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February 29, 2008

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 29, 2008 By Yehudit Barsky NEWYORK (JTA)--For many of his victims around the world, the recent car-bomb as- sassination of |mad Fayez Mughniyeh--one of the world's most wanted terrorists for two decades--has the ring of true justice. At least in the short term, the killing of Mughniyehwill have a deterrent effect and hamper Hezbollah's capability to carry out a revenge attack. It wi|l not, however, preclude Hezbollah from planning a future strike over time--and, judging from past experience, the Lebanese- based terrorist organization will not only eye Israeli targets for retaliation, but Diaspora Jewish ones as well. Mughniyeh, the second highest official in the Islamic extremist group and seen as a possible successor to Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, showed no boundaries of brutality or location. He was on the FBI's Most Wanted list for the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 and murder of one of its passengers, U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. The FBI posted a $25 million reward for Mughniyeh's capture= Earlier in his terrorist career, Mughniyeh joined Fatah's Force 17, the personal Security apparatus ofYasser Arafat. Mughniyehwas one of a number of young Shia Muslims recruited to Force 17 and initially trained by Fatah. Mughniyeh went on to become a founding member~)fHezbollah andwas placed in charge of its Special Security Apparatus, also known as the Islamic Jihad Council, whose members were trained by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards. He ultimately became chief of the security apparatus and headed Hezbollah's foreign ope~'ations, overseeing terror activities worldwide. Both the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian Ministry of Intel- ligence and Security facilitated Mughniyeh's international operations. The 1983 massive car bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed more than 300, and the kidnap- pings and murders of Westerners in Lebanon, including CIA station chief William Buckley and USMC Lt. Col. William Higgins, as well as members of the Lebanese Jewish community, all are accredited to Mughniyeh. He gained international notoriety for his involvement, together with Iran, in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy, and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, both in Buenos Aires. The official find- ings of the Argentinean investigation of the Letter from Israel Missed opportunities By Ira Sharkansky Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity? Key Israeli and Palestinian officials have been Or is a lack of willingness to admit flexibility meeting since before the Annapolis conference, with respect to Jerusalem Israel's stubborn in- We hear that they are negotiating toward prin- sistence on" missing an opportunity? ciples, or the elements of a final settlement. They My guess is that the votes are here for prag- haveagreednottoreleasedetailsoftheirconver- matic concessions on Jerusalem if we can get sations. Some have emerged, but it is difficult to that far. I fear that the Palestinians will not let judge if they are hard information, disinforma- us get that far. tion, non-negotiable demands; or somebody's If they cannot accept a tactical concession wishful thinking. (See, for example, http://www, of timing that helps Olmert keep his coalition together, how likely are they to make other JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1203343702790). compromises from what they have said are their What we hear is not encouraging, non-negotiable demands? The Palestinian prime minister does not think I have yet to hear acommentator say that there things are moving fast enough: " not enough is really any hope to these negotiations. And hashappenedoverthepastnearlythreemonths without Olmert's coalition, there is nothing that could suggest to me that a treaty per se is on the political horizon that would be more going to be possible (by the end of 2008)." In promising. recent days the participants have been hung Gaza is a major lump in everybody's throat. up on discussions about what todiscuss. In RocketskeepflyinginthedirectionofSderotand particular, Jerusalem. other Israeli communities. The IDF has small Prime Minister Ehud Olmert cannot admit units in Gaza on a daily basis. It frequently takes that he is discussing the division of the city. prisoners or has its helicopters fire a missile that The topic has become a hot button for right- removes yet another figure from its wanted list. wing and religious Israelis, as well as overseas Palestinian negotiators object to this level of Jews. No matter that the city sprawls hither and active defense as violations of international law yon over more territory than any other Israeli thatmakeitimpossibleforthemtonegotiate, One municipality, and includes Arab neighborhoods can imaginewhatthey would say about a larger- that few Jewsvisit. Some of those neighborhoods scale invasion that might resemble the 2006 war are obvious bargaining chips, but the name in Lebanon. That would mean at least 1,000 "Jerusalem" says "holy" and "never again." The Palestinians killed and whole neighborhoods city is political tinder, reduced to rubble. The IDF is planning some- The SHAS ultra-Orthodox political party, thing like that. Prime Minister Olmert, Defense with 12 Knesset members of the 67-member Minister Barak, and ranking officers of the IDF governing coalition, says that it will withdraw if are not inclined to take the risk of heavy Israeli Olmert discusses the division of Jerusalemwith casualties, but continuedattacks on Israeli civil- the Palestinians. ians may require a large response. Olmert has said that he has the agreement Palestinian negotiators come from the Fatah of the Palestinians to postpone the discussion party that Hamas expelled from Gaza after a of Jerusalem until other issues are settled. That short but bloody civil war. Israel's prime rain- would seem to save his government for the time ister has said that he will not make peace with being. Palestinians when part of their country is in the But, oopps. Palestinian leaders deny any such hands of Hamas and other factions committed agreement, andsaytheymustdiscussJerusalem to Israel's destruction. along with other important issues. Is this another one of those times when the Sharkansky on page 17A rilE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE 1SSN 0199-0721 Winner of 38 Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $34.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($41.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: -/ Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Gene Starn Lyn Payne Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Wayne Gray Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Thomas Ullmann Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Steve Levine 'Tim Boxer David Bornstein Gall Simons Production Department David Lehman, Teri Marks Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky AMIA attack revealed that it was planned and executed by Iran and Hezbollah. As a result, Interpol, at the request of Argentina, issued an arrest warrant for Mughniyeh and five Iranian officials. Serving as Hezbollah's nexus to other ter- rorist organizations, Mughniyeh provided vital assistance and training for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad-, strengthening the ties of those terror organizations to both Hez- bollah and Iran. He also maintained ties with Osama bin Laden and Ayman A1-Zawahiri of al-Qaida by providing explosives training for al-Qaida operatives. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Mugh- niyeh was believed to have been instrumental in having organized the escape of up to 50 senior members of al-Qaida's leadership from Afghanistan to Lebanon and facilitated the escape of dozens of other al-Qaida operatives to Iran. Over the last several years, Mughniyeh further expanded Hezbollah's influence and was reported to be working with Iran to train Moktada A1-Sadr's Mahdi Army in Iraq. Mughniyeh's most recent activities included his key role in the construction of Hezbollah's military infrastructure in southern Lebanon from 2000 to 2006. With Iran's aid, he oversaw the efforts that transformed Hezbollah into an organization with military-level capabilities. Mughniyeh also is considered responsible for the kidnapping of Israeli reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, and he directed Hezbollah fighting against Israeli forces during the 2006 Lebanon war. What comes next in the post-Mughniyeh era of Hezbollah? Nasrallah immediately blamed Israel for the Feb. 13 assassination in Damascus and declared that Hezbollah was prepared to im- mediately retaliate "anywhere" against Israeli targets worldwide. The 1992 strike against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires took place several weeks after Israel's assassination ofthen-Hezbollah leader Abbas Musawi. Following Mughniyeh's death two weeks ago, Israel issued security alerts to its embassies and an advisory to Israeli citizens abroad to be alert for possible abduction attempts. Following the example of the AMIA bomb- ing, Hezbollah also includes Diaspora Jewish communities on its potential list of targets. The AMIA attack came two years after the embassy bombing in Argentina. Mughniyeh clearly left his imprint not just on Hezbollah, but on other terrorist organi- zations. Due to his contacts with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, those organizations may be called upon by Hezbollah to expand their own terrorist activities against Israel. Other organizations that received assistance from Hezbollah expressed solidarity with Hezbol- lah after Mughniyeh's assassination and may decide to engage in their own violent actions or may be called upon by Hezbollah for assistance. Clearly, Hezbollah will not let Mughniyeh's assassination pass without attempting a display of its own capability for revenge. The question is not if, but where and when. Yehudit Barsky is director of the American Jewish Committee's Division on Middle East and International Terrorism. Jim Shipley What if? Let us suppose for a moment that you were president of the U.S. (although as someone said, anyone who applies for the job should immediately be disqualified). You are in- heriting to begin with the worst mess since Herbert Hoover left office. His problem was Congress. The present guy has only to look in the mirror. But, okay, let us suppose, God forbid, you had the job. You are settled in the Oval Office, the food is pretty good, you don't have to own a car anymore or even to buy plane tickets. Pretty cool, no? Then one morning as the Presidential Valet is serving you your morning coffee, the National Security Chief comes in along with a few beribboned military guys. You look up and greet them cordially. Must have forgot- ten that you had a briefing scheduled for this morning. After a round of good mornings, the National Security guy hands you a communiqu6. It says that overnight Laredo Texas was hit by about fifteen rockets from over the border in Mexico. You look up in disbelief. "This can't be right!" You shout in anger. "Afraid so, Mr. (or Madam) President," answers the National Security guy, enforced by positive nods from grim-faced generals and admirals. "Terrorists?" You ask. The National Security guy sits down even though he hasn't been invited to do so. The military guys follow suit. "Don't know. Luckily, they just took out some sheds and one longhorn steer. We immediately sent up planes, but from our side of the border, the desert from where they came was empty." You contemplate for a moment, drum- ming your fingers on the desk at which Lincoln sat to make many decisions about the Civil War. You press a button on the presidential phone. "Get me the president of Mexico!" When he gets on the line, he is as shocked as you are. Or so it seems. The multiple TV screens in the corner, with volume turned off, are showing reporters in a field with cra- ters very apparent and a blasted shed in the background. By that afternoon regular programming has been interrupted on all networks and the cable news channels are going at it full time. The army, the marines and the border patrol have been put on full alert but have done nothing about crossing the border. At seven o'clock that evening, just at dusk, from abean field across the border in Mexico another barrage of unsophisticated rockets hits Lared0. But this time, they hit a school, a MacDonald's (with three patrons being injured) and the main highway through Laredo. You're on the phone again with the president of MexicO. This call is not nearly as friendly as the one this morning. You let him no uncertain terms that this has to stop, and now. The president of Mexico indicates that certain militant forces not under his control are suspected of being the perpetrators. "Not under your control!" You shout. "Are you the president of that country or are you not?" The President of Mexico calls for calm. You are not calm. Just then news reports appear on the TV screens that a militant group in Mexico is claiming responsibility for the attacks and demanding that the U.S. relinquish approxi- mately one hundred fifty square miles along the border, stating that it has been illegally annexed to the U.S, Hearing the same report, the president of Mexico says to you, "Well, they do have a point " What do you do? Do you call out the troops and head across the border on a search-and- destroy mission? Do you occupy the border towns on the Mexican side of the border to protect the border towns of Texas, New Mexico andArizona? The rocket launchers are portable and often abafldoned by the militants once they are fired. Do you blanket bomb the entire area, create huge civilian casualties and create a rocket- free no-man's land? Go ahead, Mr. (or Mrs.) president. There are your alternatives. Here's an idea. Call the Prime Minister of Israel. Once you have him on the phone, ask: "Tell me, Mr. Prime Minister, what do you do when rockets rain down on Sderot? No, sir, this is not academic question. We have this small problem with Mexico. Oh, you saw it on the news? It seems we both have a similar problem " Sorry, dear reader, there is no ending to this story. No, no one in Mexico has hit Texas as yet. And there is no ending to the story in Sderot, Israel, where it goes on every day. Welcome to the Oval Office. And have a nice day.