Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 18, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Threatens Missile Attacks on U.S. Targets - David Blair (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran threatened to fire long-range missiles at American targets in the Middle East Monday.
    "If the United States is saying that they have identified 2,000 targets in Iran, then what is certain is that it is the Americans who are all around Iran and are equally our targets," Gen Mohammed Hassan Koussechi, a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guard, told the official IRNA news agency.
    "We have reached capacities that allow us to hit the enemy at a range of 2,000 kilometers," he added.
    Dubai, filled with Western companies, tourists and expatriates, is only 105 miles away. Other potential targets include the oilfields in Saudi Arabia's Eastern province, the headquarters of America's Central Command in Qatar, and the main harbor of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.
    See also "600 Iranian Missiles Pointed at Israel" (Jerusalem Post)
    600 Iranian Shihab-3 missiles are pointed at targets throughout Israel, and will be launched if either Iran or Syria are attacked, the Iranian website "Assar Iran," affiliated with the regime, reported on Monday.

Palestinian Authority Celebrates 9/11 Terror Attacks - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The PA celebrated the World Trade Center terror attacks by publishing cartoons in Al Hayat Al Jadida, its official daily, that glorify Osama Bin Laden and the attacks.
    This year's cartoon shows Bin Laden smiling while making the "V" for victory sign with two fingers in the shape of the burning Twin Towers.
    The PA daily is owned and controlled by the office of Mahmoud Abbas.
    The U.S. continues to fund the PA and to support it politically, while ignoring the continued promotion of Palestinian hate against the U.S.

Israeli Space-Based Radar Set for Indian Launch - Craig Covault (Aviation Week)
    Israel's first "Polaris/TecSat" military imaging radar satellite is to be launched this week along with India's first military recon spacecraft atop the same powerful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
    The mission, from India's launch site on an island in the Bay of Bengal, will also inaugurate major military space cooperation between India and Israel.
    If successful, the Israeli space-based radar will put Israel among the small list of nations with imaging radar reconnaissance satellites able to distinguish camouflaged vehicles from rocky terrain, for example, and to see at night and through clouds and foliage.

Hizbullah Sympathizer Armed with AK47 Arrested in Dearborn Park - Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press)
    Houssein Zorkot, 26, the son of Lebanese immigrants and a third-year student at Wayne State University's medical school, was arrested in a Dearborn park on Sep. 8, armed with an AK47 automatic rifle.
    A website he created displays his sympathies for Hizbullah.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Airstrike in Syria Targeted North Korean Nuclear Proliferation - Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper
    The Sep. 6 attack by Israeli planes inside Syria struck what Israeli intelligence believes was a nuclear-related facility that North Korea was helping to equip, according to current and former American and Israeli officials. China abruptly canceled planned diplomatic talks in Beijing that were to set a schedule to disband nuclear facilities in North Korea. American officials were expected to confront the North Koreans about their suspected nuclear support for Syria during those talks.
        The airstrike was carried out several days after a ship with North Korean cargo tracked by Israeli intelligence docked in a Syrian port and its cargo was transferred to the site that Israel later attacked. North Korea has a long relationship with Syria, mostly involving the sale of weapons. But it has never been caught exporting nuclear-related material. On Sunday on Fox News, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned, "If such an activity were taking place, it would be a matter of great concern because the president has put down a very strong marker with the North Koreans about further proliferation efforts, and obviously any effort by the Syrians to pursue weapons of mass destruction would be a concern." (New York Times)
  • Hamas' New Order Exacts Toll on Gazans - Scott Wilson
    Facing money shortages, a shrinking private sector and growing political resistance, Hamas leaders in Gaza are increasingly imposing harsh interpretations of Islamic law and using brute force to bolster their isolated administration, which remains illegitimate in the view of Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and his U.S.-backed government in the West Bank. Reconciliation between the two largest Palestinian parties - now running parallel governments in what had been envisioned as the two territories of a Palestinian state with a single government - appears as distant as when Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led power-sharing government after the fighting in June.
        Gaza's streets have taken on an increasingly Islamic cast in recent months. The improved everyday security has brought people back to the markets, beaches and parks, many of them women wearing for the first time the full black gown, gloves and face covering favored by the most conservative Muslims. After Friday prayers in recent weeks, Fatah supporters have marched through Gaza's streets in protest against the Hamas administration. "Shia! Shia!" the demonstrators shouted, an insulting reference to Hamas' inflexible Islamic character and financial support from the Shiite government of Iran. Their numbers have swelled into the thousands, and Hamas' patience appears exhausted. The Palestinian Scholars League, an Islamic council dominated by Hamas clerics, issued a fatwa early this month prohibiting outdoor prayer. (Washington Post)
        See also Fatah Takes Battle with Hamas to Mosques - Hossam Ezzedine
    Palestinian security officers have stepped up surveillance of mosques in the West Bank and preachers caught spouting Hamas propaganda will be sacked, said one security official. Fatah accuses Hamas of recruiting supporters and stockpiling weapons in mosques. There are 1,547 mosques in the West Bank. Thanks to the imams and preachers, Hamas "controls" most mosques in the West Bank, the security official believes. Even in Abbas' base of Ramallah, Hamas controls "more than 70%" of the mosques, he said. (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also Hamas: Palestinian Security Services Raiding Mosques in the West Bank (Maan News-PA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • There's a Reason the World Is Quiet about the Israeli Airstrike on Syria - Herb Keinon
    According to foreign new reports, the Israel air force excursion into Syrian skies was all about stopping nuclear proliferation, via North Korea, in the Middle East. If indeed the alleged sortie had to do with a nuclear shipment from Pyongyang, then Israel's stock has to go up because it will be seen as the force that will not allow nuclear proliferation in the region. It is interesting to note the resounding lack of condemnation - either in Europe or even in the Arab world - to Israel's alleged attack.
        The alleged North Korean nuclear connection will put Damascus - already not in the world's good graces - even more on the defensive. It's one thing to harbor terrorists who want to destroy Israel, but it is something different entirely to get into the same nuclear bed with North Korea. The Syrian-North Korean connection could move Syria from being just an unpopular state to being a pariah regime.
        The allegations of a North Korean-Syrian connection could make the time ripe for the world to place certain conditions on Syria's being accepted back into the international fold: kicking the terrorist organizations out of Damascus, first and foremost Hamas and its leader Khaled Mashaal, and an end to the support and the supply of weapons to Hizbullah. (Jerusalem Post)
  • National Emergency Administration Approved - Ronny Sofer
    The Israeli government Sunday approved setting up the National Emergency Administration to be in charge of coordinating the various government, security, emergency and civil services in times of national crisis. Formed in response to lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War, the administration would provide the home front with an immediate response in cases of war, mass emergencies or natural disasters. "The new administration would be the command center for all major decisions regarding the home front, in case of a national emergency," said Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai. (Ynet News)
  • U.S.: Hizbullah "Continues to Smuggle Weapons"
    U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman said Friday that there was clear evidence Hizbullah was still smuggling weapons across the Syrian border, in violation of UN resolutions. "In our view this poses one of the biggest dangers to Lebanon and it is a violation of the spirit and the letter of a number of Security Council resolutions," he said. (Gulf-Times-Qatar)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S. Peace Efforts Failing to Generate Serious Traction - Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler
    The Bush administration has so far failed to generate serious traction behind its latest Middle East peace effort, with the opening session of its Washington conference of Arab and Israeli leaders tentatively scheduled for Nov. 15. Secretary of State Rice is not paying enough attention to what is happening on the ground, said former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross, with the breakup of the Palestinians into two rival parts and a failing economy. "If nothing is changing on the ground, then both sides will not find this effort to be credible," he said. (Washington Post)
        See also Rice Trip Aimed to Keep Up Momentum - Hilary Leila Krieger
    Secretary of State Rice's visit this week is expected to be largely a maintenance trip aimed at keeping the momentum going in the run-up to the international peace meeting scheduled for later this fall. David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said Rice is seeking "to avoid unrealistic expectations, so any progress between the parties is seen as such rather than falling short." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Boycotting Israel: New Pariah on the Block
    Pro-Israel groups such as NGO Monitor and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs say a new assault on Israel is on the way. Boycotts, divestments and sanctions (known in the activist world as "BDS") do seem to be growing. Under closer inspection, the boycotts look flimsy. Most of the motions passed have been non-binding recommendations, or instructions to investigate the practicalities of BDS. Activists' votes at conferences may be slapped down by the membership. American Presbyterians, who voted in 2004 to look into divesting from up to five American firms, backed off last year without having removed a dollar. The two British teaching unions merged and voted anew to consider suspending links with Israeli institutions, only to provoke a huge counter-attack by American college presidents.
        Unlike the African National Congress, which acted as both a moral beacon and an organizer for sanctions, the Palestinian leadership does not support BDS - fearing that it will hurt Palestinians as much as Israelis. The chief difference between the Israeli and South African cases is, however, in the moral sphere. Israel is a robust democracy with vibrant academic freedom. Blaming Israel alone for the impasse in the territories will continue to strike many outsiders as unfair. (Economist-UK)
  • Observations:

    IDF Demands Uncut Al-Dura Tape - Caroline Glick (Jerusalem Post)

    • On September 10, the deputy commander of the IDF's Spokesman's Office, Col. Shlomi Am-Shalom, submitted a letter to the France 2 television network's permanent correspondent in Israel, Charles Enderlin, regarding Enderlin's story from September 30, 2000, in which he televised 55 seconds of edited footage purporting to show IDF forces shooting and killing 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura in Gaza.
    • France 2 offered the edited film free of charge to all media outlets. Within days, al-Dura became a symbol of the Palestinian war against Israel. His name has been repeatedly invoked by terrorists and their supporters as a justification for killing Israelis, Jews and their Western supporters.
    • Am-Shalom asked for the entire unedited 27-minute film that was shot by France 2's Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu-Rahma that day. The IDF request came against the backdrop of French media watchdog Philippe Karsenty's legal battle with France 2 regarding the network's coverage of the al-Dura affair. Last year, France 2 and Enderlin sued Karsenty, who runs the Internet media watchdog website Media Ratings, for defamation after he accused France 2 of staging the al-Dura story.
    • In his request to Enderlin, Am-Shalom discussed at length the findings of the IDF's probe into the incident, ordered by then Southern Command head Maj.-Gen. Yom Tov Samia. "The general has made clear that from an analysis of all the data from the scene, including the location of the IDF position, the trajectory of the bullets, the location of the father and the son behind an obstacle, the cadence of the bullet fire, the angle at which the bullets penetrated the wall behind the father and his son, and the hours of the events, we can rule out with the greatest certainty the possibility that the gunfire that apparently harmed the boy and his father was fired by IDF soldiers, who were at the time located only inside their fixed position."
    • Independent probes by various foreign media organizations and Internet activists over the past several years have called the veracity of the France 2 report into serious question. Those investigations demonstrated that purported IDF "attacks" against Palestinian civilians were being openly staged by Palestinian cameramen and locals throughout the day of the alleged shooting of al-Dura.

          See also The Al-Dura Affair - Marty Peretz
      The historian Richard Landes has seen the entire 27-minute tape and he believes fervently that it does not support the France 2 charge. (New Republic)

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