Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Iran Building Nuclear Storage Tunnels (AP/Houston Chronicle)
See also Iran Accuses IAEA of Leaking Nuclear Secrets
- Gareth Smyth, Stephen Fidler, and Guy Dinmore (Financial Times-UK)
Eyeing Hamas Rivals, Fatah Young Guard Resigns, Plans Primaries - Wafa Amr (Reuters)
Fatah Lays Siege to Waqf Offices
- Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
Arab Volunteers Killed in Iraq: An Analysis - Reuven Paz (PRISM) (pdf)
- Roi Nachmias (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
A Terrorist Wins in Indonesia - Editorial (Wall Street Journal, 4Mar05)
Wahhabis, Go Home: Confronting Saudi Evangelism in Kuwait, Europe, and the U.S.
- Olivier Guitta (Weekly Standard)
Jihad's Stealthy Legions
- Alex Alexiev (Middle East Quarterly)
Moody's: Israel Recession Completely Over - Zeev Klein (Globes)
Ontario Police Chiefs' Visit to Israel Will Enhance Security
Defeating Anti-Israeli and Anti-Semitic Activity on Campus - A Case Study: Rutgers University - Rebecca Leibowitz (Jewish Political Studies Review)
2004 Human Rights Report (U.S. State Department)
The Dagger and the Koran - News Photo
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Saudi Arabia told Syria on Thursday to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, adding substantially to Syria's international isolation just a day after Russia joined Western nations in making a similar call. (New York Times)
The PA is poised to resume executions of prisoners on death row for the first time since August 2002, with 15 due to be carried out by the end of the month, Palestinian military courts chief Saeb al-Qidwa said Thursday. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 9 death sentences have been carried out since the formation of the PA in 1994 out of a total of 70 imposed by the courts. Since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000, dozens of Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel have been summarily murdered by militants. (Middle East Online-UK)
At least half of the inmates were convicted of "collaboration" with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres met with Mohammed Dahlan, the PA Minister for Civil Affairs, on Wednesday to discuss ways to make the "peace process" more real and relevant to the average Palestinian by helping to solve some of their daily problems. Poverty, unemployment, and hunger are rife, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Peres and Dahlan discussed areas of potential cooperation, including the freedom of movement of goods and people; the transfer of existing Israeli businesses to Palestinians; job creation; and improving the standard of living, according to Peres' office.
There are 1,000 acres of high-tech, state-of-the-art Israeli-owned greenhouses in the Gaza Strip that Peres sees creating 20,000 jobs for Palestinians. "Israel is negotiating with the Americans and with others, with the international community, to leave all the infrastructure of the hothouses to the Palestinians through a third party," said Yonaton Bassi, who heads the government's disengagement authority, on Wednesday. (CNS News)
See also Falling Again Into Oslo's Aid Trap - Daniel Doron
At Tuesday's conference in London, the U.S. and the EU pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to help the PA democratize and fight terror. But before more money is proffered, it may be prudent to carefully analyze why the last time the world showered the PA with billions of dollars what ensued was not peace and prosperity but a bloody conflict. Essentially what undermined Oslo was the erroneous supposition that agreements with reformed terrorist organizations could initiate a process of democratization and that massive government-to-government aid could create a prosperous economy. In reality, foreign aid financed a 150,000-man corrupt bureaucracy, a 50,000-strong army that was yet not "strong enough" to stop the terror, and 12 secret services.
Once again, the West is rushing to channel massive aid to the PA that has yet to become really democratic. Such aid will only bolster an inefficient and corrupt public sector controlled by PA operators. The writer is director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress. (Wall Street Journal, 4Mar05)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service have deployed large forces in an effort to locate the Islamic Jihad militants from the Tulkarm region believed responsible for the suicide bomber who killed five Israelis in Tel Aviv last week. (Ha'aretz)
Right after the Shin Bet security service received a warning on Wednesday morning that a suicide bomber was on his way to Jerusalem, many of the PA security chiefs in Ramallah began bombarding the Israelis with questions. The heads of the PA security forces are concerned that every attack could cost the job of the individual who could have prevented it.
The new interior minister, General Nasser Yussuf, understands that there are at least eight active forces whose chiefs are enmeshed in a complex system of alliances that stymies progress toward controlling the situation. Yussuf has begun to deliver the first pink slips to officers whom he believes have not delivered the goods. He also has begun to transfer forces from one area to another in the hope that officers and men who are not related to each other or to members of local armed groups will be able to act against them. (Ha'aretz)
Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani al-Malqi will head to Israel on Saturday for a two-day visit, the first for a Jordanian official in four years, aimed at "bringing back warmth" to the relations between the two countries and to "give the peace process a push forward," according to al-Malqi. (ArabicNews.com)
See also Jordan's FM: Israel Visit Will Open New Chapter (Jerusalem Post)
See also Warmer by the Minute - Yoav Stern
The arrival of Jordanian Ambassador Dr. Marouf al-Bakhit revived the embassy, located in Ramat Gan. Two days after Bakhit's Feb. 20 arrival, the telephones began ringing and new initiatives were offered. Previously ambassador to Turkey, Bakhit retired from the army in 1999 at the rank equivalent to major general. In the past few months the highest echelons in Amman decided to promote ties between Jordan and Israel after a cold spell that lasted years. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israel and the Palestinians
The key challenge is to stop those who oppose any peace agreement, such as Hamas, which is ideologically committed to Israel's destruction. Fighting Hamas with new Palestinian security forces is an obvious starting point, but that alone won't suffice. A political and financial strategy is also needed to neutralize them. It is also important to compete with Hamas in the economic sphere, since Hamas has a proven track record in providing essential social services that the Palestinians were not able to obtain from the government.
Abbas needs to articulate how nonviolence is validated by economic benefits. Such steps are especially important as Hamas will claim that the Israeli exit is a result of its terror strategy. Competing with Hamas also needs to be done at the ballot box. If the mainstream Fatah party in Gaza wants to do better in the parliamentary elections than in January's municipal polls, it needs new candidates free from the taint of corruption. (International Herald Tribune)
According to Martin Indyk, former Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs and U.S. Ambassador to Israel during the Clinton administration, "What Secretary Rice knows and hasn't said is that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is controlled by Iran. While it's important, essential, to get the Syrians to shut down the PIJ office in Damascus, it's also important to be clear about what the source of the problem is. From the mid-1990s, Iran has been determined to use PIJ terrorist operations to disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and there is a very clear of pattern of PIJ activities during the intifada. Whenever [the region] calmed down, it was the PIJ that launched terrorist attacks, because the Iranians have a very strong interest in preventing the peace process from going forward. We should be pointing the finger at Iran and pressuring them, with the Europeans, to stop this sponsorship of terrorism against the Israeli-Palestinian peace process." (TIME)
The Israeli cabinet approved modified routing of the security fence, prompted by an Israeli supreme court decision last summer made to avert Palestinian hardship. The changes include: (1) revised routing to bring the fence closer to the "green line" (pre-1967 boundaries); (2) the elimination of all fence routes where Palestinians would have been completely encircled by the security fence; (3) the addition of the Maale Adumim settlement bloc; and (4) final authorization of fence routing near the Etzion bloc.
The 2003 fence route was scheduled to encompass 16% of West Bank land. The new route will put 5% of the West Bank on the "Israeli" side of the fence, that will include only 5,400 Palestinians. The amended fence will serve not as a catalyst to impede a two-state solution, but rather to facilitate such an outcome. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also Map of Israel's Newly Approved Security Fence Route (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Lebanon and Syria
We are at the dawn of a glorious, delicate, revolutionary moment in the Middle East, triggered by the invasion of Iraq, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and televised images of 8 million Iraqis voting in a free election. Which led to the obvious question throughout the Middle East: Why the Iraqis and not us?
Flynt Leverett, your usual Middle East expert, took to the New York Times to oppose the immediate end of Syria's occupation of Lebanon. Instead, we should be trying to "engage and empower" the tyranny in Damascus. These people never learn. Here we are on the threshold of what Arabs in the region are calling the fall of their own Berlin Wall and our "realists" want us to go back to making deals with dictators. (Washington Post)
See also Don't Rush on the Road to Damascus - Flynt Leverett (New York Times)
Syria supports Palestinian terrorist organizations headquartered in Damascus that give orders for acts of murder in Israel and the undermining of the political process with the Palestinians, dispatches terrorists to Iraq, supplies Syrian rockets to Hizballah, and integrates the terror group into the Syrian army network. All these, in addition to cooperation with Iran, are undermining regional stability.
Israel should support the democratic move in Lebanon, which requires Syrian withdrawal. Israel must act so that the pressure on Damascus to end the cooperation with terror organizations will continue. The withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon must include the removal of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, dozens of whose officers are active in Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
Hizballah is genuinely popular in Lebanon, both as a consequence of its resistance activities that prompted the 2000 withdrawal of the IDF from the country's south, as well as its ability to achieve the return of prisoners from Israeli jails in return for the remains of IDF soldiers. For Hizballah, the withdrawal of the Israelis gave it the ability to announce both its Lebanese nationalist credentials, as well as its wider authority as the only Arab group to defeat Israel militarily. In May 2004, the party staged a mass rally of over 250,000 people in Beirut to protest U.S. military incursions into the Iraqi holy sites at Karbala and Najaf, indicating its mass appeal. (MERIA/IMRA)
Controlling Lebanon is integral to the Syrian regime's survival. The Syrian economy stays afloat by plundering Lebanon and controlling the Beqaa Valley drug trade. Furthermore, Syria's Baathists derive their legitimacy from the concept of "Greater Syria," which includes Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey. Relinquishing control of Lebanon would deprive the shaky Syrian regime of its raison d'etre, as well as its preferred venue for attacking Israel. Wresting Lebanon from Syria would change Middle Eastern geopolitics and advance democracy, but it will not be easy. (National Review)
Democracy in the Arab World
Egypt's Mubarak and Syria's Assad are autocrats whose regimes had remained unaltered, and unchallenged, for decades. There has been no political ferment in Damascus since the 1960s, or in Cairo since the 1950s. Now, within weeks of Iraq's elections, Mubarak and Assad are tacking with panicked haste between bold acts of repression, which invite an international backlash, and big promises of reform - which also may backfire, if they prove to be empty. They could yet survive; but quite clearly, the Arab autocrats don't regard the Bush dream of democratic dominoes as fanciful. (Washington Post)
A new phenomenon in the Middle East can be summed up in a single word - "kifaya," Arabic for "enough." People have had enough of the region's political and economic stagnation. There is growing frustration in the lack of participation in government. In recent weeks the word "kifaya," or "enough," has appeared on hundreds of posters carried by demonstrators in Cairo demanding Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak not run for a fifth term. The same word was seen in Beirut, carried after former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination by thousands at protests against Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Egypt's National Campaign for Change has adopted the word "Kifaya" as its name. (Washington Times)
The fundamental political culture of Muslim Arab societies is based on the unquestionable sovereignty of God, and democracy and popular sovereignty, in its Western sense, appear to be contrary to this concept. The notion of the secularity of the state, the diffusion of power, the superiority of state law, popular suffrage and elections, checks and balances, the right of women to participate in the political process, and the role of independent groups in society are still alien to Muslim Arab political culture.
The common character of the current Arab regimes is their authoritarian nature. Their legitimacy stems from military power or religious ancestry, not their people. Civil society, an essential element in establishing democracy, is either weak or nonexistent. The writer was formerly First Secretary of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and Political Counselor of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN in New York. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Sharansky says the common response to tyranny by free peoples is to appease it. It is only when the price of that appeasement becomes so high that the self-delusion can no longer be sustained that tyranny is fought - and by then, the difficulties are enormous, and the price is even greater human tragedy. (melaniephillips.com)
See also The Dissident Whose Ideas Have Won over the White House - Anton La Guardia (Telegraph-UK);
Heroic Herald of Freedom - Michael Gove (Times-UK);
The Sharansky Moment? - Caroline Glick (Jerusalem Post)
The World Council of Churches, taking a cue from the U.S. Presbyterian Church, has urged its member congregations to strongly consider divesting from companies that it says profit from Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Talk about a bizarre sense of timing - doesn't anyone at the Geneva-based group read the newspapers? The WCC call, which is modeled on the economic-pressure campaign against apartheid South Africa, comes as Israelis and Palestinians are enjoying the brightest hope in years for a genuine breakthrough for peace. Of course, the notion that Israel is politically comparable to the apartheid regime of South Africa is absurd: Where no blacks served in the South African parliament or sat on the Supreme Court, Arabs do both in Israel. The World Council of Churches' embarrassing effort to meddle is not just counter-productive, but downright dangerous. (New York Post)
Why is the push by main-line Protestant churches to punish Israel with economic sanctions happening now, just as the Middle East seems poised for a new peace process? Some analysts say Israel has been caught in a crossfire resulting from an internal Christian dispute. John Green, a University of Akron political scientist who studies the religious right, said the main-line Protestants "really dislike conservative Evangelicals - and their support for Israel is an easy target. Also, there is in many of these circles a deep antipathy to Bush and that carries over into Israel as well."
The main-line Presbyterians - once the nation's political elite, a dominating force in politics - "have lost political capital, so now what they're going after is the sworn enemies who have usurped their political role," said Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, interreligious affairs director for the Anti-Defamation League. And they're attacking those seen as aligned with their Christian foes, including Israel and its supporters. The same Presbyterian meeting that started the divestment wheels turning also passed a resolution stating that "Christian Zionism does not represent the majority of American Christians and the faith of the Presbyterian Church (USA)," said Kenneth Goldstein, a University of Wisconsin political scientist. (New York Jewish Week)
For Europe, unlike America, the war on terror is an internal affair, a matter of defusing large unassimilated radicalized Muslim immigrant populations. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40% Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches. (Chicago Sun-Times)
See also Is There an Enemy Within? - Martin Bright and Jason Burke
There is growing belief in Britain's security community that the war on terror has failed to win hearts and minds where it matters most: within Muslim communities. This applies not just to the Islamic world, but to the Muslim diaspora in the West, where a growing minority has been drawn to radical Islam. The police and MI5 see the threat from British Muslim extremists as at least as great as that from foreign terrorists. (Observer-UK)
See also More Dutch Plan to Emigrate as Muslim Influx Tips Scales - Marlise Simons (New York Times)
Ami Pedahzur, deputy chair of the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University, is a world renowned expert on suicide terrorism. "Islam is not the factor that explains suicide terrorism," Pedahzur cautions. "Islam has no culture of death embedded in it. Organizations market this culture of death by using religious symbols because it helps them achieve their goals, he says.
Pedahzur notes that suicide terrorism has worked in the past. It drove the U.S., France, and Israel from Lebanon in the mid-1980s, and will continue to be employed by groups when they believe it will be effective. Conversely, suicide terrorism will decline when the terrorist organizations conclude that it is not effective as an instrument or if its employment will undercut their political agenda. (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars)
The human drama is unfolding in Gush Katif. Many area residents still refuse to believe that within a few months they will be forced to uproot themselves from Gush Katif's soil. Over the past two months, 12 infants have been born in Kfar Darom, and another four are due shortly. "What does this mean, you might ask?" local resident Irit Kadmon asks rhetorically, answering, "When people bring babies into the world, it means they have not lost hope. It means they are optimistic about the future." The Kadmons represent the Gaza Strip settlers' hard core: religious Zionists nourished on a love of the Holy Land together with their mothers' milk. (Ha'aretz)
See also More Trauma Likely in Gaza Reburial Plan - Dan Ephron
This summer, when Israel plans to evacuate thousands of settlers from Gaza, authorities are planning to dig up the remains of 46 Israelis buried in Gush Katif and re-inter them in cemeteries inside Israel. Eliezer Orbach, the head of Gush Katif's religious council, who has served as the caretaker of the cemetery since it was established in 1987, said he has attended the funerals of more young people than old, in part because of Palestinian attacks. Eight of those buried there were babies or children, 4 were soldiers in their early 20s when they died, and another dozen or so were in their 30s and 40s. The oldest was around 50. (Boston Globe)
Forensic scientists have painstakingly restored the flight diary and notes of Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, that survived the fiery disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia and two months of exposure to rain and sun in a Texas field in 2003. Eighteen pages handwritten in Hebrew were recovered: four from Ramon's diary during the flight; six were technical classroom notes made before launch; and eight were personal notes, also written before liftoff. Ramon, an Israeli war hero, was his country's first astronaut. (AP/New York Times)
Mehereta Baruch, who came in second on the reality TV show "The Ambassador," has soared to the top of the list of most recognizable Ethiopian-Israelis. "She changed what Israeli society thinks about the Ethiopian community," said Nurit Tezazu, media coordinator for the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews. Baruch is being credited with shattering stereotypes, inspiring a new generation, and redefining Israeliness. According to Shlomo Molla, the Jewish Agency's senior consultant for Ethiopian immigrants, younger Ethiopians "can see the sky's the limit, and think 'I can compete, I can do it.'...She's opening the door for hundreds of young people." (Jerusalem Post)
A nation's military is not generally considered an entrepreneurial breeding ground. But it is in Israel, and that country's experience in drilling the virtues of agility and creative thinking into its fighting forces may presage a similar movement in the U.S., some analysts say. For a small army protecting a small country bordered by enemies, "there is no option but success," said Izhar Shay, a former IDF paratrooper and the chief executive of V-Secure Technologies, a network security company in Saddle Brook, N.J., that helps companies prevent attacks on their computer systems. "This is a perfect analogy to the business environment." Shay and other veterans say the Israeli military trains its soldiers to think quickly and act nimbly, adjusting to circumstances as they arise rather than waiting for orders. (New York Times)
A retired Australian UN official called Tom Luke was born Tomas Lowenbach in 1926 into a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia. In 1942, he was sent with his family to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt. Birkenau followed; then Auschwitz, where his mother and sister were murdered. He survived, and migrated to Australia in 1949. When I first met Tom, he was more than halfway through a 28-year career with the UN working for developing countries and then for refugees. For him, the work he was doing for the UN was to ensure that what happened to millions like him could not happen again.
When Vaclav Havel began his velvet revolution in Prague, Tom, at great personal and professional risk, smuggled printing and publishing equipment into Czechoslovakia to aid the underground press there. He saw no contradiction with his role as a UN official. The ideals he was defending were those of the UN Charter, drawn up by men and women for whom ''never again'' was more than a slogan. Luke currently lives in Geneva with his wife. The writer is the UN undersecretary general for communications and public information. (International Herald Tribune)
Safebreaker, explosives expert, Haganah resistance fighter, and finally Israeli secret agent, Peter Malkin captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews during the Holocaust. Malkin tracked and then seized Eichmann on the streets of a Buenos Aires suburb in 1960, from where he was brought back to Israeli to expiate his crimes at the end of a rope. (Times-UK)
A Tyrant Cornered - Editorial (Washington Post)
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