Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 24, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S.: Top Iranians Direct Iraq Missions - Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times)
    Senior State Department Iraq advisor David Satterfield said Tuesday that there was no doubt the top leaders in Tehran were directing Iranian forces that the administration is holding responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.
    "There is no question in our minds whatsoever" that Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops "are very much under the direction and command of the most senior levels of the Iranian government."
    Satterfield's comments come as senior administration officials have been speaking out forcefully on Iran.

Olmert: Russia Won't Supply Nuclear Fuel to Iran - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
    Speaking to a Jewish group in London on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed that at his meeting last week in Moscow with Russian President Putin, he learned that "Russia has decided not to supply nuclear fuel to Iran."
    Olmert also said that "if we come to terms today with the Iranian nuclear program, in the future we will need to pay an unacceptable price, one that we cannot tolerate."
    Olmert said that Israel is part of an overall international effort against Iran that is being led by the great powers and not, he stressed, by Israel.

U.S. to Transfer $410 Million to PA - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
    The American government is planning to transfer $410 million to the Palestinian Authority in an effort to strengthen it - the largest aid program ever given to the Palestinians by the U.S.

Judge Ginsburg Notes Israeli Judges' Ban on Torture - Jonathan Ringel (Fulton County [Ga.] Daily Report)
    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has expressed admiration toward how her counterparts in Israel deal with suspected terrorists.
    Speaking at an Atlanta synagogue Sunday, Ginsburg noted that the former president of Israel's high court, Aharon Barak, had said that while the U.S. had its Sep. 11, "we've had our 9/12, our 9/13 and so on. And yet we have strived mightily to remember what we stand for as a nation."
    Ginsburg said that when the Israeli justices were asked if authorities could torture someone who knew when and where a bomb would go off, "The answer of the Supreme Court of Israel was unequivocal: torture never."
    She then mentioned an article in that day's Atlanta newspaper "about how the courts in Israel have adhered to basic fairness and due process even dealing with people who would terminate the existence of the State of Israel."

Trial of Al-Qaeda Suspects Opens in Bahrain (AFP/Khaleej Times-UAE)
    The trial of five people charged in Bahrain with belonging to the al-Qaeda terror network and plotting attacks opened on Tuesday.
    The defendants denied the charges of preparing and executing attacks against another country, as well as training to use arms, being members of a banned organization, and financing terror attacks.
    Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and has been designated by Washington as a major non-NATO ally.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Satellite Imagery Shows Israeli Target Inside Syria Similar to North Korean Reactor - Robin Wright and Joby Warrick
    Independent experts have pinpointed what they believe to be the Euphrates River site in Syria that was bombed by Israel last month, and satellite imagery of the area shows buildings under construction similar in design to a North Korean reactor capable of producing nuclear material for one bomb a year. Photographs of the site taken before the Sep. 6 airstrike depict a tall, boxy structure similar to the type of building used to house a gas-graphite reactor. They also show what could have been a pumping station used to supply cooling water for a reactor, say experts David Albright and Paul Brannan of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). "I'm pretty convinced that Syria was trying to build a nuclear reactor," Albright said in an interview. (Washington Post)
  • Bush: Missile Defense Needed to Cope with Growing Iranian Threat
    President Bush said in Washington on Tuesday: "The need for missile defense in Europe is real and I believe it's urgent. Iran is pursuing the technology that could be used to produce nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles of increasing range that could deliver them. Last November, Iran conducted military exercises in which it launched ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel and Turkey, as well as American troops based in the Persian Gulf. Iranian officials have declared that they are developing missiles with a range of 1,200 miles, which would give them the capability to strike many of our NATO allies, including Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and possibly Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. Our intelligence community assesses that, with continued foreign assistance, Iran could develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States and all of Europe before 2015. If it chooses to do so, and the international community does not take steps to prevent it, it is possible Iran could have this capability. And we need to take it seriously - now."
        "Today, we have no way to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat, so we must deploy a missile defense system there that can. This system will be limited in scope. It is not designed to defend against an attack from Russia. The missile defenses we can employ would be easily overwhelmed by Russia's nuclear arsenal. Russia has hundreds of missiles and thousands of warheads. We're planning to deploy 10 interceptors in Europe. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the math." (White House)
        See also U.S. Signals Its Intent on Iran Missile Shield - Andrew Ward
    George W. Bush on Tuesday said a missile defense system was urgently needed to protect the U.S. and Europe from Iran, warning that Tehran could have the capability to strike the U.S. and Europe with ballistic missiles within eight years. Robert Gates, U.S. defense secretary, on Tuesday sought to mollify Moscow by indicating that Washington might delay activating the European facilities until the threat from Iran was indisputable. "We would consider tying together activation of the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic with definitive proof of the threat - in other words, Iranian missile testing," he said during a visit to Prague. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Apartment Building in Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot on Tuesday evening. One of them hit an apartment building and several people suffered from shock. More than 10 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday. One hit near a strategic facility in Ashkelon's southern industrial zone, another landed near kibbutzim, and others landed near communities not far from Netivot. (Ynet News)
        See also Israeli Defense Officials: Impose More Sanctions on Gaza - Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid
    Following extensive Kassam rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli territory, senior defense officials decided Tuesday to recommend the imposition of further sanctions on Gaza involving additional limitations on the delivery of fuel, services and merchandise. The Defense Ministry is now completing a plan to cut electricity to the Beit Hanun area in northern Gaza for a period of two hours every time there is a rocket attack.
        Meanwhile, restrictions in the West Bank will be eased. Israel has recently removed 24 physical blockages to ease movement of residents, as well as one permanent roadblock, Israeli Defense Minister Barak told U.S. Secretary of State Rice in Washington. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Amnesty Blasts Fatah, Hamas Over Civilian Deaths in Gaza Clashes (Amnesty International)
  • Israel Kills Senior Militant in Gaza Airstrike - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    Missile-firing Israel Air Force aircraft attacked a car in Gaza on Tuesday carrying members of a crew which launched rockets into Israel, killing Mubarak al-Hasanat, 37, a senior official in the Hamas Interior Ministry and deputy commander of the Popular Resistance Committees. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Divided by Nuclear Policy Power Struggle - David Blair
    Iran's regime fell into public infighting on Tuesday when 183 MPs voiced their support for former national security chief Ali Larijani. Larijani's resignation as Iran's nuclear negotiator on Saturday revealed a crucial political rift reflecting a power struggle between President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, with Ahmadinejad trying to wrest at least partial control of nuclear policy from Khamenei. If Ahmadinejad succeeds, this would probably dash any hope of compromise with the West.
        Despite his resignation, Larijani attended talks in Rome on Tuesday with Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, as Khamenei's personal representative on Iran's Supreme National Security Council. But the leadership of this council and responsibility for nuclear policy has been transferred to Saeed Jalili, a former deputy foreign minister and ally of the president. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Iran's New Chief Nuclear Negotiator Close to Same Apocalyptic Splinter Group as Ahmadinejad - Meir Javedanfar
    After the sudden resignation of Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, questions are being asked about the background and beliefs of his successor, Saeed Jalili. The most worrying revelation about Jalili's past appeared recently in the Teheran-based Iran Diplomacy Web site, which said that for most of his career at the Foreign Ministry, Jalili worked closely with Mojtaba Hashemi Samare, a leading messianic and a close ally of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. Yazdi is a former member of the Hojattieh, a messianic splinter group which was disbanded by Ayatollah Khomeini in the early 1980s because of its extremist views. The sect's goals are to sow chaos - the goal of which is to incite a massive war, presumably necessary to speed up the return of the Shi'ite messiah, known as the Mahdi.
        Jalili's appointment as the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and as the head of Iran's nuclear negotiation team shows that the messianics have scored another major victory in placing one of their allies in a senior political position. They currently hold positions of power in the Ministry of Intelligence (Gholam Hosssein Ejehi), Ministry of Interior (Mostafa Pour Mohammadi), and, of course, the Presidency (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). The writer is the co-author of The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran. He runs the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis (Meepas). (Pajamas Media/Jerusalem Post)
        See also Ahmadinejad Sees No Need for Nuclear Talks - Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Guy Dinmore
    Iran's President Ahmadinejad on Tuesday said Tehran had no need for negotiations over its nuclear program. "We believe if you talk about your [inalienable] rights, you will definitely lose part of them," he said. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Fresh Ways of Turning the Economic Screws on Iran - Daniel Dombey and Stephanie Kirchgaessner
    The U.S. is fizzing with ideas about how to push Iran in the dispute over its nuclear program. Secretary of State Rice has signalled that the U.S. may put the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard on the U.S.'s terrorist list. The U.S. Treasury has banned two Iranian banks from accessing dollar financing, and discouraged international banks from doing business with Tehran. The combination of executive orders that prohibit third parties from doing business in the U.S. on behalf of the Iranian banks Saderat and Sepah, together with a UN resolution proscribing Sepah, has helped deter many international financial institutions from transactions with Iran. The U.S. has been considering issuing an order against a third Iranian bank, Bank Melli, and has also looked at extending measures against the country's central bank.
        Swift, the international financial messaging group, has made it obligatory to identify any underlying benefactor in bank-to-bank payments. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed a bill that could force President Bush to impose sanctions on foreign energy groups that invest in Iran. At least three U.S. states have also passed legislation that requires or calls for divestment from companies that have invested in Iran's energy sector. (Financial Times-UK/MSNBC)
  • Observations:

    Does Bin Ladenism Have Anything in Common with Fascism? - Christopher Hitchens (Slate)

    • Does Bin Ladenism or Salafism or Islamofascism or whatever we call it have anything in common with fascism?
    • Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia. Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression and to its counterparts: the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.
    • Al-Qaeda's demand is that countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia be dissolved into one great revived caliphate, but doesn't this have points of resemblance with the mad scheme of a "Greater Germany" or with Mussolini's fantasy of a revived Roman empire?
    • Technically, no form of Islam preaches racial superiority or proposes a master race. But in practice, Islamic fanatics operate a fascistic concept of the "pure" and the "exclusive" over the unclean and the kufar or profane. In the propaganda against Hinduism and India, for example, there can be seen something very like bigotry. In the attitude to Jews, it is clear that an inferior or unclean race is being talked about (which is why many Muslim extremists like the grand mufti of Jerusalem gravitated to Hitler's side).
    • This makes it permissible, it seems to me, to mention the two phenomena in the same breath and to suggest that they constitute comparable threats to civilization and civilized values.

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