Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Hamas Increases Missile Production (Middle East Newsline)
Imprisoned Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Commander: "Give Political Activity a Chance" (MEMRI)
Palestinian Families Wonder:
Were Suicide Attacks Worth the Loss of Our Children? - Christine Spolar (Chicago Tribune)
Virtual Jihad: Waging
Holy War Online - Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
U.S. to Fund Palestinian Media Development (India Daily)
Arafat's Secret Financial Affairs - Roula Khalaf and Stephen Fidler (Financial Times-UK)
New Interest is the Key for Israeli High-Tech
- Sharmila Devi
Israeli Exports to Arab States Up 48% in 2004 - Daniel Kennemer (Jerusalem Post)
Canadian Jews Donate Medical Supplies to Arab Hospital in Hebron - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Rep. Tom Lantos, the senior Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, said Thursday he would condition U.S. aid to the Palestinians on oil-rich Arab "deadbeats" making good on their own promised contributions. The assertion drew swift endorsement from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said, "I think it is reasonable that the surrounding Arab states that have resources should at least match U.S. support.''
Lantos said he would urge Congress to insist that the PA fight terrorism and that Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arab oil states, which he said reaped $40 billion in windfall profits last year, make good on their pledges of $400 million in aid.
Lantos also said the new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, "will have to show backbone'' by dismantling terror groups. "He will either defeat them, or they will defeat him,'' Lantos said. Kissinger added, "there can be no solution without a tremendous change in attitude, particularly propaganda,'' in Arab countries in the region. (AP/Guardian-UK)
In Gaza Thursday there was no euphoria that greeted the pledge on Tuesday by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to halt four years of bloodshed. In Jabaliya they rebuked Abu Mazen for surrendering his only bargaining chip - the armed struggle - and getting nothing in return. "Abu Mazen sold us out," Abu Fayed, 45, said as green Hamas flags flapped overhead. "Why did he shake Sharon's hand? What did he get? Nothing."
"I wouldn't say it's a betrayal," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, "but it was a mistake. The only card the Palestinians have to play is the resistance card. Abu Mazen gave it away for free." "Hamas is providing Abu Mazen space to give Israel time to fulfill our requirements. But if there's no response from Israel to our conditions and the calm that currently prevails, we will continue the armed resistance," Abu Zuhri said. (Times-UK)
The Community Security Trust (CST), which represents Britain's 290,000-strong Jewish community on security matters, said on Thursday there had been 532 "anti-Semitic incidents" - defined as malicious acts toward Jews - in 2004, including a record 83 assaults. The total, which included abuse and threats, was a rise of 42% from 2003, and well above the previous record high of 405 in 2000. "This increase is extremely alarming. The transfer of tensions in the Middle East to the streets of Britain has resulted in an unprecedented level of anti-Semitic incidents," said Michael Whine, director of communications for the CST. (Reuters)
Activist lawyer Lynne Stewart was convicted on all counts Thursday and faces up to 30 years in prison for using prison visits to help her client, radical Muslim cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, pass messages to and from his terrorist followers in the Islamic Group. Key to the case were hundreds of secretly recorded telephone conversations on which Ahmed Sattar, who served as the sheik's paralegal, could be heard discussing how to circumvent administrative measures and gain the sheik's support to end a cease-fire and return to violence. (Newsday)
At stake were half the seats on 38 municipal councils throughout greater Riyadh. The voting, which excluded women and members of the military, marked the first time in four decades that residents of the kingdom cast ballots for political office. (Washington Post)
See also Big Money Flavors Saudi Experiment in Democracy - Evan Osnos (Chicago Tribune)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister Sharon adopted the IDF's recommendations Thursday to grant Abbas more time to stop Palestinian mortar fire before Israel takes military action. "We have to give them a few more days," said an Israeli official. Sharon warned Abbas, as well as Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, that Israel would not sit back if there were casualties and more attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
PA Chairman Abbas dismissed dozens of security officers in the Gaza Strip Thursday, following a raid by armed men on the main prison in Gaza. The attack served as an opportunity to purge the security forces, pensioning off most of the security officials appointed by Arafat - men who are holding key positions. It was announced that Gen. Abdel Razak Majida had retired, as well as Gen. Saeb al-Ajaz, commander of the Palestinian "blue" police force and the nominal commander of the prison. (Ha'aretz)
A Palestinian who planned to blow up a packed bus in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill in the coming days was arrested on Thursday by IDF and Israel Security Agency forces in the West Bank city of Nablus. Mahran Shukat Abu-Hamis, 21, planned the attack in an attempt to derail the cease-fire declared Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
What are the chances that the plan to hand over responsibility for security in West Bank cities to the PA will succeed? The parties are close to agreeing on transferring Jericho and perhaps Bethlehem. Responsibility for Bethlehem has been transferred several times. The last time this happened during the hudna of summer 2003, Fatah networks in Bethlehem dispatched two suicide bombers to board buses in Jerusalem, killing 19 Israelis. The Shin Bet's investigation of the bombings uncovered heavy involvement of Palestinian security force members.
According to IDF Col. Nadav Padan, "Bethlehem became a magnet for wanted suspects from the region, a safe haven for terrorists from Hebron and even Nablus, who knew they would be able to operate in a city that was beyond our reach due to the understandings reached." The Palestinians "had no intention of halting terrorist activity. They made do with patrols that stopped stone throwing and, in the best case, shooting at Jerusalem."
This time, Padan says, the heads of the PA security forces "have been talking differently, both to us and to their own people. There is no more winking. It seems like a genuine intention to take responsibility for security into their own hands....The only remaining question is whether they can really do it." "The Palestinians have not changed their objectives....We cannot be deceived by the smiles and handshakes. If it works, it will succeed because of shared interests." (Ha'aretz)
According to a survey on Wednesday by the Ma'agar Mokhot research institute, 66% of Israeli adults believe the intifada is not over. 65% support the disengagement plan, while 54% want a referendum on it. 71% are opposed to the release of Palestinian prisoners who have "blood on their hands." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
After almost four years of total rupture, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have met and agreed to a cessation of violence; Egypt's president, who for years has avoided contacts with Israel's prime minister, has not only invited him to Egypt but hailed him as the key to peace. What is so significant is that this has not been achieved through U.S. or EU mediation but because of the emergence of local will on the part of the two main participants. For years observers have urged the Bush administration to "be more active," to "put pressure on Israel," and to "activate" the road map. Yet only when the local players decided it was in their interest to move forward did this happen.
Arafat's death signified a sea change in local Palestinian politics. All of a sudden it became clear that, if he wishes, a Palestinian leader can denounce suicide bombers - rather than rhapsodize them as martyrs - deploy his armed security services to stop them as well as publicly call for a cessation of violence.
All agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors were reached only when the local leaders had the political will to proceed. The peace treaty with Egypt, the Oslo accords, and the peace with Jordan were all outcomes of bilateral talks, not American prodding. Outside forces can, as Jimmy Carter did in 1978 with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, make the parties go the extra mile, but first the local will must be there. Nations do not decide on their future simply in response to outside intervention, be it U.S. pressure or EU preaching. The writer is professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former director-general of Israel's ministry of foreign affairs. (Financial Times-UK)
The cease-fire announced on Feb. 8 created a window of opportunity that will slam shut quickly if terrorists resume attacks against Israel. After four-and-a-half years of incessant terrorist activity, Israeli tolerance for negotiating peace in the face of ongoing attacks is nil. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have so far dismissed the cease-fire, and previously negotiated ones have all failed. Moreover, Iran and Hizballah are more proactively involved in recruiting, training, and financing Palestinian suicide bombers than ever before.
Hamas has agreed to more than ten cease-fires since 1993, but not a single one has held. The willingness of Hamas to agree to cease-fires at certain times is understandable - all past truces were brokered during periods when the group needed a respite to regroup after Israel and/or PA crackdowns. During each of these cease-fire periods, Hamas leaders continued to support the main goal of the original Hamas charter (the creation through sanctioned violence of an Islamic state in all of "Palestine"). Cease-fires have traditionally served as breathers, allowing groups to rearm, replenish funds, and consolidate cells before undertaking further attacks. Taking action against these groups and preparing Palestinian security forces to contend with their continued attacks will be crucial to keeping this window of opportunity open. The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Terrorism Studies Program at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Are we witnessing a hudna that reflects genuine recognition that the terror campaign boomeranged into failure? Or will it emerge as a mere opportunity for the armed factions to use the truce to make gains, something that Hamas and its ilk are stubbornly pressing for? There is a risk that along with the instant short-term advantages expected to accrue as a result of the cease-fire, in the long term, a "cohabitation" arrangement will emerge between the PA and the unholy alliance of terrorist gangs.
This would amount to a copy of the Lebanese model, where Hizballah exists alongside the legitimate government as an armed movement, equipped with thousands of long-range rockets. Hizballah is represented in the parliament in Beirut and takes part in all the elections, but maintains an independent policy along the border with Israel and initiates incidents without recourse to the approval of the central government. Becoming a Palestinian version of Hizballah is exactly what Khaled Mashal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, is aiming for. (Jerusalem Report)
We cannot give, still less impose, freedom. But we can help to remove obstacles, and especially help the peoples of the Middle East to get rid of the imported fascist ideology and apparatus of tyranny that suppressed and supplanted their own, older Islamic traditions of lawful, limited, responsible government. The long-suppressed peoples of Iran and Syria surely long to enjoy those same liberties that the Iraqis have triumphantly claimed.
The cause of freedom has won a major battle, but it has not yet won the war. In successive phases, we enabled the peoples of Axis-ruled Europe and Asia to create or restore democracy. More recently, we helped give the peoples of the former Soviet bloc the opportunity to do the same. Now it is time for the countries of the Middle East to join the Free World, and recover their rightful place in the forefront of civilization. The writer is professor emeritus at Princeton. (Wall Street Journal, 11Feb05)
After a first term marked by schizophrenic Iran policy initiatives, the Bush White House will soon develop a coordinated policy to promote peaceful regime change in Iran. The administration is heartened by the apparent success of the Iraqi election and believes that Iranians are ready to exert their democratic rights. Bush policy is motivated by the grave and growing threat from the Islamic Republic's nuclear weapons program, and the realization that neither Iran nor the EU are sincere in preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weaponry. The Islamic Republic's potential threat to American security emanates from Tehran's determination to develop satellite launching capability which could well substitute as an intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system, as well as from the regime's continued sponsorship of terrorists.
A new U.S. policy will also recognize that the dichotomy within Iran is not one of reformers versus hardliners within the Islamic Republic, but rather proponents of democracy versus proponents of theocracy. Even if Iranian acquisition of nuclear capability is inevitable, the threat comes from the nature of the regime rather than from the Iranian people. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Situated next to 40% of Iraq's proven petroleum reserves, the population of Kirkuk in 1957 was 40% Turkmen and 35% Kurdish; the rest were Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians and others. In the late 1980s Saddam Hussein pushed many Kurds out of the city and replaced them with Arabs. Turkish nationalists still regard Kirkuk as historically part of Turkey, and Ankara asserts guardianship over the Turkmen ethnic minority in northern Iraq. The Turkish military makes no effort to hide its plans to send troops to thwart the Kurds' claim to Kirkuk. (New York Times)
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, speaking Monday at Columbia University, said: "This is the most unbalanced university that I have come across when it comes to all sides of the Middle East conflict being presented." "The kind of hatred that one hears on campuses like Columbia, and let me say especially Columbia, is a barrier to peace....They are encouraging the terrorists. They tell the terrorists you will have academic support even if you oppose the peace process."
"Anybody who advocates for divesting only from the Jewish state...at a time when Iraq was posing a great threat to the world, when Iran was posing great threats...when China is oppressing millions of Tibetans, when the Kurds are still denied independence and statehood, to single out only Israel for divestiture at that point in time cannot be explained by neutral political, even ideological consideration." "I'm appalled at how many professors at Columbia University privately support Israel, and privately support many of the students, but are publicly afraid to speak out." (New York Sun)
See also Bias of Columbia Professor Noted in His Classes - Jacob Gershman (New York Sun)
How is President Bush going to back up his demand for democracy in Egypt? Here's a modest proposal: Reduce or eliminate altogether the $2 billion annual U.S. subsidy to Egypt unless there's real economic and political progress. Since 1975, Washington has provided Cairo more than $50 billion in military and economic aid. Initially this largess had two justifications: first, to keep Egypt out of Soviet clutches; second, to reward it for concluding a peace treaty with Israel. The first rationale no longer applies. And the second? Egypt has lived in peace with Israel, but so for the most part has Syria - and it hasn't gotten a cent from U.S. taxpayers. Arab states coexist with Israel because they have failed to destroy it, not because they've been bribed. (Los Angeles Times)
The desire for hope is eternal, ubiquitous, unending. It defines being human. That is why the atmosphere in this country is so improbably hopeful as if - after four years of being terrorized in our homes and cafes, on our buses, in our malls - the conflict and pain can magically be erased. The Palestinians say they will announce a hudna. They say that they will "behave" if we behave. We blithely play along with the peace performance, hoping this time the play will have a happy ending because one of the characters has changed.
Abu Mazen has changed the tune of the negotiations by saying that terror is useless, meaning it doesn't work as political strategy. The new Palestinian leader has not yet said that terror is wrong, morally repugnant, unspeakably wrong. He has not said that despair is not what creates terror but hate - hatred taught in Palestinian schools, transmitted on the airwaves, preached in the mosques, and countenanced and promoted by the Palestinian leadership. He insists that terror stop because it is inexpedient. I will have hope when I hear the Palestinians say that it is wrong to murder Jews in cold blood. I will have hope when the words of this performance truly change, not just the tune. The writer is cofounder of the Koby Mandell Foundation (kobymandell.org). (Jerusalem Post)
Remember Michael Scheuer, the former CIA analyst who penned an anonymous book called Imperial Hubris attacking the Bush administration's approach to terrorism. Last week Scheuer turned up as a speaker at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, with Nick Lemann, dean of the Columbia University journalism school, acting as master of ceremonies. Scheuer elaborated on his theory about Israel's role on fomenting terror:
Scheuer: "I always have thought that there's nothing too dangerous to talk about in America, that there shouldn't be anything. And it happens that Israel is the one thing that seems to be too dangerous to talk about. And I wrote in my book that I congratulate them. It's probably the most successful covert action program in the history of man to control - the important political debate in a country of 270 million people is an extraordinary accomplishment. I wish our clandestine service could do as well."
"The clandestine aspect is that, clearly, the ability to influence the Congress - that's a clandestine activity, a covert activity. You know to some extent, the idea that the Holocaust Museum here in our country is another great ability to somehow make people feel guilty about being the people who did the most to try to end the Holocaust. I just find the whole debate in the United States unbearably restricted with the inability to factually discuss what goes on between our two countries."
So let's see if we have this straight: The Council on Foreign Relations gives a public forum, hosted by a dean from an Ivy League university, to a guy who expounds crackpot theories about "clandestine" Jewish efforts to control America - including the Holocaust Museum! - and the "debate" is "unbearably restricted"? (Wall Street Journal)
See also Winning or Losing? An Inside Look at the War on Terror (Council on Foreign Relations)
See also Empirical Hubris: How "Anonymous" Disguises the Real Threat to the West and Damages the CIA - Jeff Helmreich (ICA/JCPA)
Ten years ago, no one had heard of Islamophobia. Now everyone wants to convince us that Britain is in the grip of a major backlash against Islam. The trouble with the idea is that "Islamophobia" is all too often used not to highlight racism but to silence critics of Islam, or even Muslims fighting for reform of their communities. (Prospect-UK)
Canada is characterized by a set of fundamental values that help create a multicultural democracy and that are intended, among other goals, to protect vulnerable minorities. However, these values have not immunized Canada from anti-Semitism. While little if any pattern emerges, at least in certain quarters it may have become almost systemic. So far anti-Semitism has not succeeded in Canada to move from the periphery to the center. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Why the Palestinians Came to the Table - Charles Krauthammer
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