Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

March 18, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Terrorists Planning Bus Hijack - Amir Rapaport and Eliel Shahar (Maarivenglish.com)
    Palestinian terrorists are planning to hijack an Israeli bus to the territories and demand the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages' release, according to intelligence information confirmed by senior defense sources.
    The sources said the terror organizations are ratcheting their efforts to carry out terrorist attacks and are competing with each other on causing the highest number of casualties.


Palestinian MP on Trial in Israel for Funding Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (AFP)
    Palestinian deputy Hossam Khader, who represents Nablus in the Palestinian parliament, went on trial at an Israeli military court accused of illegally funding the militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.


China Cracks Down on Muslims in Western Province - Howard W. French (New York Times)
    In China's far western region of Xinjiang, Islam reigned for 1,000 years, but it is under heavy pressure from ethnic Chinese migration and heavy-handed repression.
    In today's Xinjiang, money, authority, and power are all firmly in the grasp of the ethnic Chinese, and the Bush administration has added Uighur separatist groups to its lists of international terrorist organizations.
    Scores of mosques have been razed and Uighur literature burned.
    There have been forced "re-education" campaigns of local religious leaders, many arrests of people suspected of being separatists, and numerous executions.


Israel Signs Up for EU Satellite Navigation Project (Reuters)
    Israel agreed on Wednesday to take part in the new multibillion-dollar satellite navigation system being developed by the EU.
    Galileo, a European version of the already existing U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), will become operational in 2008.


Latest News on Israel's Security Fence: Hearings at the International Court of Justice
  (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Car Bomb at Baghdad Hotel Kills 27
    A huge car bomb destroyed the five-story Mount Lebanon Hotel in central Baghdad on Wednesday. At least 27 people were killed and 41 wounded. Survivors said Americans and Britons and other Europeans were among those staying at the hotel. Col. Ralph Baker, commander of the Second Brigade, First Armored Division, said the blast appeared to have been caused by a car bomb with at least 1,000 pounds of plastic explosives that had been combined with a core of wired-together artillery shells. He said the blast was "similar to that carried out in the past by Ansar al-Islam and the Zarqawi network." (New York Times)
  • Police Fire on Kurds in Fifth Day of Syria Riots
    Thousands of Kurds fought pitched battles with paramilitary police across northern Syria Wednesday as rioting worsened for the fifth day in a row. The trouble began at a football match at which Kurdish fans waved posters of President George Bush while being taunted by Syrian supporters with pictures of Saddam Hussein. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Clashes Spread in Northern Syria, Death Toll Rises to 35
    The death toll in clashes between Kurds in northern Syria and Arab residents backed by security forces has risen to at least 35 since last week, Kurdish and Syrian officials said. Abdel Aziz Daoud, general secretary of the banned Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party, said Wednesday a total of 30 people had been killed, while Salah Kiddo of the banned Kurdish People's Union added that 250 Kurds had been hurt. Five Syrian Arabs have also died in the violence since March 12. (AFP)
  • U.S.: Syria Might Pay for Terror Stance
    Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Wednesday that Syria's president risks isolation if he does not make a commitment to ending support for terrorist groups. Syria is "kind of high up in my pantheon of supporters for terrorism," Armitage said. Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli sharply criticized Syria for cracking down on dissent in Lebanon and in Syria. "We have made our concerns known, and we reiterate our call upon the government of Syria to stop suppressing nonviolent political expression in Syria and Lebanon," he said. (AP/Newsday)
  • Europe Steps Up Anti-Terror Efforts
    Rail and underground networks across the Continent are bristling with heightened security following the Thursday bombings on Spanish commuter trains that killed 200, as the implications of a first al-Qaeda-linked terror attack on European soil hits home. Dana Allin, an expert in European security and defense policy at the Institute for International Strategic Studies in London, said, "The French, for example, know they are targets." France may not have backed the Iraq war, but it has cooperated in fighting Islamic militants in North Africa. Germany, too, opposed the Iraq war, but its involvement in Afghanistan and its law enforcement efforts at home have put it on the firing line. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon Approves Disengagement Plan - Ben Caspit, Amir Rappaport, and Eliel Shahar
    Prime Minister Sharon met Wednesday with the defense establishment and approved a disengagement plan including an almost total withdrawal from Gaza (3 settlements straddling the "green line" in northern Gaza may remain), and a small withdrawal in the West Bank, most likely from Kadim, Ganim, Sanur, and Homesh in northern Samaria. At the end of the meeting he said, "I understand the defense establishment recommends a partial disengagement. I support the proposal and will bring it before the cabinet." It was decided that the IDF would retain full control of the "Philadelphia" axis adjacent to the Israel-PA-Egyptian border near Rafiah. (Maarivenglish.com)
  • Five Palestinian Terror Attacks Thwarted in Jerusalem - Etgar Lefkovits
    Five Palestinian terror attacks were thwarted in Jerusalem over the past two weeks, Border Police Chief David Tsur revealed Wednesday. Tsur added that "dozens" of potential attacks, in various planning stages, were thwarted nationwide over the last few weeks, which have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of terror-related activity. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egyptians Demand Order in PA - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Osama al-Baz, a senior adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, arrived in Ramallah unexpectedly on Wednesday for talks with Arafat. "The Egyptians are very worried about the state of anarchy and they want to see immediate and drastic steps," said one PA official. "We will not tolerate a situation where the Gaza Strip is ruled by warring militias," another PA official quoted Baz as telling Arafat. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Axis of Appeasement - Thomas L. Friedman
    The notion that Spain can separate itself from al-Qaeda's onslaught on Western civilization by pulling its troops from Iraq is a fantasy. Bin Laden has said that Spain was once Muslim and he wants it restored that way. (New York Times)
  • The Rise of "Eurabia" - Robert Spencer
    According to the historian Bat Ye'or, the European Union has since 1973 been constructing "a whole infrastructure of alliances and economic, industrial, media, cultural, financial bonds with the countries of the Arab League" - which she has dubbed "Eurabia." In exchange for the opening of Arab markets, Europeans encouraged Muslim immigration into Europe, discouraged assimilation of these immigrant populations, and fostered the dissemination in Europe of Islamic perspectives on history and contemporary politics. (FrontPageMagazine.com)
  • Al-Qaeda, the Movement - Peter Bergen
    Since Sept. 11, al-Qaeda the group has been morphing into al-Qaeda the ideological movement, with a fervent opposition to Western policy in the Middle East and the desire for the rule of Islamic law across the Muslim world. We have barely begun the war with al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups because many thousands of underemployed, disaffected Muslims will continue to embrace bin Laden's doctrine of violent anti-Westernism. (Los Angeles Times)
  • U.S. Mideast Plan: Right Idea; Wrong Approach - John Hughes
    The collapse of a Bush administration plan for the Arab world offers a sharp lesson for U.S. diplomats in dealing with the Muslim world. The "Greater Middle East initiative," as it was called, was shot down barely after takeoff by governing regimes of countries whose citizens might most have benefited from it. It's naive to suggest that Arabs are a branch of mankind untouched by the desire for freedom. It's insulting to conclude that, despite the backwardness into which the Arab world has lapsed, it is incapable of embracing and practicing democracy. Democracy cannot be imposed like a Coca-Cola marketing plan. It must have grass-roots support. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Interests Take Primacy - Dore Gold (bitterlemons.org)

    Q: If Israel withdraws unilaterally, can the remaining territory be defined as a Palestinian state?

    • Israel will approach the final boundaries that it regards as acceptable from the standpoint of its interest in retaining defensible borders, which has been a long-term interest of every Israeli prime minister since 1967.
    • In his last address to the Knesset, one month before his assassination, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin outlined his concept of defensible borders for Israel.
    • There were elements that had nothing to do with security but with Israel's national history, e.g., his insistence that Jerusalem remain united under Israeli sovereignty.
    • He also spoke of the need to retain settlement blocs and the Jordan Rift Valley "in the widest sense of the term." This was Rabin's legacy to the people of Israel.

          See also Defensible Borders for Israel - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


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