Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

December 21, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Palestinians May Tunnel Under West Bank Security Fence - Hanan Greenberg (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    Israel's security services have begun to plan for the possibility that Palestinians will dig tunnels under the West Bank security fence.
    "We are taking the steps required to block this threat," said one senior security official.
    Head of Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, recently discussed the matter with other security officials, focusing on the most problematic areas.
    While in many areas the ground is not conducive to digging tunnels without heavy equipment, there are a number of areas where the ground is softer.


New Radar System to be Tested Against Kassam Rockets - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    A new radar system for the joint U.S.-Israeli Nautilus mobile laser gun has been brought to Israel to be tested against Kassam rockets and mortar shells fired by the Palestinians from Gaza.
    Military sources said they hope the radar will boost early warning of incoming rockets by a few precious seconds and help pinpoint their launch sites.
    "This is just the radar," said Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Israel, a former head of military research and development, who explained that the laser gun is still being developed.


Ukraine's Yushchenko to Have Plastic Surgery in Israel for Dioxin Poisoning (MoscowNews-Russia)
    Ukraine's presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko is to have plastic surgery in Israel following the Dec. 26 repeat elections, after doctors confirmed that the pockmarks and cysts that disfigured his face were the result of dioxin poisoning.


Germany Set to End Unlimited Immigration for Ex-Soviet Jews (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
    Germany is to stop offering unlimited immigration to Jews from Russia and eastern Europe from January 1, 2006, German newspapers reported Saturday.
    Some 190,000 Jews had come by the end of 2003, but the fact that the number had in recent years exceeded the number going to Israel led to a policy rethink.
    Under the new rules, those applying to come to Germany will have to show knowledge of German and be under 45 years old. They will also not be eligible for social aid.
    See also Jewish Agency Hails German Plans to Cut Influx of FSU Jews - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)


Syrian Official Turned Away at Dulles International Airport (New York Times)
    Muhammed Habash, a prominent member of Syria's Parliament who had flown to Washington last week to attend a conference, said Sunday that he had been denied entry at Dulles International Airport.
    Immigration officials told him his passport had not been properly stamped when he left the U.S. on a previous visit.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Threatens Syria with New Pressure Over Iraq
    President Bush on Monday threatened Syria with new diplomatic or economic measures to pressure the country over its suspected interference in Iraqi politics. "We have sent messages to the Syrians in the past and we will continue to do so. We have tools at our disposal - a variety of tools, ranging from diplomatic tools to economic pressure. Nothing's taken off the table," Bush said. "We ought to be working with the Syrian government to prevent them from either sending money and/or support of any kind" to the insurgents in Iraq, Bush added. (Reuters)
        See also Bush Discusses Palestinian Democracy
    President Bush responded to a question at a press conference Monday: "I gave the speech June 24, 2002, in the Rose Garden that laid out the vision about how to achieve...a peaceful solution, and something that I hope happens. But I'm realistic about how to achieve peace. And it starts with my understanding that there will never be peace until a true democratic state emerges in the Palestinian territory....The Palestinians...will have elections, which is the beginning of the process toward the development of a state. It is not the sign that democracy has arrived."
        "I subscribe to this theory that the only way to achieve peace is for there to be democracies living side-by-side. Democracies don't fight each other. And the last system didn't work, which was the hope that a Palestinian authority, run by a singular head, who on some days would say we're for peace and some days would say now is the time to attack; hope that everything would be fine. It just didn't work." (White House)
  • Setback for Blair's Push for Mideast Peace
    British Prime Minister Blair's Mideast peace push suffered a setback on the eve of his visit when Israel said it would not attend the Mideast conference he's proposing. Prime Minister Sharon said Monday that Israel won't send a delegation. He felt Israel's presence would automatically turn the meeting into a political conference about the outstanding negotiating issues. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Bush on Blair's Mideast Peace Conference
    President Bush said Monday: "I appreciate the fact that Prime Minister Tony Blair is willing to help...by holding a conference with Palestinians that will help develop the state." (White House)
  • Al-Qaeda Shifts Its Strategy in Saudi Arabia
    Al-Qaeda forces in Saudi Arabia have shifted their strategy and are now almost exclusively searching for U.S. and other Western targets in the kingdom while avoiding attacks on domestic institutions in a bid to strengthen their flagging network. While al-Qaeda retains its primary goal of eventually toppling the Saudi royal family, an 18-month campaign of car bombings, gun battles, and kidnappings in which more than 80 people have died - the majority of them Saudis or non-Western immigrant workers - has so far failed to generate many new recruits and has resulted in a backlash among many Saudis. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Missiles Hits Synagogue in Gaza - Amir Buhbut
    Palestinians fired anti-tank missiles that hit a synagogue in the Gaza settlement of Netzarim Tuesday morning. Ten worshipers were treated for shock and damage was caused to the structure. (Maariv International)
  • Abbas: Palestinians to Assume Responsibility in Gaza after Israel Pullout
    PLO chief Mahmud Abbas said Monday in Amman, "If Israel pulls out from Gaza, we must accept the withdrawal in any form or kind...and bid them farewell....We will assume responsibility for every parcel of land the Israelis will evacuate." (AFP/Khaleej Times-UAE)
  • Back to Business in Post-Arafat Ramallah - Amos Harel
    On Sunday it seemed as though the war in Ramallah had ended. When IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon's convoy traveled through the city, it elicited nothing but a big yawn. Not a single stone was thrown. Ya'alon could not conceal his amazement - at the relative order, at the cleanliness of the streets, at the spate of construction. It seems that Arafat's death absolved the city of its sense of obligation to the war effort. Tanzim militants, who used to periodically force the stores in Manara Square to shut down, have been forcibly expelled by the merchants.
        Similar scenes can be seen in the West Bank cities of Jericho, Kalkilya, and Bethlehem, where the volume of terrorist activity has dropped significantly. There has also been a change for the better in Hebron. However, Gaza continues to take a deadly toll on Israelis and Palestinians alike, and terrorists in Nablus continue to try to send suicide bombers into Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Bethlehem Heartened as Christian Tours Return - Matthew Kalman (New York Daily News)
        See also Bethlehem's Paradise Hotel Reopens (AP/Telus-Canada)
  • Cairo's Information-Free Zone - Evelyn Gordon
    Information about Israel's contribution to Egypt's economy appears to be a closely guarded secret in that country. No amount of economic growth will produce improved Egyptian attitudes toward Israel unless the ordinary Egyptian knows about Israel's role in it. Most Egyptians, for instance, were completely unaware that Israelis account for a major share of the Sinai tourist trade before October's terrorist attacks. In addition, the average Egyptian is completely unaware of the almost $2 billion a year Egypt receives from America. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Make No Mistake - David Brooks
    Bush deduced that Sharon could grasp the demographic reality and lead Israel toward a two-state solution; that Arafat would never make peace, but was a retardant to peace; that Israel has a right to fight terrorism; and that Sharon would never feel safe enough to take risks unless the U.S. supported him when he fought back. Bush concluded that peace would never come as long as Palestine was an undemocratic tyranny, and that the Palestinians needed to see their intifada would never bring triumph. (New York Times)
  • The Abu Mazen Disconnect - David Horovitz
    Along with its cultural and sporting activities, the Ibdaa "cultural center" in Bethlehem is dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel. Far away, in a remote galaxy, sits Abu Mazen, demanding that the "rejection of the occupation" be expressed without weapons, and here...well, let me describe the brightly-colored paintings that line the entire stairwell. We pass a middle-aged, traditionally dressed Palestinian mother poised to hurl the rock in her outstretched hand, as well as panels naming dozens of villages inside pre-1967 Israel that the thousands of children who use this center are told they will one day rebuild. At the top of the stairs is a life-sized portrait of a young Palestinian man, lighted petrol bomb in hand. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Middle East Rejects American-Induced Reform - Michael Young
    The Palestinians' misfortune has rendered the Middle East virtually impotent in the past half-century, as it has been used as justification for just about any effort to protect the ambient stalemate and perpetuate the rule of autocratic regimes. There is little doubt that resolving the Palestinians' foul plight would generate greater confidence in the U.S., but that still doesn't explain why regional reform must be made hostage to a conflict a majority of Arabs have no control over. Nor does it explain why the Arabs must accept being set upon by their own oppressive regimes. The unfortunate reality, however, is that this unreasonable approach holds sway in the region. The writer is opinion editor at the Beirut Daily Star. (Reason)
  • Observations:

    The Incitement Yardstick - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Jerusalem Post)

    • Prime Minister Sharon recently remarked that anti-Israel incitement in the PA media had lessened. While even a limited reduction in incitement would be welcome, it hardly begins to address the depth of the problem.
    • PA religious and academic leaders have been teaching, for four and a half years, that Allah demands the killing of Jews; and for ten years that Israel has no right to exist. Indoctrination has convinced a significant portion of Palestinian society that murdering Jews is an act of worship.
    • A tactical reduction in media incitement isn't enough. We face a political, religious, educational, and popular culture which in its entirety promotes hatred of Israelis and Jews and teaches that violence is the preferred means of achieving political goals. Media incitement per se is not the problem. The problem is Palestinian aspirations for Israel's destruction.
    • If the new Palestinian leaders are serious about peace, they will have to do more than just mask their beliefs with politically acceptable facades. They will have to fundamentally change their world view and then detoxify their society with messages that actively promote peace.
    • Palestinian leaders need to reject violence against Israel - not because it's politically ineffective, which is the current rationale, but because it is morally wrong.
    • The day we start seeing educational and religious messages promoting peace on PA TV is the day we'll know a peace process has begun.

      Marcus is founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch. Crook is PMW's associate director.


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