Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

August 29, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Israel Wiretaps Conversations Between Israeli Islamic Leader and Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradhawi - Spiritual Head of the Muslim Brotherhood and Advocate of Suicide Bombings (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    Israeli security services wiretapped Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, the imprisoned head of the Islamic Movement in Israel (Northern Branch), and found he was communicating with an Iranian intelligence agent and the most extreme Islamic clerics.
    In particular, he spoke by telephone with Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, the Qatari-based head of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose fatwas supporting suicide bombing have been used by Hamas and Osama bin Laden.
    On the use of Qaradhawi as a reference source by Hamas leader Dr. Abd al-Aziz Rantisi for legitimizing suicide bombing, see MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis Series no. 53.


UK Likely to Ban Hamas Political Wing - Paul Reynolds (BBC)
    The UK government is likely to ban the political wing of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, British officials say.
    A British official said joint action by the EU would be best but that Britain could act by itself if necessary.
    The military wing of Hamas is already banned in the EU.
    Britain is now ready to lead the argument for a ban on the political wing as well.


Arafat's 800 Directors-General - Martin Asser (BBC)
    "All his career, Arafat has wanted to be Number One, with no Number Two," as one analyst in Ramallah put it.
    But it is a shame, the analyst added, that once again Mr. Arafat appeared to be sacrificing his people's aspirations for a better future in order to secure his own political future.
    Power politics as played by Arafat has created a Palestinian political class which, analysts say, is utterly unfit to deal with the challenges it faces.
    Historically, the winners have been the street fighters rather than the educated classes.
    Arafat has elevated no fewer than 800 PA officials to the rank of director-general since he was forced to appoint Abu Mazen as PM.
    Apparently none of these 800 has a proper job description; their role is to bolster Arafat's position through patronage, analysts say.
    An informed source said that, since the intifada began, not one of the PA's 150,000 employees has missed a month's salary - despite the crushing economic conditions experienced by ordinary Palestinians, and the fact that many of these "public servants" do not actually have anything to do.


Yamam - Israel's SWAT Team - Dan Baron (JTA)
    When Hamas mastermind Abdullah Kawasme, responsible for terrorist bombings that had killed 52 people in Israel, saw a group of men transporting diapers in Hebron, he didn't know they were undercover Israeli agents, members of Israel's crack SWAT team known as the Special Police Unit - Yamam in Hebrew.
    The squad pulled out pistols and ordered him to stop. Kawasme tried to flee, so the men shot to kill, then melted away into the night.
    Assaf Hefetz founded the unit in 1975, a year after Palestinian gunmen took over a school in the northern Israeli town of MaŽalot, killing 23 children and 5 adults.
    He says, "When the team goes in, it knows all that can be known about the site and the terrorists. After that, it comes down to fitness and fighting spirit....Luck is not an option."
    Some Yamam operatives go undercover in Palestinian territory, disguising themselves as veiled matrons or elderly sheikhs, donning traditional Arab garb, darkening their faces with soot and cosmetics, and even going on week-long hummus-and-kebab binges in order not to be betrayed by a "Western" smell to their sweat.
    Sometimes, Yamam strikes without taking credit. Its demolition experts are adept at "tainting" bomb-making materials so that they explode upon assembly.
    The parts are then passed on to unsuspecting terrorists by way of Palestinian collaborators.
    The resulting premature blasts - commonly referred to as "work accidents" - have the double benefit of ridding Israel of a few more terrorists, and strategically sowing uncertainty among Palestinians as to whether they can trust their own bomb-makers.


University of Indianapolis Opening Campus in Israel (Indianapolis Star)
    The University of Indianapolis has approval to open a branch campus that will become Israel's first Christian-Arab-Israeli university, officials announced Monday.    The Israeli Committee for Higher Education has granted initial accreditation for the university to start three degree programs in Ibillin, Galilee, as early as this fall.


Israel Chosen as Intel Research Hub - Oded Hermoni (Ha'aretz)
    International computer chip giant Intel has recently made the strategic decision that Israel will serve as one of its research hubs, alongside the U.S., Britain, and Spain.
    According to senior executives at Intel, this will strengthen Israel's standing in competition with India, China, and Russia for the development and manufacture of future Intel product lines.
    Israel is currently Intel's second largest development center, following the U.S., and some of Intel's central technologies, such as the Centrino mobile computing chip, were developed in Israel.


Useful Reference:

A Closer Look at Nine Islamic Charities in Gaza (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
    The PA has temporarily frozen 39 bank accounts of nine Islamic charities operating in the Gaza Strip, apparently as part of a crackdown on militants required by a U.S.-backed peace plan.
    Here's a look at the nine charities.


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues


News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Hamas Rocket Hits Major Israeli City for First Time
    A rocket fired by Hamas on Thursday landed in a major Israeli city for the first time, causing no casualties or damage. The Kassam rocket slammed into an industrial zone in the coastal city of Ashkelon, 5.5 miles from the Gaza Strip, the army said. It was the furthest a Kassam had been fired into Israel. "It's clear the Palestinians are now upping the ante," said an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Israel cannot tolerate the use of rockets against its major cities." (Reuters)
        See also Sharon to IDF: Take "All Necessary Steps"
    In wake of the rocket fire, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he had ordered the IDF to take "all necessary steps" against Palestinian militants. "Today (brought) another escalation in the terrorist activity of the Hamas movement when, for the first time, they launched a rocket into a town in the southern part of the country, Ashkelon, making an effort to hit a strategic target that is one of our largest power stations," Sharon said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Effort to Diminish Arafat is Said to Strengthen Him
    When the U.S. pushed Arafat to appoint a prime minister three months ago, American and Israeli officials hoped that Arafat would recede from the scene, profile diminished and power diluted. But recent events have shown that Arafat remains at the center of Palestinian politics, presenting a serious problem for Israeli and American officials. "One reason that Yasser Arafat has remained and re-emerged as so strong is because the Americans and the Israelis were talking and acting like Abu Mazen was perfect and Arafat was all mad. This moved people closer to Arafat," said Palestinian legislator Qadoura Fares. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Condemns Arab TV Channel
    The U.S. has strongly criticized the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite television network for broadcasting video footage on Tuesday showing masked men who threatened to kill members of the American-appointed governing council in Iraq. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said, "We find al-Arabiya's decision to air the remarks of these masked terrorists to be irresponsible in the extreme." "We have to question why an organization claiming to be a legitimate news service would effectively provide this conduit for terrorists to communicate plans, tactics, and incitement to murder and to attempt to disrupt the peaceful aspirations of the Iraqi people." Reeker said the U.S. government was instructing its embassies to convey the Bush administration's outrage to those who supported or had invested in al-Arabiya. (BBC)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Murder Israeli, Wound Wife in Shooting Attack - Margot Dudkevitch
    Shalom [Shuli] Har-Melech, 25, was killed and his pregnant wife, Limor, suffered gunshot wounds to the face and the left arm in a shooting attack Friday east of Ramallah near Kochav Hashachar. The couple was from the West Bank town of Homesh. Har-Melech comes from one of the founding families of Kochav Hashachar, was a volunteer Magen David Adom ambulance driver, and a teacher at a school in Kedumim. Police found 25 bullet casings from a Kalashnikov rifle at the site of the ambush. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon: Pressure PA Financially to Dismantle Terror Infrastructure - Aluf Benn
    The U.S. should pressure the Palestinians financially in order to make the PA dismantle the terror infrastructure, Israel Radio on Friday quoted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as saying. Speaking to visiting U.S. congressmen Thursday night, Sharon, said that the U.S. should also pressure Syria to stop transferring aid to terrorists. He added that Europe needs to declare Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terror organizations in order to stop the flow of funds to these groups. "I am committed to the road map and want to proceed, but unless the Palestinians meet their obligations - a war on terror and the dismantling of the terror infrastructure - it is impossible to make progress," Sharon said.
        In a message to Jerusalem from high-ranking administration officials, the Americans said that Israel need not desist from its policy of targeting terror operatives, but Israel should also take steps that prove its good intentions toward the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • IAF Kills Hamas Mortar Cell Leader - Margot Dudkevitch
    Hamzi Kalah, 35, the head of the Khan Yunis cell of Izzadin Kassam, the Hamas military wing, and responsible for mortar attacks on Israeli villages in Gush Katif in Gaza, was killed Thursday by an IAF helicopter gunship. The strike followed intelligence information that Kalah's cell was preparing to launch a mortar attack. Israel declared it would continue pinpoint attacks on terrorist leaders, as this has proven to be the most effective measure against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the week, Hamas cells fired 14 Kassam rockets at communities in the Gaza Strip and inside the "green line." Since the so-called cease-fire, 24 Kassam rockets have been fired at Israeli towns. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IAF Honors Auschwitz Victims with Flyover - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Three Israeli F-15 fighter jets, some piloted by sons and grandsons of Holocaust survivors, took off Thursday for a fly-past over the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Proudly displaying the blue Star of David, on September 4 the most lethal aircraft in the IAF's arsenal will swoop down low over the train platform where the Nazis held their selections that sent hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths in gas chambers. Leading the group is Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel, whose mother's family was wiped out by the Nazis in Poland. The grandparents of another pilot both survived Auschwitz and moved to Israel. Another pilot is the son of partisans who fought the Nazis. In 1992, then IDF Chief of Staff Ehud Barak led a delegation to Auschwitz where he declared, "We got here 50 years too late." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After Saddam: Put the Iraqis in Charge - Bernard Lewis
    In Afghanistan today, with minimal help from the U.S., a central government is gradually extending its political and financial control to the rest of the country and dealing more and more effectively with the problem of the maintenance of order; in Iraq, after an easy and almost unresisted conquest, the situation seems to grow worse from day to day. Why this contrast? The main difference is that in Afghanistan there is an Afghan government, while in Iraq there is an American administration, and the cry of "American imperialism" is being repeated on many sides. But America has neither the desire nor the skill nor the need to play an imperial role in Iraq.
        The anti-American forces fall basically into two groups. The first, and in the long run the more important, come from the camp of al Qaeda and related religious movements. In the writings and speeches of Osama bin Laden and of his allies and disciples, hatred of America is less significant than contempt - the perception that America is a "paper tiger," that its people have become soft and pampered - "hit them and they will run." This perception was bolstered by frequent references to Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia, as well as to the feeble response to subsequent terrorist attacks in the 1990s, notably on the USS Cole and on the embassies in East Africa. It was this perception which undoubtedly underlay the events of Sept. 11, clearly intended to be the opening barrage of a new war against the Americans on their home ground. The other factor of anti-Americanism originates in the fear that democracy will succeed in Iraq, and this could become a mortal threat to the tyrants who rule most of the Middle East.
        The best course surely is the one that is working in Afghanistan - to hand over, as soon as possible, to a genuine Iraqi government. The Iraqis certainly have the capacity to develop democratic institutions, but they must do so in their own way, at their own pace. This can only be done by an Iraqi government. Fortunately, the nucleus of such a government is already available, in the Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmad Chalabi. It took years, not months, to create democracies in the former Axis countries, and this was achieved in the final analysis not by Americans but by people in those countries, with American encouragement, help, and support. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Professionals Behind the UN Attack - Robert Baer
    The UN bombing in Baghdad has all the markings of a professional terrorist attack, the same expertise we saw in Lebanon during the '80s, even the same delivery system that was used to kill 241 U.S. servicemen in their Beirut barracks on Oct. 23, 1983 - the strike that brought U.S. policy in Lebanon to a halt and altered the course of Middle East politics. Combine this with the Aug. 7 car bombing of the Jordanian embassy, which killed 17, and it is starting to look as if we are up against a lot more than the "remnants" of Saddam Hussein's regime. One bomb is an outrage. Two bombs are a campaign. No matter how tough things get, we cannot leave Iraq until it is mended. (Washington Post)
  • Starting from Scratch in Iraq - Thomas L. Friedman
    Col. Ralph Baker, who oversees two Baghdad districts, and his officers have been conducting informal elections for local councils and getting neighborhoods to nominate their own trusted police. "First we taught them how to run a meeting," he told me. "We had to teach them how to have an agenda. So instead of having this sort of group dialogue with no form, which they were used to, you now see them in council meetings raising their hands to speak. They get five minutes per member. It's basic P.T.A. stuff. We've taught them how to motion ideas and vote on them....There is a big education process going on here that is democratically founded. The faster we get Iraqis taking responsibility, the faster we get out of here." (New York Times)
  • Honoring the 9/11 Hijackers - Lisa Myers
    Wednesday, on the streets of London, there was a jarring poster, extolling the 9/11 hijackers as the "Magnificent 19." The work of the radical Islamic group Al-Muhajiroun, it features a picture of each of the 19 hijackers, the smoking World Trade Center towers, and Osama bin Laden. The group's spiritual leader, Sheik Omar Bakri, told NBC News that the hijackers deserve to be honored. Al-Muhajiroun is hosting a conference in London next month commemorating the second anniversary of the attack, saying "many Muslims worldwide will be celebrating the comeuppance of the U.S.A." (FrontPageMagazine/MSNBC)
  • My Months of Silence are Over - Daniel Pipes
    Etiquette called on me not to talk about my nomination to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace while it was in process. I have learned the Arabic language, traveled the Muslim world, lived three years in Cairo, taught courses on the region at Harvard, and specialized on it at the State and Defense Departments. My career has been devoted to bridging differences and bringing peace. I believe the Islam versus militant Islam distinction stands at the heart of the war on terror. Giving voice to the Muslim victims of Islamist totalitarianism sounds like the sort of activity that the USIP might wish to consider undertaking as part of its mission to "promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts." (National Post-Canada)
        See also Peace Pipes - Editorial
    President Bush did the right thing in bypassing Congress and using a so-called recess appointment to name Daniel Pipes to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace. (New York Post)
  • Not a Legal Right - Yaffa Zilbershats
    Palestinians do not possess any legal right to return to Israel. When speaking about their right of return, the Palestinians point to UN Resolution 194 (III) of December 11, 1948, but whatever is provided in the resolution is not legally binding. UN resolutions are neither treaties nor international customs. They are considered to be recommendations only. In addition, in 1948 when the resolution was adopted, neither Israel nor the Palestinians agreed to abide by it and neither party saw themselves as obliged to adhere to its recommendations. Consequently, it seems bizarre to refer to it today as a binding legal obligation.
        In 1945 millions of Germans who lived in Eastern Europe were transferred to Germany, and in 1947 when Britain left India, British India was divided into two states: India and Pakistan, and the split caused a mass transfer of populations. Concurrently with the flight of the Arab population from Israel, Jews were fleeing neighboring Arab states and many of these refugee Jews found safe haven in Israel. What took place in 1948 was a transfer of populations spurred by the political changes in the region and the war, a process that was not contradictory to international law applying at that date. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Cry for Radical Change in Palestine - Rami G. Khouri
    Arafat's leadership brought the Palestinians to this terrible situation of chronic occupation, violence, dependence, suffering, and pauperization. His consistent failure to achieve breakthroughs with the Israelis, the U.S., his own people, the Arab world, and global public opinion is a shocking display of autocratic incompetence, corruption, and self-serving mismanagement. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Israel vs Hamas - Jihad Al Khazen
    The suicide operation in Jerusalem crossed the red line and drove Israel to take the decision to kill each and every Hamas leader. The death of a leader creates a vacuum, because it is much harder to find a person of the same caliber to replace him. The Jerusalem operation aborted an extremely important Israeli offer that was raised during the last meeting between Shaul Mofaz and Dahlan, when the Israelis offered to withdraw from four cities including Ramallah. They also offered to stop hunting down the Palestinian wanted men and turn their case over to the Palestinian government, as well as grant more work permits and licenses to Palestinian businessmen and traders. It is no longer enough to restore the truce, as new terms must be added, like the fact that the Palestinian weapons should be in the hands of one party, the way it goes in every other country of the world. (Dar Al-Hayat-Lebanon)

    Weekend Features:

  • True Benevolence - Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
    In traditional Jewish sources, "true benevolence" (chesed shel emet in Hebrew) refers to the act of caring for the dead. In Israel, about eight years ago, a special volunteer organization - ZAKA - was established in the Orthodox Jewish community to carry out acts of "true benevolence" for victims of accidents, terrorism, or other forms of sudden death. They pick up the pieces - more often than not, quite literally. In a way, the volunteers of ZAKA and the Arab suicide bombers epitomize the true clash of cultures underway in Israel and around the world. One culture produces people willing to wade into a crowd of children, look them in the eyes, and murder them; the other produces people willing to do whatever is necessary to protect human dignity, even in death. It is true cruelty, contrasted with true benevolence. (National Review)
  • A Koranic Reconciliation with the Jewish Return - Yossi Klein Halevi
    Nabil Hilmi, the dean of a law school in Cairo, is planning to sue "every Jew in the world" for the "theft" of 1,125 trillion tons of Egyptian gold during the Exodus 3,000 years ago, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported this week. Hilmi graciously offered to spread the repayment term over the next 1,000 years - with interest, of course. That the Jews were slaves - to a pharaoh whom the Koran itself calls evil - is irrelevant to Hilmi. The good news is that Hilmi is acknowledging that Jews are the legitimate descendants of the children of Israel, contradicting the anti-Jewish discourse in much of the Arab world which holds that the Jews have no roots in the Land of Israel.
        If Jews are in fact the descendants of the children of Israel, that means they have the right to the Land of Israel - according to the Koran itself. In Sura 5, verses 20 and 21 declare: "Remember when Moses said to his people: O my people, remember the favors that God bestowed on you when he appointed apostles from among you, and made you kings and gave you what had never been given to anyone in the world. Enter then, my people, the Holy Land that God has ordained for you."
        There are brave - admittedly isolated - Muslim voices who insist that the Koran does indeed recognize the Jewish right to the Holy Land. Khaleel Mohammed, an Islamic scholar who taught at Brandeis University and is now at San Diego University, told a group at Brandeis's adult education summer institute, "As a Muslim, I have no choice but to believe that God gave the land to the Jews." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Reopens Holy Site - James Bennet
    "Now we're in front of the Holy of Holies," announced Tsvi Rogin, 51, a rabbi, gesturing toward the Dome of the Rock but not referring to it. He was referring to the Jewish Temple that once stood on this plaza, and particularly to its holiest part, which he believes occupied precisely the same spot as the dome 2,000 years ago. Mr. Sharon and other Israeli authorities feared that the Waqf was establishing new rules barring Jews and Christians from the plateau, upsetting the status quo that existed since the 1967 war. (New York Times)
  • Security Failure - Rachel Ehrenfeld
    Almost two years and approximately $2.5 billion later, America's airports are practically as vulnerable as they were on September 11. El Al Israel Airlines is thought to have the best security in the air-carrier industry, developed over four decades of dealing with a constant, growing, and changing threat. The secret of El Al's success is not the technology it uses; rather, it's due mainly to the quality of security agents it employs and the methods they use. Each employee is carefully screened, thoroughly trained, tested continuously, and paid well. It's the human factor that makes the difference. El Al screeners have been specifically trained to profile passengers; that same system should be adopted in the U.S. (National Review)
  • A Boot Camp in Israel Where the Drill is Opera - Lois B. Morris and Robert Lipsyte
    Why did John Matz, 25, who has been admitted to the Metropolitan Opera's development program, spend a month in Israel at opera boot camp? "I came here to learn a new role in a safe environment," Matz said, a day after singing Rodolfo in "La Boheme." "My teacher is here, and there's great coaching. And, yeah, there is a lesson in being in Israel: You can't stop being who you are and trying to do what you want to do no matter what's happening around you." (New York Times)
  • Fashion TV Moves to Israel - Viva Press
    Fashion Television (FTV) has decided to move offices from Paris to the southern Israeli city of Beersheva. Started in 1997, the round-the-clock channel is broadcast in 130 countries and has about 600 million viewers - including 15 million in North America. "Fashion TV is popular all over the world, but it is extremely popular in Asia and the Middle East," said a FTV spokeswoman. "The technology in Israel is advanced and so [CEO Michel] Adam chose Israel as the best place from which to broadcast to the rest of Asia." (Israel21c)
  • Observations:

    Arab Leaders Must Act - Dennis Ross (Washington Post)

    • Arafat's constant efforts to undermine Mahmoud Abbas and block any efforts to confront those who literally blew up the cease-fire have cemented his status as a revolutionary whose only cause is his personal rule, not the well-being of Palestinians.
    • It is time for Arab leaders to assume their responsibility. Prime Minister Abbas needs the cover of Arab legitimacy to confront Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
    • To that end, Arab leaders need to cross a threshold: Send a delegation of Arab foreign ministers - to include Saud al Faisal - to Jerusalem and Ramallah. They must make clear that Hamas and Islamic Jihad violated the cease-fire and threatened the Palestinian cause.
    • The Arab ministers must insist that Arafat now accept the consolidation of Palestinian security forces under Abbas; nothing less is acceptable.
    • Arab leaders will resist playing this role. Not a single Arab leader condemned the Jerusalem bus bombing, and to date no Arab leader has ever condemned Hamas by name. Certainly they will not be prepared to take these or other steps if President Bush does not now push them to do so. Does he have the leverage to do so? He does in no small part because Arab leaders believe active U.S. engagement is critical to defusing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    • We are probably only one or two Hamas bombs away from losing diplomacy as an option for the foreseeable future. Perhaps President Bush can use that sober reality to salvage a process he thought he had launched at Aqaba.


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