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DAILY ALERT

May 7, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Israel Appoints Arab as Supreme Court Justice - Yuval Yoaz and Baruch Kra (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's Judicial Appointments Committee Thursday selected Acting Justice Salim Jubran for appointment to the Supreme Court.
    Jubran's selection was the first permanent appointment of an Arab Supreme Court justice.
    Jubran, 57, was born in Haifa to a Maronite Christian Arab family.
    At 35, he was appointed a Magistrate's Court judge, in 1993 he was promoted to the city's district court, and he received a temporary appointment to the Supreme Court bench in 2003.


Iraqi WMDs Now in Syria - Larry Elder (Townhall.com-FrontPageMagazine)
    Terrorism expert John Loftus says a Syrian journalist who defected to Paris in January has named three sites in Syria where Iraqi WMD components are buried "and the Israelis have confirmed the three sites. They know where the stuff is."
    "We know from Israeli and defectors' intelligence that the son of the Syrian defense minister was paid $50 million to bring the stuff across the border and bury it."


U.S. Calls Off Gaza Water Projects Over Convoy Bombing (AP/Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. has stopped two water development projects in the Gaza Strip because of the PA's failure to find those behind a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy seven months ago, a U.S. official said.


An American Connection to Madrid Blasts? - Michael Isikoff (Newsweek)
    FBI agents Thursday detained Brandon Mayfield, a convert to Islam and a Portland, Ore., lawyer, after receiving evidence from Spanish authorities that the man's fingerprints were found on a bag containing bomb material associated with the March 11 attack in Madrid that killed 191 people and wounded 2,000.
    Mayfield is also tangentially linked to one of the chief defendants in the "Portland Seven" case - a suspected terror cell in Oregon whose six surviving members pled guilty last year of plotting to fight for the Taliban against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.


Bin Laden Said to Offer Gold to Kill Paul Bremer, Kofi Annan (AP/New York Times)
    A statement attributed to bin Laden appearing Thursday on a website known for militant Islamic messages said: "We in al-Qaeda will guarantee, God willing, 10,000 grams of gold to whoever kills the occupier Bremer, or the American chief commander or his deputy in Iraq."
    The statement promised the same reward for the deaths of Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, and his envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi.


Radical Muslim Missionaries Recruit Fighters - Chris Tomlinson (AP/Washington Times)
    In the Zanzibar island group 50 miles off the coast of Tanzania, part-time preachers go from mosque to mosque spouting sermons of hate - sometimes scripted by radical groups in Saudi Arabia.
    East Africa's poverty and a feeling of disenfranchisement among Muslims have created fertile ground for the extremists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Pakistan.
    After speaking at religious services, the missionaries begin recruiting young men, sometimes offering a chance to join bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network.


Thailand's Muslim Insurgency has Wahhabi Ties - John R. Bradley (Beirut Daily Star)
    An insurgency by Islamist separatists in southern Thailand who have links to the Indonesian Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya (JI) and al-Qaeda has the makings of a full-blown uprising.
    The unprecedented violence, which escalated last week with the gunning down of more than 100 Islamists as they prepared to attack army posts, has become Bangkok's biggest domestic security challenge since the early 1980s.
    Buddhist Thai nationalists are also disturbed that southern Thailand is home to a hard-line Wahhabi cleric, Ismail Lutfi.
    He has an estimated 8,000 followers installed throughout the south in key Islamic posts, and the college, which like most Islamic institutions in southern Thailand is funded by Saudi money, has about 800 students who are reportedly taught hard-core Wahhabi doctrine.


Libya Bars Israel from World Chess Championships (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Israeli chess officials demanded Thursday that the World Chess Federation move this summer's world chess championships, after host Libya said it would bar Israeli players.
    "We did not and will not invite the Zionist enemy to this championship," Mohammed Qaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, said Wednesday.
    "We demand that it be held in a country that will accept every nation without discrimination," said Israeli Chess Association spokesman Yerach Tal.
    Tal noted that in Europe, Israel is ranked second in chess after Russia.


Official Olympics Website Doesn't List Israel's Capital - Gila Fine (Jerusalem Post)
    Greek Olympic officials have not listed Jerusalem as Israel's capital city on the official website for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games (www.Athens2004.com).
    The entry opposite the heading "capital" is marked with an asterisk and a footnote to visit the official UN website.
    Some months ago, the website had "Jerusalem" listed as the capital of "Palestine," while Israel's capital slot was left empty.


Spanish Church to Remove Moor-Slayer Saint (BBC)
    A statue in a Spanish cathedral in the pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela showing St. James slicing the heads off Moorish invaders is to be removed to avoid causing offense to Muslims.
    The statue is expected to be replaced by one depicting a calmer image of St. James by the same 18th century artist, Jose Gambino.
    The image of St. James "the Moor-slayer" is a symbol of the reconquest of Spain from eight centuries of Moorish rule before 1492.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • President Bush, Jordanian King Discuss Middle East
    After meeting King Abdullah II of Jordan Thursday at the White House, President Bush said: "I remain committed to the vision I laid out here in the Rose Garden on June 24, 2002, of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security, and to the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent. I support the plan announced by Prime Minister Sharon to withdraw settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. This bold plan can make a real contribution to peace, particularly if reform-minded Palestinians will step forward and lead toward the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state."
        "As I have previously stated, all final status issues must be negotiated between the parties in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. And the United States will not prejudice the outcome of those negotiations. The road map is the best path to realizing the two-state vision." (White House)
  • U.S. Talks with Palestinian Officials to Resume
    "We will expand dialogue between the United States and the Palestinians," President Bush said Thursday. Part of this diplomatic offensive will include a meeting between national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei planned for next week in Europe. The decision to reopen high-level contacts with Palestinian officials - after months of shunning them - followed mounting pressure from Arabs after Bush last month offered written assurances to Israel on key land and refugee issues in a final peace deal. The decision to begin talking to the Palestinians appeared to mark an abrupt change in administration tactics.
        Privately, Bush is said to be firmly convinced that he did the right thing in backing the Sharon plan, despite its defeat in the Likud referendum. Israeli officials say Sharon is committed to the plan and is determined to find another way to win its approval. (Washington Post)
        See also Bush Preparing Letter to Palestinian Prime Minister
    Bush said he would "shortly send" to Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei "a letter that will explain my views." Diplomats said it was striking that Bush promised to send the letter, even though the administration has basically endorsed Israel's view that Qurei (Abu Ala) has no power and is being told what to do by Arafat. "If Abu Ala is powerless, why is the U.S. sending him a letter?" asked one diplomat close to the Middle East peace negotiations. (New York Times)
  • Old Iraqi Army Reborn in Fallujah
    Fallujah is now caught in a time warp. Iraqi soldiers wearing their crisp, olive-green army uniforms now man checkpoints on roads leading into the city. Attacks on the few remaining American troops in the surrounding desert have nearly ceased. Over the past week, U.S. Marines have handed over responsibility for security to an untested militia led by a group of generals who had been barred from military service by the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq.
        The generals have recruited scores of young men who fought against the Marines last month into the Fallujah Brigade. Mohammed Latif, a former official in Hussein's intelligence service, was named the brigade's leader. The generals, whose return to power has angered many Shiite and Kurdish leaders, have joined residents in proclaiming a victory over the Marines. (Washington Post)
        See also Kurds Flee Fallujah in Fear (Washington Times)
        See also Tehran Fears Ba'athist Restoration in Baghdad
    Tehran is increasingly wary of chaos in Iraq and fearful that the U.S. is looking to members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party to stabilize the situation and counter the influence of Iraq's Shia Muslims. "The U.S. is bringing back Ba'athists because it is not easy for them to compromise with the Shia," said Abbas Maleki, a leading analyst in Tehran. (Financial Times/New York Times)
  • What If? Europe Simulates Qaeda Nuclear Hit
    European officials have conducted a simulation showing how al-Qaeda could kill 40,000 people and plunge the continent into chaos if a crude nuclear device were detonated outside NATO headquarters in Brussels. "We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe," said former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, who helped organize the exercise. "To win this race, we have to achieve cooperation on a scale we've never seen or attempted before." Nunn urged increased protection for weapons-grade uranium kept at research sites, which are often poorly guarded university facilities; accelerated destruction of tactical nuclear weapons by both the U.S. and Russia; enhanced international intelligence sharing; and more help to find new jobs for poorly paid Russian nuclear scientists. (AP/Reuters/International Herald Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • One IDF Soldier Killed, Eight Wounded on Lebanon Border
    One IDF soldier was killed and eight wounded on Friday, following a heavy exchange of fire with Hizballah near Har Dov on the border with Lebanon. The soldiers were checking equipment left behind by Hizballah forces after their attempted infiltration of IDF positions on Thursday. (Ha'aretz/Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Cabinet to Weigh Disengagement Plan "Within Weeks" - Amotz Asa-El
    There is no such thing as a mini-disengagement plan, and the original one will pass in the cabinet "within weeks," Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday. "The prime minister must now create a mechanism that will allow him to pass this resolution," Olmert said. Opposition leader Shimon Peres said Tuesday that Sharon intends to push his original plan through the cabinet soon, despite Sunday's Likud referendum defeat. Officials close to Sharon said that one possibility being considered is to bring to the cabinet a proposal to withdraw from only the most isolated Gaza Strip settlement, Netzarim. The officials said Sharon believes he could pass such a decision, right-wing parties would then leave the government, Labor would join, and then the rest of the plan could be approved. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Sharon to Press Separation Plan - Uri Dan
    Sharon will not abandon the plan to implement separation from the Palestinians. He believes it is the right thing to do. Sharon will probably split up the plan and implement it in stages, and will make sure there is a guaranteed majority for each of them in the cabinet and in the Knesset. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon Updating Disengagement Plan - Nathan Guttman and Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon told a group of visiting EU ministers Thursday that he is determined to carry out the disengagement plan. He said that it will take a few weeks to make changes in the plan in order "to overcome obstacles." He also said that the Erez industrial zone in northern Gaza, where numerous attacks have been carried out against Israel, would be evacuated. (See also below Terror Attacks Targeting Israeli-Palestinian "Islands of Sanity") (Ha'aretz)
  • The Eiland Plan: Attach Parts of Sinai to the Gaza Strip - Nathan Guttman and Aluf Benn
    According to Yediot Ahronot, the head of the National Security Council, Giora Eiland, presented a comprehensive regional plan to the U.S. a few weeks ago calling for Egypt to transfer 600 square kilometers of territory in northern Sinai (the former Yamit region) to the Palestinians in order to expand the Gaza Strip. In exchange, Israel would transfer 200 square kilometers in the Negev highlands in the area of Paran, to Egypt, which in return would be allowed to build a tunnel between the Sinai and Jordan. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Thwarts Major Car Bomb Attack - Margot Dudkevitch
    Near Nablus Wednesday, IDF forces detonated a car rigged with 100 kilograms of explosives parked in an olive grove. Army officials said the vehicle was apparently slated to be smuggled into Israel and used in an attack (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Stone-Throwers Wound Baby Near Nablus
    An 8-month-old baby girl was lightly injured Thursday when Palestinians pelted the car she and her parents were travelling in at the Jat junction near Nablus. Glass particles struck the baby's face after a rock hit the car's windshield. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Shots Fired at Israeli Car in West Bank - Margot Dudkevitch
    Palestinians opened fire at an Israeli vehicle traveling between Aley Zahav and Peduel in Samaria Thursday. Several bullets hit the car and the driver was treated for shock. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat Fortifies Ramallah Headquarters - Lamia Lahoud and Margot Dudkevitch
    Arafat has fortified his Ramallah headquarters with piles of old cars and barrels of concrete, fearing an Israeli invasion is imminent, PA officials said Thursday. On Thursday, mixers poured cement into hundreds of blue barrels that were then scattered across the main courtyard outside Arafat's compound. Bulldozers also spread dozens of wrecked cars across the courtyard. "We are not going to carry out any operation, but they are hysterical," said Prime Minister Sharon's spokesman, Ra'anan Gissin. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Terror Attacks Targeting Israeli-Palestinian "Islands of Sanity" - Julie Stahl
    There has been an escalation in attempts by terrorists during the last few months to strike at "islands of sanity" - the Erez crossing point and Industrial Zone in the Gaza Strip - where Israelis and Palestinians have continued to work together despite the troubles, IDF Spokeswoman Brig. Gen. Ruth Yaron said Tuesday. As terrorism was raging around it, the Erez Industrial Park with 170 Israeli and Palestinian factories "was feeding tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza," she said. Thousands more crossed through the Erez checkpoint daily to go to work in Israel.
        In the last few months, 14 people have been killed at Erez, including four Israeli security guards who were killed by a female suicide bomber. Yaron also pointed to the Karni crossing point, where the Army discovered two explosives belts in the last few days. "The terrorist organizations are aiming specifically at those points where...Israeli society and Palestinian society [are] meeting," Yaron said. (CNSNews.com)
  • Losing the Hearts and Minds of Arabs - Stephen Schwartz
    Since September 11, U.S. government officials have sought to "win hearts and minds" in the Arab and Muslim world by crafting publicity schemes and media projects. All of those produced so far have been characterized by a combination of bombast, naivete, and silliness that does more to undermine than to reinforce American credibility. Radio Sawa was dedicated to making young Arabs like America because Britney Spears lives here. But condescending to the Arab world did little to cut into the large audience dominated by such terror-supporting satellite TV networks as al-Jazeera, based in Qatar, and the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya.
        Al-Hurra, the new Arab satellite TV station subsidized by U.S. money, was launched as an open challenger to al-Jazeera. Yet al-Hurra has failed to gain credibility with Arab or Muslim viewers. Coalition media are wasting time and energy on pop music and soft news. American money can make a difference in the Arab media universe, but only by committing to media independence, professionalism, and a keen attitude of competition with the Arab "hate satellites."  (TechCentralStation-FrontPageMagazine)
  • Expert Assesses Israel's Strategic Situation - Sheldon Kirshner
    According to Israeli political analyst Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Israel's peace treaty with Egypt - the single most important Arab state - has neutralized the Arab world's ability to wage a large-scale war. Egypt will live up to its treaty obligations as long as the U.S. remains a global power. The Syrians have declined militarily since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but Syria will try to bleed Israel by using Hizballah as a surrogate. Syria is not interested in reaching a peace accord with Israel. Iran is "extremely dangerous" and its quest for a nuclear arsenal constitutes "an existential threat" to Israel.
        Asserting that a Palestinian state would be "problematic" for Israeli security interests, Inbar said the Palestinians are incapable of reaching even a "cold peace" with Israel. Palestinian society has grown weary of the intifada, but extremists set the agenda. (Canadian Jewish News)
  • Hate at the Local Mosque - Asra Q. Nomani
    Not long ago in my little mosque in Morgantown, W. Va., a student from the university here delivered a sermon. To love the Prophet Muhammad, he said, "is to hate those who hate him." While he wasn't espousing violence, his words echoed the extremist vocabulary of Wahhabism, used by some followers to breed militant attitudes. Americans need not look elsewhere to hear hate-filled rhetoric preached by fundamentalists. It resounds in our own back yards. If Muslims in America and elsewhere expect religious tolerance, we must ourselves enforce a zero-tolerance policy against preaching hatred and bigotry. (New York Times)
  • Israel's New Normalcy - Joe Klein
    Some Israelis are beginning to wonder aloud if maybe, perhaps, there has been a "positive change" in Israel's war on terrorism. "We began to rebuild our intelligence networks in the West Bank," said a retired intelligence officer. "Cell by cell, we rolled up most of the West Bank terrorist networks. This may not be victory - victory is when the enemy no longer has the will to fight - but we are beginning to approach normalcy." (TIME)
  • Why Qaddafi Turned his Back on Terror - Thomas E. McNamara
    There are two main reasons Qaddafi finally "renounced" terrorism and opened to inspection his weapons of mass destruction. First, as successful multilateral sanctions weakened him, his economy was essentially stagnant through the 1990s, and his neighbors in Africa and the Middle East shunned him. Second, the ideology that fueled his terrorism in the 1970 and 1980s, Nasserite Arab nationalism, was a spent force. It has been replaced by more virulent, pan-Islamic, religious terrorism that aims to destroy both the West and secular Islamic rulers like Qaddafi. And most dangerous of all, it is very attractive to Libya's youth. No longer rampaging or defiant, Qaddafi knows that he and other secular Islamic rulers, from Mauritania to Indonesia, are the targets of Islamic religious terror. (International Herald Tribune)

    Weekend Features:

  • Sharia Rules Nigeria - With the Help of Foreign Islamists. - Paul Marshall
    Since the governor of Zamfara State in Nigeria, Alhaji Ahmed Sani, introduced a draconian version of sharia (Islamic law) in 1999, 11 of Nigeria's 36 states have followed suit. Foreign groups have been aiding the institutionalization of Islamic law. Saudi, Sudanese, Syrian, and Palestinian representatives appeared with Governor Sani in the days before he announced his plans for sharia. In January, the Saudi religious and cultural attache in Nigeria, Sheik Abdul-Aziz, said that his government had been monitoring the implementation of sharia in Nigeria and noted the results "with delight."
        An unnamed Iranian diplomat was arrested on January 23 in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, after he was found taking photographs of churches, a presidential villa, the defense headquarters, and the Israeli, British, and American embassies. There is also evidence of infiltration by foreign Islamic radicals. (National Review)
        See also Nigeria's Turmoil: Even Moderate Muslims Fear Sharia Push - Editorial
    Ahmed Sani, the governor of Zamfara in Nigeria, announced the second phase of his plan to institute sharia, or Islamic law. He ordered the destruction of all Christian churches and non-Islamic places of worship, in accord with what he believes is his duty to subjugate infidels. A loss of Nigeria to the Islamists would be a strategic calamity for the U.S. Washington should do all it can to help the federal government combat the Talibanization of the country. That includes leaning on the government of Saudi Arabia, our purported ally in the war on terror, to cut off the flow of cash to Islamists in Nigeria.
        In February, Nigerian security forces arrested a Sudanese Muslim businessman who heads a Saudi-funded charity in a northern Nigerian state and charged him with transferring millions of dollars to a Wahhabi cleric there. The cleric used the money, authorities allege, to foment a deadly anti-Christian uprising. (Dallas Morning News)
  • Charges Remain Against Pie-Thrower
    Judge Mark Epstein declined on April 30 to drop disorderly conduct charges against Rutgers student Abe Greenhouse, who threw a pie in Israeli Cabinet minister Natan Sharansky's face last September, because Greenhouse was not engaging in peaceful protest. Epstein told Greenhouse that if he "wants to be a political activist, perhaps he might study the life of Natan Anatoly Sharansky, a man who was involved in the human rights movement in the former Soviet Union." (JTA/Virtual Jerusalem)
  • He Hates Israel, Too - Yasmin Moll
    Shaaban Abdel Rahim's new album has attracted attention both at home in Egypt and abroad, especially since a video-clip of one of the album's tracks - graphically depicting Israeli leader Ariel Sharon as a vampiresque-thug - began airing on private satellite channels. The middle-aged singer came into the national spotlight in 2001 with his hit song, "I Hate Israel," and since then has become a regular fixture at the five-star weddings of Egypt's elite.
        The real man behind the message, however, is not the illiterate Shaaban, but Islam Khalil, an Arabic teacher at an elementary school who has been writing lyrics for Shaaban since 1991. Khalil says: "If I got anyone off the street and told him to sing "I Hate Israel," he would have been a success like Shaaban. In Shaaban's latest release, "Uncle Arab," not only does he forcefully criticize the U.S. and Israel, he also mounts a scathing indictment of the Arabs' collective failure to respond properly to the "Busharon" threat. (Egypt Today)
  • Book Review: The Blessing of a Broken Heart - Brian Blum
    The Blessing of a Broken Heart is Sherri Mandell's book-length prose poem of love, courage, and faith to her 13-year-old son Koby who was brutally murdered by terrorists, three years ago this weekend, on May 8, 2001. Koby and Yosef Ish-Ran had cut school one day to explore the caves just outside Tekoa where they lived. When finally discovered some 24 hours later, their bodies were so badly beaten they could only be identified through their dental records. Thankfully, there is precious little about the "event" itself. For a more in-your-face numbing experience, pick up a copy of Nechemia Coopersmith's Israel in the Shadow of Terror which presents details from tens of gruesome terror attacks. (IsraelInsider)
        See also Remembering Young Victims of Terror
    This week over 7,000 young Jewish people in Israel, the U.S., and UK will be participating in special Torah study sessions in commemoration of victims of terror in Israel, part of a fund-raising effort by the Mandell Foundation. The proceeds will go towards sending children to Camp Koby and Yosef - a Koby Mandell Foundation camp for children who have lost parents or siblings to terror. The study sessions will include reading the names of all the young people who died in terror attacks. The list includes nearly 120 young people under the age of 20. (Maariv International)
  • Observations:

    We Thought It Was Finished - Cynthia Ozick (New York Observer)

    • We thought it was finished. The ovens are long cooled, the anti-vermin gas dissipated. Yet current anti-Semitism is accelerating throughout advanced and sophisticated Europe - albeit under the rubric of anti-Zionism, and masked by the deceptive lingo of human rights.
    • The contemporary Big Lie concerns the Jews of Israel: they are oppressors in the style of the Nazis; they ruthlessly pursue, and perpetuate, "occupation" solely for the sake of domination and humiliation; they purposefully kill Palestinian children; their military have committed massacres; their government "violates international law"; their nationhood and their sovereignty have no legitimacy; they are intruders and usurpers inhabiting an illicit "entity," and not a people entitled as other peoples are entitled.
    • Yet the modern history of Jews in the Holy Land overwhelmingly refutes these scurrilities. It is the Arabs, not the Jews, who have been determined to dispose of a people's right to live in peace. The current roar of "resistance to occupation" is notoriously belied by the bloody Arab pogroms of 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936, and 1939, when there was no Jewish state at all, let alone any issue of "settlements." The 1929 attacks left Hebron, the site of an ancient and uninterrupted Jewish community, effectively Judenrein.
    • In 1948, Arab rejection of an independent Palestinian state under the UN partition plan led to the invasion by five Arab armies intent on crushing nascent Jewish sovereignty. The Arab war against the Jews of Israel continued through the terror incursions of 1956, the Six-Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur attacks of 1973, and the fomented violence of 1987, the so-called first intifada. In short, for two-thirds of a century the Arabs have warred against a Jewish presence in "their" part of the world.
    • This is the history that is ignored or denigrated or distorted or spitefully misrepresented. And because it is a history that has been assaulted and undermined by world-wide falsehoods in the mouths of pundits and journalists, in Europe and all over the Muslim world, the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has finally and utterly collapsed.


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