Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 20, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Israeli Wins Olympic Medal in Judo (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli judoka Arik Ze'evi won Israel its first Olympic medal in the Athens Games on Thursday, after defeating a Dutch opponent.
    Also Thursday, an unofficial memorial service was held at the residence of the Israeli ambassador in Athens for the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
    See also Athens 2004 Remembers Munich 1972 - Matthew Davis (BBC News)

Bin Laden's Former Bodyguard Speaks (MEMRI)
    The pro-Saddam London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi conducted an interview with Nasser Ahmad Nasser Al-Bahri, also known as Abu Jandal, an al-Qaeda member who was formerly bin Laden's bodyguard.
    "A large number of al-Qaeda operatives have entered Iraq and they are currently fighting in the ranks of the Iraqi resistance.... The problem is that today al-Qaeda is not an organization in the true sense of the word but only an idea that has become a faith."
    "Many among the youth have begun to believe in al-Qaeda's views and beliefs regarding the struggle against America. Abu Mus'ab al-Zarkawi was in Afghanistan and in Kabul. He met with Osama bin Laden a great many times, but I do not believe that he is number one in the al-Qaeda organization, since al-Qaeda has Iraqi leaders present on the ground in Iraq and they are not in need of al-Zarkawi."
    "Those who blew up the foreign compound in Saudi Arabia spoke in their recorded messages on the Internet sites about the fact that they went to the jihad with the permission and sanction of the Saudi state."
    "The al-Qaeda organization's goal from its inception is to sow conflict between the U.S. and the Islamic world."

U.S. Denies Advanced Munitions to Israel (Middle East Newsline)
    Israeli sources say the Bush administration has withheld approval of an Israeli request for the sale of advanced versions of the Hellfire anti-tank missile.
    The L, M, and N models of the Hellfire, with a millimeter wave fire-and-forget guidance system, were regarded as having performed extremely well in Iraq in urban warfare as well as in anti-armor operations.

Jordan Exports to Israel Rise (UPI/Washington Times)
    Figures released by Jordan's General Statistics Department on Monday said Jordanian exports to Israel increased in the first half of 2004 by 32% from $39.7 million to $52.4 million.
    The bulk of Jordan's exports to Israel consist of readymade clothing manufactured in the kingdom's industrial zone, in addition to fruits and vegetables, marble and sand.

Lebanon Rises from Its Ashes - Michael Theodoulou (Scotsman-UK)
    Lebanon has reestablished itself as a vibrant holiday playground, 14 years after the civil war (1975-1990) ended.
    Tourist arrivals topped the million mark last year, just short of pre-war records.
    Saudis, in particular, have provided lucrative business since the September 11 attacks.
    Fashionable Europeans, eager for something more exotic, are also flocking back to the country.

Useful Reference:

Iran, Hizballah Behind Palestinian Terrorism (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
    Hizballah uses its financial leverage to influence Fatah operatives in the PA-administered territories to perpetrate suicide bombing attacks.

Israeli Priorities for the 59th UN General Assembly (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    For more than three decades, the General Assembly has annually adopted a litany of resolutions designed to discredit Israel, challenge its interests, and promote a one-sided political agenda.
    No other country within the UN system has faced such singling-out and consistent discrimination.
    The time has come to end this campaign of diplomatic incitement and political hijacking of the agenda of the GA, and to stop the attempt to delegitimize the right of the Jewish people to a secure state of their own.

    Israel's official overseas development cooperation was launched in 1958 with the aim of sharing with the rest of the developing world the know-how and technologies which provided the basis for Israel's own rapid development.
    Since then, the Center for International Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry of Israel has trained almost 200,000 participants from 140 countries, both in Israel and abroad.
    Hundreds of Palestinian Arabs as well as citizens from Arab countries are among those trainees.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Hints at Preemptive Strikes Against U.S., Israel
    Iran says it is deeply concerned about the U.S. military presence in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, and says some Iranian generals favor pre-emptive strikes against U.S. and Israeli forces if they sense an imminent threat. Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told al-Jazeera television that Tehran will not stand by idly if it believes U.S. or Israeli forces are preparing an attack. (VOA News)
  • Palestinian Lawmakers Accuse Arafat of Stalling on Reforms
    Palestinian lawmakers say Arafat spurned a committee of legislators on Wednesday who urged him to act on his pledge to reform the PA and is refusing to sign a package of anti-corruption reforms demanded by parliament. (VOA News)
        "We requested a hold on the sessions [of parliament] protesting against (Arafat's) stalling and not signing the presidential decree," said lawmaker Azmi al-Shueibi. "If the president doesn't take concrete steps, there will be a real crisis," lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi said. "We want to see implementation. But I don't expect anything. From the past history of Yasser Arafat, nothing will happen," said lawmaker Hassan Khreishah. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Struggles to Win Hearts, Minds in the Muslim World
    Middle East experts - and some frustrated U.S. officials - complain that the administration is spending far too little on efforts to deal with anti-American anger among the world's 1.2 billion Muslims. Yet top administration officials said Thursday that the U.S. has redirected funds and designed a wide range of political, economic, educational, and aid programs to better lives, press reforms, and improve America's image as an ally to Muslims in more than 50 countries. (Washington Post)
        See also Anti-Americanism a Hit With Egyptian Audiences
    In Cairo's entertainment world these days, it's hard to escape a wave of anti-Americanism. Often, a sure way to fill a theater is to lambaste U.S. foreign policy, cultural habits, or military activity. One recent comedy lampooning the U.S. featured an exploding Statue of Liberty outside the lobby. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: A Forward Strategy for Freedom for the Middle East - Condoleezza Rice (White House)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Israeli Shopping Center - Nir Hasson and Amos Harel
    A child was lightly injured and 34 people suffered from shock when Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket Thursday that hit a bustling shopping center in Sderot, striking a few meters from the entrance to a supermarket as hundreds of people were doing their weekend grocery shopping. Another Kassam rocket landed in a vacant area within a residential neighborhood in Sderot. An additional Kassam rocket had earlier landed in an open area at a western Negev kibbutz. The IDF estimates that the rockets were launched from Beit Hanun by Hamas squads. The IDF left the outskirts of Beit Hanun two weeks ago. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Security Forces Refuse Receiving Orders from Prime Minister - Khaled Abu Toameh
    "The Palestinian security forces are refusing to obey the orders of the Prime Minister," the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Rouhi Fatouh, declared on Thursday in Ramallah, saying they receive orders only from Yasser Arafat. "I call on President Arafat to issue a presidential decree with clear instructions to the security forces to fulfill the orders of the prime minister. This is the only way to change things," Fatouh told journalists. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel High Court to Review World Court Opinion on Security Fence - Yuval Yoaz
    Israel's High Court of Justice on Thursday gave the state 30 days to explain the implications of the decision by the International Court of Justice concerning the separation fence on Israel's policy with regard to the fence. Supreme Court President Aharon Barak said that it was necessary to deal with only those parts of the ruling that are relevant in Israel's eyes. "The ICJ regards eastern Jerusalem as occupied territory," Barak said, "while we do not. The relevant approach should be toward the villages and not Jerusalem. But we will have to say something on the subject...and to announce whether or not we accept the opinion of the ICJ." (Ha'aretz)
  • Hebron's Jews Mark 1929 Massacre - Marion Fischel
    Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin spoke to some 1,000 people in Hebron on Thursday at a ceremony commemorating 75 years since the 1929 Hebron massacre - a surprise attack by Arabs who killed 67 Jews and wounded 70 from among a community of 800 Jews. Although the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had been inciting to violence that August, the Jews of Hebron trusted the good relationships they had with their Arab neighbors. After the massacre, the survivors were expelled from the city by the British. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Regards from the War that Will Reach Israel - Amos Harel
    An American withdrawal from Iraq without the achievement of their war aims (establishing democratic government in Iraq, and not just eliminating Saddam Hussein's regime) will be perceived in Israel as a crisis with the broadest of implications, which Israel will have to deal with as well. A senior Israeli intelligence officer said, "In Iraq there is a battle over the future identity of the Middle East. It is a struggle for survival for the current form of politics in the region. If a stable, representative government will rise in Iraq, with democratic properties, this is the biggest threat to the Arab regimes and above all to radical Islam. A real alternative will be presented to the view that argues that the source of all the problems in the Middle East is America and Israel. It is not surprising that the global jihadi organizations are investing great efforts to expel the Americans from Iraq, even at the expense of terrorist operations elsewhere around the world." (Ha'aretz-Hebrew; 20 Aug 04)
  • Why Najaf Matters - Walid Phares
    Why is the storming of Muqtada al-Sadr's base in Najaf and other locations in Iraq important? Muqtada is the leader of a faction heavily linked to Iran. This young Shi'ite cleric's looks and gestures amazingly resemble the current leader of Lebanon's Hizballah. His late father, Mohammed al-Sadr, a classmate of Ayatollah Khomeini, led a fierce opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime for almost two decades, mostly inspired by the jihadist ideology in neighboring Iran. Muqtada's father aimed at replacing Saddam's pan-Arabism with an Islamist republic. In 1999, Muqtada's father was executed by Saddam's regime. Thanks to the U.S.-led invasion, the Sadrists made it back to Iraq from Iran, with Muqtada suddenly projected as the new leader of the al-Sadr clan. Tehran wants a vassal power in Iraq and Muqtada is their man. (Washington Times)
  • Losing the Shia - Michael Rubin
    Whereas President Bush repeatedly promised that the U.S. sought democracy in Iraq, the British government, U.S. State Department, and the National Security Council project the opposite to an Iraqi audience. Iraqis were not blind to high-level discussions of a "Sunni strategy," meaning that Washington would not live up to its rhetoric of democracy, and instead return the Sunni minority to what many former Baathists - and the Saudi and Jordanian governments - felt was the Sunni community's birthright.
        The decision to reverse de-Baathification in effect traded the goodwill of Iraq's 14 million Shia and six million Kurds for the sake of, at most, 40,000 high-level Baathists. The Marines, against their better judgment (according to their own situation reports), lifted the siege of Fallujah. They appointed a Baathist general to lead the new Fallujah Brigade. Violence throughout the country skyrocketed. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and editor of the Middle East Quarterly. (National Review)
  • Iranian Threat Chatter - Ze'ev Schiff
    Hardly a day goes by without some Iranian security official threatening Israel. Officials in Tehran say their Shihab-3 missile is intended to counter the Israeli Arrow. This is strange since the Arrow is a defensive anti-ballistic missile designed to intercept missiles like the Shihab. Diverting the focus to Israel is an attempt to draw attention away from the fact that for the first time Iran, using the Shihab-3, has missiles that can reach NATO member Turkey and most Saudi cities and oil fields.
        From Israel's point of view, this is more than a struggle to prevent a fanatic religious regime that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state from obtaining nuclear weapons. That regime is also involved in financing acts of terror against Israel and the establishment of extensive rocket systems by the Hizballah in southern Lebanon. Today Israel is not alone in this struggle, and is part of an international front which, although not united, also opposes the nuclear arming of Iran. (Ha'aretz)
  • The 25-Year U.S.-Iran War - Amir Taheri
    At a meeting in Teheran last week, the Islamic Republic's supreme guide Ali Khamenei was asked: Is the Islamic Republic at war against the United States? According to leaks, the ayatollah claimed that it was the U.S. that was at war against "our Islamic revolution." It is fair to say that the U.S. has been at war with the Khomeinist regime ever since the mullahs seized power in Teheran in 1979. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Olympic Games Reflect Countries Liberated by U.S. - Daniel Henninger
    When the Iraqi athletes walked into the stadium at the Olympics opening ceremony, boy, did they look happy. Olympians from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Afghanistan, Grenada, Kuwait, South Korea, the former captive nations of Romania, Bulgaria, the Czechs, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, and the other former Soviet republics all have one thing in common: they come from nations the U.S. has liberated since the end of World War II. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hizballah and Al-Qaeda: Friends or Foes? - Haytham Mouzahem
    The final report of the Sept. 11 Commission in the U.S. argued that al-Qaeda had ties with Iran and Hizballah, but it also concluded there was no collaboration between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The report noted that "the relationship between al-Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shiite divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations." It is true that Sunni-Shiite differences are in no way obstacles to cooperation between Islamist groups such as the Shiite Hizballah and Palestinian Islamist movements such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. But the Sept. 11 Commission did not observe that al-Qaeda was a very different Sunni group than the Palestinian ones; it is an extremist Wahhabi movement that considers Shiites nonbelievers.
        The relation between the Iraq's Baath regime and al-Qaeda began in 1998, when Saddam Hussein allowed the group to establish training camps in Iraq. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was reportedly the broker of this connection. The alliance may have resurfaced after the U.S. invasion through the unexpected cooperation between the two parties in attacking coalition forces, Iraqi policemen and civilians, and Shiite leaders and holy shrines. The tight organization and apparent logistical network behind the al-Qaeda suicide operations suggest there may have been preparation for those attacks with the Baath regime, which provided al-Qaeda with organizational and intelligence assistance as well as money and maybe combatants.
        It was bizarre indeed that al-Qaeda and Saddam's followers should have focused their attacks so strongly against Shiite religious and political leaders, killing thousands of civilians, instead of focusing on targeting the occupation forces. That strongly implied both a deep hatred for the Shiites and a desire to prevent them from playing any major role in post-war Iraq. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Oozing Venom and Jihad - Arnaud de Borchgrave
    Expose the subversive activities of Islamist extremists around the world or in the U.S. and the speedy Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) pops up with accusations of Islamophobia. In most parts of the Muslim world, the war against global terrorism is viewed as a U.S.-Israel crusade against Islam and the Muslims, with a steady stream of hate-filled commentaries in Muslim newspapers and on Arab satellite TV channels. (Washington Times)
  • The Classroom Battle for Indonesia's Soul - Stanley A. Weiss
    With the world focused on Iraq's bloody struggle to emerge as the first democratic state in the Arab world, an old question is being asked anew: Can Islam and democracy coexist? Contrary to conventional wisdom, the answer lies not in the Middle East, home to only 20% of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims. Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, is in the middle of its first direct presidential election just six years after the collapse of the Suharto dictatorship.
        The real question is whether Muslim moderates in countries like Indonesia can win the battle of ideas with Islamic reactionaries. And the battle for the future of Indonesia, like the battle for the soul of Islam itself, will be won or lost in its classrooms. Many fear the increasing militancy of a small minority of the madrasas, or Islamic day schools, and pesantrens, or Islamic boarding schools, that now enroll up to 20% of Indonesian schoolchildren. Saudi "charities" have spent millions promoting their intolerant Wahhabi strand of Islam in the most radical of these institutions. Their alumni include foot soldiers of Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist group responsible for attacks across Indonesia, including the Bali nightclub bombings of 2002. Muslim nations must make education a priority, and the U.S. must help. (International Herald Tribune)

    Weekend Features:

  • The Most Popular Man in Israel - Marion Fischel
    Harel Moyal, 23, is a national hero after winning the TV talent competition show "A Star is Born" (Kochav Nolad), the Israeli equivalent of "American Idol." "He was a very nice, quiet, responsible boy," said Moyal's former teacher Effi Faintuch. "He was good at sports. But he never sang. I never knew he could sing until last year when he came in second [in the competition] here in Ma'ale Adumim." Faintuch says Moyal is an important example for local youth. "His victory shows them they can succeed in life if they try hard enough," he says. "And as a result of the show, more teenagers are learning to sing Hebrew songs again." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Honk if You Love to Sing Bumper Stickers - Samuel G. Freedman
    Israeli author David Grossman has transformed 54 bumper sticker slogans into the rhyming lyrics of a song, recorded by one of Israel's leading rap groups, that has become the surprise pop-music hit of the season. "The Sticker Song" offers an aural collage of the fractious and volatile Israeli political environment, as over a Jamaican beat the singer chants slogans as irreconcilable as "A strong people makes peace," "No Arabs, no terror," and "Long live the king Messiah." (New York Times)
  • Arab Soccer Team Makes History for Israel - Jonathan Cook
    The Bnei Sakhnin soccer team has become the first Arab squad to represent Israel in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Cup European championship. As Sakhnin romped to a 3-0 victory in their first match against the Albanian Partizani Tirana, the club's Jewish coach announced: "This team is making history and I want to be a part of it." Sakhnin's exploits have attracted the attention of fans in the Arab world, a break with the traditional ostracism of Israel's Arab citizens by other Arab nations, which tend to assume that they have collaborated with the Jewish state. Several Gulf states are reported to have offered funding. (Al-Jazeera-Qatar)
  • Israelis Fitting into China's Business Culture - Sapir Peretz
    According to Professor Larry Franklin of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Israelis have made an impressive leap into the Chinese business world. "They deserve very high marks for fitting in with the Chinese business culture....The Israelis' learning curve is absolutely amazing." "Israelis have an impressive capacity for flexibility when dealing with the Chinese character....In China, building confidence is more important than legal contracts, and Israelis grasped the point well." (Globes)
  • Observations:

    A Forward Strategy for Freedom for the Middle East - Condoleezza Rice (White House)

    U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice addressed the U.S. Institute for Peace on Thursday about policies to deal with the long-term challenge of confronting Islamic extremism.

    • The war on terror is as much a conflict of visions as a conflict of arms. True victory will come not merely when the terrorists are defeated by force, but when the ideology of death and hatred is overcome by the appeal of life and hope, and when lies are replaced by truth.
    • America has adopted a forward strategy for freedom for the Middle East. We must work to dispel destructive myths about American society and about American policy. We must also expand dramatically our efforts to support and encourage the voices of moderation and tolerance and pluralism within the Muslim world.
    • There is a small minority of extremists in the Muslim world who, indeed, hate America and will always hate America. When that hatred is expressed through terrorist violence, there is only one proper response. We must find them and defeat those who seek to kill our people and to harm our country.
    • We stand these days with the Palestinian people who seek democracy and reform. Because America supports Israel's desire for security, many in the Muslim world seem to believe that America opposes the Palestinian desire for freedom. This is a misconception that we must take head-on and dispel, because the truth is that our policy insists on freedom. The President believes that the Palestinian people deserve not merely their own state, but a just and democratic state that serves their interests and fulfills their decent aspirations.
    • For its part, Israel must meet its responsibility under the road map and help create conditions for a democratic Palestinian state to emerge. Israel must take steps to improve the lives of the Palestinian people and to remove the daily humiliations that harden the hearts of future generations. Americans realize that there can be no lasting peace for either side until there is freedom and security for both sides.
    • Cynics allege that Arabs and Muslims are somehow not interested in freedom, or aren't yet ready for freedom's responsibilities. Yet, time and truth are on the side of liberty.

    In response to questions, Dr. Rice added:
    • As to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I think there's a general understanding on all sides that you have got to have two partners in order to make this work. It is our belief that the disengagement plan which Prime Minister Sharon has put on the table could provide an opportunity to give a new spur to the possibility of a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as long as that disengagement plan from Gaza is followed by further steps, which the Israelis have said they're prepared to take.
    • Now, in order to do that, we do need leadership on the Palestinian side, as well. In the Palestinian territories there is growing discontent with a leadership that has not been prepared to deal with the best aspirations of the Palestinian people.
    • Our policy on settlements is very clear. We believe that the Israelis should live up to their obligations under the road map. By the way, the dismantlement of settlements comes in the third phase of the road map. If you get the disengagement plan from Gaza, you will have dismantlement of settlements early in the process. And we've been very clear that settlement expansion is not consistent with our understanding under the road map.
    • The fact is that we had, in 2000, an opportunity for a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the Palestinian leadership, for one reason or another, was unable to take that opportunity. We have not been able to get back to that place since.
    • Yes, the Israelis have obligations. But the Palestinians have got to give them somebody to work with. And they've got to embrace a leadership that does not believe that terrorism is a means to an end.

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