Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Hizballah's New Tactics in Gaza - Matt Rees, Jamil Hamad, Aharon Klein (Time)
See also Hizballah Sponsors Palestinian Militancy (AFP/Beirut Daily Star)
International Pressure Delayed Iran's Nuclear Program - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
See also Russia Pledges to Finish Iran Reactor (Reuters/Moscow Times)
Jerusalem Day Begins Tuesday Night - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
U.S. soldiers found a roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent in Baghdad, the military said Monday. Soldiers who removed the bomb experienced symptoms consistent with low-level nerve agent exposure, U.S. officials said. Earlier this month, some trace residue of mustard gas was detected in an artillery shell found in a Baghdad street, a U.S. official said Monday. (AP/Boston Globe)
Sending Arab and Muslim peacekeepers to Iraq is one possible strategy to reduce violence there, but the head of the Arab League said Monday that's not possible while Americans are in charge. And Jordan's King Abdullah II warned that neighboring nations would not be good peacekeepers for Iraq because they would be too tempted to meddle. (AP/New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Fourteen Palestinian combatants were killed and over 30 wounded when IAF helicopters fired missiles at two groups of armed Palestinians attempting to place bombs in Rafah's Tel Sultan neighborhood on the Egyptian border on Tuesday. Soldiers are conducting extensive searches for fugitives and arms tunnels.
IDF spokeswoman Maj. Sharon Feingold said, "There is no systematic plan to tear down houses." She said Israeli forces would destroy houses where tunnels are found and those used by terrorists. Television footage showed groups of armed Palestinian men booby-trapping alleyways and buildings. (Jerusalem Post)
Col. Eyal Eisenberg commands the Givati Brigade, which lost six members last week in an APC explosion in Gaza. "In the midst of this operation, we assisted a Palestinian baby being born and evacuated an elderly woman who was injured and summoned a local ambulance for her. Terrorists ran and fired from behind the ambulance. Therefore, I do not want to make any comparison between our scale of values and theirs. If my soldiers can assist a Palestinian woman giving birth when six of their comrades have been blown to bits in the street but, at the same time, they fire at us from behind an ambulance, you must understand that we are at opposite ends of the scales of values." (Maariv International)
Israel's economy experienced a dramatic 5.5% growth in the first quarter of this year, according to Central Bureau of Statistics preliminary estimates. The business sector leaped by an even more dramatic 9.2% during the quarter. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The purpose of the IDF operation in Rafah is to isolate the city from the rest of Gaza to prevent the transfer of weapons that the Palestinians smuggle via the Philadelphia route, and to arrest contractors and experts building the tunnels. Several dozen people are on the IDF's wanted list. The latest deliveries include RPGs, Kalashnikovs, and ammunition, but most significantly, there has been a large quantity of factory-grade explosives brought into Gaza through the tunnels. (Ha'aretz)
The war on terror will be won only when Islam's Wahhabi heresy is defeated - by orthodox Islam. Anti-Western terrorism results from a war within Islam that is more serious for Muslims than for the rest of us, because the Wahhabis' ideas imply irreconcilable enmity against other Muslims first, and then against others. What drives "fundamentalists" is the tendency to affirm orthodoxy. By contrast, the heretics we are concerned with slip the bounds of orthodoxy and endow themselves with boundless, revolutionary discretion.
That the Saudi family could mount a theological campaign against Wahhabism is as inconceivable as its adopting the Spartan lifestyle that Wahhabism preaches. Without the Wahhabis, the Saudi royal family would not be lords of the peninsula, or of anything at all. The Saudis are bonded to the tiger they ride. From the northern edges of black Africa, to Bosnia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, estimates of the percentage of the new mosques and schools financed to Wahhabi specifications vary from a third to three-fourths. No other form of Islam enjoys anything like the flood of money that comes from Saudi sources. (American Spectator)
The U.S. is badly in need of a move that would restore part of its credibility and therefore would be ready to move positively towards the Palestinians. But according to Arafat's thinking, there is no need to help an ailing president like George Bush, who is facing the threat of being voted out of the White House next November. Last week, Arafat chaired a meeting during which Prime Minister Abu Ala and Dr. Saeb Erekat, the minister in charge of negotiations with Israel, urged Arafat to introduce reforms and to furnish Abu Ala with the authority he needs.
Jibril Rajoub, who is currently Arafat's advisor on security, asked the president to consolidate all the security forces under one person, as proposed by the roadmap. Arafat was furious. He screamed at Rajoub and ordered him out of the room. A day later, shots were fired at his office. Some argued that those bullets could be the signal from Arafat's supporters to remind Rajoub who is the boss. The writer is a Jerusalem-based Palestinian journalist. (Gulf News-Dubai)
Initial Israeli Response to Amnesty Report on Demolitions
On Tuesday, Amnesty International released a report critical of Israel entitled "Evictions and Demolitions Must Stop."
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