Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Arafat Financed Aksa Martyrs' Brigade - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
"Image Is All" for PLO Leader's Fashion-Loving Young Wife - Kim Willsher (Telegraph-UK)
Dispute Splits Bulgaria's Muslims - Nicholas Wood (International Herald Tribune)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
While fighting for his life in a French military hospital, Arafat was engaged in another, secret battle last week as he tried to keep control of bank accounts that are central to his survival in power. Arafat's godfather-like sway over his people derives less these days from his revolutionary credentials than from the estimated $1 billion in bank accounts to which he alone has access. He was resisting all efforts to pry the key to this impressive war chest out of his hands.
Arafat was constantly doling out money. "From flight tickets to refurnishing a house, from money for needy families to money for medical treatment, everything went through Arafat," said a Palestinian source. "Now there is nobody to authorize these payments." No wonder they were all praying for a speedy recovery. Palestinians can only hope that Arafat does not fall unconscious again before explaining how to access the bank accounts. (Times-UK)
He shaved his beard to appear less conspicuously religious and then slipped into Iraq through Syria, willing to die to defeat the Americans. The young Lebanese teacher says he found himself in a safe house in Baghdad, with a long list of Saudis and Kuwaitis ahead of him waiting to become suicide bombers. The Iraqis in Falluja eventually suggested that he and all of the mujahedeen with him return home. Arab governments and Western intelligence officials express growing concern that Iraq is becoming the training ground that Afghanistan was in the 1980s, breeding another generation of fanatical warriors ready to carry their jihad back home. (New York Times)
In many countries of Europe, former inmates of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo have been relishing their freedom. Not so in France, where four Guantanamo prisoners were arrested as soon as they arrived home in July, and haven't been heard from since. Under French law, they could remain locked up for as long as three years while authorities decide whether to put them on trial. Armed with some of the strictest anti-terrorism laws in Europe, the French government has aggressively targeted Islamic radicals deemed a potential terrorist threat, with scant public dissent over tactics that would be controversial, if not illegal, in the U.S.
French counterterrorism officials say their preemptive approach has paid off, enabling them to disrupt plots before they are carried out and to prevent radical cells from forming in the first place. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Monday's suicide bombing in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv killed Shmuel Levy, 65; Leah Levine, 64; and Tatiana Ackerman, 32. More than 35 people were wounded, 6 seriously. The suicide bomber had planned to strike in Jerusalem, but, daunted by a checkpoint, he and his driver headed for Tel Aviv, security sources said. This was the 14th suicide bombing inside Israel since the beginning of the year. (Jerusalem Post)
Monday's Tel Aviv suicide bomber, Amar al-Far, was only 16. "It is forbidden to give a mission of this kind to a boy," his tearful mother, Samira, said on television. Palestinian analysts said that in Arafat's absence there could be a marked increase in attacks against Israel since every faction would try to emphasize its existence by carrying out attacks. Abu Mazen, who is standing in for Arafat, is considered a moderate who favors talks and dialogue, and opposes terror. Monday's attack by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a faction of Arafat's PLO, was intended as a sign to Abu Mazen that the intifada activists do not accept his ways. (Ha'aretz)
See also Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (IDF)
Military Intelligence research chief Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that he does not expect the armed Palestinian groups to disarm or that there will be any change on the ground if Arafat goes into decline. He predicted that there would not be a Palestinian civil war because the heads of the PA will do everything they can to prevent one.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said, "I believe that on the day after Arafat's death, their various leaders will behave differently. I believe there is a chance for the rise of pragmatic leadership. The test of that leadership will be the test of action with regard to the war against terror and conducting reforms in the PA." (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
It's a pretty safe wager that there will be no serious movement by any side toward Arab-Israeli peace until sometime next year - at the earliest. The past four years has made a viable agreement between Israelis and Palestinians much less likely. On the Palestinian side, warlords run Gaza, the PA is weakening, and economic deterioration and leadership stagnation abound, paralyzing the formation of any serious strategy. Israelis, on the other hand, see their salvation in unilateralism - the security fence, targeted killings, and Gaza disengagement.
The organizing principle should be to distinguish between reaching a permanent status agreement (which is not possible now) and helping to create an environment for serious permanent status negotiations (which is possible). Gaza disengagement - now the only game in town - might provide an entry point back into this process. The writer was a U.S. State Department adviser on Arab-Israeli negotiations for 25 years. (Ha'aretz)
Harvard professor Ruth Wisse told Stanford students on Friday that Israelis should not be blamed for the hardships of Palestinians. "The Palestinian people suffer - it is genuine, it is undeniable, they can't advance; the Jews would love to cure that suffering, but it is not a problem that the Jews created, and it is not a problem that the Jews can solve," she said. "The greatest scandal is that the Palestinians have allowed their people to remain refugees. This is not a creation of Israel, it is a creation of Arab rulers." (Stanford Daily)
Never before has it been necessary to conduct a war with neither front lines nor geographic definition and, at the same time, to rebuild fundamental principles of world order to replace the traditional ones which went up in the smoke of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The contemporary security challenge arises from two unprecedented sources: terror caused by acts until recently considered a matter for internal police forces rather than international policy, and scientific advances and proliferation that allow the survival of countries to be threatened by developments entirely within another state's territory.
The basic adversary is the radical, fundamentalist militant fringe of Islam, which aims to overthrow both moderate Islamic societies and all others it perceives as standing in the way of restoring an Islamic caliphate. September 11 taught that threats could be organized by private groups operating from the territory of sovereign states for goals transcending the purposes of the host countries. Cold War strategies ceased to apply, since deterrence cannot work against an adversary with no territory to defend; and diplomacy does not work when the adversary rejects any limitation of objective and seeks the overthrow of societies. (Newsweek/MSNBC)
Terrorist Leader Arafat Fades, Leaving Chance for Peace - Editorial (Chicago Sun-Times)
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