Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 28, 2007

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Supreme Court Justices to Learn How Israel Handles Detainees - Nina Totenberg (NPR)
  As the Supreme Court prepares to hear the cases of some Guantanamo detainees in its new term, briefs are being filed for the justices' consideration. One of them details how Israel handles the legal rights of its prisoners.
  Israeli scholars say Israel has a system that affords far more rights to detainees than we do at Guantanamo.

Iran's Shiite Strategy in Kuwait and Palestinian Territories - Jonathan Dehoah Halevy (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs - Hebrew)
  Iran continues its policies of undermining Sunni nations in the Middle East. In recent months Sunni Muslim leaders have warned of Iranian proselytizing, including the use of financial payments to converts.
  Al Watan al Araby disclosed Iran's infiltration into Kuwait to strengthen its covert presence, increase the Shiite population in the country, and organize politically in order to destabilize Kuwait all in the name of democracy.
  Iran is pushing Kuwait's Shiite politicians to demand that the country's 30 percent Shiite population receive full civil rights. These politicians, according to the report, met secretly in Lebanon at Iran's instructions with senior officials in Hizbullah in order to learn from them how to organize strikes and demonstrations against the central authority.
  The plan is part of a larger strategy to paralyze Kuwait politically and open the door for greater Iranian involvement in the kingdom.
  Jordanian newspapers report that a Supreme Shiite Council in Palestine was established a year ago by Muhammad Roanama. A Gaza-based website, Umma al Zahra, is encouraging the Palestinian public to adopt Shiism.

Illegal Arms Deals to Iran, Libya Traced to Malaysia's Elite - Ioannis Gatsiouis (Asia Times)
  When Abdullah Badawi became Malaysia's prime minister in 2003, many thought the mild-mannered leader would take a more moderate approach to international relations. But a string of scandals and crimes with international dimensions, some even linked to Abdullah's family members, have put his government's relations with Washington on an uncomfortable footing.
  U.S. authorities last month arrested and charged Pakistani national Jilani Humayun for his alleged role in shipping contraband military goods to Malaysia, from where they were re-exported to Iran. The sensitive dual-use hardware, which was funneled through an as yet unnamed Malaysian company, included parts for F-5 and F-14 fighter jets and Chinook helicopters.
  So far there is no evidence to link recent violations of the U.S. embargo directly to Abdullah. But recent security lapses have been traced to the highest echelons of Malaysia's business and political elite, raising questions about Abdullah's underlying foreign-policy objectives.
  Abdullah's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin this month attempted to silence an opposition leader by labeling him "a puppet of the United States and the Jews."

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israeli Says Hamas Is Training Hundreds Abroad - Steven Erlanger
    Hamas has sent hundreds of its fighters abroad for military training, most of them to Iran, the Israeli Army’s deputy chief of staff says, and Israel has the names of more than 100 of them. Israel is watching as Hamas, in control of Gaza, is building an army there on the model of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, said the deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky,
      He said Hamas was constructing positions and fortifications, building tunnels for fighting and smuggling in explosives, antitank weapons and more sophisticated rockets through the Egyptian desert. Hamas now has improved antitank missiles and mortars and possesses manufactured Katyusha rockets with a range of 10.6 miles, which they are keeping in reserve. (New York Times)
        See also Hamas's Military Capabilities after the Gaza Takeover - Nick Francona (Washington Institute)
  • Hamas Chief Says Mideast Conference Doomed to Fail
    A U.S.-sponsored international conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace is doomed to fail because it will serve only Israel's interests, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said in a CNN interview broadcast on Monday. Calling the gathering, expected in November, "a meeting controlled and directed by (U.S. Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice," Meshaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, said neither Israel nor the United States was serious about achieving peace. (Reuters)
  • France's Sarkozy Raises Prospect of Iran Airstrikes - Francois Murphy
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday a diplomatic push by the world's powers to rein in Tehran's nuclear program was the only alternative to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." He also presented some new ideas, such as possibly renewing high-level dialogue with Syria.
      Sarkozy said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and that major powers should continue their policy of incrementally increasing sanctions against Tehran while being open to talks if Iran suspended nuclear activities. "This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran," he said, adding that it was the worst crisis currently facing the world. (Reuters)
        See also Sarkozy: Friend of the U.S. and Israel - Angela Doland
    While France has a history of close ties with the Arab world, Sarkozy said: "I have the reputation of being a friend of Israel, and it's true. I will never compromise on Israel's security." Despite that, he said, the many Arab leaders who have visited him since his election know they can count on his friendship. (AP/Santa Barbara News Press)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • PA Police Rescue IDF Officer Lost in Jenin - Efrat Weiss
    Palestinian police officers came to the rescue and saved an IDF officer who accidentally entered Jenin on Monday and was attacked by an angry crowd. A senior Central Command officials said that "the officer owes his life to the Palestinian security organizations." The senior Central Command officials defined the incident as "extremely severe." According to them, what happened in Jenin served as proof that the cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces had been reinforced recently. (Ynet News)
        See also Jenin Rescue Creates Optimism for Olmert-Abbas Talks - Herb Keinon
    The rescue by Palestinian Authority security personnel of an IDF officer who lost his way in Jenin on Monday will likely be acknowledged and improve the atmosphere at Tuesday's meeting in Jerusalem between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli diplomatic officials said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Barak: Hizbullah Rocket Arsenal Bigger Now than before the War - Shahar Ilan
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hizbullah has more rockets today than it did prior to the Second Lebanon War last summer. According to a source who was present at the meeting, Barak was referring to both long-range and short-range rockets, and said that the rockets are situated north of the Litani River, but within striking range of Israel.
      In regard to the tense relationship between Israel and Syria, Barak said that he can sense that the tension is beginning to dissipate. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • De-Funding Ahmadinejad - Michael Barone
    Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. The mullah regime is providing weapons to kill our soldiers in Iraq. It is working furiously to develop nuclear weapons. We certainly do not want to go to war against Iran. But we have other weapons that are being deployed now — not by the military, the federal government, or officials in Washington, but by state government officials and legislatures in state capitals, who are working to divest their pension funds of stocks in companies that do business in Iran.
      Divestment bills have been passed or filed in Missouri, California, Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Texas.
      Many of these bills have met with opposition. Pension fund administrators have opposed them. They argue that divesting would cost them money. But the fact is that American-based companies already are prohibited from doing business in Iran. Firms that do the most business in Iran are French — Alcatel, BNP Paribas, Total; Italian — ENI; Korean — Hyundai; Chinese — PetroChina; and Russian — Statoil. The potential losses to pension funds are almost certainly minimal; a fund can find plenty of international stocks for its portfolio without touching those who do business in Iran. (New York Sun)
  • Deadly Persian Provocations - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    Two weeks ago, the Bush administration announced it may designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. European allies see the steps as a prelude to war and fear they will make ongoing nuclear diplomacy with Tehran much more difficult.
      Such fears are unfounded, however, and rest on several basic misunderstandings. For one thing, the terrorist label is nothing new, and thus will do little to change the current state of play. For another, Iran represents a much greater threat than Europe typically recognizes. It is not a status quo state that favors stability, as most pundits and governments portray it. Iran is, instead, a radical revolutionary force determined to sow chaos beyond its borders. The mullahs don't want peace in Iraq—just the opposite. The widespread belief (shared by the Iraq Study Group, among many others) that Iran wants stability in Iraq is wrong.
      The Europeans, who are among Iran's largest trading partners, must agree to biting measures—something these states, which are as addicted to noncoercive diplomacy as they are to commerce, seem unlikely to do. Washington can try to exercise soft power—through sanctions, resolutions, diplomatic isolation and rougher rhetoric. But the Islamic Republic, especially its radical president and praetorian guard, are accomplished practitioners of hard power. They are unlikely to be overwhelmed by moderate tactics. Instead, they seem set to continue killing Americans in Iraq, waiting to see if and when the United States gives up and run for the exits. The writer, a former Middle East specialist at the CIA, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Newsweek)
  • Keeping USAID Funds out of Terrorist Hands - Matthew Levitt
    Foreign aid is an important and effective tool for buttressing allies, alleviating poverty and suffering, supporting key foreign policy objectives. Considering that several agency-approved aid recipients have been linked to terrorist groups in recent years, USAID's proposed new partner-vetting system is a welcome and overdue development.
      USAID's otherwise laudable record is tainted by a series of awards to entities with established ties to terrorist groups such as the Hamas-controlled zakat (charity) committees and the Islamic University of Gaza. Documents made public in the ongoing prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and several of its leaders -- accused of funding Hamas -- reveal that as recently as December 2002, USAID "cleared" several charity committees to receive funding despite information publicly tying them to Hamas. These included the main committees in the West Bank towns of Jenin, Qalqilya, Hebron, Tulkarem, and Nablus. (Washington Institute)
  • Observations:

    The Lobby - David Remnick (The New Yorker)

  • Mearsheimer and Walt are not anti-Semites or racists. They are serious scholars, and there is no reason to doubt their sincerity.
  • But their announced objectives have been badly undermined by the contours of their argument — a prosecutor’s brief that depicts Israel as a singularly pernicious force in world affairs. Their conclusions are unmistakable: Israel and its lobbyists bear a great deal of blame for the loss of American direction, treasure, and even blood.
  • Where many accounts identify Osama bin Laden’s primary grievances with American support of “infidel” authoritarian regimes in Islamic lands, Mearsheimer and Walt align his primary concerns with theirs: America’s unwillingness to push Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. (It doesn’t matter that Israel and the Palestinians were in peace negotiations in 1993, the year of the first attack on the World Trade Center, or that during the Camp David negotiations in 2000 bin Laden’s pilots were training in Florida.) Mearsheimer and Walt give you the sense that, if the Israelis and the Palestinians come to terms, bin Laden will return to the family construction business.
  • It’s a narrative that recounts every lurid report of Israeli cruelty as indisputable fact but leaves out the rise of Fatah and Palestinian terrorism before 1967; the Munich Olympics; Black September; myriad cases of suicide bombings; and other spectaculars.
  • There is scant mention of Palestinian violence or diplomatic bungling, only a recitation of the claim that, in 2000, Israel offered “a disarmed set of Bantustans under de-facto Israeli control.” (Strange that, at the time, the Saudi Prince Bandar told Yasser Arafat, “If we lose this opportunity, it is not going to be a tragedy. This is going to be a crime.”)
  • Nor do they dwell for long on instances when the all-powerful Israel lobby failed to sway the White House, as when George H. W. Bush dragged Yitzhak Shamir to the Madrid peace conference.

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