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DAILY ALERT

July 9, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

Israel's Security Fence: Decision of the International Court of Justice
  (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)

In-Depth Issue:

Arab States Fan Fires in Iraq - Amir Taheri (Jerusalem Post)
    Syria is the principal center of pro-Saddam agitation in Iraq.
    Saddam's cousin, Suleyman al-Majid al-Takriti, is reportedly running a base for the so-called "resistance" across the border in Syria.
    The first statement of the newly created High Council of Resistance, a grouping of 16 terrorist outfits fighting the Iraqi government, was released in Damascus on Sunday.
    A recent rumor claiming that Jews were buying large tracts of land in northern Iraq has been traced to a column written by a man whose brother holds a senior post in Egyptian intelligence.
    Iran and Syria are the most active troublemakers in Iraq today; neither wants to see a pro-American government established in Baghdad, especially if it is the product of free elections.


The Middle East: The Cash Haven - Christopher Dickey (Newsweek)
  The Middle East is enjoying a huge boom in real estate and equities, driven largely by Arabs bringing billions home from America to escape post-9/11 counterterrorism measures that, in effect, target them and their money.
    9/11 "got the Arabs to finally invest in the region. Some money came back from the West, but more importantly, the oil-price windfall profits have remained here," says one of Jordan's leading entrepreneurs.
    In 2003, the Saudi stock index jumped 76%; Kuwait's rose 102%; Egypt's, 152%.
    Prices for prime real estate rose by as much as 100% last year in Dubai, Beirut, Cairo, and Saudi Arabia.


U.S. Says Israel Not Involved in Iraq Interrogations (Reuters)
    The U.S. military on Tuesday denied that Israel had been involved in any interrogations of prisoners held in Iraq.
    "I can definitely say that...Israel has not been involved in interrogations here in any way, to include providing interrogators," said Army Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the U.S. detainee operations in Iraq.
    See also Rumsfeld Denies Israeli Involvement (Department of Defense)
    Sec. Rumsfeld said: "We've checked... nobody seems to have any knowledge of any individual in Abu Ghraib or other prisons from Israel."


Wife of Suicide Bomber Acquitted (CNN)
    The wife of Omar Sharif, a Briton who attempted a suicide bombing in Israel, who was accused of not alerting authorities about his bombing mission, has been acquitted in a London court.
    Sharif was the accomplice of Assif Mohammed Hanif, a fellow Briton who killed three people in a bomb attack on Mike's Place pub in Tel Aviv on April 30 last year.


Israel to Fix Vandalized Georgian Fresco - Dan Waldman (AP/Newsday)
    Israeli officials say experts can repair vandalism to a priceless Georgian fresco at Jerusalem's Monastery of the Holy Cross containing the only known portrait of famed Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli.
    Georgian Ambassador Revaz Gachechiladze said the damage was discovered Saturday when his wife was conducting a tour of the monastery in Jerusalem's Valley of the Cross.
    "Israel will do everything to restore this place and preserve Georgian heritage in Jerusalem," said Israeli parliamentarian Roman Bronfman.


Weizmann Institute Rakes in Royalties - Oded Hermoni (Ha'aretz)
    Weizmann Institute Professor Michel Revel's patented treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) is now offered by the Swiss drug firm Serono.
    Income to the scientists behind the research is estimated at NIS 150 million in the past four years.
    The second most commercially successful research at Weizmann is Teva's Copaxone drug, also used for treating MS.
    The Weizmann Institute's commercial arm, Yeda, earned $820 million last year alone.


Sub-Saharan Africa Blooms with Israel's Cooperation - Nahum Finkelstein (Addis Tribune-Ethiopia)
    Prof. Dov Pasternak from Ben-Gurion University has formed a unique partnership with vegetable farmer Issaka Dandakoye from Niamey, Niger, in developing a horticultural production system called the African Market Garden (AMG) for farmers with small parcels of land.
    Using gravity drip irrigation, the AMG concept has proven its success in one of the poorest countries in a beleaguered continent faced with grinding poverty and lack of food security.
    The yield and quality of the produce of the AMGs is markedly higher, and the revenue at least four times that given by traditional farming methods - a single farmer working a one-eighth acre lot can earn $4,000 per annum in a country where the per capita GDP is $800.


Useful Reference:

Anti-Terrorist Fence Cuts Samaria-Based Attacks by 90% (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Israel Supreme Court Rules Security Fence Not Political, Does Not Violate International Law (Israel Supreme Court/IMRA)
    Excerpts from the judgment


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Court Rules Against Israel's Security Fence
    The International Court of Justice in The Hague has decided that Israel's West Bank barrier is illegal and should be removed. The court's ruling is not binding. (BBC)
        See also International Court of Justice Rules Against Israel's Security Fence - Aluf Benn
    Fourteen judges voted for the decision and the sole opponent was American judge Thomas Buerghenthal. The court was asked to deliberate on the issue of the security fence last December by the UN General Assembly. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Text of Fence Ruling (Electronic Intifada)
  • Bin Laden Planning U.S. Attack
    Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenants, operating from hideouts along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, are directing a Qaeda effort to launch an attack in the U.S. sometime this year, senior Bush administration officials said on Thursday. Counterterrorism officials have spoken for weeks about a continuing stream of intelligence suggesting that al-Qaeda wanted to carry out a significant terror attack on U.S. soil this year. Intelligence reports referred to efforts "to inflict catastrophic effects" before the election. (New York Times)
  • Iraq Insurgency Larger Than Thought
    The insurgency in Iraq is led by well-armed Sunnis angry about losing power, not foreign fighters, and is far larger than previously thought, American military officials say. The insurgents can call on loyalists to boost their forces to as high as 20,000, a number far larger than the 5,000 previously thought to be at the insurgency's core. The insurgency is believed to include dozens of regional cells, often led by tribal sheiks and inspired by Sunni Muslim imams. A U.S. military official, who has logged thousands of miles driving around Iraq to meet with insurgents or their representatives, said a skillful Iraqi government could co-opt some of the guerrillas and reconcile with the leaders instead of fighting them.
        Resistance leaders come from Saddam's Baath Party, especially from his Military Bureau, an internal security arm used to purge enemies, and have formed dozens of cells. Most of the insurgents are fighting for a bigger role in a secular society, not a Taliban-like Islamic state, the military official said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also How Secure is Iraq's Security? - Claude Salhani (UPI)
  • Sharon Affirms Willingness to Create Nuclear-Free Zone
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is ready to discuss a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East as part of future peace talks, the head of the UN atomic watchdog agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said Thursday in Jerusalem. "The prime minister affirmed to me that Israeli policy continues to be that in the context of peace in the Middle East, Israel will be looking forward to the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East," he said. (AP/Washington Times)
  • Egypt Sheik Slams Anti-Civilian Violence
    Egypt's highest Muslim religious authority Thursday denounced the kidnapping of foreigners by Iraqi Islamic insurgents, and violence against Israeli civilians. Sheik Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the head of al-Azhar, the most prestigious school of theology in the Sunni Muslim world, said, "The kidnapping and killing of innocent people is banned and forbidden by Islam completely and those committing such acts have no Islamic values or morals." He also said, "Whoever detonates himself against the Israeli army...is a martyr, but targeting and killing inoffensive civilians is completely rejected and unacceptable." (UPI/Washington Times)
  • Madison City Council Delays Sister-City Vote with Gaza Town
    The Madison City Council has postponed a vote on a resolution that calls for the adoption of Rafah, a city in the Gaza Strip, as a sister city after a debate and public testimony Tuesday dominated by speakers opposed to the project. Ald. Zach Brandon said the project represents "politics at its worst" and expressed regret that Madison and the City Council have been dragged into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other opponents accused Rafah of being a hotbed of terrorism. Lester Pines, a member of the Madison Jewish Community Council executive board, took Jennifer Lowenstein, founder of the sister city project, to task for calling the board "a deeply racist, blindly pro-Israel organization."   (Capital Times-Madison, Wisc.)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Two IDF Officers Injured in Gaza by Roadside Bomb - Amir Buhbut
    Two senior IDF officers, Colonel Yossi Turjeman who heads the Southern Command's Disengagement Authority, and another Southern Division colonel, were moderately injured by a roadside bomb that detonated near their jeep at the entrance to Morag in the Gaza Strip Thursday. Three other soldiers sustained light injuries in the attack, for which Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. (Maariv International)
  • Palestinians Fire Rockets into Israel
    Palestinians fired two Kassam rockets from Gaza Friday at the western Negev town of Sderot. No injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas Rejects PA Request to Halt Kassam Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas confirmed Thursday that it had rejected a request by the PA to stop firing Kassam rockets at Israel. PA officials said earlier this week that many Palestinians in Gaza were unhappy with the attacks because they invited harsh IDF responses. Sami Abu Zuhari, a spokesman for Hamas in Gaza, also expressed opposition to an Egyptian security presence in Gaza after the planned Israeli withdrawal and said the other Palestinian factions shared Hamas's position.
        Palestinian sources in Ramallah said on Thursday that the Egyptians were running out of patience with Arafat, who has yet to fulfill his promise to implement reforms and cede control over the PA security forces. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Minister Heads for Turkey in Effort to Mend Strained Relations - Aluf Benn
    Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will visit Turkey next week in an effort to mend strained relations after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan began speaking out against Israel's behavior in the territories. President Bush, in Turkey last week for a NATO meeting, spoke of the importance of relations with Israel during his conversation with Erdogan. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel-Turkey Spat Less than Meets the Eye - Barry Rubin
    There is no general crisis in Israeli-Turkish relations, and the Turkish government does not want one. Turkey recently got two big things it wanted from Israel - the long-negotiated deal for Israel to import Turkish water and a major contract for construction on an Israeli power plant. Thus, it was a moment when a Turkish government could score some domestic and regional points by criticizing Israel's defensive war against the Palestinians at little cost or risk. (UPI)
  • Catholic Church Equates Anti-Zionism with Anti-Semitism - Shlomo Shamir
    The Catholic Church condemned anti-Zionism as a cover for anti-Semitism in a joint statement issued by a forum of Catholic-Jewish intellectuals this week in Buenos Aires. "We oppose anti-Semitism in any way and form, including anti-Zionism that has become of late a manifestation of anti-Semitism," the statement said. Ilan Steinberg, director of the World Jewish Congress, noted, "For the first time, the Catholic Church recognizes in anti-Zionism an attack not only against Jews, but against the whole Jewish people." (Ha'aretz)
  • Court Orders American Activist Expelled - Relly Sa'ar
    Tel Aviv District Court Thursday ordered the expulsion from Israel of Ann Petter, 44, an American activist who came to join a protest against the West Bank separation fence. Judge Oded Moderick said the International Solidarity Movement tries to "disrupt the defense authorities' functioning in the administered territories." "They include confrontations with IDF soldiers, entrenching themselves in terrorists' houses to prevent their demolition, taking Palestinians from one place to another during closures, and acting to disrupt the construction of the security barrier." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Some College Students Duping Birthright Officials to Press Palestinians' Cause - Michele Chabin
    Some young diaspora Jews are using popular youth programs like birthright israel and college fellowships as a vehicle to volunteer for a Palestinian-run group the Israeli government considers a danger to national security. Others are capitalizing on their dual Israeli-American citizenship and entering the country on Israeli passports to volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement, which works actively against Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Unilaterally Constructed Barriers in Contested Areas - David Makovsky and Ben Thein
    India, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey voted to refer the Israeli fence to the ICJ for an advisory opinion even though they had themselves built barriers in areas contested by their neighbors. India is just completing a 460-mile barrier in the contested Kashmir to halt infiltrations supported by Pakistan; within the last two years, Saudi Arabia built a sixty-mile barrier along an undefined border zone with Yemen to halt smuggling of weaponry; and Turkey built a barrier in the southern province of Alexandretta, which was formerly in Syria and is an area that Syria claims as its own. The ICJ has not been involved in any of the other barrier disputes. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • On Mideast, Vanessa Redgrave Isn't a Straight Shooter - Jay Bushinsky
    Vanessa Redgrave, the British actress and campaigner for human rights, told a meeting of foreign correspondents in Jerusalem that, ''Any Palestinian mother or schoolchild knows that a schoolchild who is dressed in the uniform can be and is frequently shot in the head - not in the chest, not in the legs, in the head.'' Redgrave based this horrendous allegation on one of four documentary films produced by UNRWA and screened last month at its Geneva headquarters, while her UN colleagues and escorts sat beside her without batting an eyelash.
        This astounding and highly provocative charge is verbal poison that conforms to the 2,000-year-old blood libel that Jews allegedly engage in the premeditated murder of non-Jewish children. And it is astounding that the representatives of UNICEF and UNRWA who sat at the dais alongside Redgrave did not deign to disagree or correct her remarks. (Chicago Sun Times)
  • Forgetting 9/11 - Charles Krauthammer
    We have come a long way in three years. The idea that Sept. 11 was a historic turning point, a wake-up call to a war declared by our enemies but ignored by us, has begun to fade. Yet the passage of time and the setbacks in Iraq have changed nothing of that truth. This is the first time in history that the knowledge of how to make society-destroying weapons has been democratized. Today small radical groups allied with small radical states can do the kind of damage to the world that in the past only a great, strategically located, and industrialized power such as Germany or Japan could do. (Washington Post)
  • The Iraq War: Hidden Agendas and Babylonian Intrigue - Raphael Israeli
    The Mongols occupied China very swiftly because they were good horse riders and the Chinese were pretty much helpless. But after the conquest, a Confucian sage told them, you can conquer China from horseback but you cannot rule it from horseback. The Americans can conquer Iraq with tanks but they cannot rule it from the back of a tank, which explains why American rule in Iraq cannot really succeed.
        We should forget about this democracy business in Iraq. There will not be democracy because there is no tradition of democracy. Even the countries which had promised reforms as part of the fight against terrorism don't take it seriously because it threatens the regimes in place. The sheiks of the Gulf area know that only by supporting each other's autocratic regimes can they survive.
        For more than 100 years, the Kurds have been promised a Kurdish state. They ask, we are 35 million, while the Palestinians are 7 or 8 million. Why can the Palestinians have a state, a second state perhaps, and we are still lingering behind? We are the only Iraqis that helped America actively during the war, to open another front after the Turks reneged. That kind of division of Iraq is practical - a Shiite-Sunni Arab state and a Kurdish state. The writer is Professor of Chinese History and Islamic Civilization at Hebrew University. (Briefing for foreign correspondents, 21 June 04)

    Weekend Features:

  • Preserving Auschwitz - Timothy Ryback
    In the battle against Holocaust deniers, Birkenau's extermination facilities remain important forensic evidence. Today, tumbled and broken plates of concrete, the ruined structures that rise from the earth like arctic ice shoals, are the remnants of a once horrifically efficient piece of machinery. Between 1942 and 1944, more than a million human beings - mostly Jewish - were fed into these extermination plants, forced into subterranean chambers and gassed, their corpses removed and transported by mechanical conveyance to the crematoria ovens. The remnant ash was scattered in the surrounding fields, or dumped in a nearby pond whose muddied bottom, even today, is of a sticky gray viscosity laced with matchstick-size splinters of human bone. There is no arguing with the presence of the Birkenau gas chambers. Here the proof of the Holocaust is written in concrete and steel. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Golan Heights Isn't Bordeaux But... - Gwen Ackerman
    The Golan Heights Winery brought in wine masters trained in California and France who raised local standards, setting the stage for a plethora of boutique wineries. "More than 1,700 years ago wine was made here," says Israeli wine maker Danny Valero. With its moderate, sunny climate, mineral-diverse soil, and high technology, Israel has the potential to produce world-class wines, he said. Altogether, Israel exports about five million of the 30 million bottles of wine it produces annually, much of that from large wineries such as Golan. (Reuters)
  • A Wu-Tang Rapper Claims His Birthright - Jenny Hazan
    Ross Filler - better known as Remedy, sole Jewish member of top American rap group The Wu-Tang Clan - is in Israel this week as a member of a birthright israel follow-up mission, Oranim Ambassadors, to learn more about Israel advocacy. Remedy made a name for himself with a trademark song about the Holocaust, "Never Again," featured on Wu-Tang's 1998 Gold album, Wu-Tang Killer Bee, The Swarm. The Ambassadors program is for Oranim birthright israel alumni who become active in Jewish issues. Remedy has spent the last year performing for synagogues, college campuses, and Jewish organizations, where he has conducted discussions with audiences about Zionism, anti-Semitism, and Israel.
        "It's weird to be a Jew in the rap world, but, to me, rap is the most real form of expression." "It seems like no matter what I do, I have to be attached to Jews and Israel. That's just how I seem to be evolving," he says. "Israel is incredible. There is no place in the world like it. I already went almost everywhere else and this is it....I feel magic in Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Pattern of Palestinian Rejectionism - Yossi Klein Halevi (Jerusalem Post)

    • The tragedy of the International Court's ruling on the security fence isn't only its depressing predictability, a politicization that undermines the hope for a global system of justice.
    • Nor is the tragedy only that Israel's right to self-defense has been branded illegitimate, while the criminals remain uncensured.
    • Perhaps the worst consequence of the ruling is that it will reinforce Palestinians' faith in their own innocence and victimization, and preclude a self-examination of their responsibility in maintaining the conflict.
    • Where is the Palestinian debate about whether four years of suicide bombings were a wise response to the Israeli offer of Palestinian statehood - let alone a debate about the moral and spiritual consequences of turning Palestinian Islam into a satanic cult?
    • Palestinian society has regressed into a culture of denial that rejects the most minimal truths of Jewish history and Jewish rights to this land.
    • The Palestinians' avoidance mechanisms are reinforced by the international community, whose sympathy for Palestinian suffering becomes support for Palestinian intransigence.
    • In choosing to judge Israel rather than the Palestinian leadership, the International Court legitimizes Palestinian self-pity and sabotages the possibility of change.

      The writer is an associate fellow at the Shalem Center.


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