Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 20, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Source: Syria Working on Clandestine Nuclear Program Since 1986 - Benny Avni (New York Sun)
    A former Syrian military officer who has had access to sensitive military information in Damascus confirmed Tuesday that Syria has been working on a clandestine nuclear program at least since 1986.
    He said many North Korean nationals are in Syria in relation to that program.
    He claimed that Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan has visited Syria several times since 1989, after being introduced to the Damascus Baathist regime by Libya.
    He also said Syria possesses the "latest Russian technology in air defense," but that it was reluctant to expose it during the latest attack because, two decades ago, such exposure allowed Israel to destroy all Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

Orthodox Jew Tapped as U.S. Attorney General - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
    Judge Michael Mukasey, an Orthodox Jew, is the White House's pick to be the next U.S. attorney general.
    Mukasey, 66, is a lifelong congregant at Kehillath Jeshurun on New York City's Upper East Side. He was educated at its Ramaz school, and his wife for a time was the school's headmistress.
    A defendant in the first 1993 World Trade Center bombing tried to make Mukasey's Kehillath Jeshurun membership an issue. He filed an appeal to remove Mukasey as a judge, arguing that his allegiances would prejudice him against Muslims. Appellate judges dismissed the concerns as "utterly irrelevant."

Germany's Economic Ties to Iran (Realite-EU-UK)
    Germany is Iran's number one trading partner. German companies have continued to invest billions of Euros in Iran over the past decade, and the German government supports those investments through public subsidies.
    "Some two-thirds of Iranian industry relies on German engineering products," said Michael Tockuss, former president of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce in Tehran. "The Iranians are certainly dependent on German spare parts and suppliers."
    Five thousand German companies do business with Iran, a third of which have a representative or a mission in Iran.
    "German companies are trying now, as much as possible, not to publish their contracts with Tehran," the German business paper Handelsblatt wrote in January 2007.

Singapore Stops Missile Parts Shipment to Iran (Reuters)
    A Singapore-based cargo forwarding company, World Freight Pte Ltd, has been fined $14,500 for trying to export missile parts to Iran without permission, the Straits Times reported on Wednesday.
    Singapore Customs spokesman Victor Seah said the parts had arrived from Switzerland and were being shipped to a destination in Iran.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice: Hamas Is "a Hostile Entity to the United States" - Scott Wilson
    On the first day of Secretary of State Rice's visit to Jerusalem to promote a U.S.-sponsored meeting of Israeli, Palestinian and regional leaders proposed for this year, she was asked if she supported Israel's decision to declare Gaza a "hostile entity" after near-daily Palestinian rocket fire into Israel. Rice said Hamas is "a hostile entity to the United States, as well." (Washington Post)
  • Ahmadinejad Denied Bid to Visit Ground Zero - Thomas J. Lueck
    The New York Police Department has denied an Iranian request that its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, be permitted to visit ground zero when he attends the opening of the UN General Assembly next week. "This is a matter for the City of New York, but ground zero would be an odd place for the president of a country that is a state sponsor of terror to visit," said Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman. Ahmadinejad is also scheduled to speak at Columbia University on Monday. (New York Times)
  • Anti-Syrian Lawmaker Killed in Beirut Blast - Alia Ibrahim and Nora Boustany
    An anti-Syrian lawmaker and at least six other people were killed by a car bomb in Beirut Wednesday. Antoine Ghanem, 64, a member of the Christian Phalange party, was the eighth anti-Syrian figure killed in Lebanon in the past three years. Fifty-six people were injured in the blast. Members of Lebanon's governing coalition blamed the killing on Syria. Ghanem's death brought the number of seats held by the anti-Syrian governing coalition down to 68 in the 128-seat legislature. (Washington Post)
  • Florida Divests from Iran, Sudan - Bill Kaczor
    Florida's public employee retirement fund will divest nearly $1.3 billion invested with 21 companies doing business in Iran or Sudan, after the State Board of Administration authorized the divestiture Wednesday. The law bars investing pension money in any company doing business in Sudan or in Iran's energy sector because both countries are on the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring nations. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Declares Gaza "Hostile Territory" - What Does It Mean? - Dan Izenberg
    The Israeli government on Wednesday declared Gaza as "hostile territory," though there is no such concept in international law. A source explained that the term was not a legal concept but rather the description of a practical fact. The government is saying that Gaza has been hijacked by terrorists. It was essentially a warning notice to the world that Israel intends to treat Gaza differently than it has until now and to apply measures it has not used before. The government will apply three restraining principles to its decision. It won't carry out any measures immediately, it will give due consideration to the legality of every measure it wants to take, and it will not take measures that would lead to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Gaza on War Footing after Israel Declares It "Enemy Entity" - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Hamas-run Gaza is bracing for a major incursion by Israeli forces after Israel labeled the territory an "enemy entity" on Wednesday. Masked gunmen crouch behind piles of sand, fingers on the triggers of their rifles, while others rig explosives along the streets of Gaza. Wearing brightly colored headbands, hundreds of militants have taken up positions along the border fence with Israel and in Gaza City, while ordinary people shovel sand into bags to use as barriers to block any invading troops. (Reuters)
  • Abbas Not Interested in U.S. Peace Conference - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Mahmoud Abbas and his top aides in Ramallah are no longer interested in attending the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in November. The shift in the PA's position is largely attributed to Abbas' failure to persuade the majority of the Arab countries to take part. The Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians and Qataris are said to have informed Abbas that they see no point in attending under the current circumstances, especially in light of the ongoing power struggle between Hamas and Fatah. Abbas does not want to repeat the "mistake" of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, who went to the Camp David meeting in 2000 without the backing of his Arab brethren. Abbas also knows that any deal he brings back will be severely criticized by Hamas and many other Palestinians, who will accuse him of succumbing to American and Israeli pressure. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that struck near the Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday morning. Two Palestinian rockets also struck near the town on Wednesday night. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Shock Waves from Syria - Editorial
    Media accounts are beginning to converge on a report that Israel bombed a facility on Sept. 6 where it believed Syria was attempting to hatch its own nuclear weapons program with North Korea's assistance. It is beginning to look as if Israel may have carried out the boldest act of nuclear preemption since its own 1981 raid against Iraq's Osirak nuclear complex. The Bush administration hopes to complete an accord with North Korea by the end of the year under which North Korea will disclose all of its nuclear programs and disable its facilities. U.S. negotiators cannot ignore the possibility that North Korea was shipping nuclear equipment to Syria even while promising to dismantle its own program. (Washington Post)
        See also Video: Israel Bombs Secret Syrian Nuclear Facility Equipped by North Korea (
  • Ahmadinejad in New York - Editorial
    If the bizarre request of President Ahmadinejad to lay a wreath at ground zero has been put to rest once and for all, New Yorkers can thank three persons - the police commissioner, Raymond Kelly; Israel's ambassador to the UN, Daniel Gillerman, and [Internet journalist] Matt Drudge. Our interpretation of the events is as follows: When, at a private dinner party at which Ambassador Gillerman was also present, Mr. Kelly was asked what he thought Mr. Ahmadinejad would want to do at ground zero, the commissioner growled that the Iranian wanted to "scout the next attack."
        Next week, Columbia University is planning to host on its campus the Iranian leader who denies the Holocaust, is pursuing a nuclear weapon, and calls for Israel to be destroyed. The person who could prevent this entire farce from taking place is the district attorney of Queens County, Richard Brown. When Mr. Ahmadinejad flies into John F. Kennedy International Airport, he'll be in Queens. That is the borough of Specialist Jonathan Rivadeneira of the U.S. Army's 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, who was killed on Friday in Iraq by an improvised explosive device of the sort that American officials say are supplied and crafted by Iran. Let Mr. Brown seek a warrant for Mr. Ahmadinejad's arrest and give him a true civics lesson in an American dock. (New York Sun)
  • Iran's Expanding War Strategy - Alireza Jafarzadeh
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's sudden decree early this month to place Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) General Mohammad Ali Jaafari, an expert in strategic and asymmetric warfare, at the head of the IRGC represents a significant strengthening of the ayatollahs' war party. Since 2003, Khamenei has methodically placed the top brass of the IRGC in key political and security positions. President Ahmadinejad himself is a former senior IRGC commander who has staffed the top tiers of his cabinet and diplomatic corps with veteran IRGC commanders. Nearly one-third of the parliament is comprised of IRGC members. The IRGC has taken full control of the nuclear program and has evolved into the most powerful financial conglomerate in Iran. (FOX News)
  • Muslim Anti-Semitism - Eboo Patel
    Muslim anti-Semitism exists and it is ugly and it is vile. I have heard it from the minbars of mosques, and I have heard it from the mouths of Muslim teenagers. I believe it is a violation of the ethos of Islam. There is never justification for transforming an entire people into an object of ridicule and hate.
        But there are more and more Muslim voices who are loudly condemning anti-Semitism. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, perhaps the most prominent Muslim scholar in the West, told National Public Radio in 2006 that Muslims have to drive anti-Semitism from their mosques and living rooms: "I say that with utter conviction...I don't want to be a part of it." (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Reckoning with Syria - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (New York Sun)

    • Recent reports that the regime in Damascus has been developing its nuclear facilities with the assistance of North Korea are only the latest manifestations of Syria's increasing belligerent stance.
    • The Syrian regime remains actively engaged in dangerous and destructive policies that threaten America, our allies, and our interests in the region. Make no mistake. Syria poses a growing threat that must be confronted.
    • Syria remains a hub for Hizbullah and Hamas and a gateway for jihadists to infiltrate Iraq.
    • Given its past history, possible unconventional Syrian weapons transfers to Islamist terrorists are an ever-present danger. America cannot vacillate in the face of Syria's ominous behavior.
    • The U.S. and its allies must act promptly and effectively to neutralize the Syrian menace and target Syria's wherewithal to continue such destructive polices.

      Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida serves as the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

          See also Syria's Role in Regional Destabilization: An American View - David Schenker (ICA/JCPA)

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