Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 11, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Military Intelligence: Iran Will Cross Nuclear Threshold by 2009 - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Iran will cross the "technological threshold" enabling it to independently manufacture nuclear weapons within six months to a year and attain nuclear capability as early as mid-2009, according to IDF Military Intelligence.
    MI also believes Syria is readying for war with Israel, although it is not interested in starting such a conflict at this time.
    MI says Iran's nuclear program is the major threat facing Israel, followed by the danger of war with Syria and the possibility that Hizbullah will become involved.
    Palestinian terror is predicted to continue, but is not considered an existential threat.
    MI believes Hizbullah is not currently interested in another round of fighting against Israel.
    It has begun to recruit new fighters, but Shi'ite enthusiasm to join the force has lessened since the war and Hizbullah is drafting boys as young as 15 to fill its ranks.

    See also Military Intelligence: Syria Has Replenished Hizbullah's Medium-Range Missiles - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    According to IDF Military Intelligence, Syria has transferred several hundred medium-range missiles to Hizbullah, which has completely replenished its weapon supplies since last summer's war.
    The missiles include 220-mm. and 302-mm. Katyusha rockets that have ranges of up to 60 kilometers.
    The IDF suspects that Hizbullah may have received more advanced Iranian and Syrian missiles as well.

Dahlan Departs Politics for More Medical Treatment - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Former Fatah security commander Muhammad Dahlan is unlikely to return to the Palestinian territories in the near future after heading to Germany for medical treatment.
    Dahlan underwent surgery on his knees in a German hospital earlier this year.
    Fatah officials said, "He will undergo more treatment in Germany and, if required, he may have to be moved to the U.S. for further treatment."

How PA Gunmen Pass High School Exams - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Earlier this week, some 150 Fatah gunmen stormed a number of schools in Nablus and demanded to take high school matriculation exams in special halls.
    One of the teachers said most of the gunmen cheated. "They opened books and copied the answers word by word," he said. "We were afraid to stop them because they were carrying M-16 rifles."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Producing Its Own Nuclear Centrifuges
    Iran is producing centrifuges for refining uranium domestically, Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, said Tuesday. "Iran's nuclear technology is native and it cannot be eliminated....Any possible military attack cannot destroy it," Velayati said. (Reuters)
  • Al-Qaeda's No. 2 Threatens More Attacks in UK - Lin Noueihed
    Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Egyptian cleric Ayman al-Zawahri, on Tuesday threatened more attacks on Britain, two weeks after two failed bombings, and he criticized the decision to award author Salman Rushdie a knighthood. (Reuters)
  • British Journalists Union Abandons Israel Boycott - Stephen Brook
    The UK's National Union of Journalists will take "no further action" on implementing the controversial resolution to boycott Israeli goods and services. The NUJ's national executive council took the decision and called for members to unite instead behind the union's "key workplace priorities." (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • UN to Israel: Shaba Farms Is Lebanese Territory - Barak Ravid
    The UN has told Israel that its mapping experts have determined that the Shaba Farms on Mount Dov, now controlled by Israel, is Lebanese territory. The UN has proposed that Israel withdraw from the area and that it be considered international territory to be controlled by UNIFIL. Prime Minister Olmert opposes the idea. When the UN marked the border between Israel and Lebanon after Israel's withdrawal in May 2000, the Shaba Farms were said to be part of Syrian territory, and that Israel did not need to withdraw from it in the absence of an agreement with the Syrians.
        Government officials in Jerusalem said the UN cartographer handling the matter in recent months has determined that the area is indeed Lebanese. The officials added that Syria and Lebanon also agree that the area is Lebanese. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon apparently transmitted the UN's conclusions in a meeting with Olmert in New York last month. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Fire Mortars at Israel Border Crossing - Amos Harel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired at least 11 mortar shells toward Israel on Tuesday. Two structures near the Kerem Shalom border crossing sustained damage. Hamas objects to Israel's intention to make Kerem Shalom the main border crossing into Gaza. An anti-tank missile was also fired at Israel Defense Forces troops on the Gaza border Tuesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Muslim Temple Mount Excavation Raises Archaeologists' Protests - Meron Rapoport
    The Waqf Muslim religious trust is digging a ditch from the northern side of the Temple Mount compound to the Dome of the Rock, generating protests from archaeologists. The Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount on Tuesday criticized the use of a tractor for excavation at the Temple Mount "without real, professional and careful archaeological supervision involving meticulous documentation." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Iranians Really Think - Ken Ballen
    Terror Free Tomorrow conducted the first uncensored public opinion survey of Iran since President Ahmadinejad took office. The survey was in Farsi by telephone from June 5 to June 18, 2007, with 1,000 interviews covering all 30 provinces of Iran. Discontent with the current system of government, the economy and isolation from the West is widespread throughout Iran, and nuclear weapons are the lowest priority for the Iranian people. The overwhelming popular will to live in a country open to the West and the U.S., with greater economic opportunity, is a powerful plea from every region and segment of society. Iranians also speak with one voice in rejecting the current autocratic rule of their supreme leader and in courageously asking for democracy instead.
        Close to 70% of Iranians favor normal relations and trade with the U.S. Indeed, in exchange for normal relations, a majority of Iranians even favor recognizing Israel and Palestine as independent states, ending Iranian support for any armed groups inside Iraq, and giving full transparency by Iran to the U.S. to ensure there are no Iranian endeavors to develop nuclear weapons. Some 61% of Iranians were willing to tell pollsters - over the phone no less - that they oppose the current Iranian system of government. Over 79% support a democratic system in which the supreme leader, along with all leaders, can be chosen and replaced by a free and direct vote of the people. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Britain's War Against . . . Well, You Know - Melanie Phillips
    Britain is now fighting a war it dares not name. The new prime minister, Gordon Brown, has banned his ministers from using the word "Muslim" - and presumably "Islamic" or "Islamist" - in connection with the terrorist crisis. He has also put an end to the phrase "war on terror." Accordingly, the new home secretary, Jacqui Smith, referred to them as "criminal" acts rather than Islamic terrorism and talked about "communities" that are involved rather than Muslims. How can Brown talk about winning a battle of ideas - when he is not even prepared to name the central idea that is driving the terrorism?
        Britain has never been in a more dangerous position - not just because of terrorism but because, faced with an enemy whose platform is the decadence and weakness of the West, it is going out of its way to prove the terrorists right. (USA Today)
  • One Year After the Second Lebanon War: A Company Commander Fights to Walk Again - Meital Tzur
    Dubi Genish, 36, a company commander in the IDF engineering corps, was in a tank convoy that found itself under attack from anti-tank missiles. "It was a barrage of 14 missiles from El-Chiam. I realized that our tank could be hit any moment, so I immediately ordered everyone to jump out. I saw that my friend Oren was stuck behind and I immediately returned to pull him out. I pulled Oren and at that moment a missile hit us," Genish said. "The missile struck exactly where I was standing and cut off my leg. Luckily the missile did not explode inside the vehicle, it severed it and exploded outside. It was a feeling of hell, Oren and I were severely wounded, lying in the vehicle, the heat was unbearable and we did not know if we would live or die."
        Ten days later, Genish opened his eyes in the hospital. "When I woke up I saw that my leg was still there, it was clear to me that I could not give it up but that I had to fight for it." In the past year Genish, a father of four, has undergone complicated operations and the rehabilitation is ongoing. The aim, he says, is to walk again. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Regional Ambitions: Implications for Israel, Iraq, and the Gulf States - Amir Taheri (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Iran's national interest would be to regard Israel as a strategic ally and partner because Iran does not want a Middle East which is entirely Arab. But the Islamic Republic wants to lead the Muslim world, create an Islamic superpower, and save mankind from a Judeo-Christian conspiracy.
    • Jerusalem contains the al-Aqsa Mosque, but it is a Sunni mosque. Iranians are Shi'ites and cannot pray there because their prayers would not be accepted. So liberating Jerusalem is a totally useless project from an Iranian religious perspective.
    • The majority of the Shi'ite clergy, in Iran and elsewhere, are against the Iranian regime. There are more Iranian mullahs in prison today than workers or intellectuals. All of the grand ayatollahs are now bitter enemies of the regime because it is a distortion of Shi'ite theology.
    • Those who are fighting the regime inside Iran are mostly industrial workers, who have been on strike in many areas. Another group fighting the regime is women, who are very active, especially in hundreds of NGOs. The regular Iranian armed forces, as distinct from the Revolutionary Guards, are also unhappy with the present situation.
    • The real issue in Iran is how it can find a way to emerge from its revolutionary experience, keep part of it, discard other parts, and really become a nation state. Once Iran has become a nation state, instead of a country devoted to an abstract cause, then it will display normal behavior and not be an existential threat to anybody.

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    One long year has passed since IDF soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hamas and Hizbullah.

    Join us in demanding their immediate and unconditional release.
    Monday, July 16, 2007
    12:00 noon / Rain or Shine
    Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (1st Ave. and 47th St.)
    New York City

    For more information contact: Conference of Presidents at 212-318-6111 or [email protected].