Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Jerusalem Suicide Bomber was Hostess of Children's TV Show
- David Frankfurter (Israelinsider.com)
Arafat Losing Popularity (Maariv International)
EU, U.S. Target Charities that Fund Terror (AP/Ha'aretz)
Egyptians Wonder If Dynasty Is Near - Daniel Williams (Washington Post)
Iran Moves to Roll Back Rights Won by Women - Nazila Fathi (New York Times)
Israel's Norway Envoy Urges Removal of "Anti-Semitic" Artwork (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
"If Saving Lives Means I'm a Traitor, So Be It" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Jordan Plans to Build 5th Minaret on Temple Mount - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
For Hussein, a Spartan Life at His Former Palace - John F. Burns (New York Times)
Trade with Arab States Up 47% in January-August - Zeev Klein (Globes)
Charleston Law Enforcement Gets Security Training in Israel - Christin Wilson
CNN's "Impact of Terror," on the victims of the Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem, was broadcast on September 19.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday the international community is growing weary of waiting for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to hand over control of security forces to an empowered prime minister. He suggested this could mean reduced outside aid for the Palestinians. "There is a weariness in the international community to continue providing the kind of assistance the Palestinian people so desperately need unless we see some sort of political reform and determination on the part of the Palestinian Authority to improve itself," he said.
The U.S. has been the largest single aid provider to the Palestinians through UNRWA, despite its ceasing political contact with Arafat in 2002 because of his failure to curb terrorism. President Bush told the UN General Assembly Tuesday that world leaders should withdraw all favor and support from any Palestinian leader who fails his people and betrays their cause. (VOA News)
French foreign minister Michel Barnier said on Thursday that no progress could be made in the Middle East peace process by marginalizing or not negotiating with Arafat. "I believe that nothing can be done without Arafat," Barnier said. (AP/Khaleej Times-Dubai)
See also Understanding Arafat Before His Attempted Rehabilitation - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom challenged the UN General Assembly Thursday to "end its obsession" with the Jewish state and focus instead on "the active involvement of Iran and Syria in terrorism." "Iran has replaced Saddam Hussein as the world's number one exporter of terror, hate, and instability," Shalom asserted. (Reuters)
See also Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's Address to the UN General Assembly (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The beheadings of two Americans in Iraq this week have been treated as unwelcome developments in the Arab press, but the concern has been more for the image of Muslims than for the victims. Most organizations continued to cast the outrage as a small part of a wider conflict in which the U.S. is seen as the prime culprit. (Washington Times)
The planners of a pro-Palestinian student conference at Duke University will not sign a statement condemning terrorism as Jewish groups on campus have requested, a spokesman said. Condemning Palestinian organizations' methods would violate the guidelines of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, said Rann Bar-On, a member of the affiliated Duke group Hiwar. "We don't see it as very useful for us as a solidarity movement to condemn violence," he said. "That will not achieve any particular goal." (AP/Winston-Salem Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
An Israeli woman, Tiferet Tratner, 24, was killed when a mortar scored a direct hit on a house in Neve Dekalim in central Gaza Friday, landing in the living room. Another woman was lightly wounded in the Palestinian terror attack. Tratner, originally from Jerusalem, decided to stay in Neve Dekalim and make her home there after completing her national service in Gush Katif and Netzarim. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Photos from the Attack (Katif.net)
Security forces Thursday revealed details of a foiled suicide bombing that was to have taken place in Afula on Tuesday, planned jointly by a Fatah and Islamic Jihad cell from Yamun, near Jenin. The intended bomber was a 15-year-old boy from the West Bank. Shin Bet and police discovered more than seven kilograms of explosives hidden near the western Galilee village of Dir Hana, which were to be used in the attack. The explosives had been smuggled into Israel in a car belonging to a resident of the territories who lived inside the "green line" thanks to a family reunification permit. (Ha'aretz)
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, who has been in hiding in Gaza since the killing of his predecessors, has said his movement will not halt suicide attacks against Israel, and denied reports that Hamas was willing to join the PA. In an interview with the Saudi website Al-Arabiya, he said those who are opposed to suicide bombings should ask themselves why Israel finally decided to quit the Gaza Strip.
Zahar described the disengagement plan as a victory for the Palestinian camp that contends that the armed struggle is the only method to liberate the land. "The fact is that Palestine, all of Palestine, belongs to the Muslims. Any temporary plan that refers only to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem does not negate our absolute right to all of Palestine," Zahar said. (Jerusalem Post)
See also PA, Hamas Tensions Mounting - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF discovered a large arms cache in an underground cave near the Palestinian village of Makhmas southeast of Ramallah Thursday, after a loud explosion. The cache was estimated to have contained more than 300 kilos of explosives. Also found were RPG missiles and launchers, and more than 40 Kalashnikov rifles. (Ha'aretz)
Staff Sergeant Israel Lutati, 20, of Neve Dekalim in Gaza was one of three IDF soldiers killed Thursday when armed Palestinians penetrated an army outpost in southern Gaza. Many residents wondered if he would be buried in the small Gush Katif cemetery, which may have to be moved together with the settlements. "He lived here, he fought here, he will be buried here," Lutati's father, Eli, told friends. Israel Lutati came with his family to live in Neve Dekalim in 1989. As part of his volunteer work with Magen David Adom, which he began at age 15, he cared for many people wounded in security-related incidents in Gush Katif. On Wednesday night, a few hours before the attack in which he was killed, Lutati called all his close friends to ask forgiveness before Yom Kippur. (Ha'aretz)
Israel Lutati lived and breathed Gush Katif. After serving at his post in Morag or elsewhere, he would drive a few kilometers home on leave and spend hours at the settlement command center, and even relieved guards at their posts when needed, said his cousin Or Lutati. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Post-Saddam Iraq presented to predominantly Sunni Arab Jihadist groups a golden opportunity to reinforce their struggle by viewing the struggle in Iraq as a return to the heart of the Arab world after years of struggle in "exile," including in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Central Asia. They have seized the opportunity to recruit a growing number of Islamic youth to support their political aspirations and Islamist interpretations. Islamist groups supplied new interpretations of Jihad that altered previous "red lines," including non-discriminatory killings of both "infidel" foreigners and Muslims. The war has also broadened opportunities for recruitment among Muslim communities in the West. The entire process of radicalization that followed the war in Iraq is accompanied by a massive indoctrination by Islamist scholars, clerics, and intellectuals, who promote the building of a new system based on Jihad.
The Palestinians have remained entirely unaffected by the war in Iraq. There is a constant decrease in Saudi support for Hamas, especially in the financial realm, as a result of American pressure. The killing of Hamas leaders Yasin and Rantisi in Gaza decreased the solidarity of Hamas with the global Muslim Brotherhood and shifted the leadership outside of Palestine, to people such as Khaled Mish'al and Mousa Abu Marzouq. The anarchy in the PA enables Hizballah and its Iranian backer to become influential in the territories. Neither of these Shi'ite elements are part of the radical Sunni global Jihad, and have a different agenda. The writer is director of the Project for the Research of Islamist Movements - PRISM, part of the GLORIA Center in the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (IMRA/International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism)
On Sept. 13, 100 or so Aksa Martyrs Brigades militiamen torched the home of Hamad Hajat, a PA police officer in Nablus. It was revenge for Hajat's slaying of one their men, they said. Hajat is in hiding, his family has fled to Jordan. At the time of the attack, a hundred of Nablus's 4,000 policemen stood on the road opposite the house. As soon as the first explosive charge was lit, "they melted away", says Aboud Ateer, a witness.
"The PA only exists nominally in Nablus," says former Nablus mayor Ghassan Shakaa, whose brother was killed in a drive-by shooting last November. The killer is known and belongs to one of the Fatah militias in the city. "It's like what happened to Nabil Amr (a PA lawmaker shot in Ramallah in July). Nobody in the PA wants to know who shot him. Instead we blame the Israelis," he said. Shakaa says that with the collapse of the PA the militias are becoming younger, bolder, more popular, and more dangerous. Some are nationalist, but most are young guns hired by this or that PA chieftain or "outside powers like Syria, Iran, and Hizballah," he says. "Syria has another agenda. It wants Palestine to be like Lebanon - in its pocket."
Since the PA's Central Election Commission (CEC) began voter registration for PA municipal elections on September 4, only 7% have registered in Nablus: in certain neighborhoods the rate is 3%. The apathy is "a kind of protest against the PA," says Shakaa. The one exception to this torpor is Hamas and a handful of Palestinian political parties or civic associations. Imams at Hamas-allied mosques are urging their congregations to get out and vote. Polls show Hamas running neck and neck with Fatah throughout the territories. In Gaza, it is the most popular faction. In Nablus, Islamist blocs control Al-Najah University and several professional associations. How would Hamas do in Nablus? "It would win - no question," says Shakaa. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Only national elections that allow the public to remove the old guard will empower reformers to bring about the necessary changes. For this reason, Arafat will continue to oppose such elections. In this, he has unlikely allies: the U.S. and Israel - afraid that Arafat will be reelected. (Arab Reform Bulletin-Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
The Russian government has revealed that the two female suicide bombers who blew up planes last month were detained and quickly released before they bribed their way onto the planes. Did the security forces dismiss the danger because of the dress? Did the corrupt officials assuage their conscience by discounting any risk from the "gentler sex"? How long will it take us to get over the stereotypes of women as exclusively peaceful, nurturing, empathetic? Only when the stereotype becomes dangerous to society?
In the months after 9/11, as I unlaced my shoes again and again at the airport gate, I privately wondered why they were profiling middle-aged women. Yet the stereotypes that I too carry are useful to terrorists. The leaders count on them when choosing women for their "feminine" ability to get closer to the targets. And they count on them for giving their cause a moral advantage. When the terrorist is a woman, people talk about "why" she did it, not "what" she did. (Boston Globe)
What's wrong with the idea of creating a Palestinian Arab state? The PA's official policy is to demand all Jews get out of the country they are attempting to create. There is no room for any Jews in the country the children of Yasser Arafat want to start. In any other part of the world, this kind of racist, anti-Semitic effort at ethnically cleansing a region would be roundly condemned by all civilized people. Why are the rules different in the Middle East? Why are the rules different for Arabs? Why are the rules different for Muslims? While the Arabs do not believe Jews have the right to live in the Palestinian state, the Israelis, on the other hand, offer full citizenship rights to Arabs in the Jewish state. Nowhere in the Middle East do Arabs experience more freedom than in Israel. (WorldNetDaily)
The Saudi lobby in Washington has had the capital so thoroughly wired that it made the Israel lobby look like amateurs. After all, the Israelis actually had to engage in lobbying; the Saudis just sat back and enjoyed the love they believed was their due. It was in this manner that the kingdom avoided carrying out a serious inquiry into the involvement of 15 Saudi subjects out of the 19 suicide terrorists on September 11. Saleh al-Fawzan, a senior member of the Wahhabi religious bureaucracy, defended the present ban against religious rights for non-Muslims in the kingdom by quoting the Prophet Muhammad: "The prophet said there should not be two religions in the Arabian Peninsula."
"Saudi Arabia" was not the birthplace of Islam, having come into existence in 1932. Mecca and Medina are located on the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula in a region known as Hejaz, conquered by the House of Saud that originated in the area called Nejd. Mecca and Medina are sacred. The rest of Saudi Arabia is not considered holy by the majority of Muslims, but only by Wahhabis. American troops have never set foot in Mecca and Medina. (Tech Central Station)
The State Department's addition last week of Saudi Arabia to its list of the world's most religiously intolerant nations was a step long overdue. For years, the Saudi regime was exempt from harsh criticism in official U.S. circles - an immunity bought with the hundreds of millions of dollars Riyadh lavished on U.S. policymakers, ambassadors, and lobbyists. But that changed after 9/11, when a group of mostly Saudi terrorists sent thousands of innocent victims to their deaths. Countless Americans realized for the first time that Saudi Arabia, with its Wahhabi strain of Islam - a radical, aggressive, and poisonously intolerant creed - was the incubator of the world's most virulent anti-American savagery.
Saudi oil fuels the world, but the enemy we are fighting is fueled by the feverish religious bigotry that is Saudi Arabia's other leading export. Unless we squarely face that bigotry, and cast a cold eye on the regime that sustains it, the war on terror is one we will not win. (Boston Globe)
Recently, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to divest from American companies that do business with Israel. The Presbyterians have not divested their funds from any of the cruel regimes of the world: not from China for its ethnic cleansing of Tibetans; and not even from Sudan, currently engaged in the extermination of Africans in Darfur.
Since the creation of Israel, Christians have been able to worship there unmolested and unafraid because Israel shares the American values of religious freedom and pluralism. The Presbyterians have set themselves against the best and only friend and protector of Christianity in the Middle East. They have done so to support a movement that has slaughtered Christians and defiled their holy places. Yasser Arafat, to whose aid the Presbyterians now come, massacred Christian civilians in Lebanon when his Fatah organization was based there. (National Review)
See also Episcopalian Church Leaders Recommend Israel Divestment - Laurie Copans
World Episcopalian leaders are recommending that the church withdraw investments from Israel. Their recommendations will be made to a meeting next year in Wales of the Anglican Consultative Council, the church's ruling body. Twenty-nine representatives of the church met with Arafat this week. (AP)
Sharon has come around to the view that Arafat does not want a Palestinian state, that this is only something that he'll say he favors in an interview with CNN, and what he really wants is to play for time. He feels it's better to take pre-emptive action and set back the demographic clock. Taking down settlements will be perhaps the most gut-wrenching internal process that Israel has gone through since its formation. (Council on Foreign Relations)
Ningxia province is the heartland of Islam in China - and the base of Hong Yang, a Muslim leader who commands a million Chinese followers. There are 20 million Muslims in China, and Hong Yang is a government advisor. These days an Islamic resurgence is taking place, but China's leaders fear the fervor of faith. In the past, rebellions brewed in Ningxia province.
Jin Meihua, 40, is one of a handful of Chinese female imams and runs a mosque exclusively for women, something unknown anywhere else in Muslim countries, says Maria Jaschok from Oxford University. According to Dr. Khaled Abou el Fadl from the University of California in Los Angeles, ancient traditions like female jurists - which have been stamped out elsewhere - have been able to continue in China. "The Wahhabi and Salafis have not been able to penetrate areas like China and establish their puritanical creed there," he said. (BBC News)
Anti-Semitism is a primary symptom of Europe's pathology and a wakeup call about its social, cultural, and political health. Often the same Europeans who oppose the more obvious, uncontroversial manifestations of anti-Semitism encourage it wittingly or unwittingly through their overall posture on Israel. Part of European identity is being created through opposition to the United States, accompanied by hostility toward Israel. This negatively defined European identity is dangerous for the Jewish people. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Menachem Youlus, a Wheaton, Maryland, rabbi, and two other men had been digging for about two hours on a farm in Ukraine when, five feet into the earth, they found the sea of bones. The remains of 263 men, women, and children were still shrouded in clothing that bore the Star of David, which Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. Youlus also discovered what looked to be German army body bags, and in them two cherished items, badly deteriorated but Holocaust survivors just the same: They were Torahs. Youlus has spent the last 19 years scouring Eastern Europe for them, then working with fellow scribes to restore the scrolls and find them new homes. (Washington Post)
Irmel Kamp-Bandau first walked the streets of Tel Aviv - the "White City" - in 1987 and she still remembers how dumbfounded she was. "I couldn't believe my eyes, all these treasures - and here of all places." What left Kamp-Bandau so perplexed was the world's largest collection of modern movement buildings, altogether some 4,000. Also called the international style, it emerged in Europe in the 1920s, with the German Bauhaus school probably being its most famous representative. But in Weimar, Paris, Brussels, and Europe's other modern movement centers there are only relatively few examples of this architecture left. Kamp-Bandau documented the buildings, producing in 1994 a catalogue of black and white pictures of 83 buildings. Her work played an important role in helping the city receive UNESCO's World Heritage Award in June, only the second modern city after Brasilia to win this award. The modern movement reached the Eastern Mediterranean shores with the arrival of Jewish architects in the 1930s, many of them graduates of Europe's top avant-garde architecture schools. (Wall Street Journal Europe, 22 Sep 04)
When archaeologists unearthed floors at Tel Dor in Israel this summer, they thought they were looking at plaster. But scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science found the floors covered with phytolites, the tiny hairs on grass and leaves that survive after a plant dies. The Weizmann Institute was brought into the dig to take its own samples and see if its instruments could endure the dust at the site. Next season, physicists, biologists, and materials analysts will work in a systematic way with archaeologists for the first time at a dig in Israel. The Weizmann Institute's Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science, directed by biologist Steve Weiner, is one of the few graduate research centers devoted to scientific archaeology. (Santa Fe New Mexican)
Madonna's visit to Israel last week, as part of a High Holidays pilgrimage organized by the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre, was greeted here with an enthusiasm deeper than mere excitement at the presence of a pop superstar. Israelis were understandably grateful to her for showing solidarity with their besieged country and for defying the fear of terrorism that has kept so many tourists away. Her very presence reminded Israelis that they still had friends around the world. However reassuring, Madonna's embrace should be treated by Jews warily. No less disturbing for religious Jews is the Centre's doctrinal distortion of cabala, the ancient mystical tradition revered as the inner sanctum of Judaic devotion and thought. (Los Angeles Times)
This will be my last column for the Jerusalem Post, as I will shortly be leaving Israel to return to the Wall Street Journal in New York. What a wonderful and remarkable people you are, you Israelis: frank and courageous and funny and sexy and immensely decent. I take no pride in not having become one of you, as I might have. But I admire and love you all the same, and I'm grateful for every minute I spent here. (Jerusalem Post)
A Conversation on Middle East Peacemaking - Madeleine Albright and Dennis Ross (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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