Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
U.S. Told of Iranian Effort to Create Nuclear Warhead - Bill Gertz (Washington Times)
Aliya from FSU Declines (Jerusalem Post)
India, Israel Conclude Counterterrorism Talks (AFP/Yahoo)
See also Israeli Trade Delegation Heads to India (Hindustan Times)
U.S. Mall Security Vigilant against Terrorism - Matt Apuzzo (AP/Nashua, NH, Telegraph)
Maryland to Partner With Israel in High-Tech Grant (WBAL)
Medical Experts Travel to Israel for Advice
- Lori Holcomb (Daily Texan-Austin)
Israeli-Developed Fruit Called Pomelit Lowers Blood Cholesterol (News-Medical.net)
Jewish National Fund Christmas Trees for Foreign Press in Israel (JNF/IMRA)
List of 10 Candidates in the Palestinian Jan. 9 Election (People's Daily-China)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Bush said Wednesday in Halifax, Nova Scotia: "We will stand with the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and help end the destructive conflict between them....We seek justice and dignity, and a viable independent and democratic state for the Palestinian people. We seek security and peace for the State of Israel."
"As we negotiate the details of peace, we must look to the heart of the matter, which is the need for a Palestinian democracy. The Palestinian people deserve a peaceful government that truly serves their interests, and the Israeli people need a true partner in peace. Our destination is clear: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. And that destination can be reached by only one path, the path of democracy and reform and the rule of law." (White House)
Egyptian President Mubarak urged Palestinians on Thursday to work with Prime Minister Sharon as their best hope to achieve peace and also urged them to curb violence. In addition, Mubarak criticized the decision of Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader now in jail in Israel, to declare his candidacy for president of the PA. "If the Palestinians do not manage to achieve progress in the time of the current prime minister, it will be difficult to make any progress, because Sharon has the ability to move along the peace process and find a solution if he wants to," Mubarak said. Egypt is actively seeking an enhanced role in mediating between the Israelis and the Palestinians, especially with regard to the proposed Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which Egypt administered before 1967. (New York Times)
Legislation named after a 13-year-old former Silver Spring, MD, resident became law this week, 3 1/2 years after his death at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. The Koby Mandell Act - which will transfer responsibility for tracking down terrorists who have murdered or injured Americans from the State Department to the Justice Department and offer rewards for their capture - passed Congress before Thanksgiving. (Washington Jewish Week)
See also "We Sat, We Prayed, We Hoped," Says Father of Teen Killed by Hamas - Mike Robinson
Stanley Boim recalled Thursday in federal court how he and his wife waited in a Jerusalem hospital eight years ago and asked God to save their son after he was mortally wounded by terrorist gunmen. U.S.-based Palestinian groups are being asked to pay $600 million in damages for bankrolling acts of terrorism. The Boims say that the U.S.-based groups are legally responsible under U.S. law. (ABC7-Chicago)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
"Marwan Barghouti has rescinded his membership in Fatah by his decision to pose as an independent candidate, and the Fatah institutions will stick by the candidacy of Abu Mazen," said Al-Tayeb Abd al-Rahim, director of the Palestinian President's Office and a member of the Fatah Central Committee, on Wednesday. Broad segments of the Palestinian political community, most of the armed groups belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, and many of the security prisoners in Israeli jails have distanced themselves during the past 24 hours from Barghouti. Others described it as an "Israeli maneuver" aimed to divide Fatah. (Ha'aretz)
See also EU's Moratinos: Barghouti Candidacy a Mistake - Akiva Eldar (Ha'aretz)
See also Sharon: Barghouti Will Remain in Jail - Lamia Lahoud
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Thursday that jailed West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti would remain in jail despite his plans to run for head of the PA. Former internal security minister Tzahi Hanegbi told Israel Radio: "Barghouti, who has commissioned bloody terrorist attacks, could be freed at the earliest in 100 years - with time off for good behavior." (Jerusalem Post)
In the past few years, a total of 4,813 mortar shells and rockets have landed in Gush Katif. One hundred homes have been directly hit, 300 indirectly. The 800 shells and Kassam and Al-Batar rockets that have landed in Gush Katif in the past six months have grown more precise, caused greater damage and produced many more trauma sufferers. Last week alone, dozens of shells hit Gush Katif. Ten shells landed in Atzmona. The local school was also hit. Some landed only a few meters from the children in the schoolyard. Miraculously, there were no casualties. (Ha'aretz)
Nearly half a million Israelis carry with them elements of severe emotional and psychological trauma due to incidents of terrorism, and are in need of medical treatment, a survey by the Tel Aviv University Medical School released Thursday shows. A survey which questioned nearly 500 Israelis in the last months reveals that one in every ten Israelis is exposed directly to terror attacks. "People who experienced trauma or shock just from being within the vicinity of a terrorist attack turn to us, as do people who were themselves injured physically or emotionally even if much time has gone by," Naomi, a volunteer at the terror victim support hotline, told Army Radio.
However, even in this survey, 82% of Israelis are optimistic about their personal futures. There have been 22,406 terror attacks against Israeli targets on both sides of the "green line" in the past four years. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Abbas, who is the chairman of the PLO, says that he has ordered the government-controlled media to stop broadcasting material that could incite hatred against Israel. If Abbas's directive is actually followed, that means no more fiery broadcasts praising the killing of Jews. There's a lot more the Palestinians have to do to get serious about stopping the suicide bombings and other attacks, but that would be a start. (New York Times)
For all practical purposes, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is the sole candidate in the election for the PA leadership. This election will be like those regularly held in Arab dictatorships, the establishment's man monopolizing media coverage and active regime backing. The sole difference: a few minor candidates can run. On election day Abu Mazen will get 80% of the vote and observers will say the balloting was free and fair. But what happens at the ballot box means nothing for the power struggle among dozens of warlord-type contenders.
Much of the West imagines this conflict is a simple matter of nationalist resistance to foreign occupation, the Palestinians' wish to create a West Bank-Gaza Strip state. But this is not what Palestinian leaders say when they talk to each other, their public, or the Arab world. Even today only a small minority of Palestinian leaders envisage a two-state solution as ending the conflict completely. Abu Mazen may want such a peaceful solution, but he knows compromise spells political suicide. (Jerusalem Post)
For a contrasting view, see The Notion that "After Arafat There is No One Else" is Absurd - Hassan A. Barari
The most obvious ramification of Arafat's departure will be the rehabilitation of the Palestinian "partner." If the Palestinian leadership is able to appear as responsible, the rules of the game will change. Despite a possible wrangle within Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas is expected to be the next president. Unlike Arafat, he will settle for nothing short of demilitarizing the intifada and, despite the fact that he will be treading through a political minefield, he is expected to prevail. Key players such as Jordan and Egypt will find it easier to work with him toward a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The writer is a researcher at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan in Amman. (Beirut Daily Star-bitterlemons)
I just spent the month of Ramadan in several Arab countries. On the basis of anecdotal evidence (there are no free elections or reliable opinion polls in the Arab world), I came to believe that the Palestine-Israel issue was low down on the list of priorities for the man in the street but something approaching an obsession for the political, business, and intellectual elites. When it came to ordinary people, almost no one ever mentioned the Palestine issue, even on days when Arafat's death dominated the headlines. Farmers, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, and office workers never mentioned Palestine. The reason why the elites fake passion about this issue is that it is the only one on which they agree. In many cases, it is also the only political issue that people can discuss without running into trouble with the secret services.
Conventional wisdom also insists that the U.S. is hated by Muslims because it is pro-Israel. But is it not possible that the reverse is true - that Israel is hated because it is pro-American? Right now there are 22 active conflicts across the globe in which Muslims are involved. Most Muslims have not even heard of most of them because those conflicts do not provide excuses for fomenting hatred against the United States.
Thailand is building a wall to cordon off almost two million Muslims in southern Thailand - a wall higher and longer than the controversial "security fence" Israel is building. (Jerusalem Post)
Condoleezza Rice would be well within her rights to "clean out" the State Department. The U.S. Foreign Service conducts day-to-day relations with other countries and implements the president's policies. There's no reason it shouldn't function more like the military establishment, whose professional ethos depends on the principle of strict subordination to political control - disagreements may exist, but once the president arrives at a decision, the matter has been settled. Needless to say, no such ethos animates the ranks of the diplomatic corps.
Under this president, some State Department officials regard acts of dissent not only as their right, but as their obligation. Harsh assessments of administration policy have come from Ronald Schlicher, until recently a top-ranking official in Iraq. As consul general in Jerusalem, Schlicher was rendered so disconsolate by Bush's 2002 announcement that the U.S. would no longer deal with Arafat that he simply stopped sending cables to Washington. Which stands to reason: According to the Jerusalem Post, a letter Arafat sent to Powell, in which the Palestinian leader attempted an apology for smuggling arms from Iran, was penned by Schlicher himself. (The New Republic)
Uzi Arad, director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at Herzliya's Interdisciplinary Center and chairman of the prestigious Herzliya Conference, favors the idea of a grand land swap - trading the Israeli Arab towns of Umm el-Fahm, Taiba, and Baka al-Gharbiyeh to the Palestinians for settlements and West Bank mountain ridges. This land-for-land deal will be discussed at length at the upcoming conference, to begin on Dec. 13. Israel would hand over large Arab population areas contiguous with the West Bank, and in return receive the large settlement blocs and strategically vital, uninhabited areas along the Jordan River and in the southern Hebron Hills. Arad proposes to repartition the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean along today's demographic lines in a way that will ensure territorial contiguity.
Arad rails against the idea that the 1949 armistice line, known today as the "green line," is sacrosanct. Umm el-Fahm, he recalls, became part of Israel in 1951 as a result of a secret deal between David Ben-Gurion and Jordan's King Abdullah I. The Palestinians of Umm el-Fahm consider themselves Palestinians, they have mixed loyalties to Israel, about one-third are Islamic radicals, many of them have trade relations with the West Bank and they are contiguous to it. "So rather than them being - in their own eyes - second-class citizens here, let them be patriotic, first-class citizens in their own entity," Arad says.
Arad argues that unilateral disengagement from Gaza will hurt Israel's future negotiating position: "You should never make unilateral concessions, never. Look at the manual in Harvard on negotiations - negotiations do not proceed by leaps of unilateral concessions, because these types of concessions corrupt the process. When you then want to turn to real reciprocal concessions, the other side is spoiled, because its expectations have risen." (Jerusalem Post)
Nabil Amr, a vocal critic of Arafat's monopoly on power, was warmly welcomed back to his village of Dura over the weekend after four months of treatment in a German hospital. Gunmen had shot him in July, leading to the amputation of part of his right leg. He immediately lashed out at the PA's failure to arrest anyone in the shooting and, more generally, the absence of daily security for Palestinian citizens. Two hundred and thirty Palestinians have been killed by other Palestinians during the intifada, not including alleged collaborators, according to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. In none of the cases were the perpetrators brought to justice. (Christian Science Monitor)
See also Nabil Amr: Time for Accountability (AMIN-UAE)
Prof. Khaleel Mohammed is not a beloved figure among Muslim students in the U.S. and his views are very unusual in the Arab world. His main thesis is that the Holy Land was given to the Jews. He takes this from the Koran itself, and is prepared to do battle with anyone who disagrees with him. "O my people! Go into the holy land which Allah hath ordained for you. Turn not in flight, for surely ye turn back as losers," says the Prophet Moussa (Moses) to his people, the Children of Israel, in verse 21 of Sura 5, "The Table Spread." The word "ordained" is a translation of the Arabic katab, a strong imperative that implies compulsion, orders, and the determining of fate. "If Allah katab the Holy Land to the Jews, then it is theirs unless stated otherwise - and it is not stated otherwise in the Koran," explains Prof. Mohammed.
"The acts of terror that are being carried out by Palestinians inside Israel are not jihad because this is not their land," he says. Prof. Mohammed, 40, who currently teaches at San Diego State University, was born in Guyana, studied classical Islamic theology at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and completed a doctorate in Islamic law at McGill University in Montreal. (Ha'aretz)
Four months into the intifada, Palestinian gunmen sought to find and execute a collaborator with Israel to serve as an example. Unfortunately, no one knew who the collaborators were. Adnan Shahine, 38, a nobody from a small, weak clan, was chosen to take the fall and was gunned down on the streets of Bethlehem, as Matt Rees, the Jerusalem bureau chief for Time, documents in Cain's Field. (New York Times)
Locusts are the eighth biblical plague. Millions of locusts recently clouded entire kilometers in various locations between Eilat and the Dead Sea. "We could have used more serious pesticides with more immediate effects to create instant killing fields," explains Rami Sadeh, director of field experiments and pesticides at the Plant Protection and Inspection Services in Eilat, "but we wanted to use ecologically friendly materials that wouldn't harm nature reserves and enter the food chain of other animals." Sadeh believes we are now seeing the last of the locust swarms. "I really enjoyed it. It was an opportunity to examine a natural phenomenon I believe will not recur for a long time," he said.
Currently, there are still swarms dispersed over Sinai, southern Israel and Jordan, and along the Egyptian and Saudi Red Sea coast, but there are no new swarms coming from Africa, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. FAO locust expert Keith Cressman attributes the current locust situation to the climate. In October 2003, two days of extraordinary rainfall in northern Africa yielded 100mm. of rain in areas that usually get 1mm. a year. This year, there followed four simultaneous outbreaks of locusts in Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and Sudan. (Jerusalem Post)
Anti-Israeli campus groups have made inroads at American universities by using the campus media, creating strategic partnerships with mainstream left-wing groups, and supporting certain members of the faculty and staff. Pro-Israeli activists who wish to combat this threat must respond to all three of these avenues by getting organized, utilizing the media, and maintaining relationships with organizations, campus influentials, and the Jewish community. The Coalition of Hopkins Activists for Israel (CHAI) was created in September 2000 to enact these steps in seeking to preempt potential anti-Israelism on the university's Homewood campus. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Sharon: Talks Possible When Syria Stops Supporting Terror - Aluf Benn, Yoav Stern and Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
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