Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 5, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda's No. 2 Urges Holy War over Gaza - Salah Nasrawi (AP/Yahoo)
    Al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslims to launch a holy war to break Israel's economic blockade of Gaza, in an audio recording posted Wednesday on an Islamic militant Internet site.
    Zawahri lashed out at Egypt, declaring Egyptian President Mubarak and his troops "criminal traitors" for sealing its own boundary with Gaza.

British Muslim Admits Plot to Set Off Explosives at Heathrow Airport - John F. Burns (New York Times)
    Abdulla Ahmed Ali, a British man accused of leading a plot to blow up seven trans-Atlantic airliners on a single day in 2006, said in a London court on Tuesday that he had planned to set off one or two explosive devices at Heathrow Airport.
    Ali is one of eight Muslim men on trial on charges of planning suicide attacks on airliners using bombs mixed from household chemicals carried on board.
    Ali, 27, told the court that he had originally planned to use one of the peroxide bombs to attack the House of Commons, but due to tight security he had switched the target to Heathrow.
    In his first day of testimony on Monday, Ali was questioned about "martyrdom" videotapes made by six of the men now on trial.

Four Bedouin Men Indicted for Burning Home of Independence Day Torch-Lighter - Mijal Grinberg (Ha'aretz)
    Four Bedouin men were indicted Monday in the Beersheba District Court for setting fire to the house of Sana Elbaz, on the day after the Bedouin woman took part in the Israel Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony.
    While Sana was at home with her two children when her house was set on fire, they managed to escape unharmed.

Sri Lanka Benefits from Israeli Assistance (Daily News-Sri Lanka)
    Israeli assistance has helped Sri Lanka immensely in its efforts to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity, Higher Education Minister Wiswa Warnapala told Israeli Ambassador Mark Sofer on Monday.
    Warnapala said Israel was one of the first countries that came to Sri Lanka's assistance in the aftermath of the tsunami.

Useful Reference:

The Iranian Threat Must Be Stopped - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the 2008 AIPAC Policy Conference Tuesday that the Iranian threat must be stopped by all possible means.
    International economic and political sanctions on Iran are only an initial step, and must be dramatically increased.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Meets Olmert, Calls Iran "Threat to Peace" - Jeffrey Heller and Matt Spetalnick
    President George W. Bush told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the White House on Wednesday that Iran posed an "existential threat to peace" the world must take seriously. (Reuters)
        See also Bush, Olmert Focus on Iran - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met face-to-face with President George W. Bush for an hour in the Oval Office Wednesday. "Naturally the Iranian issue was central to our talks, and our shared point of departure is the need to deal with Iran before it manages to acquire non-conventional capabilities," Olmert said. The two leaders also discussed the talks with the Palestinians and Lebanon, and the U.S. president asked to be briefed on developments with Syria. (Ha'aretz)
  • UN Nuclear Watchdog Reviews Evidence of Secret Iranian Weaponization Work - Scott Peterson
    Iran's nuclear intentions are under increasing scrutiny as diplomats and technical experts of the UN's atomic watchdog agency meet in Vienna this week. At issue in Vienna is the meaning of 18 documents that point to secret weaponization work. These include designs of the nose cone of a Shahab 3 missile - Iran's longest-range ballistic missile - modified for a possible nuclear payload; schematics of a 400-yard-deep underground testing setup; and documentation that appears to show secret nuclear projects and military procurement efforts. "Together these documents make a powerful case that Iran had an active weaponization effort prior to 2004," concludes an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Bush Meets with Sharansky in Washington - Michael Abramowitz
    President Bush held an unannounced 40-minute Oval Office meeting Tuesday with onetime Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, with whom the president has forged a friendly and intriguing relationship. Sharansky's 2004 book, The Case for Democracy, helped Bush shape his second-term agenda of promoting freedom abroad. Now, Sharansky is pitching a new book, Defending Identity, on the connection between freedom and identity.
        In an interview after the meeting, Sharansky expressed disappointment that the president has not made greater progress promoting democracy, especially in the Palestinian territories, where he said Bush wrongly pushed for elections that resulted in Hamas winning power in Gaza. "He insisted that it was the right thing to have elections even if Hamas came to power because it shows the true face of Hamas." Sharansky also said he voiced skepticism about putting faith in a Palestinian leader (Mahmoud Abbas) without real power, while not doing enough to build civil society in the Palestinian territories. "There is no way to bring peace from top to bottom," Sharansky said. (Washington Post)
  • Mistrial for Man Who Shot Six at Seattle Jewish Center
    King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case of Naveed Haq, 32, who stormed into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on July 28, 2006, and shot six women, killing one, as he ranted against Israel and the Iraq war. Jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked on whether Haq was not guilty by reason of insanity, as he claimed. (AP/CNN)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Kills One, Wounds Four - Yonat Atlas
    One person was killed Thursday morning when a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza landed in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Four other people were wounded in the attack, for which Hamas claimed responsibility. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinians Fire Rocket at Gaza Fuel Terminal, Israel Halts Fuel Shipments
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket into the Nahal Oz fuel terminal on Wednesday, prompting the IDF to cease transferring industrial fuel, cooking gas and diesel to the territory. The rocket hit the Gaza side of the crossing, wounding a Palestinian worker, Palestinian doctors said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Syria Arming Hizbullah Despite Israel Talks
    Syria is continuing to supply Hizbullah with large amounts of weapons, missiles and rockets even as it conducts indirect negotiations with Israel, defense officials in Jerusalem told Army Radio on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Syria-Israel Talks to Resume Next Week - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's chief of staff, Yoram Turbowicz, and his foreign policy adviser, Shalom Turgeman, are expected to go to Turkey next week to resume the indirect negotiations with the Syrians, with the Turkish team shuttling between the two delegations. The Syrian delegation is headed by Riad Daoudi, a legal expert in the Syrian Foreign Ministry, and Sami Taqi, head of a think tank in Damascus considered close to the government. The Turkish mediators are Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's leading foreign policy adviser, Ahmet Davutoglu, and Feridun Sinirlioglu, a deputy undersecretary in the Turkish Foreign Ministry. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Intelligence Chief Visits Israel - Yaakov Katz
    Amidst reports that President George W. Bush is considering taking military action against Iran, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell paid a rare visit to Israel Tuesday for talks with heads of the Israeli intelligence community. Defense officials said McConnell's visit was part of the ongoing intelligence dialogue between the two countries and that he would be presented with the most updated Mossad and Military Intelligence assessments regarding Iran's nuclear program. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Fantasy of the Caliphate - Jean-Pierre Filiu
    Ten thousand Palestinians demonstrated in the streets of Ramallah last August, calling for "a return to the caliphate." They had been mobilized by Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Islamic Party of Liberation or HT), which has gained strength since the quarrels between Hamas and Fatah diminished popular support for them. Its influence is extending across the West Bank: it has militants on university campuses who encourage students to abandon the nationalist cause in favor of a return to the caliphate. The movement was founded in 1952 by a Palestinian sheikh, Taqiuddin Nabahani, who advocated the return to an Islamic federation under an Arab caliph, as had existed from the death of Muhammad in 632 until 1258.
        Hizb ut-Tahrir calls itself HT in Britain, where it runs a huge and legal propaganda campaign. With a tradition of support for the caliphate on the Indian sub-continent, the party found support among the UK's immigrant Indo-Pakistani communities. Remarkably, HT members of Bangladeshi origin are re-exporting this militant tradition from Britain to Bangladesh. (Le Monde Diplomatique-France)
  • The Worst Places to Be a Terrorist
    France was the first European country to fall victim to Middle Eastern terrorism during the Algerian war in the 1950s, and has some of the world's toughest and most effective antiterrorism laws. Prosecutors have a mandate to pursue terrorists abroad if the suspect or victim is French. France is also not shy about deporting Muslim clerics it views as threatening.
        Jordan's intelligence service has exploited close ties with Sunni tribes in Iraq's Anbar province to provide its U.S. and Israeli counterparts with valuable intelligence about the structure and financing of terrorist organizations. Jordan also takes pride in the prowess of its Special Forces units and has opened a training center to teach counterterrorism tactics to military units from around the world. (Foreign Policy)
  • Observations:

    On the 40th Anniversary of His Assassination: Robert Kennedy's 1948 Reports from Palestine - Lenny Ben-David (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • In April 1948, one month before Israel declared independence, Robert Kennedy, then 22, traveled to Palestine to report on the conflict for the Boston Post. His four dispatches from the scene were published in June 1948. The newspaper closed in 1956, and for decades the reports were virtually forgotten. The following are excerpts:
    • "Unfortunately for [the Jews, Jerusalem's water] reservoir is situated in the mountains and it and the whole pipeline are controlled by the Arabs. The British would not let them cut the water off until after May 15th but an Arab told me they would not even do it then. First they would poison it."
    • The Arab responsible for the blowing up of the Jewish Agency on March 11, 1948, said that "after the explosion, upon reaching the British post which separated the Jewish section from a small neutral zone set up in the middle of Jerusalem, he was questioned by the British officers in charge. He quite freely admitted what he had done and was given immediate passage with the remark, 'Nice going.'"
    • "The Jews informed the British government that 600 Iraqi troops were going to cross into Palestine from Trans-Jordan by the Allenby Bridge on a certain date and requested the British to take appropriate action to prevent this passage. The troops crossed unmolested....I saw several thousand non-Palestinian Arab troops in Palestine, including many of the famed British-trained and equipped Arab legionnaires of King Abdullah [of Trans-Jordan]. There were also soldiers from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq."
    • "The Arabs in command believe that eventually victory must be theirs. It is against all law and nature that this Jewish state should exist. They...promise that if it does become a reality it will never have as neighbors anything but hostile countries, which will continue the fight militarily and economically until victory is achieved."
    • "The Jews on the other hand believe that in a few more years, if a Jewish state is formed, it will be the only stabilizing factor remaining in the Near and Middle East. The Arab world is made up of many disgruntled factions which would have been at each other's throats long ago if it had not been for the common war against Zionism."

        See also Palestinian Terror Stretches Back to RFK Killing - Paul Kujawsky
    June 5 is the 40th anniversary of the first act of Palestinian terrorism against America - the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

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