Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 10, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Barghouti Cannot Unite Palestinians - Yaakov Katz and Talia Dekel (Jerusalem Post)
    Jailed Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti is unlikely to unite the split Palestinian factions if he is released in a prisoner swap for kidnapped St.-Sgt. Gilad Shalit, according to a recent Israeli Defense Ministry report.
    The report analyzed his political strength and concluded that his influence was felt mainly in Ramallah but not in other parts of the West Bank, such as Nablus and Jenin - Hamas and Islamic Jihad strongholds.
    In addition, the researchers found that Barghouti was rarely mentioned by the PA media.
    The report concluded that Barghouti would encounter fierce opposition from the "old guard" in the PA, such as former prime minister Ahmed Qurei.

Petraeus: Al-Qaeda Aims to Keep a Foothold in Iraq - Ernesto Londono and Amit R. Paley (Washington Post)
    Iraq remains "the central front" for al-Qaeda and other extremist organizations, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the departing commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, said in an interview Tuesday.
    He said al-Qaeda leaders remain keenly interested in keeping a foothold in Iraq because of its oil wealth and proximity to Gulf states where they have been shunned in recent years.
    He said that al-Qaeda in Iraq, a largely homegrown organization that U.S. officials believe is led by Arabs from other countries, had been severely weakened but could regain strength.
    He said recent intelligence reports suggest that Iranian-backed Shiite fighters who left the country in recent months to avoid a military confrontation with U.S. and Iraqi forces are considering returning to Iraq.

Canada to Replace French UAVs with Israeli Craft (Strategy Page)
    Canada's decision to replace its French Sperwer UAVs with Israeli Herons and Skylarks has upset many Canadian politicians because Canada has spent over a quarter billion dollars on Sperwer in the past five years.
    According to the military, the Herons will give Canadian troops in Afghanistan better support than the Sperwer UAVs they had been using. Troops were envious of superior UAV types they saw in use by other nations.
    India has bought fifty of the Israeli-built Heron and used them successfully along the border with Pakistan in terrain and weather similar to Afghanistan.
    See also Israel's Heron UAV Reaches Record Altitude of 40,000 Feet (Shephard-UK)

Useful Reference:

Women Train for Combat and Suicide Bombing in Gaza (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

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

  • Tehran's Ex-Nuke Negotiator: Ahmadinejad Harming Iran - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad's policies have done more harm than good in his three years in office, Tehran's former nuclear negotiator said Monday. The hard-line leader missed out on "golden" opportunities to develop the Persian state, Hasan Rowhani told a meeting on Monday of the Moderation and Development Party. "Why are people's pockets empty and their dignity on sale," Rowhani asked. "Careless, uncalculated and unstudied remarks and slogans have posed many costs on the nation and the country." (AP/MSNBC)
  • U.S. Approves $330 Million in Arms Purchases for Israel - Andrea Shalal-Esa
    The U.S. government on Tuesday said it had approved up to $330 million in three separate arms deals for Israel for bombs, Patriot missile upgrades, and anti-armor weapons. Sources tracking a much bigger deal for 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, plus an option for at least 50 more, said that agreement could be approved later this month. The Pentagon is solidly backing Israel's request for the fighter jets, which are being designed by the U.S. and eight other countries to replace the F-16. Maj. Gen. Charles Davis, the Pentagon's program chief for the F-35, said last month that Israel was getting the F-35 into its fleet "as quickly as we possibly can." (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Plans $7 Billion Arms Sale to UAE - Jim Wolf
    The Bush administration is planning to sell the United Arab Emirates an advanced U.S. missile defense system - the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD - valued at up to $7 billion. (Reuters)
  • Top Al-Qaeda Operatives Killed in Pakistan - Ishtiaq Mahsud
    Two top al-Qaeda operatives were among four foreign militants killed in a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan's northwest, Pakistani intelligence officials said Wednesday. Abu Haris led al-Qaeda efforts in the tribal areas, while Abu Hamza led activities in Peshawar, the main northwest city, said the intelligence officials. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also In Hunt for Bin Laden, a New Approach - Craig Whitlock (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Betancourt: World Must Work for Release of Kidnapped Israeli Soldier - Yaniv Halily
    Colombian-French politician Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped and held captive for almost seven years, has launched a campaign for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. "If people all over the world work for Gilad Shalit's release, he will be freed," Betancourt told Yediot Ahronot on Tuesday. "Gilad's case affects us all. I understand what Gilad's family is going through. Many people express their sympathy but cannot really understand what a kidnapped person's family goes through. It should be a comprehensive global struggle," she said. On Tuesday, she attended a UN symposium in New York on victims of terrorism. The event was also attended by Arnold Roth, who lost his daughter in the Jerusalem Sbarro bombing, and Daniel Carmon, the deputy head of Israel's UN delegation, who lost his wife in the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. (Ynet News)
        See also Israeli Terror Victim to UN: I'll Never Understand Hatred that Killed My Daughter - Shlomo Shamir (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Woman Throws Acid on Soldier at Checkpoint - Efrat Weiss
    An Israel Defense Forces soldier stationed at the Hawara checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, was injured on Wednesday after a Palestinian woman threw acid in his face. The woman arrived at the checkpoint and attempted to cross into Israel using the humanitarian aid lane, which is meant for emergencies. Upon approaching the soldier manning the lane, she threw the acid and then ran back towards Nablus. IDF forces are exercising lenience at all checkpoints as part of efforts to ease conditions for the Palestinians during Ramadan. (Ynet News)
  • Disney Images Used by PA TV Again to Glorify Murder of Jews - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
    PA (Fatah) TV is using Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet to create a Disney-like backdrop to teach children to glorify mass murderer Dalal Mughrabi, who participated in the murders of 12 children and 25 adults in a 1978 bus attack in Israel. A Ramadan children's program, a TV quiz show, this week idolized the female terrorist as the "beloved bride, daughter of Jaffa, jasmine flower." In May 2007, the Hamas TV network used a Mickey Mouse character to teach children to seek world Islamic domination. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Living to Bomb Another Day - Ronen Bergman
    Seven years after 9/11, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of suicide terrorism and a shift toward advanced technologies that will enable jihadist bombers to carry out attacks and live to fight another day. While we have failed to find a solution to the "poor man's smart bomb," attrition may be achieving what the experts have not. After years of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda's suicide-recruitment mechanisms are beginning to wear out.
        It is no longer uncommon to find jihadists in their chat rooms and interrogations, according to Western intelligence sources, stating that young men are reluctant or simply too scared to take part in suicide attacks. The startling cost in lives of its operatives has motivated al-Qaeda's technical experts to start seeking solutions that would render suicide unnecessary. These mostly revolve around remote controls - vehicles, robots and model airplanes loaded with explosives and directed toward their targets from a safe distance.
        Gadi Aviran, the founder of Terrogence, a company that gathers information on global jihad for intelligence agencies in Israel, the U.S. and Europe, said, "All of these secretive discourses in the password-protected cyber forums are of the same spirit....Mujahedeen's lives are fast becoming too valuable to waste and although this seems like good news, the alternatives may prove to be just as difficult to deal with." The writer, a correspondent for the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, is the author of The Secret War with Iran. (New York Times)
  • Criminalizing Criticism of Islam - Elizabeth Samson
    The prosecutor general in Amman, Jordan, has charged 12 Europeans with blasphemy, demeaning Islam and Muslim feelings, and slandering and insulting the prophet Muhammad in an extraterritorial attempt to silence the debate on radical Islam. Among the defendants is the Danish cartoonist who drew in 2005 one of the Muhammad illustrations that instigators used to spark Muslim riots around the world. His co-defendants include 10 editors of Danish newspapers that published the images. The 12th accused man is Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. Jordan's attempt at criminalizing free speech beyond its own borders is part of a larger campaign to use the law and international forums to intimidate critics of militant Islam. In December the UN General Assembly passed the Resolution on Combating Defamation of Religions; the only religion mentioned by name was Islam.
        Amman has already requested that Interpol apprehend Wilders and the Danes and bring them to stand before its court for an act that is not a crime in their home countries. Dutch prosecutors said in July that Wilders' statements are protected under Dutch free-speech legislation. Likewise, Danish law protects the rights of the Danish cartoonists and newspapers to express their views. Unless democratic countries stand up to this challenge to free speech, other nations may be emboldened to follow the Jordanian example. The case before the Jordanian court is not just about Wilders and the Danes. It is about the subjugation of Western standards of free speech to fear and coercion by foreign courts. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Observations:

    LBJ - A Friend in Deed - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Post)

    • A few weeks ago, the Associated Press reported that newly released tapes from U.S. president Lyndon Johnson's White House office showed LBJ's "personal and often emotional connection to Israel." The news agency pointed out that during the Johnson presidency (1963-1969), "the United States became Israel's chief diplomatic ally and primary arms supplier."
    • Many identify Johnson as the president during the 1967 war. But few know about LBJ's actions to rescue hundreds of endangered Jews during the Holocaust - actions that could have had him thrown out of Congress and into jail.
    • Historians have revealed that Johnson, while serving as a young congressman in 1938 and 1939, arranged for visas for Jews in Warsaw, and oversaw the apparently illegal immigration of hundreds of Jews through the port of Galveston, Texas. A key resource here is the unpublished 1989 doctoral thesis by University of Texas student Louis Gomolak, "Prologue: LBJ's Foreign Affairs Background, 1908-1948."
    • Five days after taking office in 1937, LBJ broke with the "Dixiecrats" and supported an immigration bill that would naturalize illegal aliens, mostly Jews from Lithuania and Poland.
    • In 1938, LBJ warned a Jewish friend, Jim Novy, that European Jews faced annihilation. "Get as many Jewish people as possible out [of Germany and Poland]," were Johnson's instructions. Somehow, Johnson provided him with a pile of signed immigration papers that were used to get 42 Jews out of Warsaw.
    • According to historian James M. Smallwood, Congressman Johnson used legal and sometimes illegal methods to smuggle "hundreds of Jews into Texas, using Galveston as the entry port....Johnson smuggled boatloads and planeloads of Jews into Texas. He hid them in the Texas National Youth Administration...Johnson saved at least four or five hundred Jews, possibly more."
    • Just one month after succeeding Kennedy, LBJ attended the December 1963 dedication of the Agudas Achim Synagogue in Austin. Novy opened the ceremony by saying to Johnson, "We can't thank him enough for all those Jews he got out of Germany during the days of Hitler." Lady Bird would later describe the day, according to Gomolak: "Person after person plucked at my sleeve and said, 'I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him. He helped me get out.'"

      The writer served as deputy chief of mission of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He blogs at

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