Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Israelis Braced for New Tunnel Attacks - Tsafriri Abayov (Scotsman-UK)
The Chemical Threat:
An Easier, but Less Deadly, Recipe for Terror
- Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
Documents Show Citigroup Managed Arafat Investments - Vernon Silver (Bloomberg/Houston Chronicle)
Vatican Paper Raps Sri Lanka on Israeli Aid (Correction) (Catholic World News)
Number of Muslim, Christian Arab Volunteers in IDF Growing - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
One Dead, Two Injured in Egyptian Muslim-Christian Clash (Reuters)
Israeli Economy Picking Up Pace (BBC News)
Israel Military Industries Wins Tender for Five Chemical Plants in India - Amnon Barzilai (Ha'aretz)
Israeli Nano-Lubricant Could Mean No More Oil Changes (NanoTechwire.com)
New Israeli Gel Promotes Healing by Gluing Bone Pieces Together (News-Medical.Net)
Israel Tourist Entries Up 44% - Zeev Klein (Globes)
Santa Feans Volunteer in Israel - Yasmin Khan (New Mexican)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Zakaria Zubeidi, the leader of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, carried a smiling Mahmoud Abbas on his shoulders Thursday, endorsing the presidential candidate. Zubeidi, who is idolized for his swagger and wanted by Israel for organizing attacks and sending suicide bombers into Israeli cities, and other gunmen hoisted aloft Abbas, who smiled and waved to about 3,000 Palestinians gathered around. "When we demand security," Abbas said, "we demand it for all our citizens, including our wanted brothers," in a reference to Zubeidi and his group.
Israel has been quietly backing Abbas, considering him a moderate who has called attacks against Israelis a mistake. However, with Abbas constantly referring to Arafat as his guide and associating with militants like Zubeidi, some Israelis are having second thoughts. Israeli analyst Dan Scheuftan warned that Abbas' embracing of Zubeidi might backfire. "If he believes that by associating with Zubeidi, he gets control of him," Scheuftan said, "this is not the case." (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
See also A Warning and a Welcome for Abbas in Jenin - Matthew Gutman
When the 20 Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades gunmen popped off dozens of rounds from their M-16s, the audience at Abbas' campaign stop in Jenin Thursday first flinched, then hoped the arcing bullets would land elsewhere. "That is our greeting to Abu Mazen (Abbas)," crowed Zakaria Zubeidi. Then his men loosed another ear-splitting fusillade directly over Abbas' silver-haired head. Zubeidi's version of the 21-gun salute was as much a warning as a welcome to the Palestinian leader. When the rally and the ballistic fireworks ended, it was Zubeidi's name, and not Abbas', that the crowd chanted.
After the rally Zubeidi said, "Let us be clear. I do not support the political path of Abu Mazen. I support him because I support the Fatah candidate." Zubeidi and other Fatah men who switched their allegiance from jailed Fatah boss Marwan Barghouti to Abbas now "understand that Fatah needs to unify in order to survive," says Palestinian analyst Iyad al-Malki. Also at stake are jobs. "I only look forward to taking a role in the next Palestinian leadership, where I will continue to fight for the Palestinians," Zubeidi said. (Jerusalem Post)
See also IDF Thwarts Shooting Attack by Zubeidi's Brother - Margot Dudkevitch
Fatah Tanzim commander Jibril Zubeidi was one of three fugitives arrested near Jenin Thursday. Jibril, who has been wanted for his involvement in a number of shooting attacks, is the brother of Zakariya Zubeidi, leader of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin. An IDF officer said that Jibril Zubeidi was en route to perpetrate a shooting attack when he was caught. Troops later retrieved his M-16 rifle with a telescopic sight. (Jerusalem Post)
Campaigning in Kalkilya, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday there would be no peace until Israel tore down its West Bank security barrier. Israel says the barrier is meant to keep suicide bombers out of its cities. (Reuters)
The militant group Ansar al-Sunna and two other insurgent groups issued a statement Thursday against voting in the Iraqi election scheduled for Jan. 30. "Democracy is a Greek word meaning the rule of the people, which means that the people do what they see fit," the statement said. "This concept is considered apostasy and defies the belief in one God - Muslims' doctrine." Ansar al-Sunna had earlier posted a manifesto on its Web site saying democracy amounted to idolizing human beings. The statement Thursday reiterated that "anyone who accepts to take part in this dirty farce will not be safe." The statements by the Sunni Arab-dominated insurgent groups seemed aimed at countering Shi'ite leaders' declarations that voting in the election was every Muslim's duty. (AP/New York Times)
Israel's UN ambassador Dan Gillerman Wednesday urged that Secretary-General Annan fire his top adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi, for his anti-Israel tirades. "We've had enough," Gillerman said. Speaking on Belgian radio and to the Belgian senate last week, Brahimi, an Algerian national, compared Sharon to an assassin, urged Europeans to increase their pressure on Israel, and said that the world is too accepting of "cynical and ridiculous" Israeli positions on peace with the Palestinian Arabs, according to a report by Agence France-Presse. America has urged the UN to be more even-handed in its approach to the Middle East; it is seen by Washington as heavily pro-Arab. (New York Sun)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Foreign Ministry Thursday identified three Israeli tourists killed in Sunday's tsunami in Thailand. Seven other Israelis are still missing, five in Thailand and two in Sri Lanka. In Thailand alone, 713 bodies have thus far been identified as foreigners. One of the tsunami victims, 11-month-old Matan Nesima, was buried Thursday in Jerusalem by his parents, Belgian Jews. An IDF cargo plane that flew to Sri Lanka earlier this week with food and medicine returned to Israel Thursday with 43 Israelis who survived the tsunami. (Ha'aretz)
See also Families of Missing Couple Send Out Rescue Team (Ha'aretz)
See also Thankful Survivors Return Home - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians fired two Kassam rockets and three mortar shells at a southern Gaza settlement Friday. The mortars landed near a school. Two mortars fired at a northern Gaza settlement on Friday landed near a greenhouse. There were no injuries. (Jerusalem Post)
See also IDF Continues Action Against Gaza Missile and Mortar Fire
IDF activity against mortar and missile fire from the Gaza Strip continued Friday in Khan Yunis. Palestinian sources report four killed Thursday night as a missile fired from an Israeli pilotless plane hit them. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
It is fitting that this was the year Yasser Arafat died. When the history of the war on terror is written, 2004 will be remembered as the moment when the romance of the terrorist finally faded away. Arafat was the romantic terrorist par excellence, the man who was given the podium of the UN General Assembly in 1974, just months after Palestinian gunmen had murdered 26 Israeli schoolchildren in Ma'alot. Arafat's rejection of Israel's partition offer at the 2000 Camp David talks should have finished this romance, but it did not. Nor, really, did the attacks of Sept. 11. For some people, terrorism directed against Israel or the U.S. will always have some justification.
Last week, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas kicked off his presidential campaign by saying "the use of weapons is unacceptable because it has a negative impact on our image." It's an instructive choice of words: Abbas does not reject terrorism because it is immoral, but because it no longer sells the cause abroad.
Another way in which 2004 witnessed the fading of the romance has to do with the myth of terrorist invincibility. In March, Israel killed Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin, a measure immediately condemned as certain to incite Palestinians to new heights of retributive fury. Instead, Israel experienced the first sustained lull in suicide attacks since the intifada began, demonstrating that countries that take tough action against terrorism get results. (Wall Street Journal)
Yasser Arafat's heir apparent, Mahmoud Abbas, was fetched up in Jenin on the shoulders of Zakaria Zubeidi, the local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The Brigades has been designated a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department, which reports, "Al-Aqsa has carried out shootings and suicide operations against Israeli civilians and military personnel and has killed Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. At least five American citizens - four of them dual American-Israeli citizens - were killed in al-Aqsa's attacks. In January 2002, al-Aqsa claimed responsibility for the first suicide bombing carried out by a female."
In his campaign speeches, Abbas has called for a "right of return" for Palestinian Arab "refugees" to Israel, code for the destruction of the Jewish state. He vowed to follow Arafat's line. Mr. Bush is expected to invite Abbas to the White House in February after his leadership is ratified in a sham election scheduled for Jan. 9. Intimidation by Abbas' PA is such that Arab voters are afraid even to be seen with the campaign literature of Abbas' rivals. (New York Sun, 31Dec04)
The UN was born in 1945 at a moment of extraordinary moral clarity. To become a founding member, states had to declare war on one of the Axis powers. There was no doubt then that Nazi Germany stood for evil and the Allies for good. But within a few years, UN standards became muddied with the addition of new members, who sought to alter the organization's ethos to serve their own authoritarian agendas.
The change from the original 51 members to today's 191 member states meant a UN that had been dominated by democratic values became a tool of Third World authoritarians, who quickly raised the value of "noninterference" above that of human rights. This dramatic distortion came to roost in the UN failures of the 1990s, which were characterized by confusion between aggressor and victim. One reason the Oil for Food scandal went on for so long, according to former UN official Michael Soussan, was that the UN had more sympathy for Iraq's predicament than its own mandate to root out Iraq's WMD programs.
With respect to Israel, the UN systematically condemned Israeli defensive measures, without addressing the terrorism that forced Israel to act. When the General Assembly improperly activated the UN's judicial arm, the International Court of Justice, to stop Israel's security fence, Annan's office sent reams of supporting documents to The Hague, without touching on the suicide attacks that had forced Israel to build the fence.
The UN certainly has a role to play in giving out food and tents in an emergency. But in the critical field of international peace and security, there may be no substitute for the kinds of "coalitions of the willing" used by Bill Clinton in Kosovo and by George W. Bush in Iraq, outside of the formal authorization of the UN Security Council. These coalitions have a clear sense of who their allies and adversaries are; therefore, they are not crippled by the moral confusion that characterized the judgments of the Security Council in failed interventions over the last decade.
The writer, Israel's former ambassador to the UN, is the author of Tower of Babble: How the UN Has Fueled Global Chaos, and is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
For 5,000 years, the Jews have been tied to the Land of Israel. The dream of a return to Zion has been a perennial dream of the Jewish people in exile. The Jews in Israel and in exile have felt an affinity with the oppressed. They have been central to the struggle for justice in many lands. Thus, it is ironic that many so-called "progressives" view the Middle East through the prism of Israel as an occupying power.
Israel cannot be defeated by conventional military force. This realization has been the basis of the peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt. Every state has an inherent right to self-defense and self-preservation and the Israelis cannot be expected to commit national suicide. Being assured that a peace agreement will be honored is something the Israeli public must be confident of. (China Post-Taiwan)
Minority rule has a long tradition in the Middle East, where it has never had the same stigma that the modern West attaches to it. We have seen Alawi rule in Syria (where Sunnis are a majority), Sunni rule in Iraq (where Shi'ites are the largest group), Hashemite rule in Jordan (imported from Arabia, over a Palestinian majority), and dynastic rule throughout the Persian Gulf (where foreigners outnumber natives). Americans see democratization as a process that will loosen the grip of tyrannical rule. Middle Easterners see it as a lever to shift power among different ethnic and sectarian groups, overturning social hierarchies established by a thousand years of internal struggles.
More important than democracy is the principle of self-determination for sub-national groups, majorities and minorities, the guarantee of autonomous control of their daily lives. The writer, the Wexler-Fromer Fellow at The Washington Institute, is senior research fellow and former director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Most Arab satellite networks, especially Al-Jazeera, which is owned by the ruler of Qatar, are not really interested in news. They have a message to relay, based on the claim that Arabs are victims of a plot hatched by the Western powers, especially the U.S., that wish to re-colonize the Arab world, steal its natural resources, notably oil, and impose their corrupt culture on Muslim nations.
The most dramatic symbol of that conspiracy is Palestine where Israel, presumably acting on behalf of the U.S., is engaged in wanton killing of innocent civilians. In Iraq, "the resistance" - meaning terrorists who seize hostages, chop heads, and kill Iraqis as well as Americans - are seen as upholding "Arab honor." These themes are hammered in on a 24-hour basis and in countless so-called news bulletins, plus talk shows and long monologues, including some by Osama bin Laden, Abu-Musaab al-Zarqawi, and other terrorist leaders. (Jerusalem Post)
With the U.S. and Europe fixated on Iraq, where insurgents are trying to stop the masses from adopting democracy, next door in Iran a parallel struggle for democracy remains largely unnoticed. Young Iranians, who make up more than half the population and are restless from massive unemployment, have been pushing for Western-style political and social reforms for nearly a decade. But they've been losing ground to the conservative ruling clerics, especially over the last year, and need discreet international support. (Christian Science Monitor)
On December 23, 2004, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior published a 60-page report entitled From Dawa to Jihad. Prepared by the Dutch general intelligence service (AIVD), it describes radical Islam and examines how to meet its threat to Dutch society. Among the close to one million Dutch Muslims, about 95% are moderates. This implies that there are up to 50,000 potential radicals. The capability of Dutch society to resist the threat of radical Islam is considered low, though recently a greater desire has become apparent among the Dutch population to become more resistant.
An earlier AIVD report dealt with Saudi influences in The Netherlands, mentioning a number of mosque organizations that originated from Saudi missions and financing. The Dutch report places the blame for the origins of the problem squarely on the deeply-rooted ideology of fierce opposition to the Western way of life among certain Muslim groups. It does not claim that the problem of radical Muslims would disappear if there were peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel and Jews are not mentioned in the report. (ICA/JCPA)
See also After a Filmmaker's Murder, the Dutch Creed of Tolerance Has Come Under Siege - Ian Burama (New Yorker)
According to Ariel Beery, a student in Columbia's Middle East studies department, "They teach everything in the context of one special, small struggle, where there are 23 countries out there where minorities are being oppressed, where women are bound to their homes, where homosexuals are put in jail. They're ignoring the rest of the Middle East in favor of a small dimension of it." The answer is to provide an actually diversified Middle East studies department. It's not about bringing in pro-Israel professors, but scholars who teach - not inculcate. (Village Voice)
"Muslim women don't have a problem with the fact that their husbands have a few other wives," declared the Iranian ayatollah. I disagreed, and answered him: "I'm a woman, and I can tell you that women do not want to be one of several wives." Two chador-clad Muslim Iranian women nodded their heads in agreement. The ayatollah - a Shi'ite religious leader and professor of Islamic Law in Teheran - and I - a women's rights lawyer from Jerusalem - became old hands at sparring at an interfaith conference on Family Law and Religious Law at the Rockefeller Foundation's Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy, last spring. The writer is director of the International Jewish Women's Rights Project, a joint project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the International Council of Jewish Women. (Jerusalem Post)
Everyone knows the Jewish version and the Arab version of what happened in 1948. But there is a third side, that of those who lived there and still do - the Israeli Arabs. Why did Arabs flee the area that became Israel? After all, the ones who remained in their homes still live there today and prosper. The fact is that the Arab world warned the Palestinians against staying with the Jews. They also warned them that Arabs were going in to fight the Zionists and that the Palestinians should leave to avoid getting hurt. Many Palestinians trusted these Arab leaders and left as instructed. Jews begged Arabs to stay and live with them, while Arabs from foreign countries told them to leave right away.
As a Palestinian, I ask the world to please stop exploiting our issue. Where's the heroism in a small child throwing rocks at a tank? Either warn the child to stay away or just shut up! To all those invested in driving our children to die, please, stay away from us. (FrontPageMagazine)
Nearly 3,000 Jews from North America have put down roots in Israel this year - "a number we didn't see for a generation," said Michael Landsberg of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Many factors are behind the increase, ranging from a recent abatement in violence in Israel to a post-9/11 sense among Americans that they could be targeted anywhere, Jewish groups said. But this is also a triumph of marketing: Israelis are eagerly reaching out to North American Jews, offering everything from financial incentives to help in cutting red tape. (Washington Post)
See also U.S. Jews Starting New Lives in Israel (New York Daily News)
When he is in Israel, 90-year-old Goldman shows up every day at the Jerusalem office of the Joint Distribution Committee. Upon returning home, he spends another "hour or two every evening" on the phone to the Joint's New York offices dealing with issues ranging from archival matters to aid to Jews in the former Soviet Union. (Ha'aretz)
Crossing the Line of the Acceptable - Malcolm Hoenlein (Ha'aretz)
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