Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see web version.

DAILY ALERT

April 16, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Report: Chemical Bomb Attack Prevented Last Week in Jordan (Ha'aretz)
    A terror cell seized a week ago in Jordan planned to carry out a large-scale chemical attack in a military intelligence base in the kingdom, the London-based Arab daily Al Hayat reported.
    Jordanian officials said security forces captured three car bombs that contained chemicals that had entered Jordan through Syria.


Americans Told to Leave Saudi Arabia - Robin Wright and Dana Priest (Washington Post)
    The U.S. Thursday ordered the evacuation of most U.S. diplomats and all U.S. family dependents from Saudi Arabia, and "strongly urged" all American citizens to leave because of "credible and specific" intelligence about terrorist attacks planned against U.S. and other Western targets, the State Department announced.
    "The threat level has gone up," Secretary of State Colin Powell said.
    Besides diplomatic posts, the housing compounds for foreigners are particularly vulnerable, the warning noted.

    See also In Saudi Arabia, Fresh Recruits for al-Qaeda - Faiza Saleh Ambah (Christian Science Monitor)
    Despite a stiff crackdown against al-Qaeda terrorists by Saudi authorities since last May, the group continues to gather new recruits and enjoy logistical support from sympathizers, analysts say.
    While the Interior Ministry has handed out thousands of booklets with photos of 26 men wanted in connection with the November Muhaya housing compound bombing, 22 of those men remain at large.
    "Despite the large security presence and substantial reward money offered by the government, suspects still enjoy cover within Saudi society and continue to hide and remain in and around the capital," says Mansour al-Nogaidan, a columnist for the newspaper Al Riyadh.
    "The picture the authorities had of al-Qaeda's strength in Saudi Arabia was not accurate. They have more sympathizers and fighters than they thought, and their language of violence continues to find takers here and support among a segment of Saudi society that shares the common religious ideology of Wahhabism," says Adel al-Toraifi, a columnist at the newspaper Al Watan.


Palestinian Children Collect Pictures of the Dead (AFP)
    While kids worldwide collect pictures of Hollywood stars or football champions, the craze in the West Bank city of Nablus is a sticker album depicting scenes of the bloody intifada.
    The Israeli media see the "intifada album" as part of an attempt to inculcate a "shahid (martyr) culture" in children.
    The cover sports a picture of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem with the words "Intifada album" written in flaming stones, and bears 229 numbered rectangles where the children have to stick the pictures.
    Since he launched the game at the end of 2003, Majdi Taher said that 40,000 albums and 12 million stickers have been sold.
    The stickers are sold in boxes shaped like tanks.


Muslim Explorers Preceded Columbus? - George Archibald (Washington Times)
    An Indian tribe has forced distributors of an Arab studies guide for U.S. teachers to remove an inaccurate passage that says Muslim explorers preceded Christopher Columbus to North America and became Algonquin chiefs.
    Peter DiGangi, director of Canada's Algonquin Nation Secretariat in Quebec, called claims in the book, the Arab World Studies Notebook, "preposterous" and "outlandish," saying nothing in the tribe's written or oral history support them.
    The Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), a Washington advocacy group that promoted the curriculum to school districts in 155 U.S. cities, has decided to remove the two-page chapter called "Early Muslim Exploration Worldwide: Evidence of Muslims in the New World Before Columbus."
    Meanwhile, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation this week issued a report that is critical of Arab World Studies Notebook, titled "The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America's History Teachers."


Will Expelled Iraqi Jews be Compensated? - Sarah Sennott (Newsweek)
    Last week, a small celebration rang out within the Iraqi Jewish diaspora - a global community of 125,000 people who had been stripped of their citizenship and near $200 million in property during a half-century mass exodus from Iraq.
    Iraq's minister of Housing and Reconstruction had publicly declared that Iraqi Jews who were forced from the country have the right to demand compensation for their property left behind.


In Israel, Still Dancing After All These Years - Judith Brin Ingber (Forward)
    Today, folk dance in Israel is a regular part of life.
    You can find it in schools as part of the curriculum, in the town squares, on the beach with public amplifiers blaring out the music, in gymnasiums, at youth-movement gatherings, in the army, and in hotel lobbies.
    It doesn't look like the hora anymore, either.
    The rhythms accompanying modern Israeli folk dancing are a polyglot of global sound, reaching beyond the ingathering of Jewish communities: techno, pop, salsa tunes, Greek, and Mizrahi - an Oriental fusion of Sephardic and Arabic rocking with an Israeli pulse.


Useful Reference:

The Disengagement Plan (Prime Minister's Office/Jerusalem Post)


Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert - and want to share it with friends - please click "Forward" in your email program and enter their address.


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues


News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell: U.S. Supports "Elimination of Settlements"
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday: "When people take a hard look at what the President and the Prime Minister said, some things should leap out at them. One, for the first time, settlements are being evacuated and being turned over to others for use. Ultimately, these settlements in Gaza will benefit the Palestinian people who live in Gaza; settlements are being turned over. And four more settlements are being turned over or released, not being used anymore, in the West Bank. This is the beginning of a process....The key thing, the reason we support this so strongly, is because there will be the elimination of settlements." (CBC/State Department)
        See also Powell vs. Bush on Right of Return?
    Secretary of State Powell said Thursday: "What ultimately will be decided with respect to return of refugees has to do with a negotiation between the two parties." (RAI/State Department)
  • Blair Backs Israeli Pullout Plan
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair Thursday described an Israeli plan to pull out of Gaza and parts of the West Bank as a positive step that can lead "to a real sense of movement" in the Middle East peace process. (CNN)
        See also Straw: Palestinians Will Have to Compromise for Peace
    Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Thursday denied that President George Bush's backing for Israeli plans would make the coalition's task in Iraq more difficult. At a Foreign Office news conference, Straw said "I don't think it will make it easier or more difficult as far as Iraq is concerned," and warned the Palestinians they would have to make compromises in any final peace settlement. (Scotsman-UK)
  • Bin Laden Offers "Truce" to Europe
    Osama bin Laden offered on Thursday to stop terrorist actions in European countries that ended military action in Muslim nations. The offer was made on an audiotape broadcast by two Arab satellite television stations and is believed by the CIA to be authentic. He said, "The door to a truce is open for three months," adding that it could be extended. "The truce will begin when the last soldier leaves our countries." The offer is "an attempt to divide the international community and it cannot be allowed to succeed," Jack Straw, the British foreign minister, responded. (New York Times)
        Asked if bin Laden's truce offer could succeed, Secretary of State Colin Powell replied, "How can you make a deal with a terrorist?...You can't deal with somebody like this. There is only one way to deal with him and that is to destroy him." (RAI/State Department)
  • Iraq's Nuclear Facilities Unguarded, Radioactive Materials Disappearing
    Some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the UN's nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrapyards. A letter by International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei, circulated Thursday, said satellite imagery shows ''extensive removal of equipment and, in some instances, removal of entire buildings'' in Iraq. In addition, ''large quantities of scrap, some of it contaminated, have been transferred out of Iraq from sites'' previously monitored by the IAEA. (AP/Boston Globe)
  • Saudi Student's Trial Opens in Idaho
    A Saudi doctoral candidate at the University of Idaho hid his true agenda as webmaster and "money man" for a worldwide Internet network that sought to finance and recruit fighters for violent holy war abroad, prosecutors charged Wednesday in opening their case against Sami Omar al-Hussayen. He is accused of conspiracy and providing support to terrorists in Chechnya and Israel, and of conspiracy to raise funds for the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. The Saudi Embassy has pressed for Hussayen's release and is paying for his top-flight legal defense team, which includes Joshua Dratel, who represented Wadih Hage, a former aide to Osama bin Laden. (Washington Post)
  • Columbia University Probing Mideast Studies
    A committee appointed by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has been quietly probing allegations of bias and intimidation by faculty, particularly in Middle East studies. Jewish students have complained that some Middle East classes are unbalanced and that faculty members have used their authority to promote anti-Israel activism. "You have a substantial body of extremism in the Middle East studies at Columbia, and almost nothing else to balance it," said Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum. "We want to preserve a healthy atmosphere on campus," said Vincent Blasi, a Columbia Law School professor who chairs the committee. "We want to make sure that classroom time is not devoted to politics or preaching by professors." (New York Jewish Week)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Limit West Bank Construction - Eliel Shahar and Marwan Athamna
    It was revealed on Thursday that Israel will give a letter to U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice stating that Israel will dismantle all illegal outposts, and that construction in Judea and Samaria will only take place in the large settlement blocs of Ariel, Ma'ale Adumim, Gush Etzion, and settlements near Jerusalem, which are most likely to remain in Israeli sovereignty. (Maarivenglish.com)
  • Palestinian Woman with Bomb Arrested Near Ariel - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    A Palestinian woman, Fatan Dararmeh, 28, was arrested Thursday outside the city of Ariel by IDF reservists while carrying a bag containing a 25-kilogram explosive device. Apparently Dararmeh was not meant to serve as a suicide bomber but rather to transfer the device to another person. The woman was operating on behalf of an Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades cell in Nablus.
        David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office, said "this incident was part and parcel of an incessant and stepped up Palestinian campaign of terror geared to decimate the lives of Israeli citizens in the hearts of their own communities. Israeli security forces continue to make extensive efforts at preventing terror attacks, including the 10 attacks they successfully prevented during this past week's Passover holiday." (Ha'aretz)
  • Shock Waves from Bush Letter May Undermine Arafat - Nathan Guttman
    A source in Prime Minister Sharon's entourage said Wednesday the Israelis and Americans believe the shock waves which will convulse the PA leadership as a result of Bush's letter will undermine Arafat's hold, and will foster new leaders and institutions in the PA. The recognition of settlement blocs and the disavowal of a right of return to Israel for Palestinian refugees might serve as a stimulus, encouraging the Palestinians to replace their leadership. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Launches Diplomatic Campaign to Get into OECD - David Lipkin
    Israel has launched a diplomatic campaign to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), following the organization's reported intention to ease its entry criteria. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a joint letter to the foreign and finance ministers of the 30 OECD members, saying that Israel's involvement in the OECD's various committees is increasing, and that Israel fills the economic and institutional criteria required to join the organization. The ministers wrote that Israel is carrying out far reaching economic reforms based on the OECD's recommendations, and said they believe the OECD members will benefit from Israel's membership in the fields of science and technology. (Maarivenglish.com)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Sharon Plan of Disengagement - William Safire
    "Back in November, so many plans were around," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told me Thursday, "from the Saudis, from Geneva, from the Arab League, and I saw we could not resist those pressures without a plan of our own. What could I do - destroy the Palestinian Authority? No - Israel cannot take on its shoulders the lives of three and a half million Palestinians. Sign a peace agreement? No - terror would only begin again. Leave as is? No." Because Palestinian leaders have allowed terrorists to wage war against Israel, turning the well-intentioned "road map" into a dead letter, Sharon proposed to establish security without them. (New York Times)
        See also Mr. Sharon's Coup - Editorial
    For the first time, an American president has put the U.S. on record as supporting Israel's eventual annexation of parts of the West Bank and as rejecting the return to its territory of Palestinian refugees. The Gaza withdrawal must still be approved by a referendum in the ruling Likud Party and a vote by parliament. (Washington Post)
  • Rhetoric and Reality - Editorial
    The reaction to George W. Bush's meeting with Ariel Sharon in Washington has overwhelmed its substance. The Palestinian leadership, supplemented by a wider chorus of the EU, the UN, and the Arab world, has chosen to present what is largely a public recognition of political realities as a radical revision of American foreign policy. The idea that the peace process in the Middle East is now dead is ridiculous. In truth, an overdue opportunity for hard and serious bargaining might finally be opened. Mr. Bush's supposed "concessions" on the principle of Israel's retaining settlements on the West Bank and overt rejection of the sweeping "right of return" for Palestinians to where they might have been located in 1948 are hardly as dramatic as painted. It has long been obvious to those involved in the diplomacy of the Middle East that it was implausible to expect Israel to abandon every outpost in the West Bank or to welcome perhaps three million Palestinian exiles within its borders. (London Times/BICOM)
  • Sharon-Bush Plan Isn't the Last Word - Dennis Ross
    Did Bush dramatically transform Washington's positions on peace, as the Palestinians are now saying? Did he surrender the traditional U.S. role as an honest broker by tilting overwhelmingly to the Israeli side? Did he close off the possibility of future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by determining the outcome in advance? I think not. A closer look at what Bush actually committed to suggests that there can be no final borders drawn without Palestinian approval. Palestinians will be free to insist on arrangements, including territorial compensation, to make a final agreement acceptable to them.
        Building on the Sharon initiative is critical. For the last three years there has been no peace process, only a dialogue of violence. The Sharon initiative at least creates the possibility for unfreezing the situation. In the months ahead, those Palestinians who don't seek a radical Islamist future must rise to the challenge, assuming responsibility for security and good government. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Delicate Maneuvers Led To U.S.-Israeli Stance - Peter Slevin
    The Israeli negotiating team met for hours with two members of President Bush's National Security Council and a top State Department diplomat, wrangling over wording on Israeli settlements and Palestinian refugees, struggling to find a formula that provided the support Sharon wanted, in a form Bush would be comfortable delivering. Intrigued by the Gaza idea and aware that Sharon was determined to act with or without him, Bush broke with longstanding U.S. policy on Wednesday to help the Israeli leader. "Eliminating taboos and saying the truth about the situation is, we think, a contribution toward peace," a senior White House official said Thursday. "Getting people to face reality in this situation is going to help, not hurt."
        The negotiations leading to Wednesday's announcement reflected a decision by the administration to see Sharon's move as an opportunity, while trying to shape it in ways that would preserve the possibility of a negotiated settlement later. Sharon told the Americans that he could not expect to win political backing in Israel without a Bush endorsement. "We wanted to help him swing it, because we felt this moves the peace process forward" by giving Palestinians control in Gaza, a senior White House official said Thursday. (Washington Post)
  • With Tears and Lamentation - Amnon Dankner
    Even supporters of the disengagement plan, like myself, should not have the hubris to accept it with complete confidence. We need look no further than Oslo to see the results of false pride, when one side believes it and it alone has a monopoly on wisdom and prescience. We must remember that the immediate, practical meaning of the disengagement is uprooting the residents of Gush Katif, the northern Gaza Strip, and northern Samaria from their homes. Any approach that belittles these people, their lives and their fate, or sees them as deserving of their fate, is totally unacceptable.
        The fact that many Israelis are going to pay a heavy price, including being uprooted from their homes and communities, is something to be approached with tears and lamentations. If everyone who thinks it preferable to support Sharon would show empathy for the people who will pay the price and recognize them as brothers, we would have a better chance of getting through this stage with a minimum of internal strife. (Maarivenglish.com)
        See also At War For Their Home - Eli Bohadana (Maarivenglish.com)
  • Bush Was Right to Embrace Sharon's Proposal - Editorial
    Give President Bush credit for getting out of the rut of the peace process and trying something new. When he embraced the revolutionary proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon Wednesday, the president was acknowledging what should be self-evident: There is no Mideast peace process left. As long as Arafat is in charge there is no peace process. And it may take years to replace Arafat. Sharon has offered a viable alternative, even if it is only an interim step. (Newsday)
  • Gaza Plan: Palestinians Should Make Best of a Bad Deal - Editorial
    The choice should be obvious for Palestinians. Renounce terror, govern Gaza, and use that to leverage a more comprehensive solution that approaches the Camp David deal. If things go well, a future Israeli government may be willing to resume negotiations. If not, history could call this moment yet another missed chance. (Dallas Morning News)

  • Koby Mandell Act Passes in House of Representatives
    On March 30, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Koby Mandell Act as part of the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act for FY2004-2006. The legislation would establish an office within the Department of Justice for the purpose of ensuring equally vigorous efforts to capture all terrorists who have harmed American citizens overseas and equal treatment for all American victims of overseas terrorism. "We have seen 36 Americans murdered by Palestinian terrorists alone since the Oslo Accords have been signed; yet there have been zero indictments. There have been no real rewards. Suspects' names and faces have not been listed by the Justice Department. The Koby Mandell Act changes that," said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
        Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) said: Koby Mandell was a 13-year-old boy who until he was in fourth grade had lived in Maryland, and his family moved to Israel. In May 2001, Koby and a friend went hiking, and they were never to return. They were stoned to death by Palestinian terrorists. Since the time of his murder, there has been no meaningful investigation or prosecution to bring to justice those who committed this murder.
        If a person who has murdered an American citizen is not properly dealt with in another land, this office will have responsibility to extradite and bring that person to trial in this country. Further, if any official authorities, security agents, or police officers responsible for the murder of an American citizen are still in place, appropriate diplomatic and economic actions would be taken against the government that sponsors those authorities. (Congressional Record)
  • Pressuring Egypt to Reform - Paul Marshall
    Egyptian President Mubarak insists that he is already reforming, is America's most important friend in the Arab world, and is the moderating voice in Arab summits, especially in dealing with Israel and the Palestinians. Yet Mubarak presides over a stagnant economy, a suffocated society, and a repressive state that incubates the pathological version of Islam that has become our major enemy (of the twelve leading al-Qaeda members still at large, five are Egyptian, including Zawahiri, its reputed mastermind). (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Bush Erases the Clinton Parameters - Dore Gold
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • President Bush's April 14, 2004, letter to Prime Minister Sharon represents a significant shift in U.S. policy, as compared to the Clinton Parameters advanced by the former president after the failed Camp David Summit of July 2000 and in subsequent months.
    • In his plan, Clinton provided conditional approval of settlement blocs, but insisted that there needed to be "territorial swaps" of land from pre-1967 Israel in exchange for any West Bank land Israel would retain. Bush does not insist on any land swaps involving Israeli territory.
    • Clinton spoke of Palestinian refugees finding homes in other states including Israel, while Bush states that Palestinian refugees should be settled in a future Palestinian state "rather than Israel."
    • The Clinton Parameters dropped the idea of defensible borders and replaced them with "security guarantees" including a proposed "international presence" in the Jordan Valley. In contrast, Bush refers to "defensible borders" in the context of preserving and strengthening "Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself."
    • According to the Clinton Parameters, Israel's security needs "need not and should not come at the expense of Palestinian sovereignty or interfere with Palestinian territorial integrity." In contrast, Bush allows for Israel to continue to control airspace, territorial waters, and land passages in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank "pending agreements or other arrangements."
    • During the Clinton era, the signing of a peace treaty was supposed to produce security for Israelis. Under Bush, security must be achieved first, as a prerequisite for peace. Given the threats Israel still faces from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Yasser Arafat's own Fatah Tanzim, the approach taken in the Bush letter represents a significant improvement for Israel and for the prospects of a lasting peace.


    NEW! Free Online Coupon Book
    for Travel to Israel

    The strongest way to show your solidarity with Israel is to visit in person. Download free coupons for significant offers, discounts and bargains on hotels, tours, shopping, meals, and more. Created by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Israel Ministry of Tourism, coupons are valid for travel through 2004. To download, click here: www.goisrael.com/couponbook or call 1-888-77-ISRAEL.

    Please share this information with family, friends, and colleagues. We encourage group leaders to download as many as needed for all Israel trip participants. For additional information contact:

    tourism@conferenceofpresidents.org.


    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
        daily-subscribe@dailyalert.org
    To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to:
        daily-unsubscribe@dailyalert.org