Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 25, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Jerusalem's Latest Suicidal Driver - Tim McGirk (TIME)
    Jerusalem over the past year has witnessed an Arab who went on a shooting spree in a Jewish religious school, two others who ran amok with bulldozers in heavy traffic, and this week a 19-year-old Arab slammed his BMW into a cluster of Israeli soldiers, injuring over a dozen.
    Here's an Arab youth with a death wish, and he's driving a BMW? Clearly the Israelis didn't drive him to penury. We can scratch economic hardship off the list as a possible motive.

Does Hijacked Iranian Ship Contain Chemical Weapons? - Nick Grace (Long War Journal)
    An Iranian merchant vessel hijacked last month by pirates may have been heading to Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia's Islamist insurgents.
    The MV Iran Deyanat is owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) - a state-owned company run by the Iranian military that was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on September 10, shortly after the ship's hijacking.
    Within days, pirates who had boarded the ship developed strange health complications, skin burns and loss of hair. A number of pirates reportedly have died.

Palestinian Sewage Endangers Underground Water Reservoirs - Assaf Shmueli (Ynet News)
    The underground water reservoirs in the West Bank are in severe risk of contamination due to wastewater, a report by the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Civil Administration and the Israeli National Parks Service revealed this week.
    Raw wastewater from the West Bank cities of Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and their adjacent villages are pumped either to sewage pits or local treatment facilities, where they undergo little to no treatment before being pumped out to major West Bank streams.
    The West Bank cities have several treatment infrastructure plans in the works, but most are still only on paper.
    Creating an infrastructure which could both remedy the existing situation and avert future pollution is expected to cost $200 million, and Israel, international environmental groups and the World Bank are willing to foot the bill.
    The problem is that the Palestinians see any cooperation on this issue as "collaboration" with Israel.

Anti-Israel Facebook Groups Infiltrated - Paul Lungen (Canadian Jewish News)
    A group calling itself the Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) took control of an Arabic-language Facebook group which set a goal of finding one million people who hate Israel within 90 days. The JIDF deleted more than 55,000 group members.
    Another Facebook group, "Eliminate Israel from Being," saw more than 5,000 members deleted after JIDF took it over.
    Facebook later returned control of the site to its administrators.
    JIDF said it took the action after Facebook staff ignored requests to remove the groups, which had published content the JIDF said violated Facebook's own terms of service which prohibit content deemed threatening or hateful.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • EU: Iran Closer to Nuclear Arms Capacity
    Iran is nearing the ability to arm a nuclear warhead, the European Union warned the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna on Wednesday. The EU also asserted that Iran appeared to have had a past nuclear arms program despite its denials.
        David Albright, of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, says Iran has managed to iron out most of the bugs in the enrichment process and its centrifuges "now appear to be running at approximately 85% of their stated target capacity, a significant increase over previous rates." To date, Iran has produced nearly 1,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium, close to what Albright says is the 1,500-pound minimum needed to produce a simple nuclear bomb. (AP/USA Today)
  • Israel Calls Iran Bid for Security Council Seat "Absurd"
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Wednesday that giving Iran a seat on the UN Security Council would be "absurd." "It is absurd that a state unparalleled in threatening the security of its neighbors and calling for the destruction of another state should be a member of a body whose goal is to further global security," Livni said. "The significance would be to let a criminal become his own judge." Iran has launched a bid for the seat reserved for an Asian nation, currently held by Indonesia, which becomes vacant in January. (AFP)
        See also Making a Joke of the UN - Editorial
    Iran would be unsuitable as a UN Security Council member in so many ways, it's hard to keep count. First and foremost: it is currently the subject of the most strenuous sanctions imposed by the Council on any nation, over its refusal to shut down its nuclear program. In addition, it would be ridiculous to elect the world's foremost sponsor of terror to a body that fancies itself a bodyguard of global security. Despite all this, we suspect there is a good chance Iran will win a place on the council in January when a seat for an Asian country comes open. (National Post-Canada)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Security Forces Uncover Eastern Jerusalem Terror Cell - Efrat Weiss
    The Shin Bet and Israel Police have recently uncovered an Arab terror cell operating in eastern Jerusalem that was responsible for the murder of two Border Police officers at the Lions' Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem on July 11. The cell was also planning to assassinate a Jerusalem policeman, carry out a shooting attack at the French Hill junction, kidnap a civilian or a security officer, and stage a shooting attack on a police car on the Jerusalem-Dead Sea highway. Jerusalem District Police Commander Maj.-Gen. Aharon Franco said Wednesday that there have been 250 arrests of eastern Jerusalem residents involved in terror-related activities since the beginning of 2008, a sharp increase in comparison to 2007. (Ynet News)
  • Jewish Birthrate Up, Israeli Arab Birthrate Down - Sharon Roffe-Ofir
    According to data released Wednesday by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 2007 saw a rise in the average number of children born to Jewish mothers, from 2.75 to 2.8. In the Arab sector, the average number declined to 3.9 from 3.97. Knesset Member Nadia Hilou (Labor) notes: "More and more (Arab) woman are studying and working. In addition, they are influenced by Israeli civil society and modern life, which lead them to think about investing in their quality of life." (Ynet News)
  • Expect Harder Line from Abbas - Guy Bechor
    On January 14, 2009, Mahmoud Abbas' term of office will end, and the storm will start. Hamas argues that according to the Palestinian constitution, a retired president should be replaced by the parliament speaker. The current speaker is a Hamas man, Aziz Dweik, who has been detained by Israel. His deputy, Ahmed Bahar, is also a Hamas man. This is how Hamas intends to take over the West Bank.
        In the coming months, Abbas will become radical in respect to his words and deeds. It is no coincidence that he went to visit Samir Kuntar in Lebanon, and that he constantly declares that the refugees will return to Israel. Abbas will be radicalizing his statements so he is not accused of capitulating to Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Growing International Acceptance of Ahmadinejad - Editorial
    Ahmadinejad's fourth visit to New York was held against the backdrop of the disintegration of the international effort to impose sanctions on his country in an attempt to curb its nuclear program. According to an assessment by Israeli Military Intelligence, Iran is "galloping toward a nuclear bomb" and mastering the technology for enriching uranium, while the diplomatic and economic battle against it is ineffective. Israel is justifiably concerned about the naivete with which Ahmadinejad was received by the American media, as well as the world's growing tendency to view him as a legitimate leader. (Ha'aretz)
  • Deafening Silence - Daniel Johnson
    If a Western head of state had echoed Adolf Hitler, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did this week, would Europeans have shrugged their shoulders and dragged their feet over sanctions? Ahmadinejad's language actually reminded me of Heinrich Himmler's notorious speech at Posen in October 1943, in which he explained why the Nazis wanted to exterminate even Jewish children, to "make this people disappear off the face of the Earth." Like Himmler, Ahmadinejad claims that his own people - and Muslims more generally - are threatened by "Zionists," exploiting the paranoia of the Islamic world to justify turning Iran into a single gigantic nuclear suicide bomb. (New York Sun)
  • Anti-Semitism, Welcomed and Cheered - Anne Bayefsky
    On September 23, 2008, the UN General Assembly provided a platform for a head of state to spew unadulterated, vile anti-Semitism - and the assembled nations of the world clapped. Ahmadinejad told the UN: "A small but deceitful number of people called Zionists...have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the U.S. in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premier nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support."
        Less than half of UN members are fully free democracies and among them there is no consensus that demonization of Jews and the Jewish state is wrong. (National Review)
  • Give Paul a Chance - Editorial
    Sir Paul McCartney performs in Tel Aviv on Thursday. The concert is a measure of how far Israel has relaxed, modernized and embraced Western cultural freedoms. Sir Paul's determination to proceed with the concert in the face of a reported threat by the radical Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed that he risks being attacked by suicide bombers is a reminder of the sheikh's barbarism. It is also a show of courage by a singer who says he is not political, but believes in music's power to heal. The performance is also a moment for Sir Paul to make a loyal nod to many Jews who have shaped his life, from his late wife Linda, and his lawyer and the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, to the band's song publisher. (Times-UK)
        See also Paul McCartney Concert in Israel Touches a Nerve - Ashraf Khalil
    McCartney-mania has taken hold ahead of Sir Paul's concert in Tel Aviv. The performer, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday, is being treated to pomp and speculation exceeding that of most major heads of state. "Some here have called it the greatest cultural event in our 60-year history," wrote Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief David Horowitz. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Israel: The Iranian People Are Not Our Enemies - President Shimon Peres (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed the UN General Assembly on Wednesday:

    • Over 60 years have passed since the UN General Assembly voted on the historic resolution that would have put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Resolution 181 called for the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab state. Its title was: "Plan of Partition with Economic Union." It envisioned two states for two peoples, each fulfilling a distinct national aspiration. The Jewish people adopted the resolution and established the State of Israel. The Arabs rejected it and led to war.
    • Gaps have been narrowed through negotiations. But peace is not just a matter of territorial compromise. Rogue politics reject peace even where territorial disputes were resolved. In Lebanon, we implemented Resolution 425. Yet Hizbullah paralyzed the country and cut the road to peace. From Gaza, we withdrew completely and dismantled our settlements. Hamas responded with a bloody takeover and turned the Strip into a base of rocket fire.
    • They added kidnapping to bombings. I call for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit. This honored assembly should put his release at the top of its agenda. Holding a hostage in Gaza determines its isolation and further deterioration.
    • At the center of this violence and fanaticism stands Iran. Its quest for religious hegemony and regional dominance divides the Middle East and holds back chances for peace, while undermining human rights. Iranian support for Hizbullah divided Lebanon. Its support for Hamas split the Palestinians and postpones the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    • The Iranian people are not our enemies. Their fanatic leadership is their problem and the world's concern. Their leader is a danger to his people, the region and the world. He is a disgrace to the ancient Iranian people. He is a disgrace to the values of Islam.

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