Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 31, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Report: 11 Palestinians Disappear After Arrest by PA - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    At least 11 Palestinians who were arrested or abducted by various PA security services in recent years remain unaccounted for, according to a report published Sunday by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights, a Palestinian human rights group.
    The report is based on testimony provided by families of the missing detainees, who said they had been threatened by the security forces because of their insistence on pursuing the cases of their sons.

Drive to Halt Spread of al-Qaeda in UK - Toby Helm (Telegraph-UK)
    Downing Street has drawn up secret plans to prevent the spread of extremism among young Muslims after confidential studies found that there are up to 10,000 "active" supporters of al-Qaeda in Britain.
    The studies cite evidence from MI5 that al-Qaeda is seeking out middle-class recruits in universities. There are also recruitment operations in schools.
    Radical imams will be thoroughly vetted and, if they do not agree to comply with the government's demands, will be barred.

Nerve Gas Antidote Distributed to British Police - John Steele (Telegraph-UK)
    Pen-like devices that can inject an antidote to nerve gas used in terrorist attacks are being distributed to police forces around England and Wales.
    One of the antidotes in the combo pen is said to be atropine, which can be used to block nerve agent poisoning.

China's Problem with Militant Islam and Pakistan - Bhaskar Dasgupta (Hindustan Times-UK)
    The Uighurs in western China are one of the five main ethnic groups, besides the Han, Manchu, Tibetan, and Mongolian groups.
    In the early part of the 20th century, Xinjiang was a hotbed of separatist activity. In 1945, the first serious threat to Chinese sovereignty was due to the announcement of the Eastern Turkistan Republic, claiming sovereignty over Xinjiang with a firm Islamic flavor.
    After the Soviet Union fell and the Turkic republics of Central Asia were formed, the simmering insurgency moved up a gear, with the Uighurs returning from Islamic countries where they had gone for studies and support, bringing back Wahhabi-flavored Islam.
    Car bombs were introduced, assassinations of ethnic Han Chinese and generalized rioting against the harsh Chinese rule were practiced

Useful Reference:

Video: Palestinian Terrorists Use UN Ambulances (Access/Middle East)
    See a Reuters video clip showing a UN ambulance being used by Palestinians to transport armed terrorists on May 11 in Gaza.

A Perspective on Israeli Actions in Gaza (Los Angeles Times)
    Political cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Key Links

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • 22 Dead in Attack at Saudi Compound for Foreign Oil Staff
    Saudi commandos stormed a compound in Khobar where Islamic extremists had seized foreign oil workers, after the gunmen began executing the hostages Sunday, Saudi officials said. About 50 hostages were rescued, but one American and 21 other people were killed. Saudi officials said they captured the ringleader, who was among the 25 most wanted terrorism suspects in the kingdom. Three gunmen escaped after they commandeered a car and used some of the hostages as shields, according to a Saudi security official. A group allied with al-Qaeda asserted responsibility for the attack. (Washington Post)
        See also Kidnappers "Cut Throats of Hostages"
    "Nine [hostages] had their throats cut by the kidnappers when they tried to escape," said Nijar Hijazin, a Jordanian computer engineer who had himself been taken hostage. (AFP/Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • Attack Increases Doubts about Saudi Ability to Pump More Oil
    The latest attack on foreign residential and office complexes in Saudi Arabia has ratcheted up concern over the nation's ability to increase oil production at a time when global petroleum supplies are becoming increasingly sensitive to any disruptions. The timing of the attack in Khobar also appears to have been intended to inflict damage on the credibility of Saudi officials in Beirut this week for an OPEC meeting. The Khobar attack was the second major violent incident in less than a month in Saudi Arabia, after an attack earlier this month in Yanbu, a petrochemical complex on the western Saudi coast.
        One of the buildings attacked in Khobar, called the Petroleum Center, held the offices for companies that had recently entered into gas exploration ventures with Saudi Aramco, including Total of France, Royal Dutch/Shell, Lukoil of Russia, and Sinopec of China. In a taped statement posted on Islamist websites, Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, a leader of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, claimed responsibility for the Khobar attack and promised more violence in the months ahead. He repeated earlier calls to rid the Arabian peninsula of "infidels." (New York Times)
  • Libyan Nuclear Devices Missing
    A few days after Libya's historic pledge on Dec. 19 to abandon the quest for nuclear weapons, Libyan intelligence officials told visiting U.S. diplomats that a sizable quantity of nuclear equipment purchased by Libya appeared to be missing. The Libyans wanted to prepare the Americans for the possibility that more illicit nuclear shipments could suddenly appear on Tripoli's docks. Four months later, despite a search that has spanned the globe, U.S. and international investigators are still struggling to account for a number of sensitive parts Libya ordered for construction of its uranium enrichment plant - parts that potentially could be used by other countries or groups seeking nuclear weapons. (Washington Post)
        See also After Ending Arms Program, Libya Receives a Surprise
    The Libyans may have been as surprised as anybody when advanced centrifuge components for enriching uranium - a crucial step in making nuclear bombs - showed up in Tripoli's port in March. "The Libyans warned us that they had ordered a lot of additional stuff," said a senior American official, "and some of it hadn't shown up. Some might still show up in the future." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Cabinet Vote on Gaza Withdrawal Postponed - Herb Keinon
    A seven-hour cabinet meeting Sunday on the disengagement plan ended without a vote, and is to continue next Sunday. There is no guarantee that the debate will conclude next week, and the vote may not be held until the week after. Sharon is adamant about bringing the whole plan to the cabinet. Netanyahu indicated that he would vote for the evacuation of three settlements but not the entire plan. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Washington Fears Islamist Takeover in Gaza after Israeli Pullout - Aluf Benn
    The Bush administration has asked Israel to try starting negotiations with some Palestinian empowered to take responsibility for areas in Gaza evacuated by Israel, to try to prevent a takeover by Islamic fundamentalists. Some American officials have expressed reservations about a unilateral withdrawal that does not involve an orderly transfer of security responsibility to Palestinians on the ground. If extremists take control of the area evacuated by Israel in the first stage, this will be regarded as an Israeli failure that will further damage America's standing in the region. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Egypt Fears Hamas Takeover in Gaza - Danny Rubinstein
    Egypt's readiness to take part in preserving security in Gaza derives, inter alia, from its fear that a Hamas-controlled Gaza would strengthen and encourage Islamic zealots in Egypt. Hamas in Gaza has always been a sort of Palestinian branch of the Moslem Brotherhood movement in Egypt. Most Hamas leaders studied in Egypt and maintained contacts with Islamic organizations there. Thus Hamas success in Gaza could influence and spur Egyptian Islamic organizations, which head the opposition in Cairo. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rajoub: Dahlan is a Traitor - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Following reports that Mohammed Dahlan, the former PA security minister, was holding secret talks with Israel and the U.S. about security arrangements in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal from the area, PA national security advisor Jibril Rajoub over the weekend launched a scathing attack on Dahlan, calling him a traitor and an Israeli collaborator. Dahlan's critics in the PA talk about a U.S.-Israeli plot to turn him into the de facto ruler of Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Gunman Kills IDF Officer in Nablus
    Capt. Shahar Ben-Yishai, 25, was killed Saturday by a Palestinian sniper during an IDF operation in Balata near Nablus. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Senior Hamas Terrorists Killed in Gaza
    In the northern Gaza Strip Saturday night, the IDF targeted a motorcycle carrying two senior Hamas terrorists responsible for numerous attacks and the death of Israeli citizens and soldiers. Wa'al Nasser, 31, directed the attack by a female suicide bomber on January 14, 2004, and was a leader of the Qassam rocket project. Muhamed Zarzur, 30, was personally involved in the recruitment of terrorists and in the financing and production of weaponry, and continued to direct explosive devices and rocket attacks against Israelis. (IDF)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Rafah, Gaza, and Unilateral Disengagement - Dan Schueftan
    There are many, notably within the security community, who are mainly concerned lest the image of Israel fleeing the territories encourage more terrorism. The Rafah operation is intended not only to strike at terrorists, but primarily to enhance Israel's capacity to deal with them following its departure from the Gaza Strip. The byproduct of a resolute operation in Gaza is a message to the Palestinians that Israel is determined in its struggle against terrorism and is creating the conditions that will enable it to meet this challenge for as long as it takes. The offensive against Palestinian terrorism will persist, to demonstrate that terrorism has set Palestinian national objectives back rather than allowing Palestinians to dictate Israeli policy. The writer is a senior fellow at the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa. (
  • Don't Fear Arab "Victories" - Mitchell G. Bard
    Ironically, it is the Palestinian terror that has kept Israel in Gaza, precisely because of the concern over repeating the Lebanon precedent and giving the Palestinians reason to believe they can bomb Israel out of Judea and Samaria as well. The Palestinians understand, however, that Judea and Samaria are different. Israel has no claim to Lebanon or Gaza, but it does have a very strong political, religious, psychological, and historical attachment to the West Bank. The Palestinians may still harbor the illusion that the international community will force Israel to the 1949 armistice lines, but they also understand Israel will not be terrorized into that kind of retreat.
        When Israel withdraws from Gaza, and/or parts of the West Bank, it will hardly be a victory for the Palestinians. Two years ago, Israel might have been seen as retreating, but now Israel controls all the territory and is making a strategic redeployment based on its own security needs, not the demands of terrorists. Let them declare victory, just as Arafat flashed the "V" sign as he was shipped off to Tunis from Lebanon. (
  • Are Fritz Hollings' Comments Anti-Semitic or Just Foolish? - Jonah Goldberg
    Earlier this month, Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) penned a silly column asserting that the president went to war with Iraq to win the Jewish vote. While it's not easy to prove Hollings hates Jews, it is easy to prove he's a buffoon. The notion that Bush and Karl Rove are pinning their re-election hopes on winning 10% or 20% of the Jewish vote by getting America embroiled in a risky, dangerous, and costly war is batty. Jews make up only 4% of the national electorate and they're mostly in safely Democratic states. Yes, they're in some swing states like Ohio, Florida, and Missouri, but nobody thinks going after the Jewish vote in these states passes the cost-benefit test. (Tallahassee Democrat)
  • Observations:

    Rules of War Enable Terror - Alan M. Dershowitz (Baltimore Sun)

    • The Geneva Conventions are so outdated and are written so broadly that they have become a sword used by terrorists to kill civilians, rather than a shield to protect civilians from terrorists.
    • Terrorists who do not care about the laws of warfare target innocent noncombatants. Indeed, their goal is to maximize the number of deaths and injuries among vulnerable civilians. The terrorist leaders - who do not wear military uniforms - deliberately hide among noncombatants. They have also used ambulances, women pretending to be sick or pregnant, and even children as carriers of lethal explosives.
    • By employing these tactics, terrorists put the democracies to difficult choices: Either allow those who plan and coordinate terrorist attacks to escape justice and continue their victimization of civilians, or attack them in their enclaves, thereby risking death or injury to the civilians they are using as human shields.
    • Whenever a civilian is accidentally killed or an ambulance is held up at a checkpoint, the terrorist leaders, and those who support them, have exploited the post-World War II laws of warfare to condemn the democracies for violating the letter of the law. This only encourages more terrorism, since the terrorists receive a double benefit from their actions. First they benefit from killing "enemy" civilians. Second, they benefit from the condemnation heaped on their enemies. Human rights are thus being used to promote human wrongs.
    • Democracies must be legally empowered to attack terrorists who hide among civilians, so long as proportional force is employed. Civilians who are killed while being used as human shields by terrorists must be deemed the victims of the terrorists who have chosen to hide among them.

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