Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 1, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Saudis Shocked by UK Hostility to King - Roula Khalaf (Financial Times-UK)
    While Saudi officials played down the wave of criticism provoked by the first Saudi royal visit to Britain in 20 years, the Saudis were, in the words of one former British diplomat, "under considerable shock" as they faced the most intense wave of disapproval received by the king on a foreign visit in recent years.
    The British media went into an anti-Saudi frenzy, and protesters jeered the king as he passed by in a gilded horse-drawn coach on his way to Buckingham Palace, demanding that human rights come before arms deals.
    Businessmen and analysts traveling with the Saudi delegation said they were taken aback by the force of the criticism.

Palestinians Threaten Arab-American Christian Pastor in Ramallah - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    An Arab-American evangelical pastor said Wednesday he was threatened by a Palestinian security official in Ramallah, and fled to Jerusalem for safety.
    Pastor Isa Bajalia, 47, a U.S. citizen born in Birmingham, Alabama, who has been living in Ramallah with his family since 1991, said he had been threatened over the last two months by a Fatah security official from the Tanzim militia who also demanded $30,000 in protection money.

Oil Nations Amassing Cash Hoards - David Cho and Thomas Heath (Washington Post)
    Oil-rich Middle East states are aggressively stockpiling some of the largest concentrations of investment money in history.
    The government of Libya has amassed $40 billion and is ready to put it in play on Wall Street.
    Tiny Qatar is adding $1 billion a week to its investment coffers. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has an estimated $875 billion to invest.
    The price of oil reached $93.53 a barrel on Monday.

Jews Re-enact Voyage of "Exodus" from Europe after Sixty Years (Reuters)
    A boat sailed from Cyprus on Wednesday with 300 Jewish passengers aboard in a symbolic re-enactment of an attempt by European Jews to reach what was then British-run Palestine 60 years ago.
    The story of the "Exodus," intercepted by the British in 1947, helped draw world attention to the efforts of Jews to flee Europe after the World War Two Nazi Holocaust and became an important episode in the founding of the State of Israel.
    The original "Exodus," which had sailed from a port near Marseille, was stopped by British forces and towed to Haifa, where would-be immigrants were forced onto deportation ships and sent back to Europe.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Three Guilty of Mass Murder in Madrid Attack - Paul Haven
    Spain's National Court convicted the three main suspects in the Madrid commuter train bombings of mass murder Wednesday and sentenced them to tens of thousands of years in prison for Europe's worst terror attack by Islamic militants. Jamal Zougam of Morocco was convicted of placing at least one bomb on a train and Othman Gnaoui, also of Morocco, was convicted of being a right-hand man of the plot's operational chief. Emilio Suarez Trashorras of Spain was found guilty of supplying the explosives used in the bombs. Four other key defendants were convicted of lesser offenses, while an accused ringleader was acquitted altogether. Bombs exploded on four trains on March 11, 2004, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800.
        The train bombing suspects were mostly young Muslim men who allegedly acted out of allegiance to al-Qaeda to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The seven men considered the true ringleaders of the attack blew themselves up at an apartment on the outskirts of Madrid as police moved in to arrest them three weeks after the bombings. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Middle East Racing to Nuclear Power - Dan Murphy
    This week Egypt became the 13th Middle Eastern country in the past year to say it wants nuclear power, intensifying an atomic race spurred largely by Iran's nuclear agenda. "To have 13 states in the region say they're interested in nuclear power over the course of a year certainly catches the eye," says Mark Fitzpatrick, a former senior nonproliferation official in the U.S. State Department who is now a fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. "The Iranian angle is the reason." "The rules have changed on the nuclear subject throughout the whole region," Jordan's King Abdullah said early this year. "Where I think Jordan was saying, 'We'd like to have a nuclear-free zone in the area,'...[now] everybody's going for nuclear programs."  (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Discontent Among Egypt's Workers - Jeffrey Fleishman
    Perhaps the most intense criticism of Mubarak resonates from the banners and shaking fists of militant workers who have broken away from government-controlled unions and staged sporadic strikes across the nation. At the Misr Spinning and Weaving Factory in the Nile delta, thousands of male and female strikers hanged the company president in effigy and took over the textile mill's courtyard, banging drums and giving speeches. The weeklong strike last month ended peacefully when the government-owned company made concessions on wages and profit-sharing bonuses that fell short of workers' demands.
        Nearly a year ago, the same workers struck for several days, igniting solidarity across Egypt as work stoppages spread to railway, flour and other industries. Mubarak's economic reforms have led to 7% economic growth in each of the last three years. But this has not benefited workers whose stagnant salaries have been decimated by monthly inflation rates as high as 15%. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rice Won't Bring Annapolis Invitations During Latest Visit to Region - Herb Keinon
    Reversing previous assessments and indicating continued problems in getting the planned Annapolis meeting off the ground, senior diplomatic officials in Israel said Wednesday it did not now look like U.S. Secretary of State Rice would bring invitations to the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis meeting when she arrives in Israel Saturday night. Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams met Thursday to continue working on the document expected to be endorsed at the meeting. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Fire Rocket Barrage at Israel - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a barrage of 13 Kassam rockets at Israel Thursday morning. At least nine rockets landed in Sderot and its vicinity. One of the rockets landed near Sapir College, just five meters from a campus employee, but did not explode. Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Terrorists Fire Mortars at Israel from Gaza Schoolyard - Hanan Greenberg
    IDF Intelligence has released a video of three Palestinian terrorists launching mortar shells towards Israel from a courtyard outside an elementary school in the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza. A senior IDF officer said Wednesday that Palestinian terror organizations continue to abuse the civilian population in Gaza by launching attacks against Israel from their midst. "They don't think twice about firing Kassam rockets near crowded public areas, even though they're fully aware that they're endangering innocent civilians," said the officer. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Thwarts Suicide Attack in Hebron - Efrat Weiss
    An 18-year-old Palestinian youth aroused the suspicion of Border Police securing the junction leading to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Wednesday. The troops called to the youth to stop and lift his shirt, where he had concealed a firearm and two knives. On further inspection, soldiers found a suicide letter detailing the youth's intent to die as a martyr in an attack. One of the knives was inscribed with the words: "With this knife a Jewish soldier will be murdered." (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Lethal Illusion - Melanie Phillips
    The U.S. persists in its dangerous pretense that it can bring about a resolution of the Israel/Arab dispute at Annapolis by insisting on treating Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah as credible interlocutors for peace. The Bush administration, Europe, and Britain insist on behaving as if Fatah can and will make peace, while ignoring the fact that Abbas has not complied with one single precondition for negotiations laid down in the Roadmap, namely, that he dismantle the infrastructure of terror.
        This is not, as they imply, a fight between two parties equally responsible for a terrible conflict. It is a war to exterminate the Jewish state that is being waged by Arabs and Islamists with differing strategies and agendas on the same continuum of annihilation - and with not one single credible interlocutor on their side who genuinely wants to live in peace with Israel.
        The Western refusal to acknowledge this inconvenient truth gives this conflict its surreal dimension, in which a country that has been under exterminatory attack for the past six decades is expected to make reparations to its assailants and reward them with a state of their own even while they continue with their war against it; to provide food, power and other supplies to its attackers in Gaza in order that they can continue their murderous assault upon it; and to treat a leader who refuses to stop the war as an apostle of peace simply because no one can think of a better idea. (Spectator-UK)
  • Israeli Missile Defense Under Spotlight - Barbara Opall-Rome
    A high-caliber group of former Israeli military commanders and development officials are championing greater priority and a sharper public focus on Israel's missile defense development programs. Galvanized by the inability to defend against the more than 4,000 rockets and missiles launched against Israel in the Lebanon War, the Israel Missile Defense Association (IMDA) held a kickoff conference in Jerusalem on Oct. 22 [in cooperation with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs] to augment support for active defenses. (Defense News)
        See also Video Archive: View the Conference (IMDA/JCPA)
  • Observations:

    The Annapolis Meeting: Not at Any Price - Yoel Marcus (Ha'aretz)

    • The Annapolis meeting is the private initiative of U.S. Secretary of State Rice. She wants to give Bush a farewell gift, a little something from our neighborhood.
    • This meeting is going to be a quickie. An international brief encounter, not an international conference. It will be a forum not for negotiations, but for speeches, as well as a summarizing declaration of principles that will serve as a guideline for talks on the establishment of two states for two peoples.
    • The trouble is that, in practice, any agreement that Olmert and Abbas sign at Annapolis will obligate only half of the Palestinians. Abbas will be stronger in the eyes of the world, but not in the eyes of most of his people. The Israeli public does not have the strength, emotional or otherwise, for another dummy compromise with the Palestinians.
    • What happened after the withdrawal from Gush Katif, with its removal of settlers by force, has left us deeply wounded and disappointed over the outcome. Sderot and other towns near Gaza have not enjoyed a moment's peace. It is hard to believe that a country as powerful as Israel is just sitting there and watching its cities being pounded by rockets day after day, year after year.
    • Intelligence sources in Israel are shocked at the transformation of Hamas gangs into a genuine military force in Gaza, complete with uniforms, arms, instructors and Iranian ideology that may soon seep into the West Bank, whose control could fall into Hamas' hands.
    • Olmert must go to Annapolis as Mr. Peace, but play Mr. Security when he gets there. Annapolis is good, but not at any price.

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