Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Poll: U.S. Public Favors United Jerusalem - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
IDF to Host Parley on Low-Intensity Conflict - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
Nigerian Police Arrest Mastermind of Sudan-Saudi Inspired Bloody Revolt (Mathaba.Net-South Africa)
Nigerian Muslims Boycott Polio Vaccination Drive - Glenn McKenzie (AP)
Noble Energy Begins Selling Natural Gas to Israel Electric - Jennifer Dawson
(Houston Business Journal)
Foreigners Visiting, Investing in Israeli Real Estate - Zeev Klein (Globes)
El Al Back in the Black - Ami Etinger (Maarivenglish.com)
Kinneret Watch (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Middle East heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Egypt have told the U.S. in one voice that they reject its plan to democratize the Arab world. Riyadh and Cairo also said in unison that the Western model of democracy does not necessarily fit a region largely driven by Islamic teachings. A joint statement issued at the end of a brief trip by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to Riyadh Tuesday said: Arab states "do not accept that a particular pattern of reform be imposed on Arab and Islamic countries from outside." (AFP)
See also Middle East Resents Outside Pressure to Implement Democratic Reforms, Say Experts (VOA News)
See also Powell: Middle East Reform "Can't Be Imposed from Outside"
Secretary of State Colin Powell sought to dispel fears in Saudi Arabia and Egypt over U.S. Middle East policy, saying change in the region "can't be imposed from outside." "I agree with the Egyptians and the Saudis: (reform) can't be imposed from outside. It has to be accepted from the inside," Powell said in an interview on U.S.-funded Alhurra television. (AFP)
Former Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, 51, who died Feb. 13 in a car-bombing in the Qatari capital Doha, had been near the top of Russia's most-wanted list for years, and Moscow had long fumed about Qatar's refusal to turn him over. Yandarbiyev served briefly as acting president of the Chechen republic after his predecessor, Dzhokhar Dudayev, was killed in 1996 by a Russian missile that homed in on his satellite telephone. When the second Chechen war started in 1999, Yandarbiyev soon left and moved to Qatar, where Russian officials and independent analysts said he served as the rebels' chief Middle East fundraiser. (Washington Post)
See also Russian Agents Held for "Targeted Killing" in Gulf
The Russian media is already treating the killing of Yandarbiyev as the equivalent of Israel's "targeted killings" of Palestinian terrorists. Three Russians described as security agents were forcibly detained at the airport of neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi. According to some versions, even shots were fired when the Russians resisted arrest. They were subsequently extradited to Qatar. Russian TV Thursday played a taped intercept of a telephone conversation between Yandarbiyev and the leader of the gang which perpetrated the mass hostage-taking in a Moscow theater a year and a half ago. (Maarivenglish.com)
After outwitting and outgunning the police for four decades, the legendary bandit Veerappan's reign as lord of the dense jungles of southern India may now come to an abrupt end - with a little help from Israel. Representatives of Israel visited Bangalore in January, at the invitation of the state government, to offer expertise in ending what has been billed as the world's longest-running manhunt. Reports say Veerappan has killed about 130 people, including security personnel and forest officials, and is believed to have slaughtered about 2,000 elephants for their tusks. Officials say the offer includes provision of sophisticated weaponry, target-identification devices, night-vision devices, satellite mapping, and communication intercepts and decoding. Israel has had known success in identifying and eliminating members of Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas by using high-technology weaponry. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Two Palestinian demonstrators were killed and dozens of others were wounded during a violent anti-security fence protest Thursday in Bidu, near Ramallah. Ten border policemen were also wounded in the clashes, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. Hundreds of rock-throwing Palestinians tried to block construction workers from putting up a new section of the security fence near the Jewish community of Givon and police used tear gas and stun grenades to break up the crowd. Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi said Thursday, "There is a cynical and well-established attempt by the Palestinians, at the instruction of Arafat, to try and torpedo the construction of the fence." (Jerusalem Post)
On Friday Palestinians on the Temple Mount "started rioting" at the end of Friday prayers and stoned worshippers at Judaism's Western Wall below. Stones crashed onto the section of the Western Wall plaza where women pray, but no worshippers were injured. Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said, "Hundreds of Muslims threw rocks and rioted....Police entered the Temple Mount." Police said three officers were lightly hurt. (Ha'aretz)
An anti-tank rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists struck a Jewish home in Neve Dekelim in the Gaza District Friday. Heavy damage was caused, but there were no injuries. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
The U.S. administration is trying to persuade European and Arab states as well as the PA to support Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has been telling European officials in recent days that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza could lead to a "Middle East parallel" of the fall of the Berlin Wall. According to reports from Washington, the administration supports the Sharon plan and the only question is at what price and whether the U.S. will agree to Israeli demands like allowing Jerusalem to step up construction in the settlement blocs and freeing Israel of the need to negotiate with the Palestinians as long as Arafat heads the PA. A White House official said the Sharon plan is a chance for "an enormous and historical change" in Israeli-Arab relations. But the reports also said the Americans will only accept the plan if it is executed in coordination with the Palestinians.
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, visiting Israel on Thursday, proposed posting an international force in Gaza and the West Bank after Israel's disengagement. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom rejected the idea, saying an international force would not be able to halt terror, but would prevent Israel from doing so. (Ha'aretz)
A furious Arafat left the Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting Thursday during a discussion of reforms in security matters. The council met for the first time in three years to head off disintegration marked by mass rank-and-file resignations over the dominant old guard's alleged misrule and armed anarchy in the streets. After Arafat security aide Nasser Yusouf expressed doubt as to the effectiveness of Palestinian security forces as long as there is no reform in the security bodies, Arafat reportedly hurled a microphone at Yusouf and the two exchanged curses. Most of the 130 council members demand elections to start replacing an elite around Arafat that has dominated for decades. The last elections were held 15 years ago. (Ha'aretz)
See also Fatah's "Old Guard" in Peril as Members Seek Reform - Paul Martin
The decision to convene the Fatah Revolutionary Council was driven in part by unprecedented anger among ordinary Palestinians, who say their fragile economy is being undermined by massive corruption. Pointing to packets of potato chips, cornflakes, soaps, and chocolates made in Israel, Russia, and Italy, a Bethlehem shopkeeper complained that the products cost up to 50% more in the West Bank than in Israel. The Fatah-controlled PA licenses only one importer per product, he said, and then receives a 3% monthly kickback which goes directly into the bank accounts of senior officials. The importer, meanwhile, is able to grossly overcharge for the products because of the lack of competition. (Washington Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In the scenarios of the General Staff and the Southern Command, even if all the settlers should disappear from Gaza by some wave of a magic wand, the fighting will continue. The calming of the sectors of the settlements and their access roads will not eliminate the determination of the Palestinians to take action against Israel, but will only channel it into the remaining sectors - or into new ones. The unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon did not put an end to Hizballah attacks; it only relocated them from the north to the territories. Without settlers and soldiers in the Gaza Strip, the friction with the Palestinians will be reduced, which is a good thing, but the base for hostile actions will grow, and in the eyes of the IDF and the Shin Bet that is a very bad thing indeed. Gaza could turn into a Palestinian Cape Kennedy, becoming a launching pad for mortar shells and Qassam rockets.
The big Achilles heel of an evacuation of Gaza is Rafah. Israel is appalled by the thought of a Palestinian border with Egypt and with Jordan. This week in Cairo, Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter sought signs of Egyptian willingness to accept joint responsibility with the Palestinians for a border between them, but chances for that are slim. After the conquest of Gaza in 1967, the Egyptian threat was perceived to be greater than the Palestinian one. Hence the establishment, near the place where the Gaza Strip meets Egypt, of Gush Katif, the bloc of Israeli settlements; hence also the IDF's responsibility for guarding the line of contact between Egypt and Palestine, which on the maps is called the "Philadelphia" axis. Senior PA officials such as Jibril Rajoub are trying to reassure Israel that PA units will take control of Gaza. However, Mohammed Dahlan, the Prince of Gaza, did not carry through his promise to seize control there in the brief summer of the Abu Mazen government. (Ha'aretz)
Only a few journalists this week noticed the 12-year-old Palestinian boy at the anti-security fence rally organized by the PA in Abu Dis. Zuhair Rajabi was carrying a red placard in English reading, "The Wall will Fall." Asked what he was doing at the rally, Rajabi explained: "We came here to tell the Jews that they must leave our homeland. We want to kill the Jews because they are killing our people every day. Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people and the Jews must go back to where they came from." Rajabi was among dozens of schoolchildren who were let out early on Monday to participate in the "Day of Rage" organized by the Palestinian leadership. Like the schoolchildren in Abu Dis, many Palestinians, including Arafat, see the struggle over the fence as part of the overall battle against Israel. The banner headline in Tuesday's daily al-Hayat al-Jadeeda was a straightforward expression of this view: "The Hague witnesses a historic trial of the fence, occupation and settlements." (Jerusalem Post)
Anyone who still believes the "international community" had the will to contain Saddam Hussein through inspections need only look at the non-functional non-proliferation process now taking place in neighboring Iran. This week's report from the International Atomic Energy Agency is as close as could be expected to smoking-gun proof that Tehran's hardliners are building an atomic bomb. The country has been shown to be running multiple uranium-enrichment programs - all of which it originally failed to declare to the UN inspectors, and the more sophisticated of which it kept hiding even when given a chance to come clean in an international agreement last October. What's more, IAEA inspectors discovered traces of polonium-210, an element they note can be used "as a neutron initiator in some designs of nuclear weapons."
Our European friends - including erstwhile disarmament stalwart Tony Blair - rebuffed an explicit request from President Bush, and cut a deal with Tehran to expand the definition of its ostensibly suspended "enrichment activities." The IAEA says the agreement, which likely precludes a referral of Iran to the UN Security Council when the IAEA board meets next month, "will contribute to confidence building." That sounds about right - confidence on the part of Iran's ruling mullahs that they're going to get away with it. If Iran's repeated deceptions are not cause for referral to the Security Council, then nothing is. And if Iran goes nuclear on the IAEA's watch, then the agency might as well cease to exist. (Wall Street Journal; 27 Feb 2004)
It is a sad irony that the world's freest Muslims - those who live in liberty in the West - are so unwilling to publicly condemn the world's worst Muslims - the militant Islamist fascists who believe in violent jihad, intolerant theocracy, subjugated women, and hatred of Jews and Americans. All the more reason, then, to applaud those outspoken moderate Muslims who do lift their voices against the hatred and violence of the extremists. Ultimately, only Muslims can decide whether Islam's future lies with the militants or with the moderates. But those of us who are not Muslim can help the cause of reform and moderation by promoting and encouraging the moderates, and by repudiating the extremists they are brave enough to challenge. (Boston Globe)
In the Arab world, loathing of Israel has reached a peak rarely experienced in modern times. Egypt provides a significant example. Theoretically, it is at peace with Israel. But the generation of young Egyptians born after 1973, a generation which has never known war, is yet as bitterly and vengefully anti-Israeli as any to be found in the Arab world. (Gulf News-Dubai)
Leaving aside the moral bankruptcy of massacring innocent passengers on a commuter bus to make a political point, the wave of violence known as the intifada that began in September 2000 has been an unrelieved disaster for the Palestinian cause. Palestinian extremists have succeeded in causing their enemy much misery, killing 463 Israelis in 110 suicide bombings - the most sustained and ruthless terrorist campaign any nation in history has endured. But, apart from making Israeli mothers weep, the campaign has gained nothing for the Palestinian people except more poverty and misery. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
Currently, life on the West Bank is dreadful - poverty is rampant, unemployment is epidemic. It wasn't always that way. Under Israeli rule from 1967 to 1993, the West Bank's economy was among the fastest growing in the world thanks to burgeoning commerce between Israelis and Palestinians. Where there had been not a single institution of higher learning, by the early 1990s there were seven universities in the West Bank. While billions of dollars in foreign aid have poured into PA coffers, employment and income have fallen. (Townhall.com)
Israel and Jordan have agreed to build an environmental studies center on their shared desert border, officials said Tuesday. The countries will donate a total of 150 acres of parched land along the frontier, about 30 miles south of the Dead Sea. A private group, Bridging the Rift, will develop the center with two American universities, Cornell and Stanford. Supporters describe it as a serious scientific effort to focus on biological sciences in the desert environment, as well as the kind of bridge-building that was envisioned when Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty a decade ago. (New York Times)
At the end of last year, the Kuwaiti Al-Watan newspaper published a story alleging that during a central council meeting of his Fatah movement, Arafat whipped out his pistol, pointed it at his forehead and shouted: "Should I kill myself? Will that make you all satisfied?" They had been talking about portfolios in the PA government and had suggested someone different from the man preferred by the president. "The rais feels as if everything is derived from him, all of the power of the successors, their lives, their wealth," an official from prime minister Abu Ala's office told me bitterly. "He has no respect for them. And he has no desire to see them succeed. If one of them will succeed, who will need the president?" (Financial Times)
At Champions computer arcade in Beirut's southern suburbs, the urban stronghold of Hizballah, where Hizballah flags hang from the ceiling and there are pictures of Nasrallah and Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, the group's spiritual inspiration, in the entrance, children play a game called "Special Forces," produced by the Hizballah Internet Bureau. Seven-year-old Hassan el Zein takes aim with his pistol and pumps three bullets into the forehead of Ariel Sharon. In the next room he swiftly dispatches Shaul Mofaz, the defense minister of "the Zionist enemy," with a commando knife. Twenty more points. "May Allah's blessings and peace be upon you" flashes across the screen in Arabic and stirring martial music plays as Hassan blows up an Israeli special forces soldier with a hand grenade. (Telegraph-UK)
When the two new officers tell their soldiers that there is no such thing as "I can't," they speak from personal experience. After difficult childhoods and failures in the IDF selection procedure, Gudu and Rotem have fulfilled their dream of becoming officers in the Israeli army. (Maarivenglish.com)
In January 1995 Eizenstat was asked to be the government's special envoy for property restitution in Eastern Europe. He also coordinated the 1997 U.S. State Department's report on Nazi gold and a 1998 report on the role of neutral nations during the war. The multiplier effect of the restitution process has been major. Most beneficiaries of slave and forced labor payments were non-Jews from Eastern Europe, who had gotten little or no previous payments from the German government. There is today a 16-country Holocaust Education Task Force, which promotes Holocaust education programs in schools. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World - Charles Krauthammer
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