Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 10, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Builds a Western Base - Pablo Gato and Robert Windrem (MSNBC)
    The Iranian-backed Hizbullah militia has taken root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals boiling with hatred for the U.S. and ready to die to prove it.
    An extensive smuggling network run by Hizbullah funnels large sums of money to militia leaders in the Middle East and finances training camps, propaganda operations and bomb attacks in South America, according to U.S. and South American officials.
    U.S. officials fear the poorly patrolled Tri-border region could make it easy for Hizbullah terrorists to infiltrate the southern U.S. border.
    The CIA singles out the Mexican border as an especially inviting target for Hizbullah operatives. "Many alien smuggling networks that facilitate the movement of non-Mexicans have established links to Muslim communities in Mexico," its Counter Terrorism Center said in a 2004 threat paper.
    In 1992 and 1994, terrorists linked to Hizbullah carried out two attacks against Jewish targets in Buenos Aires, with Iran's involvement, as well.
    The Argentine prosecutor's office said the Iranian president at the time, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, ordered the attack to retaliate against Argentina for suspending nuclear cooperation with Iran.
    A warrant for Rafsanjani's arrest remains outstanding, and the prosecutor's office continues its investigation 13 years later.
    See also Tehran Goes Latin - Joseph Contreras (Newsweek)
    See also Sunni and Shiite Terrorist Networks: The South American Connection - Lenny Ben-David (ICA/JCPA)

Nine Foreign Peacekeepers Die in Sinai Plane Crash - Omar Sinan (AP/Washington Post)
    Eight French soldiers and a Canadian, members of the Multinational Force and Observers who monitor the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, were killed Sunday when their plane crashed in the Sinai desert while on a training mission.

Hebron: The Quietest City in the Territories - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    For two months, there have been no checkpoints between Jerusalem and the Arab part of Hebron.
    With the exception of the point of contention at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Hebron is the quietest and safest city in the West Bank.
    There are no militias, no armed gangs and no hooligans. There is a traditional tribal social structure, no refugee camps inside the city and the town's large and powerful families do not permit lawlessness.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Gaza Group Issues Demands for Abducted BBC Reporter - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    A little-known Islamist group claimed responsibility in an audio recording Wednesday for abducting the BBC's Gaza correspondent, issuing demands immediately rebuffed by the Palestinian government. As evidence that it is holding correspondent Alan Johnston, the group posted a photo of his BBC identification card on the Internet. The posting appeared to be the first tangible evidence that Johnston, who disappeared on March 12 while driving his car in the Gaza Strip, had been kidnapped. "We demand that Britain free our prisoners, particularly the honorable Sheikh Abu Qatada al-Filistini," said a speaker on the audio recording, posted on the Internet by a group that calls itself the "Jaysh al-Islam," or Army of Islam.
        Abu Qatada, a radical Islamic cleric suspected of close links to al-Qaeda, has been described by the British government as a "significant international terrorist." The recording was posted on an Islamist website often used by al-Qaeda and other militant groups. The Army of Islam was one of three Palestinian groups, including Hamas' armed wing, that were involved in last June's seizure of an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid from Gaza. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Gaza Group Led by Criminal Warlord - Sonia Verma
    The Army of Islam is thought to be a splinter group of the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella organization of Gaza militants which launches attacks against Israel and which is believed to have been involved in multiple kidnappings of Western aid workers in the last few months. The group is believed to be led by Mumtaz Dagmoush, patriarch of one of the most influential criminal clans in Gaza, and has its own distinctive jihadist ideology. (Times-UK)
  • Finding Ancient King's Tomb Bolsters Israeli Claims - Samuel Sockol
    The discovery of Herod the Great's tomb at Herodion National Monument dusted off the competing Israeli and Palestinian claims to the region between Bethlehem and the Judean desert. Israelis said the reported find of the Jewish king's tomb supported their historic right to the area. Herod, who ruled Judea from 37 BCE to 4 BCE, is renowned for monumental building projects, including the expansion of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the construction of the fortress at Masada and of temples and palaces in Caesarea. At Herodion he built a complex that served as a palace, sanctuary, administrative center and mausoleum. (Washington Post)
        See also Photo Gallery of King Herod's Tomb - Doron Nissim (; Video News Report (BBC News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel May Join OECD Next Week - Moti Bassok
    Israel has a very good chance of being voted into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development next week. Finance ministers of the 30 OECD countries are meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday in Paris and are expected to vote in favor of the proposal. If accepted, Israel will officially join a group of the most developed countries in the world. OECD membership is a stamp of quality for investment houses, foreign investors, international credit rating firms, economic organizations and companies. Raising capital, both by companies and the government, will cost less. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues
    Three Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in the Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Arab Commission - Thomas L. Friedman
    Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, was quoted by the BBC last week praising Israel for conducting an inquiry into last year's war, in contrast with the Arab regimes that "do not probe, do not ask, do not form inquiry if nothing has happened." The Arab leader who most needs to be probed is Nasrallah himself. He started the war with Israel, which was a disaster for both sides. If there were an honest Arab League inquiry commission into the war, it would say Nasrallah demonstrated a total failure to anticipate Israel's response to his unprovoked attack across the Lebanon-Israel border.
        In unilaterally launching a war against Israel, without a vote of the Lebanese cabinet - of which Hizbullah is a member - the militia did grievous harm to Lebanon's fragile democracy. All the fears that if you let an Islamist party into government it will not respect the rules of the game were fulfilled by Hizbullah. As a result of the war, Hizbullah was pushed off the border by Israel and, in its place, the UN inserted a new peacekeeping force of some 10,000 troops, including a big European contingent, led by France and Italy. Today, less than a year after a war that Hizbullah called a "divine" victory, Lebanon is weaker and Israel is stronger. That is why, if the Hizbullah leader had any honor, he would resign. (New York Times, 9May07)
  • A Better Mousetrap - Michael Goodwin
    You hear it all the time: If only the Israelis and Palestinians would make peace, the rest of the world would follow. The next time you hear it, remember that the Palestinian version of Mickey Mouse preaches death to Jews and Americans. There can be no peace with a culture like that. Farfur, the clone of Walt Disney's gentle Mickey, sings and dances on the Hamas children's TV show "Tomorrow's Pioneers" about the need to eat right, pray - and kill. That Hamas comprises most of the Palestinian government shows Farfur is no rogue character - it is sponsored by the very people Palestinians elected to represent them. It is wrong and hypocritical to blame Israel for Arab violence and to insist that the solution is for Israel to make concessions to pacify its enemies. Israel's first duty is to protect itself. If Palestinians want peace, they have to abide by the basic rules of civilization. Playing Mickey Mouse games with violence isn't one of them. (New York Daily News)
        See also Hamas Is Ordered to Curb Militant Mouse
    The Palestinian government Wednesday shelved a controversial children's show aired by a Hamas television station in which a Mickey Mouse look-alike calls for Israel to be vanquished and Islam to "lead the world." (Times-UK)
  • Global Investment in Iran: Interactive
    "Global Investment in Iran: Interactive" documents more than $150 billion worth of major contracts and both private and government lines of credit - over 300 separate worldwide transactions - that have taken place with public and private Iranian entities since 2000. In 2006 alone, nine countries - Belarus, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, and Turkey - did significant business with Iran in four major sectors of the economy: energy, construction, military, and transportation. Ten companies and organizations invested at least $4.3 billion, with the biggest investments made in Iran's energy sector. 2007 promises to be an even richer year for investment in the Islamic Republic. (American Enterprise Institute)
        See also Lock and Load Your Portfolio - Cliff May
    A campaign to cut off investments in terror-sponsoring countries is gaining momentum. The Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank, has organized a "Divest Terrorism Initiative" - - a campaign to persuade pension funds, college endowments, 401(k) plans, retirement account managers and individual investors to make sure their money is not used to support regimes that underwrite terrorism.
        About 100 public pension systems in the U.S. currently have an estimated $200 billion invested in publicly traded companies - American and foreign - that conduct commerce with terrorist masters. Drying up this cash flow is more than a way to make a statement. It's a way to pressure regimes to change their behavior, and perhaps even to push them toward collapse. Without foreign investment, the government of Sudan, responsible for the genocide of black Muslims in Darfur, can't get its oil out of the ground. Iran's oil is flowing, but output will decline steeply over the next few years if foreign investment in technology and equipment can be turned off. (
  • Observations:

    Until They Accept Responsibility - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

    • The UN resolution that established the State of Israel on May 15, 1948, also stipulated that an Arab state was to be established. The Palestinians mark May 15 as "Nakba" ("Catastrophe") Day, as something terrible and evil that happened to them. Yet there is not even an iota of introspection, self-criticism and readiness to deal with the Palestinians' own contribution to their catastrophe.
    • If the Palestinians had accepted the UN resolution, then an independent Palestinian state would have risen on part of Mandatory Palestine in 1948, without war and without refugees. To this day, no book in Arabic has raised the question of whether the Arabs erred in rejecting the compromise UN partition plan.
    • There is a complete unwillingness among the Palestinians to acknowledge that in 1948 they and their leaders made a terrible historic mistake by rejecting the compromise they were offered.
    • It is for this reason that the Palestinians' customary comparison between the Nakba and the Holocaust is so outrageous. Did the Jews of Germany and Europe declare war on Germany? Were the world's Jews offered a compromise that they rejected?
    • There will be no true compromise between Israel and the Palestinians without a readiness on their part to admit that they, too, are partly responsible for what happened to them in 1948.

      The writer, a professor of political science at Hebrew University, is a former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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