Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 20, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Foreign Correspondents on PA Payroll (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian journalist Majida al-Batsh, a Palestinian affairs correspondent for the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), is also a reporter for Al-Ayyam, a Ramallah-based newspaper established and financed by the PA.
    One of AFP's correspondents in the Gaza Strip is Adel Zanoun, who also happens to be the chief reporter in the area for the PA's Voice of Palestine radio station
    AP journalist Muhammad Daraghmeh also works for the PA's Al-Ayyam.
    "It's like employing someone from the [Israeli] Government Press Office" to work as a journalist, comments a veteran foreign journalist based in Israel.
    "I also know of cases where former security prisoners have been hired as journalists and fixers for major news organizations, including American networks."
    "Can you imagine what the reactions would be if they hired an Israeli who had been in jail?" he added.

Montreal School Bomber Sentenced - Graeme Hamilton (National Post-Canada)
    Calling him a terrorist who struck at Canada's fundamental values, a Montreal judge Tuesday sentenced Sleiman El-Merhebi, 19, to a 40-month prison term for firebombing a Jewish school library.
    ''There is a distinction to be drawn between vandalism and terrorism: One seeks to destroy stupidly, the other to intimidate, to sow terror for a political goal. Terrorism is much more dangerous to a society; it attacks its foundations,'' said Judge Jean Sirois of Quebec Court.

Palestinians Try to Sabotage Emergency Hotline - Eli Ashkenazi (Ha'aretz)
    The Ashdod hotline of the Magen David Adom ambulance service receives hundreds of crank calls every day, mostly from Palestinians from the northern Gaza Strip who call the emergency 101 number, curse the operator, and then hang up, says hotline director Yehuda Gabai.
    More disturbingly, the callers will report a fictitious emergency, hoping that MDA will waste valuable time and resources.
    In response, a new telephone system will allow MDA to define a list of "problematic" telephone numbers from which crank calls have been placed and automatically block the calls.

Jordan Removes Anti-Israel Banners (Medialine)
    Jordanian security forces removed anti-Israel banners displayed at the Amman headquarters of Jordan's trade unions on Tuesday.
    The signs carried slogans such as "Fight the Normalization with the Zionist Enemy," and "Close the Israeli Embassy in Jordan," according to the London-based daily Al-Hayyat.
    Jordan's Interior Minister Samir Al-Habashna demanded the banners be removed on the grounds that the unions should not be involved in political activity.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel, PA Security Officials Meet on Halting Palestinian Rocket Fire - Greg Myre
    At the request of the Palestinians, Israeli and PA security officials met Wednesday night on Gaza's northern border to discuss a plan, approved by Mahmoud Abbas, calling for placing hundreds of PA troops in northern Gaza with the intention of halting rocket fire and other attacks by armed factions. (New York Times)
        See also In Gaza, Reluctance to Stop Militants - Andrew Metz
    On a rutted road through terrain frequently used by militants to stage rocket attacks against Israel, three Palestinian police officers unenthusiastically manned their posts. The day before, Mahmoud Abbas had ordered Palestinian security forces to prevent militant operations. "I'm not ready to shoot at my cousin or brother," said one of the men. "Anyway, if we did get the order we wouldn't do it."
        Although Abbas has top political and security officials behind his efforts, many rank-and-file seem to have little will to confront well-armed militant factions that are entrenched in society. "Nobody is ready to give an order to fight these organizations," said Gen. Saeb el-Ajez, who controls Palestinian police in Gaza and the West Bank. "If it comes to fighting these organizations, we will lose and there will be a bloodbath." (Newsday)
  • Abbas Sacks Arafat Advisers
    Palestinian officials said Wednesday that PA Chairman Abbas had fired 50 of Arafat's 55 civilian and military advisers. (Reuters/Yahoo)
  • U.S. Blocks Reappointment of UN Refugee Chief - Chris McGreal
    The Bush administration has blocked the reappointment of the UN's Palestinian refugee agency chief, Peter Hansen, after a campaign by conservative and Jewish groups in the U.S., and the government in Jerusalem which accused him of being an "Israel hater." The U.S. supported Israel's assertion that the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is biased and soft on "terrorists."  (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Give PA Another Chance to Halt Rocket Fire - Amos Harel and Aluf Benn
    Israel's security cabinet approved Defense Minister Mofaz's recommendation to give the PA a chance to stop the attacks, but instructed the IDF to prepare for a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, including occupying indefinitely the territory from which the rockets are being fired. Should the PA fail to reign in militants, the IDF will begin the operation while minimizing harm to Palestinian civilians and infrastructure. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Police Ordered to Prevent Rocket Fire - Matthew Gutman and Lamia Lahoud
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has ordered Maj.-Gen. Sa'eb el-Ajez, head of the 8,000-man Palestinian police force in Gaza, to prevent rockets and mortar fire into Israel, Ajez said Wednesday. Ajez said Abbas had ordered a deployment of his men along the 4 to 5 km corridor from which Kassams are fired at Sderot. However, he said his men will not be involved in the arrest of terrorists, nor were they ordered to open fire on those launching rockets. "We understand that we will not be 100-percent successful in stopping them," he said. Our soldiers "might not be motivated to have all the rejectionists stop firing," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Signs of Change? - Amos Harel
    PA police deployed in Gaza Strip cities Wednesday to prevent movement of people bearing unauthorized weapons, while the PA requested that Israel permit police to enter the Kassam launch areas in northern Gaza. While no rockets were fired at Sderot Wednesday, one explanation was the beginning of the four-day Muslim Id al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) festival.
        Over the past four weeks, IDF Southern Command has counted some 100 attacks per week in the Strip, nearly double the previous average. Each week nearly 50 Kassam and mortar volleys were registered in the Strip and western Negev. The IDF has posted large Arabic signs on the Karni and Erez crossings announcing their closure "because of Hamas," and air-dropped a quarter of a million flyers conveying a similar message. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Abbas Must Move Quickly - Dennis Ross
    It is essential for Abbas to move quickly. First, he needs to dismiss those most identified in Palestinian eyes with Arafat-era corruption. Reclaiming some of Arafat's wealth and reinvesting it in public works programs would be another strong signal against past corruption. Second, he needs to act on the reorganization of the security forces, get armed Palestinian police patrolling cities such as Nablus, and station loyal security forces in border areas. Third, he needs to appoint reformers and the younger guard of the Fatah faction to his cabinet and have them develop a 100-day plan for creating good governance. Fourth, he must gain immediate assistance from the international community (preferably from the Gulf states, with their windfall oil revenues of nearly $60b) to finance infrastructure projects that can also provide jobs. (Financial Times-UK, 19Jan905/BICOM)
  • Honoring Democracy - William Kristol
    Last Tuesday's Oval Office interview appeared to be over. But President Bush had something to add: "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy read Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy....For government, particularly - for opinion makers, I would put it on your recommended reading list. It's short and it's good. This guy is a heroic figure, as you know. It's a great book." (Weekly Standard)
        See also Rice Backs Sharansky's "Town Square Test" - Hilary Leila Krieger
    On Tuesday, during her opening remarks at the Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice said, "The world should apply what Natan Sharansky calls the 'town square test': if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a 'fear society' has finally won their freedom." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Peace Requires Action on Iran and Syria Too - Sen. Jon Kyl
    Israeli and Palestinian leaders I spoke with agreed that Iran and Syria would continue to use terrorists in the disputed territories and along the Lebanon-Israel border to engage in a proxy war against the Jewish state. Iran has become the primary ideological, financial, and logistical supporter to the terrorists. According to Israeli sources, Iran now spends, on average, $40,000 per terrorist.
        If Iran and Syria believe that the Palestinians may finally be ready to make peace by dismantling the terrorists groups, we can expect increased attacks both inside Israel and from Lebanon. The PA must take the lead in stopping terrorism from its people and territory. But the U.S. and the rest of the international community can help by holding Iran and Syria accountable for their continued low-intensity warfare in Israel. (
        See also Free Ride Is Over - Editorial
    Recent reports indicate that hard-liners in the White House have been considering taking out insurgent training camps in Syria. How many lives - American and Iraqi - would have been saved if we'd been striking insurgents wherever we found them? How many Americans and Iraqis would still be alive if the Pentagon had sealed the Syria-Iraq border a year ago with a hail of fire so intense that it removed the incentive for anyone, save the suicidal, to cross it illegally?
        Assad has made the country a target. It is an enemy of peace, a rogue nation, a patron of terrorists - all facts that, according to a UPI report, have shifted minds within a Bush administration that had been opposed to striking there. Regime change in Syria should be the ultimate goal of the civilized world. But for now, liquidation of the insurgents will do. (Investor's Business Daily)
  • Observations:

    Combat New Wave of Anti-Semitism - Rep. Tom Lantos (Newsday)

    • Sixty years ago, the staggering magnitude of the Holocaust began to come to light when Allied forces liberated the Nazi death camps. In remembrance of that moment, world leaders will gather at the end of this month at the site of Auschwitz in Poland, and the UN will hold a special session of its General Assembly Monday.
    • But the commemorations will be deprived of their full meaning if we fail to take a good look around at the world of today, now facing the most virulent upsurge in anti-Semitism since the gates of Auschwitz were flung wide. In a first-ever Report on Global Anti-Semitism, which was mandated by Congress and issued earlier this month, the U.S. State Department took note of hundreds of incidents around the world.
    • Governments should implement hate-crime monitoring, create school curriculum materials to combat bigotry, and ensure that police and members of the judiciary are well-trained to recognize and deal with anti-Semitic incidents, rather than dismissing them as mere hooliganism. And they need to set an example from the top ranks of government by condemning all manifestations of anti-Semitism.
    • There should not be room on this Earth for acts of racial or religious hatred. They should be accounted for and stopped cold.

      The writer, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, is the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

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