Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 17, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Exchange of Prisoners with Hizbullah Expected - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    An exchange of prisoners with Hizbullah is expected to take place in the near future, Israeli security sources confirmed Monday.
    The deal includes the release of Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese man responsible for a murderous attack against a family in Nahariya in 1979, as well as four Hizbullah men captured during the Second Lebanon War.
    The relatively low number of prisoners to be freed in the deal (compared to previous exchanges) stems from the fact that Israel assumes that IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, abducted by Hizbullah on July 12, 2006, are no longer alive.

U.S. Coast Guard Will Board Ships from Iran - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
    The Coast Guard has begun searching any shipping vessel that has docked at an Iranian port within five port calls of coming to American shores.
    The designation of Iran on the Coast Guard's terrorism list is likely to punish any major shipping lines that still include Iran on their trade routes to America.

The Man Who Brought Down Islamic Jihad's Chief Rocket Engineer - Martin Chulov (The Australian)
    Awad al-Keek, the chief rocket engineer of Islamic Jihad and an UNRWA teacher, was killed in an Israeli air attack on Apr. 30.
    He was fingered by Saleh Awad, who had worked in PA intelligence and started working with the Israelis after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, according to his taped video confession.

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Florida Terror Suspect Pleads Guilty - Kevin Graham and Rebecca Catalanello (St. Petersburg Times)
    Former University of South Florida engineering student Ahmed Mohamed pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge of providing material support to terrorists.
    Mohamed, an Egyptian national, was arrested on Aug. 4 with Youssef Megahed, 22, a fellow USF student, in Goose Creek., S.C., after police found low-grade explosives in the trunk of his car.
    Mohamed admitted creating and posting a YouTube video that demonstrated how to turn a child's remote control toy car into a detonator.

Three in Ohio Guilty of Plot Against U.S. Troops in Iraq - Joe Milicia (AP)
    Mohammad Amawi, 28, Marwan El-Hindi, 45, and Wassim Mazloum, 27, were convicted Friday of plotting to recruit and train terrorists to kill American soldiers in Iraq.
    Prosecutors said the men were learning to shoot guns and make explosives while raising money to fund their plans.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Blesses Hizbullah Power-Sharing Government - Anne Gearan
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday she welcomes a new power-sharing arrangement in Lebanon even though it increased the power of Hizbullah at the expense of U.S.-backed moderates. Rice's blessing, during a surprise visit to meet Lebanon's new president, former Army chief Michel Suleiman, is a sign that the Bush administration has accepted that Western-backed democratic leaders who helped Lebanon throw off three decades of Syrian domination could not govern the country alone. Rice also said, "The time has come to deal with the Shebaa Farms issue," referring to a patch of land under Israelís control and claimed by Lebanon. (AP)
  • Iran to Face New EU Sanctions, Britain Says - Dan Eggen
    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans Monday for new European sanctions against Iranian banking, oil and natural gas interests, signaling a growing willingness by Western allies to join President Bush in punishing Tehran for its nuclear enrichment program. With Bush by his side, Brown said Britain and the other members of the EU had agreed to freeze the assets of Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank, and would consider separate sanctions targeting Iran's oil and natural gas industry. EU ministers are to take formal action as early as Tuesday, officials said. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Withdraws $75 Billion from European Banks
    Iran has withdrawn $75 billion from Europe to prevent the assets from being blocked under threatened new sanctions, Shahrvand-e Emrouz, an Iranian weekly, reported. "Part of Iran's assets in European banks have been converted to gold and shares and another part has been transferred to Asian banks," Mohsen Talaie, deputy foreign minister in charge of economic affairs, was quoted as saying. (Reuters)
  • Israel Seeks to Lower Expectations on Peace Deal with Palestinians - Adam Entous
    U.S. Secretary of State Rice ended her sixth trip to the region this year with no sign of progress in nudging Israel and the Palestinians toward a peace deal by the end of the year. Israeli officials were cool to suggestions, backed by the Palestinians, that Rice hold more intensive three-way meetings with Israelis and Palestinians. A senior Palestinian official said Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni "insisted on bilateral meetings." Mark Regev, the prime minister's spokesman, said Olmert believed it would be "difficult" to reach agreement on the sensitive issue of Jerusalem by the end of President Bush's term. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel, Syria Hold Indirect Talks in Turkey - Barak Ravid and Zvi Bar'el
    Israel and Syria held indirect peace talks in Turkey on Sunday and Monday, Israeli and Turkish officials said. "It is still early to talk about diplomatic agreements between the two sides since there are many technical issues remaining," a Turkish source said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Syria Won't End Hizbullah, Hamas Ties
    Syria will not give up its ties with Hizbullah and Hamas, Syrian minister Buthaina Sha'aban, a close ally of President Bashar Assad, said Monday. "The Israeli demand that Syria shake off Hizbullah and Hamas as a condition for peace negotiations is like a demand that the U.S. shake off its ties with Israel," Sha'aban said during a visit to India. Sha'aban also said that Syria would "never give up on a centimeter" of the Golan Heights. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rockets Hit Ashkelon, One Wounded - Yuval Azoulay
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Grad-type rockets at the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Monday. One person suffered shrapnel wounds in the neck, and several others suffered from shock. Israel has charged that Iran has supplied Hamas with Grad rockets, smuggled into Gaza from Egypt. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Wins Significant EU Upgrade - Herb Keinon
    Despite intense lobbying by Egypt and the PA, the European Union on Monday agreed to a significant upgrade of relations with Israel. There will be regular annual meetings at a senior level between the Israeli and EU leadership, as well as increased meetings between government ministers, senior officials and parliamentarians. Israel will join European agencies, programs and working groups, bringing the Israeli economy and society closer to European norms and standards. In addition, a joint working group will examine the areas in which Israel is capable of integrating into the European single market. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why Iran Will Get Nuclear Weapons - Amir Taheri
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumes that once George W. Bush is out of the White House, the U.S. will accept a nuclear-armed Iran as a "regional superpower" in the Middle East. He thinks the dominant mood in the U.S., and the West in general, is one of pre-emptive surrender. Ahmadinejad has castigated his predecessor Muhammad Khatami for accepting suspension of Iran's uranium program in 2003. Khatami says he did so because at the time, shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, he feared that the Americans might march on Tehran as well. As soon as that fear was gone, the program was resumed at an even faster pace.
        Ahmadinejad has already promised anti-American regimes in Latin America "full support and protection" against the "Great Satan" in Washington. Iran is laying the foundations for an armaments industry in Venezuela, and one day the Islamic Republic may extend its nuclear umbrella to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador and, why not, even Cuba. The Islamic Republic has been at war against the U.S. and the international system it leads for almost 30 years. As in all wars there are three ways to end this one: surrender, make a deal, or win. (New York Post)
  • "Military Occupation" of Beirut by Hizbullah Awakes Suspicions Throughout the Arab World - Claude Salhani
    The mufti of Lebanon, the highest Sunni religious authority in the country, has called Hizbullah's brief but potent military takeover of West Beirut several weeks ago "a military occupation." Last month, Hizbullah reneged on an earlier promise never to turn their guns on fellow Lebanese, costing them the support they previously enjoyed. Geneive Abdo, a fellow at the Century Foundation, said some Sunni leaders even described Hizbullah's assault as "a Persian invasion."
        Many analysts believe Hizbullah miscalculated in its assault. The greater miscalculation, however, was that by doing so they awoke suspicion and fear in Sunnis throughout the Arab world. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Ahmadinejad Was Not Mistranslated: What Iranian Leaders Really Say about Doing Away with Israel - Joshua Teitelbaum (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Over the past several years, Iranian leaders - most prominently, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - have made numerous statements calling for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. While certain experts have interpreted these statements to be simple expressions of dissatisfaction with the current Israeli government and its policies, in reality, the intent behind Ahmadinejad's language and that of others is clear.
    • What emerges from a comprehensive analysis of what Ahmadinejad actually said - and how it has been interpreted in Iran - is that the Iranian president was not just calling for "regime change" in Jerusalem, but rather the actual physical destruction of the State of Israel. When Ahmadinejad punctuates his speech with "Death to Israel" (marg bar Esraiil), this is no longer open to various interpretations.
    • A common motif of genocide incitement is the dehumanization of the target population. The Nazi weekly Der Sturmer portrayed Jews as parasites and locusts. Ahmadinejad said in a speech on February 20, 2008: "In the Middle East, they [the global powers] have created a black and filthy microbe called the Zionist regime." In the early 1990s, Hutu propaganda in Rwanda against the Tutsis described them as "cockroaches." Prior to Saddam Hussein's operations against the Iraqi Shiite population in 1991, his Baath Party newspaper characterized them as "monkey-faced people."
    • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, has made statements about Israel similar to Ahmadinejad. On December 15, 2000, he declared on Iranian TV: "Iran's position, which was first expressed by the Imam [Khomeini] and stated several times by those responsible, is that the cancerous tumor called Israel must be uprooted from the region."
    • Michael Axworthy, who served as the Head of the Iran Section of Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, notes that when the slogan "Israel must be wiped off the map" appeared "draped over missiles in military parades, that meaning was pretty clear."
    • There is an ample legal basis for the prosecution of Ahmadinejad in the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court for direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.

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