Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Palestinian Sting Rips Off Hizballah - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
U.S.: Some Iraqi Suicide Bombers Forced to Kill - Martha Raddatz
More Bedouin Volunteering for IDF Service - Hanan Greenberg (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
For Al-Jazeera, Loss of Convention Sign Brings Banner Publicity
- Nora Boustany (Washington Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary of State Colin Powell, en route to Cairo, said he is still not certain Arafat is ready to cede security powers despite promises he made to Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei. "Arafat is a master of the ambiguous statement or the statement with the yo-yo string on it. It gets pulled back," he said. (VOA News)
The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which claims to be the largest U.S. Muslim charity, and seven of its officers were named Tuesday in a 42-count federal indictment charging conspiracy, tax evasion, money laundering, and providing help to a terrorist organization. The foundation provided more than $12.4 million to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas, a terrorist group responsible for suicide bombings in Israel, from 1995 to 2001. (AP/Dallas News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei rescinded his resignation on Tuesday after a deal that leaves Arafat in charge of the bulk of Palestinian security personnel. Under the agreement, Arafat will retain control over the Palestinian intelligence service and armed forces, Palestinian officials said. (Ha'aretz)
Two Kassam rockets fell near the town of Sderot Wednesday morning. No one was injured and no damage was reported. IDF troops have been operating in the northern Gaza Strip in the past few weeks to try and stop the launching of rockets from the area. (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli officials are worried that Palestinian terrorists are digging a tunnel underneath the Rafah border crossing terminal between Israel and Egypt, and are planning to blow it up, Israel Radio reported Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
According to details released by the Shin Bet on Tuesday, four Hamas terrorists - all university students in Nablus and Kalkilya arrested by security forces in June and July - planned to kidnap a soldier, launch a suicide bombing in a wedding hall or antique shop in Netanya, shoot at a Jewish community located near Kalkilya, and dispatch a terrorist posing as a deaf and mute peddler to infiltrate Shoham and shoot residents. (Jerusalem Post)
A Palestinian who claimed he was beaten by IDF soldiers manning the Beit Fouriq checkpoint has admitted fabricating the accusations, defense officials said. The Palestinian was trying to leave the West Bank city of Nablus in a car owned by an Israeli Arab. Soldiers manning the checkpoint found him hiding in the vehicle and attempted to arrest him. He tried to resist arrest and started running wild, attacking soldiers.
On Sunday, in an earlier incident at a checkpoint near Nablus, an IDF soldier beat and shot a Palestinian for calling him a "liar." IDF officials called the incident severe, and military police investigating it believe the soldier ignored procedures and fired a weapon unnecessarily. According to the IDF, following that incident, "Palestinians are trying to libel the army by fabricating stories of military brutality." (Maariv International-Ha'aretz)
Arab states at the UN are trying to foil a proposal to condemn anti-Semitism in the General Assembly this September. At a closed meeting held recently in New York, UN ambassadors from Arab and EU countries met and the Arabs made clear that they do not accept the initiative to condemn anti-Semitism. The blunt language used by the Arabs describing their opposition, and their plans to use diplomatic means to prevent the resolution from reaching a vote, shocked the Europeans. The Arabs were also critical of a UN seminar on anti-Semitism held last month. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Finally, an official body of the U.S. government has come out and said what needs to be said: that the enemy is "Islamist terrorism...not just 'terrorism,' some generic evil." The 9/11 commission in its final report even declares that Islamist terrorism is the "catastrophic threat" facing the U.S. The great failing in the U.S. war effort since late 2001 has been the reluctance to name the enemy. In contrast to those analysts who wishfully dismiss the Islamists as a few fanatics, the 9/11 commission acknowledges their true importance, noting that bin Laden's message "has attracted active support from thousands of disaffected young Muslims and resonates powerfully with a far larger number who do not actively support his methods."
The Islamist outlook represents not a hijacking of Islam, as is often but wrongly claimed; rather it emerges from a "long tradition of extreme intolerance" within Islam, one going back centuries and in recent times associated with Wahhabism. U.S. strategy must be to dismantle al-Qaeda's network and prevail over "the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism." In other words, "the U.S. has to help defeat an ideology, not just a group of people." (San Francisco Chronicle)
Most observers believe that Arafat will be able to ride out this storm as he has so many others, "but there will be future clashes as the competition between potential heirs to Arafat goes ahead," said Hillel Frisch, an analyst at Bar-Ilan University. "All the while Hamas is gaining in popularity among [Palestinians], while Fatah is weakening," said Frisch. "Unfortunately, it's not a fight between the good and bad - it's between the bad and worse," said Bassam Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist.
There is no tradition in the Arab world of a leader of Arafat's stature voluntarily giving up power. "Such a thing isn't part of our thinking or our vocabulary - there is no chance of Arafat stepping down by himself," said Rafiq Natsheh, a former Palestinian Cabinet minister. (Los Angeles Times)
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have apparently decided to cooperate with each other in eradicating terrorism. However, much of what we are witnessing today in terms of the radical Salafi threat is the doing of the House of Saud itself. Before any of the radicals came online and began to threaten Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world, it was the Saudi monarchy that upheld - and still does - the banner of Wahhabism. When it mated with the radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, conservative Wahhabism gave birth to radical Salafism. This Salafism was tempered in the jihadi fires of Afghanistan and spread through the global networks of the Islamist International that came to fight in Afghanistan.
Even so, the Saudi monarchy kept funding Wahhabi causes throughout the Muslim world. We do not see many signs that the monarchy, while being alive to the danger of radical Salafism, is in the process of doing anything substantial to strike at the roots of this phenomenon. (Daily Times-Pakistan)
Israeli Disengagement, U.S. Re-Engagement - Zalman Shoval
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