Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 6, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

How Al-Qaeda "Martyrs" Enter Iraq - Georges Malbrunot (Le Figaro-France)
    Le Figaro interviewed volunteers for suicide operations and jihadists back from Baghdad.
    "Shehada [martyrdom] guarantees you access to heaven. Who does not want to go there?" the imam of a neighborhood mosque in Al-Zarqa, Jordan, explained. "When you die as a martyr, the first drop of blood that you shed washes away all your sins!"
    Within four years, despite the strict restrictions imposed by the authorities, some 600 Jordanians have gone to Iraq to take part in the jihad, according to officials of the Salafist movement in Amman.
    There are also hundreds of Algerians, Saudis, Yemenis, Palestinians from Lebanon, and Syrians there, who all set off "to combat the occupation of a Muslim land."

Hamas TV Indoctrinating Children for Holy War (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    Every Monday afternoon Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV broadcasts a children's program called "Brilliant Children."
    The Sep. 3 episode, a special for the beginning of the school year, featured a child named "Ahmad," whose field of expertise was jihad (holy war).
    The "brilliant" jihad warrior is seen wearing a camouflage suit, holding a rifle and miming military actions.
    Such programs are meant to indoctrinate the younger generation of Palestinians with Hamas' radical Islamic ideology, at the core of which is jihad - part of Hamas' long-term strategy to train new generations to destroy Israel.

Israel to Send 10,000 Trees to Reforest Ancient Olympia in Greece (AFP)
    The Greek Olympic Committee said Wednesday it had accepted an offer from Israel for experts and 10,000 trees to help repair damage caused by fires on Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games.
    There is "an international effort to restore beauty to the landscape of ancient Olympia ahead of the lighting ceremony in March" of the Olympic flame for the 2008 Games in Beijing, the Olympic Committee said.

Israeli Team Uses Silicon Replacement for Solar Power (Reuters/MSNBC)
    A team at Israel's Ben-Gurion University has found that using gallium arsenide instead of silicon, together with a reflective dish, may be the answer to making solar energy competitive with conventional sources of power.
    "The dish could be put in a sunny backyard and generate most of the home's utility needs," said David Faiman, a professor of physics at Ben-Gurion University who has studied solar energy for 31 years in Israel's Negev desert.
    "The costs per watt are comparable to that of a conventional power plant, but without fuel," Faiman added.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Pentagon Says Israel Improves Arms-Export Controls - Jim Wolf
    Israel has greatly improved its controls on exports of sensitive defense technology after serious strains over the issue with the U.S., a Pentagon official said on Wednesday. Its system for protecting technological advantages now would "meet any international standards," said Beth McCormick, acting director of the U.S. Defense Technology Security Administration. "I must say that I can't be any prouder of the work that the Israelis have done," McCormick told an international defense industry conference. (Reuters)
  • Iran Seals Its Doors Tighter Against the West - Michael Slackman
    The police shut down 20 barbershops for men in Tehran last week because they offered inappropriate hairstyles and women have been banned from riding bicycles in many places, as a crackdown on social freedoms presses on. President Ahmadinejad's economic missteps and the animosity generated in the West by his aggressive posture on the nuclear issue have helped his government stymie what it sees as corrupting foreign influences, by increasing the country's economic and political isolation.
        A Western diplomat said, "They are convinced the rest of the world is trying to put pressure on Iran to keep Iran down....They believe if Iran makes a concession to the West on the nuclear issue, it will be the first step toward regime change." (New York Times)
  • Hezekiah Inscription to Return to Israel - Jay Bushinsky
    An ancient inscription memorializing Jerusalem's salvation from Assyrian invaders 2,700 years ago is to be returned to the Holy Land from Turkey for study and public display. Israel has been trying for about 20 years to recover the artifact. As Assyrian forces under King Sennacherib were about to march on Jerusalem, a defiant King Hezekiah ordered the construction of a tunnel connecting the city to the Gihon Spring outside its walls, ensuring a source of drinking water. An inscription inside the tunnel described the dramatic moment when stonecutters working from either end converged in the middle. Ottoman Turkish authorities shipped the inscription to Istanbul where it has been kept in the Museum of the Ancient East near the Topkapi Palace. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Former Mossad Director: "Clear Iranian Fingerprints in Gaza" - Yaakov Lappin
    The IDF must stop responding defensively to the daily rocket attacks terrorizing Sderot, and take up an offensive posture, former Mossad chief and Chairman of the International Institute for Counter-terrorism (ICT) Shabtai Shavit said Wednesday. "I can say with certainty that the IDF has a very wide selection of options to activate, enabling it to go from a state of defense to attack, where terrorists will be forced to hide," Shavit said.
        He said "security forces have enough information to see very clear Iranian fingerprints in Gaza." In addition, "We have intelligence proof of cooperation, including funding, guidance and provision of means, all from Hizbullah.... Whatever Hizbullah does also represents the Iranians. So all these indicate Iranian fingerprints in Gaza." "The whole idea of Hizbullah was an Iranian idea aimed at setting up a body on Israel's border which threatens Israel," Shavit added. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Should Pull the Plug on Gaza - Neta Sela
    Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon was asked his opinion Wednesday on whether electricity and water should be cut to Gaza in reaction to Palestinian rocket attacks. Yaalon answered: "It's unacceptable that we are supplying these things to the enemy." "The question is, how is it that we disengaged from Gaza and are still responsible for its fate?" (Ynet News)
        See also Pulling the Plug on Gaza Won't Work - Moshe Arens
    It has been proposed to attach a price to every Palestinian rocket launched against Israel. We will cut off water and electricity to the population of Gaza until they force the terrorists to stop launching rockets. But it won't work. Collective punishment of civilian populations did not work in World War II, and it won't work in Gaza. The international community will quickly mobilize help for the starving and the thirsty in Gaza. Water tankers will bring water to Gaza, generators will be flown in from Europe, and Israel will be asked to contribute to this humanitarian cause. It is immoral, and not worthy of Israel.
        The rockets are being launched from a distance of one to three kilometers from the fence surrounding Gaza. The only way to put a stop to this is for the IDF to enter Gaza to this depth and put the rockets out of range. How long are we going to stay there after the IDF has put the rockets out of range, ask the perennial doubters. The answer is simple - as long as the children of Sderot will need protection. The writer is a former minister of defense. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Is It Legal to Shut Off Water and Electricity to Gaza? - Dan Izenberg (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Strike Gaza Now - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How Fatah Primed Palestinians for Hamas - Joel Mowbray
    The tidy Western view of Palestinian politics coming down to Islamists vs. secularists faces yet another reality check. Both Hamas and the supposedly secular Fatah are engaging in a new propaganda war, each portraying itself as the defender of the faith, while accusing the other party of defiling Islam, according to a report by Palestinian Media Watch. The struggle is indicative of the increasingly Islamic tenor of the culture in which each group is attempting to stake out the Islamic high ground. It is Fatah, at the original direction of Arafat, that is most responsible for Islamicizing Palestinian society.
        Upon taking the reins of Palestinian society following the 1993 Oslo accords, Arafat implemented an aggressive platform of Islamic indoctrination, beefing up Islamic education in the schools and giving new prominence on television to fire-breathing imams, including many who called for Islam to topple the West. Arafat used his newfound power to create a new generation of terrorists superior to the old PLO thugs in one key respect: These brainwashed Palestinian kids were not only not afraid of death, but they actually wanted to die.
        Arafat carefully cultivated a cult of martyrdom that permeated Palestinian society. In addition to the hero worship of successful suicide bombers, almost as important was the glorification of their parents. Umm Nidal, or "Mother of the Struggle," who bursts with pride that three of her six children died as Islamic terrorists, is now a Hamas member of the Palestinian legislature. (Washington Times)
  • Grading U.S. Performance Against Terrorism Financing - Michael Jacobson
    Washington has used an aggressive, multifaceted strategy to tackle terrorism financing. Since September 11, the Treasury Department has frozen the assets of financiers and support networks and publicly designated approximately four hundred individuals and entities as terrorists, including designees from Hizbullah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has used the "material support" statute to prosecute numerous individuals and entities for funding terrorist organizations. According to the FBI, four different terrorist attacks have been disrupted based in part on investigations into the financial activities of terrorism supporters in the U.S. In a letter intercepted in late 2005, al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri asked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for $100,000, noting that "many of the lines [of support] have been cut off."
        Iran, which has been described by U.S. officials as the "central banker of terrorism," remains the most serious problem. According to Treasury officials, Tehran has a "nine digit line item" in its budget to support terrorism, sending hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist groups, including Hizbullah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. As the U.S. and its allies have cracked down on the formal financial system, terrorists have found other, less formal ways to raise and transfer funds. Terrorists are increasingly using cash couriers and bulk cash smuggling to transfer funds. Although less efficient, this method is more difficult for law enforcement to track. Washington must closely monitor evolving trends in terrorism financing and develop effective strategies to respond quickly. The writer, a senior fellow in the Washington Institute's Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence, and Policy, previously served as a senior advisor in the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Hamas Is Not the IRA - Zion Evrony (International Herald Tribune)

    • Since my arrival in Ireland about a year ago as Israel's ambassador, it has been suggested to me in almost every conversation that Israelis and Palestinians should learn from Northern Ireland's peace process. In particular, I am told that Israel should talk to Hamas, as Britain and Ireland spoke to the IRA. After all, the IRA, as a terrorist organization, moderated its position, gave up arms, abandoned the use of terrorism, and accepted an agreement based on compromise. But would a similar process lead Hamas to end its campaign of violence and accept the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state living in peace with Israel?
    • While there are some similarities between these two protracted conflicts, it is a dangerous exercise to conclude that they are the same because of their largely different historical, geopolitical and cultural circumstances. Underlying my Irish friends' advice is the expectation that should Israel start a dialogue with Hamas, the latter will change its ideology, renounce terrorism, recognize Israel, stop all acts of violence, suicide bombings and Kassam rocket attacks, and relinquish its weapons. Unfortunately, this theory is not valid in the case of Hamas.
    • The ideology of Hamas is defined in absolutist religious terms, that of a radical version of Islam, which is not open to influence or change. At the core of this belief is the desire to create an Islamist state based on Islamic law over all the land, not just the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel as well. There is no acceptance of the notion of coexistence, no support for the idea of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, but an exclusive demand, based on fundamentalist interpretations of religious texts, for control of the entire territory.
    • Hamas officials continue in their refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist. In contrast, the IRA never questioned Britain's right to exist. In fact, the whole idea of a peace process and the use of mediators are ruled out by the Hamas Charter. "Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the unbelievers as arbitrators in the lands of Islam" (Article 13).
    • What then is a prudent policy for the international community towards Hamas? The answer is a united front and a consistent policy, demanding and insisting on the acceptance of the three principles laid out by the Quartet: recognition of Israel's right to exist, renouncing and ending terrorism, and accepting all prior agreements and understandings achieved between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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