Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

August 8, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Hamas Using Ceasefire to Sneak Homicide Bombers into Israel - Ami Ben David (Maariv-Hebrew)
    In recent weeks Hamas has sent "sleeper" homicide bombers into Israel - both from the northern West Bank and from Hebron - since Hamas fears it will be more difficult to penetrate the "seam line" in a few more months, according to senior officials in the security services.
    The "sleeping" bombers are staying in Arab villages in Israel.
    Among the intelligence warnings is one scenario in which a series of homicide bombings will occur immediately following the end of the hudna.
    According to the sources, Hamas is interpreting the Arabic word "hudna" according to its traditional meaning - a ceasefire for the purposes of regaining strength and renewing preparations for an attack - which is exactly what the group is busy doing.


The Tehran-Pyongyang Axis - Editorial (Washington Times)
    North Korean military scientists were recently seen entering Iranian nuclear facilities, and were helping Iran test a nuclear warhead.
    So many North Koreans are presently in Iran working on nuclear and ballistic missile projects that a Caspian Sea resort has been furnished for their use.
    The Japanese newspaper Sankei reported that the two countries would likely reach an agreement in mid-October to jointly develop nuclear warheads.
    Also, under the agreement, North Korea will export Taepodong missile components for assembly in Iran.


WMD Team in Iraq has "New Evidence" - Michael Evans (London Times)
    The U.S.-led team hunting for evidence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program has now found enough “proof” to produce a dossier of its findings next month, British officials say.
    The Iraq Survey Group of up to 1,400 experts and support staff from the U.S., Britain and Australia has compiled a list of discoveries, expected to include evidence of a long-term biological weapons program.


Palestinians Execute Suspected Collaborator in Ramallah (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Three masked gunmen shot and killed a Palestinian man they accused of collaborating with Israel in the center of Ramallah Thursday, witnesses and doctors said.
    Witnesses said the three gunmen pushed the man into a car and drove to the center of town. Then, one of the gunmen pulled the man from the car and shouted, "In the name of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, we carry out the sentence of death," and shot Samer Sharour, in his early 20s, six times in the head and chest.
    The Al Aqsa group is loosely linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.


Poll: Israelis Oppose Prisoner Releases (IMRA)
    Q: "Israel released more than 300 Palestinian prisoners today. Do you support this move?"
    A: No 55%, Yes 38%, No opinion 7%.
    The poll of 504 adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) was conducted by Shvakim Panorama for Israel Radio on August 6.


The Petra Bank Scandal - Jordan Slandered My Father at Saddam's Behest - Tamara Chalabi (Wall Street Journal)
    Many in the Western media seem unable to mention Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress and a member of the newly formed Iraqi Governing Council, without regurgitating a 14-year-old Jordanian libel that he wrongfully diverted assets of his own Petra Bank, that had become the second largest bank in Jordan.
    The real story is that Petra Bank was seized and destroyed by those in the Jordanian establishment who'd become willing to do Saddam Hussein's bidding.
    In April 1989, a shuffle in the Jordanian government brought to power a group of officials with intimate ties to Saddam.
    On Aug. 3, 1989, out of nowhere, they invoked a wildly inapplicable 22-year-old martial-law decree and armed soldiers, backed by tanks, literally attacked Petra Bank, storming its Amman offices.
    My father left Jordan, driving himself to Syria after being warned by a sympathetic member of the government that the plan was to arrest him and deliver him to Saddam.


Jewish Refugees Have Lessons for Arabs - Richard Z. Chesnoff (New York Daily News)
    By the 19th century, more than a quarter of Baghdad's population was Jewish, but in 1951 more than 130,000 Jews fled Iraqi.
    After 1948 some 600,000 Jews fled homes in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iran.
    You won't find any of these Arab Jews in refugee camps today.


Teaching Arabic to Israeli Cops - Uriel Heilman (JTA)
    This summer Israeli police officers are taking a special Arabic course offered through Ulpan Akiva, the Netanya-based institute for Hebrew language and culture.
    "The police are taught the appropriate vocabulary for their work - if it's a conversation at a checkpoint, if it's a greeting, if it's about customs and respecting the locals," says Salman Amer, director of the ulpan's Arabic language program.
    Knowing the language is key to building positive relationships with Israel's Arabs, Amer says.
    Most Arabs who teach the language to Jews aren't comfortable about publicizing that fact. The ulpan's lone Arab Muslim teacher says he asks his parents not to tell anybody in his village.
    The other two Arabic teachers on staff are Israeli Druse, both veterans of the IDF.


Cuban Jews Visit Israel (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Ten Cuban Jews have arrived in Israel on the Birthright Israel program, the first organized group visit from that country in decades.
    They flew to Israel via Canada.
    There are about 1,200 Jews in Cuba today.


Key Links

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Back Issues


News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israel Reportedly Willing to Delay Portions of Barrier
    Acknowledging American concerns about segments of the West Bank barrier it is building, Israel has agreed not to construct those segments until it reaches a compromise with the Bush administration, a senior Israeli official said Thursday. The official called the barrier purely a "security fence" and said it would prevent the Palestinian leadership from using terrorism as a negotiating lever. (New York Times)
        See also Powell Toughens Stance on Israeli Fence
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday, "We have identified some problems" with the construction of an Israeli security fence and the administration will keep talking to Israel about them until there is a solution. Powell said there is a problem when the fence "starts to intrude in a way that makes it more difficult for us to make the case for a viable Palestinian state or starts to cut off certain towns or villages." (AP/ABC News)
  • Powell to PA: A Cease-Fire is Not Enough
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday: "It is not enough just to have a ceasefire, a hudna, as it is called, which could be ended any day. What we really need is a concerted effort on the part of the Palestinian Authority to go after those organizations within the Palestinian community that have the capacity of conducting terrorist acts, organizations such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad. We can't have a situation where, during a time of a ceasefire, those organizations are improving their capability, testing new weapons, or creating new factories in order to build more weapons."
        "In my visit to Damascus, I conveyed to the President of Syria that we really believe that Damascus should no longer be allowed to serve as a headquarters for terrorist organizations who were determined to defeat the roadmap...and we believe Syria should do everything to shut them down. We also believe that Syria should not be participating in any transshipment of weapons or other materiel to Hizballah....We are still not satisfied with the performance that we have seen so far, and we are communicating that on a regular basis to our Syrian colleagues." (State Department)
  • Baghdad Bombing Shifts the Focus to Soft Targets
    The car bomb that ripped apart the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad Thursday was not directed against well-armed American forces but against what the military calls a soft target, a highly vulnerable and undefended structure. The goal was not to alter the military equation but to punish a foreign government and produce a large number of civilian casualties. (New York Times)
        See also An Arab-on-Arab Attack (BBC)
  • U.S. Promises Democracy in Middle East
    Calling the development of freedom in the Middle East the "security challenge and the moral mission of our time," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. and its allies must make a "generational commitment" to Middle Easterners who live under oppressive and often corrupt governments. In a speech to the National Association of Black Journalists in Dallas, Rice disputed "condescending voices" who say Arab cultures are not ready for freedom. Invoking her girlhood in racially segregated Birmingham, she said: "We've heard that argument before. And we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it....The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East." (Washington Post)
        See also Text of Rice Speech (White House)
  • Israel Dismantles More West Bank Roadblocks
    Israel has removed three more security checkpoints near Jenin to ease conditions for Palestinians and improve their daily lives, and to shore up confidence in the peace process. (VOA News)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Hizballah Opens Fire in North - Felix Frisch and Etai Rappaport
    For the first time in seven months, Hizballah opened fire with mortars, katyushas, and anti-tank rockets on IDF positions on Mt. Dov in the northern Golan Heights Friday. The IDF returned fire using helicopters and artillery. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Soldier Killed as IDF Continues Hunt for Terrorists on West Bank - Amos Harel
    IDF soldier Ro'i Oren, 20, was killed Friday near the West Bank city of Nablus when troops sent to arrest Hamas suspects came under fire from Palestinians located on the third floor of a building. Palestinian witnesses said the IDF evacuated Palestinian families from the building. Then the soldiers aimed an anti-tank missile at the third floor, setting off a series of blasts when it hit explosives, killing at least one of the terrorists. The IDF is continuing its operations in the West Bank to arrest Palestinian terror suspects, and sends forces into Palestinian towns and villages almost every night to make arrests. (Ha'aretz/AP)
        The IDF forces blew up a Hamas bomb factory run by Hamis abu Salam, the group's main explosives "engineer" in Samaria. Diplomatic sources explained, "Israel has said it will continue to take pinpoint action in response to intelligence on the activities of terrorists, especially in areas where the PA has not acted to arrest them. This is the very policy that was discussed at Aqaba." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Mofaz: PA Must Halt Terror by End of September - Caroline Glick
    In an interview Wednesday, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said, "At the end of September, there are three dates that come together. First, it will be three years since the start of the conflict; second, it will be three months since the start of the hudna; and third, it will be the end of Dahlan's 90-day plan to work against the terrorist infrastructures." At that point, he said, "We will have to tell the PA, 'Either you're going to take care of this or we are going to take care of this.'" Mofaz also warned that concessions to the PA are "reversible." "If tomorrow there is an attack, I can decide that we are going back into Bethlehem," he explained. "The PA has taken no action against [the terrorist organizations] or their infrastructures," he noted. "These organizations have to cease to exist as organizations." "The PA's dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure must come before we move ahead in any way in the [peace] process." (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Still a Stage for Anti-Israel Incitement - Shlomo Shamir
        Cash continues to flow from the UN budget to finance activities, slogans, and materials that deal with obsolete Middle Eastern affairs. The UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People will convene September 4-5, at UN headquarters in New York, just prior to the opening of the UN General Assembly. Israel's deputy UN ambassador, Arye Mekel, noted that the term "terror" as an obstacle to peace does not appear on the conference's agenda. "This event," says Mekel, "is a blatant example of an approach on the part of the UN that is completely cut off from reality. There is cooperation with PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen and signs of progress in the [peace] process, and the UN continues to act as if nothing were happening on the ground." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The Fence:

  • Stuck on a Barrier that's Not on the Road Map - Charles Krauthammer
    Scarring the land with any barrier is so painful to Israelis that for years they resisted the idea, until they could no longer in good conscience refrain from taking the one step that could prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from sneaking into Israel to blow up innocents. In America, we build stretches of fence along the Mexican border to prevent foreigners from coming in to take jobs. It takes a lot of audacity to demand that Israel stop building a fence whose purpose is to prevent foreigners from coming in to commit mass murder. In America, barrier walls are built along highways to keep neighbors from being inconvenienced by the noise. In Israel, barrier walls are built along highways to prevent passengers from being killed by bullets. Yet the State Department wants to punish Israel with sanctions for building a defensive barrier designed to prevent motorists from being shot while traveling inside Israel itself - although there is nothing in the road map about the fence. (Washington Post)
  • The One-Fence Solution - Gershom Gorenberg
    Col. Dany Tirza is the man in charge of building a barrier, a giant fence along the length of the country that will give physical form to the division between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The fence, Tirza asserts, is not a political measure but a military one; Israel's army remains on both sides of the barrier, and Israeli settlements remain beyond it. Its intention, Tirza says, is to end the ''unbearable ease'' of terror. Less than a mile of open country separates Palestinian Kalkilya from Kfar Sava. Kalkilya was the base for the suicide bombing at the entrance to a Tel Aviv disco in June 2001, in which 21 Israelis died. For much of its length, the barrier will be a 240-foot-wide swath of barbed wire, sensors, and roads, rather than a concrete wall. In either form, it will be a work of monumental proportions, a statement etched upon the land. (New York Times Magazine)
  • When Bad Neighbors Require Good Fences - James S. Robbins
    The PA cannot reasonably expect Israel to adopt the kind of open-border policy that the U.S. has with Canada, given the harsh realities of the security situation and the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to take concerted action against the terrorists in its midst. (National Review)

    The Saudis:

  • The Saudis' Potential to Do Good - Robert Andrews
    America will not defeat global terrorism until Islamic communities regard jihad as a moral, not violent, struggle for virtue, and bin Laden and his ilk not as holy men but as heretics. American bayonets cannot bring about an Islamic reformation. Such a task may be too much for the Saudi royals, but it should be made clear to them that this is their only path to survival. There are specific actions the Saudis can take that the U.S. must monitor. Among these are immediately ceasing all Wahhabi missionary work in the U.S., including proselytizing in our prisons and in our armed forces; cutting off funding to "charities" that are fronts for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups (a U.S. delegation is in Saudi Arabia this week pressing this issue); and removing the Saudi government sponsorship of Wahhabism. Down to its last prince, the House of Saud must understand that America, to borrow a Marine adage, can be its best friend or its worst enemy. But the princes must know that the time for playing both sides of the fence has forever ended. Riyadh must be brought out of its self-created shadow-shelter of deceit and self-deception. It must be brought to realize that its only chance of survival rests with bringing about an Islam that is more at peace within itself and with the world around it. (USA Today)
  • Saving the Saudi Connection - Jim Hoagland
    The agenda of meaningful U.S. diplomacy was not advanced by the spectacle of Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Saud Faisal, coming to Washington on July 29 to upbraid both Congress and the president for spreading "misguided speculation" about Saudi Arabia's role in financing global terrorism. Such an appearance is the very definition of diplomatic failure, and a sign of an incipient crisis in relations between two capitals that no longer feel they can rely on each other. Guiding other nations to make difficult but needed changes is the heart and soul of diplomacy. (Washington Post)
  • Our Friends the Saudis - Editorial
    Let's start with two uncontested facts. The first is that Saudi Arabia is the "epicenter" of funding for terrorism in general and al-Qaeda in particular. The other is that two years after 9/11 the Saudis still have not yet done all they need to do to stop the flow of Saudi money to the worldwide terror network. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Saudi Arabia's Naked Emperor - Uri Dan
    This week the Saudi royal house's talented and elegant Washington spokesman appeared on every American TV network in a futile attempt to refute the accusations and suspicions leveled at his employers. Being challenged, for the first time, by the American administration constituted a public slap in the face for the Saudi royal house with all its oil. This administration could not permit itself to give the Saudis preferential treatment, turning a blind eye as previous administrations did, while Americans are being murdered and the U.S. has declared total war on terror.
        The current Republican incumbent has a detailed contingency plan for how to act in Saudi Arabia if its corrupt, unstable royal house falls. Even in such circumstances, then, it would continue pumping oil from there. A new man has come to the global village. His name is George W. Bush, and he has laid down totally new rules of the game. So it's worth paying attention to what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his closest aides when he returned from his talks in the White House: "I achieved far-reaching strategic understandings with the American president." (Jerusalem Post)

    Other Issues:

  • The Day After the Hudna - Gary Rosenblatt
    A senior adviser to Ariel Sharon pointed out that attempted attacks on Israelis have gone down to about 15 to 20 a day, compared to three and four times that many a few months ago. He added that Palestinian television now shows fewer hours a day of anti-Israel footage consisting of the bloodied bodies of young Arab "martyrs." Is that supposed to give us comfort? It's like your hostile neighbor telling you not to be paranoid, he's not trying to kill you every moment of the day, only every hour. Sharon has taken action on numerous fronts (dismantling outposts, freeing prisoners, easing travel restrictions, providing the PA with funds, etc.) while the PA resists fulfilling its most basic requirement, yet averts criticism. We lead with our hearts rather than our heads when we ignore the fact that Arafat is still firmly in charge of the PA. When Abbas says he will deal with Hamas and the other terror factions by incorporating them into the political process rather than disarming them, the Bush administration should insist that such a response is unacceptable, if not infuriating - a violation of the road map in body and spirit, and a recipe for chaos. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Skating on Very Thin Ice - Yoel Marcus
    Even if the truce with Hamas and Islamic Jihad is extended for another three months, the terrorist cells are still alive and well, stocking up on Qassam rockets that can reach the center of the country, testing even more deadly methods of attack, ready to renew the violence at the drop of a hat. Don't be in too much of a rush to fire the security guards. (Ha'aretz)
  • American Diplomat John Wolf Takes the Driver's Seat on Road Map Tour - Aluf Benn
    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf, who heads the road map implementation team, is gradually consolidating his position as the top-ranking American official in the region. Although Wolf, a professional diplomat who never before served in the Middle East, took up his current role with little knowledge of the ins and outs of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, "He displayed confidence, and has a growing understanding of the topic," one Israeli official said. "He's in Condi's [Rice's] camp." Some defense officials discern in Wolf a tendency to lean toward the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • The President is Serious about Fighting Terrorism - Zev Chafets
    The Palestinians lost the last intifada, which is why they asked for a ceasefire. When Prime Minister Abbas visited the White House last month, President Bush was polite. He agreed that the fence might be a problem. On the other hand, Bush was unsympathetic on the subject of releasing terrorists and downright hostile to the Palestinian claim that under the terms of the road map, they are obligated to nothing more than a ceasefire. (Jewish World Review)
  • Progressive Muslims in America - Ahmed Nassef
    Practically all American mosques are led by people who have no academic training in Islam, or who have received their training from overseas Islamic academies. Most of these have been taken over by highly conservative elements aligned with the extremely conservative Wahhabi interpretation of Islam championed and funded by the Saudi Arabian monarchy. The gulf between the highly conservative nature of most Muslim American institutions and the liberal views of many Muslims born and raised in America is reflected in issues such as the role of women and literalist readings of religious texts. It has sown the seeds for a progressive Muslim movement that is reinterpreting much of what the faith means and how it is reflected in daily life. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • The Settlements are a Phony Problem - Carl Pearlston
    It is naive to believe that removing the settlements will bring peace, since in the Arab view, all of Israel is a series of settlements on Arab land. Israel is viewed as a Crusader kingdom, which like the first, may last 200 years, but is eventually fated to fall under Arab domination, if not from armed invasion, then from natural population demographics. The Arabs take the long view of history and are in no hurry. (FrontPageMagazine)

    Weekend Features:

  • Children's Hospital Heals More Than Illness - Eileen Reinhard
    Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel officially opened in 1992, and is recognized as one of the most innovative pediatric institutions in the world. The facility is also known for promoting "whole child care," where medical treatment is accompanied by developmental, psychological, social, and educational services. For the specific requirements of non-Jewish youngsters and their families, the hospital employs multilingual staff. "My wife and I believed that if an Arab mother came to this hospital and her child was cared for, that would be a step toward lasting peace," Irving Schneider says. "Today, almost a third of the patients at the hospital are non-Jewish. They are Druze or Christian or Muslim." (Catholic Near East Welfare Association)
  • Crusading Jordanian Journalist Exposes Honor Crimes - Shafika Mattar
    Rana Husseini's consistent reporting of honor crimes in Jordan has shattered the silence around the deaths of at least 25 women a year. (Women'sEnews)
  • New Study on Israel Education in North America - Nacha Cattan
    Many school principals "are saying today we cannot take for granted our kids having a connection with Israel," said Alan Hoffmann, director general of the Jewish Agency's Zionist education department. "Mapping Israel Education, An Overview of Trends and Issues in North America," commissioned by the Gilo Family Foundation, recommends developing new curricular materials and lesson plans that move toward a realistic and engaging view of modern Israel. (Forward)
  • Observations:  

    Unilateral Separation as Roadmap Insurance - Gerald M. Steinberg
    (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The record of formal efforts to negotiate peace in protracted ethno-national conflicts (Balkans, N. Ireland, Sri Lanka, etc.) is not encouraging.
    • Israel needs a serious insurance policy, in the form of unilateral separation, to minimize vulnerability to another and potentially more deadly terror campaign, should the "roadmap" fail.
    • The construction of a separation barrier is supported by over 70 percent of the Israeli public, representing a broad consensus from across the political spectrum that favors a physical barrier blocking access to Israeli cities in order to prevent a resumption of the Palestinian terror campaign of the past three years.
    • Political separation will also promote a two-state solution, allowing Israel to remain a culturally Jewish and democratic society while fostering Palestinian sovereignty.
    • Key policy issues concern the pace of construction and the route to be taken for the remaining sections. While options range from a minimalist 300 km line to a 600 km alternative that would include most Israeli settlements, a pragmatic middle route including settlement blocs like Ariel and Gush Etzion may provide the optimum mix under present circumstances.
    • If the Palestinian security framework proves its capabilities in preventing terror, and political negotiations on borders progress, the barrier can be relocated.

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