Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 16, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Russia Suspected of Secretly Delivering Weapons to Hizbullah - Jean-Pierre Perrin (Liberation-France)
    On July 4, the Angela, a cargo ship flying the flag of Gibraltar, was subjected to a thorough search in the Bulgarian port of Varna.
    Two containers were found to contain dual-use metal pipes produced in Russia. The grooves on both sides of the tubes suggest that these were parts for the assembly of missiles.
    Questioned for 17 hours, the captain, a Lithuanian, eventually confessed that the vessel was destined for Latakia, a major Syrian port.
    Why was such a delivery clandestine since Moscow and Damascus are linked by military cooperation agreements, unless the final destination of the material seized in Varna is not Syria?
    According to Western military sources, if these missiles are assembled in Syria, some of them are destined for Hizbullah.

Palestinian Incitement Continues: "New Synagogue Built within Al-Aqsa Mosque"  (Palestine Media Center-PA)
    "New Synagogue Built within Al-Aqsa Mosque," the website of the Palestine Media Center, headed by PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo, claimed Tuesday.
    On Sunday, the Ohel Yitzhak Synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City, located about 100 meters from the Temple Mount (and the Al-Aqsa mosque), was reopened after being abandoned in 1938 in the wake of waves of Arab violence. (Jerusalem Post)

U.S. Drone Attack in Pakistan Targets Foreign "Guests"  (Reuters-Washington Post)
    A suspected U.S. drone fired a missile on Thursday into Pakistani territory on the Afghan border, killing at least one militant in a house in the village of Sam in South Waziristan, intelligence agency officials said.
    "Guests were staying there," said an intelligence agency official, using a term commonly used to refer to foreign militants.

Arab Regimes Are Failing - Khalil Gebara (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    A close look at recently released indices of development can help explain why the Arab world is undergoing serious political, economic, and social crises.
    According to the World Bank's Good Governance Indicators, Arab countries received 24% for degree of voice and accountability and 45% for "government effectiveness."
    By contrast, OECD countries scored an average of 91% for the first indicator and 89% for the second.
    The 2008 Failed State Index included 20 states in the first group, four of which are Arab (Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, and Lebanon). The second group of failed states included Egypt, Yemen, and Syria.
    The writer is president of the Lebanese Organization for the Enhancement of Transparency and secretary general of Arab Parliamentarians Against Corruption.

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

  • Iran Sets Preconditions for Iran-U.S. Talks
    Mahdi Kalhor, a top adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said on Saturday that as long as U.S. forces remain in the region and the U.S. backs Israel, talks with the U.S. will not take place. (Fars-Iran)
  • 14 Palestinians in U.S. Indicted in Racketeering Ring
    Fourteen people have been indicted in St. Louis on charges of using convenience stores to trade in stolen goods and contraband cigarettes, sending the profits to groups in the Palestinian territories. Five stores were raided Tuesday as part of an alleged racketeering organization and at least nine people were arrested, authorities said. All are of Palestinian origin, though some are American citizens. The indictment, announced by U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, said that since 2000, the organization profited from bank and wire fraud, receipt of stolen property and sales of contraband cigarettes. (AP/KWMU)
  • No. 2 Leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq Killed - Ernesto Londono
    The U.S. military on Wednesday announced it had killed Abu Qaswarah, the No. 2 leader of the Sunni insurgent group Al-Qaeda in Iraq, on Oct. 5 during an operation in northern Iraq. (Washington Post)
  • Female Gaza Suicide Bombers Determined to Die - Paul Wood
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad is training female suicide bombers in Gaza. Umm Anas, 18, just graduated from the program. "We were created to become martyrs for God," she explained. The bomb belt which she hopes will end her life - and kill many Israelis - rested on the table next to us. She is waiting for the collapse of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. "Palestine is only for Palestinians. We must kick them [Israelis] all out in any way we can," she says. "I am trying not to make any mistakes so that I do not miss this opportunity." (BBC News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • 35,000 Take Part in Jerusalem March - Abe Selig
    More than 35,000 people took part in the annual Jerusalem March on Wednesday, thronging the streets of the capital in celebration of Succot. More than 15,000 Israeli hikers from around the country made their way along one of three routes from the outskirts of the city to Jerusalem, recreating the pilgrimage atmosphere from the days of the Temple. The most robust of hikers made a 22-kilometer trek starting from the Castel, the site of battles in the War of Independence. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Thousands of Christians March in Jerusalem Parade (AP/New York Times)
  • Hamas' "AqsaTube" Glorifies Terrorism Online
    Hamas recently launched a new Internet site called "AqsaTube," devoted entirely to propaganda and incitement against Israel, glorifying terrorism, and preaching the doctrines of radical Islam. There is also a link to Hamas' satellite channel, Al-Aqsa TV. AqsaTube is registered in Dubai, and its Internet service provider is the French firm OVH. Hamas manages and directs more than 20 websites in eight languages. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • China Should Act Responsibly on Iran - John W. Garver
    Since 2002 when revelations regarding Iran's previously clandestine nuclear programs surfaced, China has sought to balance between cooperation with the international community and currying favor with Iran, delaying and watering down sanctions. This approach is now reaching the limits of utility. If China's economic clout is not used to nudge Tehran toward cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Security Council to verify that Iran's nuclear programs are entirely of a non-military nature, the result could be intensified rivalry and insecurity in the Gulf, chain-reaction nuclear weaponization across the Middle East, or even war. None of these outcomes comports with China's basic interest in stable, secure access to Persian Gulf oil.
        China's core interests in the Persian Gulf region are the same as those of the U.S. and Europe: the stable, uninterrupted flow of oil from that region at reasonable prices. China's current policies do not serve that interest. While Russia has military technology, its firms simply do not have the capital, entrepreneurial skills, or technology to modernize Iran's economy as Chinese firms do. If China declared its unwillingness to assist Iran's economic development until Tehran satisfies the IAEA, Tehran would have nowhere else to turn. The writer is a professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. (Far Eastern Economic Review)
  • Hothouse of Tension in Lebanon - Robert F. Worth
    Much is riding on the Lebanese elections, scheduled for next spring. Hizbullah and its allies stand to gain a parliamentary majority for the first time. That would be another striking setback for American policy in the region, and would probably make Israel view all of Lebanon, not just Hizbullah, as its enemy in future wars. Sectarian tensions have grown worse in northern Lebanon, feeding extremist sentiment and prompting more citizens to arm themselves. Several Islamist leaders said they were stockpiling weapons to be used for protection against Hizbullah or Syria.
        Although Syria withdrew from Lebanon in 2005, it retains armed allies - including the Alawite community in Tripoli - and a network of agents in the Lebanese security services. The conflict sometimes resembles a proxy war, with the Sunnis in the north drawing support, directly or indirectly, from Saudi Arabia, which is locked in a bitter diplomatic feud with Syria. (New York Times)
  • Syria and Lebanon: An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove - Jonathan Spyer
    The decree by President Bashar Assad announcing the establishing of full diplomatic relations between Damascus and Beirut represents the latest stage in the emergence of Syria from diplomatic isolation. Syrian relations with Lebanon have been in the process of warming since Assad's meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman in Paris in July. A campaign of violent subversion waged by Syria and its allies in Lebanon over the last three years is paying dividends. Syrian influence in Lebanon has been rebuilt, while Damascus simultaneously emerges from international isolation. The Syrians know that the iron fist works best when concealed in a velvet glove. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Geysers of Resistance to the PA Are Bubbling in the West Bank - Leslie Susser (Jerusalem Report)

    • The gradual disappearance of armed gangs roaming the streets of the West Bank began after Israel offered Palestinian gunmen an amnesty in July last year. About 300 handed in their weapons, and were taken off the list of wanted men. Others, who kept their weapons, lay low to evade arrest. American-trained Palestinian forces took over from Israeli forces the policing of Nablus in November 2007 and Jenin in May 2008.
    • However, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shalom Harari, a former adviser to the Defense Ministry on Palestinian affairs, rejects the idyllic security picture painted by the Americans. In his view, falatan - the lawlessness of guns in hands other than the central authority - is still widespread. All that has happened is that the guns and the private armies have gone underground. "The new police don't dare tackle the militias head-on. There is no 'assembly line' for dealing with militia fighters or money men: that is, no process of arrest, trial and jail."
    • Yet all over the West Bank, geysers of resistance are bubbling. According to Harari, the militias, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front (PFLP) and Democratic Front (DFLP) have an estimated 120,000 weapons - rifles, grenades and explosive charges - "under the floorboards waiting to come out. And if there is a confrontation, bear in mind that groups like PFLP and DFLP which, although secular, were against Oslo, might side with Hamas and Islamic Jihad." In Harari's view, the PA will be able to hold on against Hamas and the others only as long as Israeli forces remain in the West Bank. "If we left, within six months Hamas would build up terrorist infrastructures capable of reaching Tel Aviv," he declares.
    • Moshe Elad, a former military governor of Jenin and Bethlehem, now a researcher at the Technion's Shmuel Neeman Institute, notes, "Fatah may have the weapons, but Hamas has the people behind it, and the great fear of the Fatah forces is that, in a showdown, the Palestinian public will side with Hamas." To illustrate, Elad notes that Abbas can't even move around freely on the West Bank. "Abbas has not made any visits on the West Bank outside his Muqata headquarters in Ramallah....I think Abbas has a problem going into most places, because his people are not in control."

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