Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 2, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Ex-Weapons Hunter: Iran 2-5 Years from Nuke - Pamela Hess (AP/Washington Post)
    Iran is two years to five years away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon, David Kay, the former head of the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq, said Wednesday.
    Iran is 80% of the way to a nuclear weapon, Kay estimates, noting that Iran has worked on the program for 20 years.
    Kay said there is "virtually no possibility" Iran will give up its uranium enrichment program.
    He dismissed the notion that a U.S. or Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear infrastructure would be effective or useful. He said it would only delay the development of a weapon by one to two years at the most, and would unite Iran's people more firmly behind its leaders.

Pentagon Aims to Sell Israel Fighter Jets - August Cole (Wall Street Journal)
    The Defense Department formally notified Congress that it wants to sell Israel as many as 75 of the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, which is being developed under a contract led by Lockheed Martin.
    The sale could be worth as much as $15 billion.
    See also Israel Wants Its Own Technology in F-35s - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Fearing that the U.S. will sell the F-35 to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern states, Israel's Defense Ministry is seeking American approval to install Israeli-made electronic systems on the stealth fighter jets it buys so that Israel's version will be unique and superior.

Sunni Islamic Extremists Suspected in Tripoli and Damascus Blasts - James Hider and Nicholas Blanford (Times-UK)
    Sunni Islamist extremists are the main suspects behind recent deadly bomb attacks in Lebanon and Damascus.
    Analysts believe that both attacks bear the hallmarks of terror groups linked to al-Qaeda.

Islamist Militants Go on Trial in Paris (AFP)
    Four young Muslim men went on trial in Paris on Wednesday accused of operating an extremist network that planned attacks in Europe and sent volunteers from France to fight in Iraq.

Syria Massing Troops on Lebanon Border - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
    Syria has moved up to 25,000 heavily armed military units to the Lebanese border, claiming the build-up is a response to smuggling rings that run the black market.
    My Lebanese contacts call that explanation "laughable" - noting that the Syrian elite itself runs the black market in both countries through the security services.

Begin Aide Harry Hurwitz Dies - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Harry Hurwitz, the founder of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and a trusted adviser to the former prime minister, died Wednesday at 84.

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

  • Khamenei: Iran Will Stand By Hamas
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran will stand beside the Hamas government in Gaza and that Israel is weakening and on the path to eventual destruction, state television reported. Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, called Hamas' prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, a "holy warrior," saying "the Iranian nation will never let you be alone." (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • U.S.-Syria Talks May Be Step toward Thaw - Elise Labott
    The U.S. and Syria held a series of meetings this week, signaling a possible thaw between the two countries as the U.S. seeks to peel Syria from its close ties with Iran. The talks between Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch on Monday in New York came on the heels of a brief meeting between Moallem and Condoleezza Rice a day earlier, senior State Department officials said. Welch raised continuing U.S. concerns about Syrian behavior in Lebanon and warned that Syria should not use last weekend's bombing of a military facility in Damascus, Syria, as a pretext to justify military action in northern Lebanon. (CNN)
        See also Assad: Iran-Syria Ties to Continue
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his country's relations with Iran will not be affected by a possible peace agreement with Israel. (Press TV-Iran)
        See also Iran Drops IAEA Seat Bid to Back Syria
    Iran's ambassador to the IAEA said on Wednesday that Tehran had dropped its bid for a seat on the board of the UN atomic watchdog in favor of a place for its regional ally Syria, Iranian television reported. (AFP)
  • Israel Slams Fresh Arab Move to Isolate It at IAEA - Mark Heinrich
    Israel Monday condemned a renewed Arab effort to isolate it at a UN atomic watchdog meeting in Vienna. After Arab League states with Iran's backing prepared to table a resolution on "Israel's nuclear capabilities," Israel filed a motion for the Arab move to be struck off the agenda. "Among sponsors of this draft resolution are states which openly do not recognize the State of Israel and even call for its annihilation," said Israel Atomic Energy Commission Director Shaul Chorev. "What is the moral standing of sponsors of this agenda item who do not recognize Israel's right to exist while criticizing Israeli policies aiming at securing its very existence?"
        Chorev said Israel had long backed a Middle East free of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction in principle. "But this cannot be advanced out of context. It can only emerge gradually from a process of mutual acceptance, reconciliation and lasting peace."  (Reuters)
  • NY Judge: PLO Can't Disguise Terror as War - Larry Neumeister
    The Palestine Liberation Organization can't win dismissal of a lawsuit by victims of bombings in Israel by claiming the attacks were acts of war rather than terrorism, U.S. District Judge George Daniels ruled Tuesday. Daniels said the attacks targeted public places - not military personnel - on downtown streets, a crowded bus stop, a cafeteria at the Hebrew University, and a passenger-filled civilian bus and "do not constitute acts of war," but rather meet the legal definition of "international terrorism." (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Report: Syria Restarted Its Nuclear Program
    The London-based Asharq Alawsat reported on Thursday that Israeli military sources said Syria changed course following the reported airstrike against its nuclear reactor at Al-Kibar last year, and had begun a nuclear program based on the Iranian model of simultaneously building multiple facilities in various sites throughout the country. Like the bombed nuclear reactor, the newest facilities were being built with the backing of North Korea. Furthermore, a group of Iranian experts arrived in Syria last month to join the project. The Israeli source emphasized that a "nuclear armed Syria is a red line which can't be crossed." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Detainee in Palestinian Prison Said Tortured to Death - Ali Waked
    Fatah member Shadi Shami died this week at a Jericho prison belonging to the Palestinian intelligence service. Shami was arrested in 2002 for shooting former Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Amr. Family members claimed that he was tortured by intelligence officials and was essentially executed. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ahmadinejad's Evil Words Aren't Just Talk - Tim Rutten
    Time and again, the spokesmen for Islamist radical movements have told the world precisely what they intend. Time and again, the scant handful of Americans who bothered to take notice have dismissed what was said as the product of political alienation, as the consequence of economic marginalization, as a hangover of post-colonial insecurity or as tactical bluster. Mary Halbeck, one of the West's foremost scholars of jihadism and its religious origins, describes Islamist extremists as "committed to the destruction of the entire secular world because they believe this is a necessary first step to create an Islamic utopia on Earth." This is what the men who brought the hell of 9/11 to America believed.
        When the delegates to the UN General Assembly applauded Ahmadinejad's speech last week, and the American media passed over it in silence, this is the sentiment to which they gave their respective explicit and tacit approval. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Talking Tough on Ahmadinejad - Carlo Strenger
    Ahmadinejad's anti-Semitic tirades seem to be coming straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It must be made clear that a man like him has no place in the world order. It is wrong to belittle the importance of an event like Ahmadinejad's telling the UN his paranoid fantasies about Zionist domination of the world and the financial markets. There are red lines the crossing of which the civilized world must react to forcefully and unequivocally. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Video: Ahmadinejad's Visit - Interview with Dore Gold (Bloomberg)
  • World Should Confront Iran's Ahmadinejad - Robert Cohen
    The Detroit News coverage of Iranian leader Ahmadinejad's speech to the UN did not include reference to his outrageous anti-Semitic remarks. A nation's leader has not declared to the world such hatred against the Jewish people since Adolph Hitler. The UN Convention against Genocide was adopted following the defeat of Nazism, and it is time for the world to use it to confront Ahmadinejad's agenda. As former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler called for, Iran should be brought before the International Court of Justice under the Genocide Convention, and the UN Security Council should refer Ahmadinejad to the International Criminal Court to stand trial for advocating genocide. (Detroit News)
  • Canadian "Students Against Israeli Apartheid" Hooks Kids on Hatred - Barbara Kay
    The idea behind Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) is to hook kids on hatred of the Jewish state while they are still wet behind the ears in their knowledge of Middle Eastern history, and vulnerable to the sophisticated play on emotions and pity these fulltime activists with no respect for truth bring to bear. At last year's Israeli Apartheid Week on the University of Toronto campus, SAIA set up a full-day session of anti-Zionist brainwashing for high school students. Nobody but high school students were allowed into the building: no teachers, no parents, no older siblings. I can't think of anything creepier than a closed-door session to which youngsters only are invited to listen to adult fanatics spewing hatred. (National Post-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Talk Isn't Cheap with Iran - Michael B. Oren and Seth Robinson (Wall Street Journal)

    • What would be the objective of U.S.-Iranian talks - to moderate Iranian behavior and renew Iranian-American relations or, more broadly, to recognize a new strategic order in the Middle East?
    • In addition to nuclear issues, American interlocutors, should they undertake talks, must also address the question of Iranian expansionism. Through its Hizbullah and Hamas proxies, Iran has gained dominance over Lebanon and Gaza, and through its Baathist and Mahdist allies, has extended its influence through Syria and Iraq. An Iranian threat looms over the Persian Gulf financial centers and beyond, to the European cities within Iranian missile range. No attempt has yet been made to induce Iran to roll back or even curtail the export of its violent revolution.
    • Recognizing Iranian ascendancy means legitimizing Hamas and Hizbullah while weakening America's allies in Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. In addition, any American offer to dialogue with Iran is liable to be interpreted as a sign of American weakness, and not only in Tehran. Public opinion throughout the area will conclude that America has at last surrendered to the reality of Iranian rule. The damage to America's regional, if not global, influence may prove irreversible.
    • Furthermore, dialoguing with Iran presents the even graver danger that Iran will use it as camouflage to complete its nuclear ambitions. Even if Iran agreed to halt the enrichment process, it might replicate the North Korean model: negotiate with the U.S., agree to suspend nuclear activities, then renew them at the first opportunity.
    • Any negotiations with Iran must be time-limited and accompanied by intensified sanctions and a credible military threat. The U.S. can communicate with Iran, but as a power and not a supplicant, and with leverage as well as words.

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