Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 21, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Shiite Fighters in Iraq "Trained by Hizbullah in Lebanon" - Nizar Latif and Phil Sands (Independent-UK)
    Lebanon's Hizbullah has trained Shia fighters from Iraq in advanced guerrilla warfare tactics, according to Mehdi army militants who have been fighting British forces in southern Iraq.
    Iraqi militiaman Abu Muhannad, 39, said he had spent a month in southern Lebanon. "I was one of the experienced fighters from the Mehdi army to go for training there," he said. "We learned how to take advantage of an armored vehicle's weakness, and how to wait and kill the soldiers who try to escape."
    Another Mehdi Army fighter, Abu Nasser, 26, said he and 100 other group members traveled to Lebanon in December 2005. "They showed us real tactics and taught our snipers," he said.
    Speaking in Tufa in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of the Mehdi Army, admitted: "We have formal links with Hizbullah....We copy Hizbullah in the way they fight and their tactics, we teach each other and we are getting better through this."
    "We go [to Lebanon] and discuss what Israel's future plans are in the Middle East because we are part of whatever will happen," he said.

Israeli Mission to Aid Peru - Roi Mandel (Ynet News)
    Six Israeli medical personnel - three doctors and three nurses - took off for Peru on Monday to help victims of the earthquake that shook the country last Thursday, leaving over 500 dead and thousands homeless.
    Meanwhile, the Israeli embassy in Lima transferred to Peruvian authorities two tons of medical equipment - including antibiotics, painkillers, intravenous drugs and bandages - donated by Israel and flown in by a military plane.

U.S.-Backed Campaign Against Hamas Expands to Charities - Adam Entous (Reuters)
    A U.S.-backed campaign against Hamas is being expanded to include Islamic charities that helped propel it to power.
    The bank accounts of the al-Salah Association, one of the largest Islamic charities in Gaza, were frozen earlier this month by Palestinian banks after the U.S. government designated it a "key support node for Hamas."
    Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. Treasury official now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said a crackdown on Islamic charities in Gaza could have a large impact.
    "Hamas has multiple ways to raise and launder funds but none are as effective as the social welfare structure. The Hamas charity system is the secret to its success," Levitt said.

Indian Delegation Visiting Israel Witnesses Rocket Attacks (Times of India)
    A delegation of Indian Muslim leaders visiting Israel witnessed rocket attacks from Gaza during their visit to the southern city of Sderot and had to be rushed to a shelter.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • EU Cuts Fuel Supply to Gaza Pending Hamas Assurances - Adam Entous
    The EU said on Monday it would not resume paying for fuel shipments to Gaza's main power plant until it received assurances Hamas would not tax electricity to fund its government. Gaza's power plant shut down operations on Sunday, causing blackouts across large parts of the territory after the EU stopped paying for fuel provided by a private Israeli company. EU officials said they feared Hamas would try to use the power plant - and the revenues generated from EU taxpayer-funded fuel - to bypass a crippling Western boycott and finance its government. The EU has been paying for fuel shipments to the Gaza power plant since 2006. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Chides Allies for Trade Deals with Tehran - David R. Sands
    America's allies must do more to cut commercial and energy ties with Iran if the international campaign to halt Tehran's nuclear-weapons programs is to succeed, R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, said Monday. He said the U.S.-led drive to sanction Iran's economy through the UN is being undercut when allies in Europe, Turkey, India, Japan and South Korea continue to make lucrative trade deals and even offer credits to businesses trading with the Islamic Republic of Iran. "If countries around the world want diplomacy to be the way to resolve problems with Iran, then there has to be a harder-edged diplomacy. There has to be some teeth," he said. (Washington Times)
  • Hamas' Approach to Jihad: Start Them Young - Dan Murphy
    It is the Hamas movement's youth focus that sets it apart from Fatah. The basic unit of the Hamas organization isn't cells or political committees - it's families. Hamas has shown that by introducing children early enough to its hard-line Islamic thinking, it can recruit lifelong supporters. Hamas is sending tens of thousands of poor Gazan children to camp this summer where they can enjoy sun, surf, and paramilitary training. In one Gaza City camp, boys practiced field drills with wooden pistols and crawled under barbed wire while being harangued by an adult drill instructor. Teenage boys undergo a tougher regimen that includes hand-to-hand combat and exhausting exercise. Boys that break discipline are sometimes beaten with sticks. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Kills 6 Hamas Operatives Involved in Mortar Attacks
    Six Hamas operatives were killed in an IDF airstrike Monday on a vehicle at a security post near al-Bureij in central Gaza. According to an IDF spokeswoman, the operatives were members of a cell that had launched an attack towards Gaza-vicinity communities earlier Monday. "There was a strike on a car carrying militants who today fired rockets into Israel and we identified hitting it," she said. An Israeli army spokesman said over 40 Palestinian rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza since Friday. (AP/Ynet News)
  • Former Israeli Official Proposes PA Thwart Hamas by Giving Welfare - Barak Ravid
    The PA must establish a strong welfare system in the West Bank to gain more support than Hamas, according to a plan formulated by Rani Loewenstein, a former senior Israeli official who served as Israel's main liaison with the Palestinians on economic matters over the last five years. He predicts a Hamas takeover in the West Bank within two years if the Fatah-dominated PA does not provide sufficient welfare to the population there. (Ha'aretz)
  • Muslim Congressman Doesn't Understand Muslim "Crazies" - Herb Keinon
    The first Muslim member of the U.S. Congress, Minnesota's Keith Ellison, left Israel on Saturday after a six-day visit as part of a Democratic congressional delegation. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Ellison said he doesn't understand those "crazies" who read the same Koran he did and came away with a license to murder. "I don't know how they read what they read and come out with what they do. They wouldn't consider me a Muslim because I'm American, because I believe in the unity of people and that we are all on the planet to work together."
        "The people who did 9/11 are hostile to everyone, and in fact if you are not the type of Muslim they want you to be, they would be happy to kill you too," Ellison said. "I am not a Muslim in their eyes because I am for tolerance and inclusion, and they don't want an Islam that is inclusive." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Egypt's Unchecked Repression - Saad Eddin Ibrahim
    Rumors of a secret government death squad tasked with silencing detractors of the ruling Mubarak family have spiked in recent weeks. On Aug. 8, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights reported that it had confirmed more than 500 cases of police abuse since 1993, including 167 deaths - three of which took place this year - that the group "strongly suspects were the result of torture and mistreatment." The organization previously found that while Egypt's population nearly doubled during the first 25 years of Hosni Mubarak's regime, the number of prisons grew more than fourfold and that the number of detainees held for more than one year without charge or indictment grew to more than 20,000. Egypt's jails contain some 80,000 political prisoners. The independent daily Eldestour recently reported that the security police forces comprise 1.4 million officers, nearly four times the size of the Egyptian army. The writer is a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo. (Washington Post)
  • BBC Coverage of Islamic Affairs: Stuck in a PC Timewarp - Editorial
    The BBC was forced to remove a highly offensive message about Jesus from its website. Why had this message been allowed to remain there for a week, despite complaints, while anti-Muslim comments vanish instantly? The BBC's coverage of Islamic affairs has been unsatisfactory for many years. In its international and domestic news reporting, the corporation has consistently come across as naive and partial, rather than sensitive and unbiased. Its reporting tends to underplay the hate-filled Islamist ideology that inspires Hamas and other factions, while never giving Israel the benefit of the doubt.
        We live in a world in which, although the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, the vast majority of terrorists are Muslim. Younger BBC program-makers are aware of this awkward fact; the problem lies with an older generation of executives stuck in a PC timewarp. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Middle East's Titanic Battle - Barry Rubin
    For 55 years the Middle East has lived under Arab nationalist dominance. The last real regime change from within an Arab state happened 37 years ago, when Hafez Assad seized power in Syria. Since then, surprisingly little has changed in Arab ideology, political structure, economic organization or society. It has also been 28 years since Iran's Islamist revolution took power in 1979. Since then, Islamism has been on the upsurge. Radical Islamism has now reached a critical mass, posing serious challenges to Arab nationalism as the leading opposition in every Arabic-speaking country.
        For years to come, the Middle East will be shaken by a titanic battle for control between Arab nationalism and Islamism. This struggle, and certainly not the Arab-Israel conflict, is the central theme and underlying factor in every regional issue. It is folly to think that the Hamas-Iran-Syria-Hizbullah alliance can be split. The parties have common aims and ideologies, their cooperation is mutually beneficial, and they think they are winning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Wishful Thinking - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

    • Mahmoud Abbas has neither fought the terrorism that has blighted day-to-day life in Israel, nor even been moved to stave off his own political demise by reforming the governance his rotten Fatah apparatus offers his disillusioned people. His Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, the new great white Palestinian hope of the world diplomatic community, meanwhile, is paying the salaries of the very Hamas politicians who seek his humiliation and ouster, and even funding some of Hamas' murderous gunmen.
    • Rewarding all this failure with an attempt at substantive diplomacy smacks of wishful thinking, of the pursuit of false ideas. And it won't work, because it can't work.
    • No diplomatic framework can succeed so long as the killers who seek its collapse are free to detonate bombs, gun down civilians and fire off rocket barrages at the first hint of real progress. That's why the only process that can possibly succeed is one that places the countering of terrorism, and the attempt to marginalize it, as the first crucial step.
    • Funding and arming and embracing Abbas' hollow Palestinian Authority without demanding the tackling of terrorism is a veritable disincentive to reform. It prevents Abbas from so much as telling his own people that terrorism must be rooted out as a precondition for progress. And consequently it is a recipe for disaster.
    • Far from guaranteeing good results, the good intentions of those pursuing this track are guaranteed to fail.

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