Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 21, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Has Spread Throughout Latin America - Pablo Gato and Robert Windrem (NBC News)
    On their web page, Hizbullah militants in Venezuela call their fight against the United States a "holy war" and post photographs of would-be suicide terrorists with masks and bombs.
    There are also web sites for Hizbullah in Chile, El Salvador, Argentina, and most other Latin American countries.
    In October, homemade bombs were left in front of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, which is next to a school. Police arrested a student carrying Hizbullah propaganda in Spanish.

Israel Campus Beat
- May 20, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    The Future of Jerusalem

Saudi Envoy: Palestinians Must Stop Fighting Israel (DPA/Ha'aretz)
    Saudi diplomat Turki al-Faisal al-Saud on Saturday urged Palestinians to stop directing their weapons towards Israel.
    "Our Palestinian brothers have to stop fighting not just with each other," al-Saud said at the Jordan-based World Economic Forum.
    "I would also call them to stop fighting Israel with military methods."

Israel Sets High Bar for Gaza Peacekeeper Idea - Adam Entous (Reuters)
    Israel said on Friday it might agree to international peacekeepers being deployed in Gaza as long as they were ready to crack down on Palestinian militants.
    Meeting senior Western diplomats on Friday, Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said any Gaza force would have to be willing to search for "terrorists" and arms, and play other "executive" roles in order to be acceptable, a Foreign Ministry official said.
    A senior European diplomat said Livni told the group that "if the mandate of the force is similar to the current UNIFIL, then Israel is not interested."

Female Suicide Bombers "Eagerly Await" IDF Soldiers in Gaza - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Islamic Jihad on Sunday released a video clip in which a high-ranking Jihad official said that his organization has prepared dozens of female suicide bombers who were eager to blow themselves up along with IDF troops if Israel was to enter and operate in Gaza.

I Saw Hizbullah's Trainers, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards - Hussain Abdul-Hussain (Baltimore Sun)
    Hizbullah was founded in Baalbek in 1982 as the nucleus of a hoped-for Islamic republic in Lebanon.
    The non-Arabic-speaking, bearded men in khaki uniforms I saw were their trainers and mentors, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
    With its own militia, foreign alliances and reconstruction plans, Hizbullah today maintains its own state at the expense of the Lebanese state and its elected government.

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  • Dozens Slain as Lebanese Army Fights Islamists - Hassan M. Fattah and Nada Bakri
    Fierce clashes erupted between Lebanese Army soldiers and the Islamic militant group Fatah al-Islam in the vicinity of a Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli on Sunday, leaving 22 Lebanese soldiers and 17 militants dead and dozens injured. The confrontation raised fears of a wider battle to rout militants in the rest of Lebanon's 12 refugee camps, where radical Islam has been gaining in recent years. The ranks of religious militants bent on a broader jihad have swelled, as some have traveled to Iraq to join the insurgency there and, more recently, have returned to establish movements of their own within the camps.
        Fatah al-Islam has been a growing concern for security authorities in Lebanon and much of the region. Intelligence officials say it counts between 150 and 200 fighters and subscribes to the fundamentalist precepts of al-Qaeda. The group's leader, Shakir al-Abssi, is a fugitive Palestinian and former associate of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia who was killed last year in Iraq. Both men were sentenced to death in absentia for the 2002 murder of an American diplomat, Lawrence Foley, in Jordan. (New York Times)
        See also Fatah al-Islam: A Shadowy Al-Qaeda Inspired Group
    Fatah al-Islam, a shadowy Islamic extremist group accused of links to al-Qaeda, says it is training young Palestinians to fight "the Jews in Palestine."  (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Congress Seeks Tighter U.S.-Israeli Missile Defenses - Jim Wolf
    The U.S. House of Representatives has adopted a measure aimed at weaving closer U.S. and Israeli defenses against ballistic missiles of the type that could be fired by Iran. Part of a defense spending bill passed Thursday would redirect $205 million in Defense Department funds toward projects already underway in Israel. It would provide $25 million more for Arrow missile co-production and integration, $45 million for a U.S.-Israeli short-range missile defense system dubbed "David's Sling," and $135 million to buy a Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, fire unit. The move was spearheaded by Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. (Reuters)
  • Australian Prime Minister Howard Stands Firm on War on Terror - Jamie Duncan
    Australia must remain involved in military conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure the Middle East and south-east Asia remain stable, Prime Minister John Howard says. Speaking in Melbourne to the Jewish National Fund, where he was awarded the prestigious Jerusalem Prize by Zionist groups, Howard said Australia must not withdraw from the "front line of the war on terror." "The reality is that if terrorism is victorious in Iraq, the consequences for the Middle East will be far-reaching and quite horrendous," he said. "It would make infinitely more difficult the achievement of a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian people." (
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rockets Rain Down on Negev - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in northern Gaza fired 11 Kassam rockets at Israel on Sunday. Four rockets landed near the town of Sderot, one near a school in the town. Two rockets landed near kibbutzim. 132 rockets have been launched at Israel since Tuesday. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Hits Kibbutz Restaurant - Shmulik Hadad (Ynet News)
  • Israel's Security Cabinet Meets on Palestinian Missile Assault
    The Security Cabinet convened Sunday to discuss the missile assault against Sderot and other communities in the area around Gaza. It was decided to allow the security establishment to step up operational measures designed to reduce missile fire and strike at the terrorist infrastructure behind the firing. At this stage, operational activity will focus on Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets since these organizations are responsible for the current escalation. The military steps will be accompanied by diplomatic and information efforts in the international community in order to explain Israel's actions. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Targets Armed Gunmen in Gaza
    The IDF targeted five Hamas gunmen who were moving through the Gaza neighborhood of Sajaiya. Troops identified killing all five gunmen in an airstrike. One was Sameh Parawana, 28, who was involved in Kassam rocket attacks on Israel. Since the government ordered the army to intensify its response to the rocket attacks, the IDF has attacked more than 20 targets, including a number of cells as they were launching rockets or immediately after. (AP/Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Wants War - David Frum
    International aid to the Palestinian territories has actually risen since Palestinians elected a Hamas government in January 2006. The Palestinian areas received $1.2 billion in official aid in 2006, up from $1 billion in 2005. America's contribution rose from $400 million in 2005 to $468 million in 2006. Aid from the EU and other international organizations also increased handsomely, and the UN has called for still greater increases in aid in 2007. The Palestinian areas now receive more than $300 per person, per year, making them the most aid-dependent population on Earth. (The people of sub-Saharan Africa receive only $44 per person per year.)
        What if the incentives changed? Suppose that each Hamas rocket cost the PA $1 million in reduced U.S. and EU aid? The 80 rockets fired over recent days would mean $80 million less in salaries, food, aid, subsidies of all kinds. The next 80 rockets - another $80 million gone. For the first time, Hamas' adventurism would exact a serious and predictable cost. Such a cost would do more than any number of U.S.-trained Fatah gunmen to restrain Hamas. But if the aid continues - if the world continues a policy of sending money to the Palestinian territories, no matter what the Palestinian government does - Israel, Gaza and the world stand just one well-aimed rocket away from war. (National Post-Canada)
  • Syria's Deception - Amir Taheri
    Serge Brammertz, the European judge who heads the investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, says he has more than enough evidence to initiate prosecution against those he has identified as suspects. Yet the UN Security Council, which ordered the investigation soon after Hariri's murder, still can't decide whether or not to bring the perpetrators to justice. Last summer, Hizbullah tried to relieve pressure on Syria by triggering a war with Israel. It wound up losing its bases in southern Lebanon and left hundreds of its fighters on the battlefield. The war did earn Syria some respite - but at a cost that Hizbullah won't be able to recover from anytime soon.
        Syria believes that the Hariri investigation was a pet project of the Bush administration and French ex-President Jacques Chirac. With Chirac retired and Bush's time in the White House winding down, all that Syria needs is to buy time. Allowing such dilatory tactics to succeed, however, would have a deadly effect on the politics of the Middle East far beyond the Hariri case. It would endorse state-sanctioned murder as a legitimate tool of politics, and deal a further blow to the UN's already shaky authority. The Security Council has the moral and political duty to positively respond to the Lebanese government's demand and formally set up the tribunal that it promised more than two years ago. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Condi, Stay Home - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)

    • More harm and no good at all has come from the Middle East interventions of Secretary of State Condi Rice. She has been promoting an Israeli-Palestinian "political horizon" - the latest euphemism for a comprehensive agreement. It sounds fine, but it has no relationship to the realities on the ground; in fact, it merely perpetuates a harmful illusion.
    • Both Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon advised that Hamas should not be allowed to take part in the election of '06 since Hamas had no intention of running a normal democracy but simply wanted to exploit Gaza as a base for a two-front war - one against Israel, the second against Palestinians loyal to Fatah. Condi Rice thought she knew better.
    • Ditto with Israeli objections to turning over the strip of land between Gaza and Egypt, known as the Philadelphia corridor. Her insistence has enabled Hamas to import tons of ammunition. Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists move freely between Gaza and Egypt, and from there to Syria, Lebanon, and Iran for training. Hamas continues to manufacture huge amounts of weapons and continues to launch Kassam rockets into Israel on a daily basis.
    • The Bush administration wants someone to make an agreement with - and there isn't anybody. Nobody on the Palestinian side, for sure.
    • Only the Arab countries - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan - can provide enough cover and pressure for the Palestinians to make an agreement, but they don't want to. The Saudis prefer to look as if they want peace, rather than working to achieve it.
    • The "political horizon" Rice sees is a mirage of her own making, an effort that is bound to stall, diminishing American prestige and credibility.

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