Systems, Britain's biggest defense contractor, was used to pay tens of thousands of pounds to two British actresses while they befriended a senior Saudi prince and his entourage.
    Confidential documents reveal that money from the £60m fund went on the mortgages and rent, credit card bills and council tax of Anouska Bolton-Lee and Karajan Mallinder. It even paid for language lessons.
    At the time of the payments, Bolton-Lee and Mallinder regularly attended parties at the Carlton Tower hotel in London hosted by the prince who, as head of the Royal Saudi Air Force, was responsible for the purchase of 150 Hawk and Tornado jets from BAE.

Ancient Jewish City Found under Palestinian Suburb (AFP)
    Workers digging a new Jerusalem light rail line have stumbled upon the remains of an ancient Jewish city from the first century CE under what is now the Palestinian suburb of Shuafat.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Saudis Say Israel Must Withdraw First - Abdullah Shihri and Donna Abu-Nasr
    Saudi Arabia signaled Monday it is unlikely to accept an Israeli invitation to a regional peace conference, saying that Israel must first move to withdraw from Arab lands. A statement by the Saudi Cabinet did not refer directly to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's public invitation to Saudi King Abdullah and other moderate Arab leaders to meet with him and discuss their ideas for peace. (AP/Washington Post)
  • France Snubs Palestinian Call for End to Aid Ban - Crispian Balmer
    The new Palestinian government must do more if it wants to end a year-old international ban on direct aid, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Monday. After meeting Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr, Douste-Blazy said among the preconditions for a normalization of relations was the release of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit (who has French citizenship), snatched by Palestinian gunmen during a raid inside Israel along the Gaza-Israeli border in June. (Reuters)
  • Revolutionary Guard Broadens Its Influence in Iran - Robin Wright
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the elite unit at the heart of the latest Middle East crisis, has greater power today than at any point since the revolution's early days to export Islamic militancy and challenge the West's presence in the region, say U.S. officials and Iran experts. Its naval forces abducted 15 British sailors and marines. Its special forces unit is operating deep in Iraq, providing militias with deadly roadside explosives used against American troops. It supplied missiles used by Hizbullah last summer in the longest war Arabs ever fought with Israel. And it now plays the largest role in Iran's ambitious military industries, including attempted acquisition of nuclear weapons and surface-to-surface missiles, according to Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Revolutionary Guard has also become a leading political and economic force in Iran. (Washington Post)
        See also Using the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards to Export the Revolution
    The aspiration to export the Islamic revolution to all Muslim societies (and to all human society as well) was an integral part of the philosophy of Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the revolution and founded the Islamic republic in 1979. The Quds (Jerusalem) Force is one of five branches of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is the strongest military-security body in Iran and the regime's main support. The Quds Force, numbering several thousand, was established at the beginning of the 1990s to help export the revolution beyond the borders of Iran, and became the main Iranian apparatus working secretly beyond its borders. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians "Offended" by German Chancellor's Pro-Israel Stance - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA officials have accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of "offending the Palestinians' feelings" during her visit earlier this week to Ramallah, where she met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "She did everything to provoke the Palestinians during her visit," said one official on Monday. "She showed no understanding for the plight of our people. On the other hand, she appeared to be very biased toward Israel." The official claimed that while Merkel refused to meet with families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, she focused during her talks with Abbas on the need to release kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who has been held in Gaza since last June. In addition, he noted, Merkel met with the families of missing IDF soldiers during her visit to Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Flying Carpet of the President of Yemen - Ron Ben Yishai
    Two aircraft, one of which was the personal plane of the President of Yemen, landed in a combat zone in Northern Yemen about six weeks ago and rescued the Jews of Sa'adah from an extremist Shiite organization backed by Iran. The Yemeni Army is having a difficult time suppressing a revolt in the northwest part of Yemen along the Saudi border where an organization made up of Shiite tribes is seeking to establish a religious Shiite state. Iran is supplying massive financial aid and weapons as part of its effort to export the Iranian revolution to other countries in the Middle East. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 2Apr07)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues Despite "Truce"
    Palestinian gunmen in northern Gaza on Tuesday fired a Kassam rocket toward Israel that landed in an open area in the western Negev. Close to 200 rockets have been fired at Israel since the November 2006 "truce." (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Palestinian "Right of Return"? - Michael Medved
    The latest Arab League peace proposal, recycled with much fanfare from a 2002 Saudi plan, includes a requirement that Israel should accept untold millions of Palestinians who would relocate into Israel itself. The War of Independence began in 1948 because the Palestinians and their Arab supporters refused to accept the idea of an independent Jewish state in their midst, regardless of its borders or the clear-cut Jewish majority in the land originally mandated by the UN. Today, the insistence on a "right of return" shows that the Arabs still refuse to accept Israel as a sovereign nation, entitled to control its own destiny.
        If the Palestinians will negotiate peace, they get to decide who lives in their new state, but they don't get to decide who lives in the neighboring State of Israel. Until the Palestinians and their Islamic allies come to terms with the reality and permanence of a restored state on the ancient homeland of the Jewish people, and drop demands about a "right to return," peace negotiations will go absolutely nowhere. (
        See also The Failure of the Riyadh Summit - Dore Gold (ICA-JCPA)
  • What Saudi Arabia Wants - Rachel Bronson
    King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan bin Abd Al Aziz appear ready to nudge Iran to reduce regional tensions in Lebanon, Iraq, and beyond. Still, this doesn't mean that Saudi leaders either trust Iran or are optimistic about how far their efforts can succeed. Two trends are converging that are leading Saudi Arabia to pursue a more visible and active foreign policy. But they still do not explain the reported cancellation of the state dinner in Washington or the dramatic charge of the U.S. presence in Iraq being illegal. The Saudis have clearly decided that, in order to do what they must regionally, they need to portray distance from the U.S. The king sees little value in being viewed as the Tony Blair of the Middle East. (New Republic)
  • The Iranian Dilemma: Preventing Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Capabilities - Mordechai Kedar
    Most Iranian citizens lead a free, secular lifestyle, scorn the religious leaders who tyrannize them, and survive economically in a twisted and corrupt system. The leadership imposes its regime by means of force - from executing people in the city square to lashings and other forms of physical and mental punishment - according to Shiite practice. The average Iranian citizen enjoys relative personal freedom, as long as he or she refrains from engaging in political activity.
        Experience in recent years has proven that negotiations have no chance of halting Iran's nuclear plan. If a unified front of Western countries forces the Iranian regime to choose between survival and nuclearization, and if the West succeeds in convincing the ayatollahs that this time the ultimatum is serious and that it will unquestionably be implemented, they will choose survival. Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence. (BESA Center/Bar-Ilan University)
  • Observations:

    The Trouble with Islam - Tawfik Hamid (Wall Street Journal)

    • As a former member of Jemaah Islamiya, a group led by al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, I know firsthand that the inhumane teaching in Islamist ideology can transform a young, benevolent mind into that of a terrorist.
    • Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it. While there are many ideological "rootlets" of Islamism, the main tap root has a name - Salafi Islam, a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion. For more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.
    • Some in the West have taken up the chant that Islamic extremism is caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. This analysis cannot convince any rational person that the Islamist murder of over 150,000 innocent people in Algeria or their slaying of hundreds of Buddhists in Thailand, or the brutal violence between Sunni and Shia in Iraq could have anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

      The writer is a medical doctor and Muslim reformer living in the West.

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    Today's issue of the Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Chol Hamoed Pesach.