Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 26, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Egyptian Parliament: Police Unable to Control Smuggling Tunnels (AP/MSNBC)
    The Egyptian parliament's defense committee says the situation at the border with Israel is dangerous because of increased smuggling operations through the tunnels and the unrestricted spread of weapons among the Bedouin, the state-owned Al-Gomhuria daily reported Wednesday.

Jordan Seals Nuclear Deal with China (Medialine-Jerusalem Post)
    Jordan signed a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with China on Monday. China will help Jordan mine and enrich uranium, as well as assist in training and studies to build a nuclear station, said Khalid Tuqan, head of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission.
    Jordan is said to have large reserves of uranium, and a nuclear plant could supply nearly a third of the country's energy requirements by 2030.

Internet Enables Egyptian Political Participation for Youth - Mohamed Abdel Baky (Arab Reform Bulletin-Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
    There has recently been an unprecedented rise in political activity among Egyptian youth on the Internet. According to government statistics, there are more than 160,000 Egyptian blogs, constituting a vast field of virtual political participation.
    The general strike that occurred on April 6 was organized on the Internet by young people and included 85,000 participants, a majority under the age of 30.

Israel Wins Silver Medal in World Chess Olympiad - Uri Tzahor (Ynet News)
    The Israeli chess team on Tuesday won the silver medal at the Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany.
    The Israeli team overcame chess superpowers such as the U.S, which won the bronze medal, Ukraine, Russia and China.
    "Over 140 teams have participated in this Olympiad, that is held once every two years, and during the games we even beat Armenia, the team that won the gold," said Israel Chess Federation President Aviv Bushinsky.

Vietnam to Open Embassy in Israel - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
    After more than 30 years of diplomatic relations with Israel, Vietnam will open an embassy in Tel Aviv in the coming weeks.
    An Israeli embassy opened in Hanoi in the mid-1990s.

Useful Reference:

Video: Anti-Terror Training (
    How Israel's Metilan border police anti-terror unit protects Jerusalem (8 min.)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei: "Unite Against Israel"
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told visiting Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Tuesday that the Lebanese people should unite to confront Israel, Iranian media reported. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar announced Iran's readiness to "deepen and expand defensive ties between two states." Suleiman also met Iranian President Ahmadinejad during his visit. (Reuters)
  • Arab Americans Policing Their Donations Now - Laurie Goodstein
    Leaders of the Muslim charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, were convicted in a federal trial of money laundering, tax fraud and supporting terrorism for funneling money to Hamas, which the federal government declared to be a terrorist group in 1995. Since the indictment of the Holy Land leaders, Muslim organizations have been working with the government to create mechanisms to ensure that humanitarian aid to Palestinians is not diverted to terrorism. The American Task Force on Palestine recently created the American Charities for Palestine, and signed an agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development in August to make donations only to educational and health institutions in the territories that have been vetted and approved by USAID. (New York Times)
  • U.S.-Trained Palestinian Forces a Cause for Hope in Hebron - Ethan Bronner
    The West Bank city of Hebron is undergoing a shake-up as hundreds of Palestinian security officers have begun to stop car thefts, foil drug deals and arrest scores of Hamas gunmen, even seizing explosives and suicide belts. They have also focused on quality-of-life issues like fighting clans and the sales of outdated food and medicine by criminal gangs. "Some of the communities and neighborhoods in Hebron haven't seen a policeman since 1967," noted Dov Schwartz, aide to Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator in the West Bank. "People have turned over criminals, drug dealers and militants."
        The Palestinian commander, Brig. Gen. Sameh al-Sifi, 62, said in an interview. "My ambition is the same as that of my Israeli counterpart - to see our grandchildren enjoying their lives like the rest of the world." He said he had been among the most fervent backers of armed struggle for most of his life. But in the past decade, that changed. "I started to realize that Israel cannot be abolished," he said. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Protests Boycott Call by UN General Assembly President - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Israel filed a formal complaint with the UN on Tuesday over statements made by General Assembly President Father Miguel Brockmann of Nicaragua, who called for an international boycott of Israel after accusing it of being an apartheid regime. The UN is currently marking its annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and the General Assembly is hosting a series of anti-Israel venues, including films comparing Israel to the Nazi regime.
        Israeli Ambassador Gabriella Shalev slammed the UN as being disconnected from reality, and lamented its anti-Israel tone at a time when Israel is engaged in peace talks with the PA. She said if discussions were to focus on the Middle East, they should also touch on Iran's repeated threats to destroy Israel, Syria's armament of terrorists, Hamas' rocket attacks on Israeli towns, and Hizbullah's growing strength. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel Tuesday that fell near a kibbutz. In response to the rocket fire, Defense Minister Barak announced that the border crossings would remain closed. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran's Game-Changing Long-Range Missile - Uzi Rubin
    On Nov. 12, Iran launched a new type of long-range ballistic missile, the Sajil. Its appearance is living testimony to the failure of the world community to curb the trade in missile technology, not to speak of curbing the malicious ambitions of Iran's mullahs. This is a brand-new missile, an original design more advanced than anything available to the North Koreans, and it signifies Iran's graduation into world-level missilery. Its range is longer than the Shahab-3 - 2,400 kilometers - which makes the new missile capable of reaching - besides every capital city of the Middle East - Moscow, Warsaw, and the outskirts of Vienna and St. Petersburg.
        The appearance of the Sajil highlights Iran's single-minded pursuit of ballistic missile capability in every conceivable technology. This is the second multistage Iranian rocket program to surface, following the two-stage Safir space launcher that first flew last August. This diversity and tempo of development is almost unparalleled. All this for conventional warheads?
        It also highlights the limits of nonproliferation since its large-diameter solid propulsion system requires a host of special technologies and machines whose export is strictly controlled by the Missile Technology Control Regime. It is inconceivable that Iran developed such technologies on its own. In spite of all the export controls, someone sold them to Iran. It is time to move from nonproliferation to counterproliferation, including missile defense. The writer oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense system. (Defense News)
  • Los Angeles Times Distorts IAEA Report - Tamar Sternthal
    In a news article about the origins of uranium particles found at the Syrian site bombed by Israel in September 2007, Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times severely distorts the report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The article states: "'The only explanation for the presence of these modified uranium particles is that they were contained in the missiles dropped from the Israeli planes,' the [IAEA] report said." Yet the IAEA report did not make this statement. Rather, as a matter of record, the IAEA report quotes word for word a Syrian letter which included this statement. But nowhere does the IAEA report confirm the Syrian claim. (CAMERA)
  • Deprogramming Jihadists - Katherine Zoepf
    The Saudi state was essentially built on the concept of jihad, which King Abdul Aziz al-Saud used to knit disparate tribal groups into a single nation. The word means "struggle" and in Islamic law usually refers to armed conflict with non-Muslims in defense of the global Islamic community. Saudi schools teach a version of world history that emphasizes repeated battles between Muslims and nonbelieving enemies. Whether to Afghanistan in the 1980s or present-day Iraq, Saudi Arabia has exported more jihadist volunteers than any other country; 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudis.
        The Saudi government finds itself in the awkward position of needing to defend the principle of jihad to its citizens while discouraging them from actually taking up arms. A new Saudi rehabilitation program addresses the psychological needs and emotional weaknesses that have led many young men to jihad in the first place. It tries to give frustrated and disaffected young men the trappings of stability - a job, a car, possibly a wife. If the Saudi program is succeeding, it may be because it treats jihadists not as religious fanatics but as alienated young men in need of rehabilitation. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Progress with the Palestinians: Doing What Is Doable - Uzi Arad (

    • Progress with the Palestinians can be accomplished only within that space that realistically allows for it. To seek progress beyond what is feasible would be an exercise in futility; not to seize opportunities wherever these present themselves would be equally wrong. This practical approach stands in contrast to the recent ambitious, indeed blatantly impossible, effort to accomplish a final status agreement within a year. By all accounts, the political terrain is simply not ripe for closure on a final status agreement.
    • When it comes to Jerusalem, the very thought of taking a city that is currently united and amputating any part of it as a throwback to the long defunct status quo ante would be a severe failure of imagination as well as contrary to the Israeli and Jewish ethos.
    • As for the refugees issue, not only should there be zero Palestinian return to Israel, but it is also necessary that the principle of fairness be applied when compensation is considered. Just as Arab Palestinians could be compensated, so should Jewish refugees from Arab lands.
    • Political dialogue should certainly continue between Palestinians and Israelis because there are a number of issues pertaining to civilian or even security areas which need to be addressed and improved. Institution-building within the PA should be encouraged and the role of the PA's law enforcement and police forces should be further advanced. However, it is only realistic to assume that the burden of security responsibility to fight terror would remain in Israeli hands.
    • The single most urgent and important area that necessitates progress is neither the Palestinian nor the Syrian track, but that of neutralizing the Iranian threat. The more menacing Iran is, the stronger its surrogates, Hamas and Hizbullah, and the more distant the possibility of peacefully resolving Arab-Israel issues.

      The writer, director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC, Herzliya, served for many years in the Mossad, where his last position was director of intelligence.

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