Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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PA: Al-Qaeda-Linked Terrorists Active in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
See also Will a Gaza "Hamas-stan" Become a Future Al-Qaeda Sanctuary? - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and David Keyes (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- May 19, 2005
Issue of the Week:
Israel's Fight for Life On the Frontiers of Medicine, Research, and Healthcare
Laura Bush to Visit Israel on Sunday
- Aluf Benn and Nathan Guttman (Ha'aretz)
End to Boycott of Israeli Universities Urged - Alan Cowell (New York Times)
Lebanon Poll Unites Ex-Rivals - Dalal Saoud (UPI/Washington Times)
The Rush to Fight Missiles Aimed at Planes - Brad Knickerbocker (Christian Science Monitor)
Jordan Charges Eight with Plotting Attacks on Israelis and Americans (DPA/Ha'aretz)
Jordan King: Iraq Refused to Deport Zarqawi (UPI)
"War on Want" Escalates Political Assault on Israel (NGO Monitor)
See also NGO Monitor Infofile
Baywatch, Israeli-Style - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Don't Say Intel Inside, Say Israel Inside
- Oded Hermoni (Ha'aretz)
Hi-Tech Love in the Arab Gulf - Orly Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
Landscape of Israel - Photo Gallery (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinian militants fired mortars and rockets at Jewish targets for a second straight day on Thursday. Dozens of projectiles fell on Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, and a mortar shell exploded at an Israeli army base outside Gaza. Two rockets hit the Karni crossing point into Israel. A rocket landed in the yard of a house in the Israeli town of Sderot. (AP/MSNBC)
See also Palestinian Mortar Crew Caught in the Act - Hanan Greenberg
The Israel Defense Forces has released a video documenting Hamas members caught in the act of firing mortar shells at Israeli settlements, moments before a missile fired by the Air Force hit the terror cell. The video features several small explosions, marking the mortar shells fired by the terrorists, followed by a large blast, marking the impact of the missile fired at the terror cell. According to Palestinian sources, the aircraft that fired the missile was a pilotless drone. (Ynet News)
See also U.S. Urges Palestinians to End Attacks
The U.S. State Department Thursday called on Palestinians to stop mortar attacks in the Gaza Strip. Spokesman Richard Boucher said the Palestinians "have a particular responsibility at this time to end mortar attacks from Gaza." (UPI/Washington Times)
The Palestinian commander tasked with preventing rocket attacks on Jewish settlements in the southern Gaza Strip expressed exasperation Thursday at Hamas's continued violations of a truce agreement but insisted he will not be forced into a direct confrontation. The head of the southern division of the Palestinian national security services said Hamas was not sticking to their side of the bargain. "Many times, they say they are in the cool-down, but then they do something on the ground," General Jamal al-Qayed said from his office in Khan Yunis.
"All the factions, all these people have agreed to stop (attacks), to keep things calm. They gave their word; they should keep their word," he said. However, Qayed insisted, "I'm not going to make a fight with the factions. I have to stop them, not kill them. I have orders to prevent them, not to fight them," he said.
The upsurge in violence followed the death of a Hamas fighter on the border between Gaza and Egypt Tuesday. While Hamas said the victim was killed by Israeli gunfire, Palestinian security sources believe the Islamist organization orchestrated the incident. "Hamas feels it would be useful for them in the elections so they fabricated this situation," a senior PA official said. "They sent this guy to the border with a bomb in his hand and it exploded." (AFP/Yahoo)
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns presented the Bush administration's policy on Iran to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, pledging support for pro-democracy movements but stopping short of specifically endorsing "regime change." The U.S. "indictment" focused on Iran's "atrocious" human rights record, its support for "terrorist" groups such as Hizballah and Hamas, its refusal to hand over detained "senior al-Qaeda leaders," its rejection of the Iranian people's democratic aspirations, its "destabilizing impact" on the Middle East, and its alleged clandestine nuclear weapons program. (Financial Times-UK)
The British government is considering a major Middle East policy switch that would mean engaging directly and openly with the militant groups Hamas and Hizballah, who are expected to make significant gains in elections in the West Bank and Gaza and in Lebanon. The Foreign Office is swinging behind the view that it would be hypocritical to encourage democracy but refuse to accept the outcome, even if it means working with groups it finds distasteful. But some in the FO argue that Hamas should not be accepted, even after elections, unless it renounces violence and drops its stated goal of the destruction of Israel. One official said there was no obligation to deal with someone just because they had been elected, and described Hamas as made up of "unreconstructed terrorists."
Gideon Meir, deputy director-general of media at the Israel Foreign Ministry, said Thursday: "Any contact with Hamas by a foreign government, no matter what level, is a recipe for Hamas to continue terrorist attacks to destroy the State of Israel." The U.S. broadly shares the Israeli approach. (Guardian-UK)
The support of the educated elite in the Muslim world is vital for U.S.-backed reforms. The U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations surveyed college-educated people in Egypt, Morocco, and Indonesia, and found that the U.S. is still respected for its economy, work ethic, and educational and legal systems. "Although many Muslims are angry at what they perceive America does, the right efforts to communicate can produce significant shifts in attitude," the report's authors say. "Such efforts would involve listening more, speaking in a humbler tone, and focusing on bilateral aid and partnership, while tolerating disagreement on controversial policy issues." (BBC)
See also A New Beginning: Strategies for a More Fruitful Dialogue with the Muslim World (Council on Foreign Relations)
A federal jury was picked on Thursday for the trial of a former Florida professor accused of helping the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad carry out deadly attacks in Israel. Sami al-Arian, a former computer sciences professor at the University of South Florida, was arrested in February 2003 along with three others, accused of raising money and providing support for Islamic Jihad, which the U.S. lists as a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people in Israel, including two Americans. (Reuters)
See also Jihad on Trial in Tampa - Nathan Guttman and Yossi Melman
The U.S. prosecution plans to fly, at its expense, about 100 witnesses from Israel including victims of terrorist attacks, bereaved families, police and other investigators who took testimony at the sites of the attacks, and rescue and recovery personnel. Transcripts of hundreds of telephone calls tapped by Israeli intelligence were handed over to the U.S. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel Defense Forces troops thwarted a multi-pronged Palestinian attack on the Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom before dawn Friday, killing one of the militants in an exchange of fire. Three Palestinians infiltrated an abandoned building near Kfar Darom and fired mortar shells and at least six anti-tank missiles at the settlement. They also opened fire with light arms. The mortar fire was intended as a diversion tactic to cover the Palestinians approaching the settlement and firing anti-tank missiles, military sources said. The militants were also seen with a bomb that had not been detonated.
Hamas said it carried out the attack in cooperation with the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees. Gaza brigade commander Col. Moti Kidor said Friday that Palestinian police officers spotted the militants but did nothing to prevent them from opening fire on Kfar Darom, Israel Radio reported. (Ha'aretz)
Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz Thursday approved a series of gestures to the Palestinians, despite the continued barrage of mortar shells in the Gaza Strip. At a meeting with Mofaz Thursday, senior IDF officers warned that if Israel did not act to strengthen PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, he'll fall. The measures, which will be brought to the cabinet for approval after Sharon returns from the U.S. later this month, involve: freeing an additional 400 Palestinian prisoners, allowing the return of wanted Palestinians deported to Europe following the standoff at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity in 2002, and allowing the return of Palestinians deported from the West Bank to Gaza. The U.S. security coordinator, General William Ward, had pressured Israel to take these steps in recent days.
The decision to approve these steps now is also related to Abbas's planned visit to Washington Thursday, in an effort to deflect Abbas's expected complaint to President Bush that Israel is not helping him. (Ha'aretz)
The sudden barrage of mortars and Kassam rockets fired by the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip is not a harbinger of things to come when the disengagement begins in August. The IDF plan of operation is based on shaping reality, not reacting to it. Anticipating that the Palestinians would likely abandon all cease-fire agreements and do their utmost for the pullout to be carried out "under fire," the IDF is planning to preempt the Palestinians. It has allocated tens of thousands of troops to reconquer large swaths of the Palestinian areas from which an attack could be launched at the evacuees. Calls for a "Defensive Shield" type operation in Gaza are premature. The massive army action in the Gaza Strip will come, but on the IDF's terms. (Jerusalem Post)
After a PA court decision called into question Hamas's victory in Beit Lahia and Bureij in the recent municipal elections in the Gaza Strip, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said Thursday that the group refuses to recognize the court ruling. Zahar said, "these rulings are a plot that was born in the dark whose aim is to forge the will of the Palestinian people and rob Hamas of its achievements in local councils." He demanded that the panel of judges which called for a revote be dismissed. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Why, after 57 years and more of seeking peace, is Israel still seen as the aggressor? Why, after 10 years of negotiation, in which the Palestinians were offered their own state in all of Gaza, 97% of the West Bank, with a capital in east Jerusalem, is Israel still seen as the sole obstacle to peace?
Why, in a world in which there are 57 Islamic states and something like 100 Christian ones, is the desire of the Jewish people to have just one state of its own seen as racist, exclusionary, retrograde? Why, when Israel occupies a quarter of 1% of the land mass of the Arab world, is it seen to be Goliath against David? Why, alone among the almost 200 nations that comprise the UN, is Israel the only one whose very right to be is still called into question?
Why do we still - after 60 years of Holocaust education, anti-racist legislation, and interfaith activity - have to defend the right of the Jewish people to be? If there were justice in the world, Israel, a tiny country of indomitable courage, would be seen as a role model among the nations, not as a pariah among the nations. (Jewish Chronicle-UK, 18May05)
As a Muslim, I am able to purchase copies of the Koran in any bookstore in any American city, and study its contents in countless American universities. American museums spend millions to exhibit and celebrate Muslim arts and heritage. On the other hand, my Christian and other non-Muslim brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia - where I come from - are not even allowed to own a copy of their holy books. Indeed, the Saudi government desecrates and burns Bibles that its security forces confiscate at immigration points into the kingdom or during raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately. To most Muslims, the Bible is a holy book. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners who constitute the Wahhabi sect.
As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others' holy books and religious symbols. Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David, or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. TV programs that show Christian clergymen, crosses, or Stars of David are censored. The writer is director of the Saudi Institute in Washington. (Wall Street Journal)
In the war of ideas in the Muslim world today, we are spending way too much time debating with ourselves, or playing defense, and way too little time actually looking Arab Muslims in the eye and telling them the truth as we see it. In part, we are afraid to say the truth, because we - wrongly - believe these people are incapable of rational thought and will just react violently. The greatest respect we can show to Arabs and Muslims - and the best way to help Muslim progressives win the war of ideas - is to take them seriously. That means demanding that they answer for their lies, hypocrisy, and profane behavior, just as much as we must answer for ours. (New York Times)
PA leader Mahmoud "Abbas will find plenty of sympathy and goodwill in Washington - but frankly, he isn't taken very seriously there," I was told a few weeks ago when visiting the nation's capital. As some of my interlocutors explained, while Abbas may not be ideal, "he is the best thing we got." America knows what Israel also knows, that so far Abbas has been a disappointment.
Quite simply, he doesn't deliver the goods. On the one hand, he tries to shortcut the stages of the road-map, and on the other hand he cuddles Hamas instead of acting resolutely to control it. By granting Hamas political legitimacy without requiring them to disarm, he has created a situation similar to the one with Hizballah in Lebanon (and the IRA in Ulster), of fully armed militias becoming legitimate political players without relinquishing the option of terror and violence. Abbas should be told in Washington in no uncertain terms that there is no way that he will be permitted to play Arafat's double game of mixing diplomacy with terror - and that with all the goodwill exhibited toward him, what really counts is honoring his commitments. (Washington Times)
See also Bush Must Incite Abbas to Change Policy Promoting Violence - Cal Thomas
Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet President Bush in Washington Thursday. He is getting this meeting because the Bush administration has concluded that Abbas has done more than his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, to reduce violence against Israeli civilians and reform the Palestinian security services, among other preconditions stated in the road map for Middle East peace. That's debatable, but one issue that is beyond debate is Abbas's failure to end the incitement to violence that President Bush mentioned nearly three years ago as a precondition for implementing the road map. According to a report commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research, the level of invective, incitement, paranoia, spreading of false accusations and rumors, and inflammatory sermons from Palestinian mosques has not changed under Abbas. (Salt Lake Tribune)
See also Abbas Talks, Won't Walk the Walk - Richard Z. Chesnoff (New York Daily News)
The story of the Mashhandani brothers offers a glimpse into the lives of two lethal Sunni Arab insurgents. With his radical Islamic convictions and his membership in Ansar al Sunna, a militant group based in northern Iraq, Ali Mashhandani was fighting for an ideological goal. Khalid Mashhandani was more of an opportunist. He created his own group of unaffiliated insurgents and set about smuggling cars, kidnapping for ransom, and hiring others to attack U.S. convoys.
Ali served in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and afterward joined Hussein's bodyguard corps. Hania, Ali's sister, said her brother began spending long hours at the mosque and eventually became an adherent of the ultraconservative Wahhabi movement of Islam, which advocates a return to the proclaimed purity of early Muslim communities. Several years ago, Hania said, Ali became a member of Ansar al Islam, the parent group of Ansar al Sunna. The group is known to have coordinated attacks with al-Qaeda and has taken responsibility for a number of kidnappings, videotaped beheadings, and deadly strikes on U.S. and Iraqi forces. (Los Angeles Times)
The Arab version of the tragic fate of Arab refugees who fled from British Mandatory Palestine during the 1948 war is unequivocally and utterly false. The Arab refugees were people who fled because of the war that the Arab states started when they rejected the UN partition plan to create two states: one for Jews and one for Arabs. While nascent Israel begged for peace and offered friendship and cooperation to its neighbors, eight Arab countries, whose populations vastly outnumbered the Jews, initiated the war with simultaneous invasions of the newly created State of Israel. Had there been no Arab invasion, not only would there have been no Arab refugees, but there would have been a state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza since 1948.
Mahmoud Abbas wrote in Falastin al-Thawra, the official journal of the PLO in Beirut, in March 1976: "The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny, but instead they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland." (FrontPageMagazine)
Hosni Mubarak still thinks he can get away with cosmetic changes that do nothing to seriously change the ugly nature of his regime. Bush shouldn't sit still for Mubarak's obstructionism, which breeds greater hostility not only against the regime in Cairo but also against its backers in Washington. The U.S. should cut or eliminate its annual $2-billion subsidy to Egypt until Mubarak gets serious about liberal reform. (Los Angeles Times)
Christians in Bethlehem are concerned that their city may slowly become an Islamic stronghold following recent municipal elections in which members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, took a number of seats. "Slowly, slowly they will take over [and] have Palestine as an Islamic state," said one Christian leader in Bethlehem. Thirty years ago no one had ever heard of Hamas; now more than 30% of the city is Hamas and it's growing every year, he said. More than 5,000 Christians have left the city during the last few years, primarily for economic reasons, while the so-called Christian countries in the West gave all their money to the PA, which was like giving it to the mafia, said the Bethlehem Christian. (CNSNews)
Kobi Hadad is growing only spring onions, cucumbers, and coriander now. Cherry tomatoes take more than three months, even in his greenhouses, and he doesn't have three months. If the Israeli government has its way, the Hadads and the 9,000 or so other Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip will be evacuated against their will, beginning in mid-August. After 20 years here, they do not know where they will go. The Hadads, like most of the settlers in Gaza, are resolute but nonviolent and will not resist the soldiers. Two of their children are serving. But they intend to stay until the last moment, to register their protest. (New York Times)
Mordecai Dzikansky, a veteran New York Police Department detective, had only recently taken up his post here in Israel in March 2003, when a shrapnel-packed bomb blew a bus to shreds in Haifa. Fifteen passengers, among them a 14-year-old American girl, were killed. An Israeli police officer faxed Detective Dzikansky a copy of a letter found near the Palestinian suicide bomber's remains, praising the "glorious" 9/11 attack on the "two big buildings in New York." The New York Police Department's overseas liaison program now has New York police officers working in seven cities from Montreal to Singapore. The effort is meant to produce significant information about the evolution of Islamic terrorism, how New York can prevent another attack, and should one occur, how it can best recover. (New York Times)
Young Muslims at Rutgers University are unhappy that Islamic activities on campus are dominated by adherents of the Wahhabi lobby, the American Muslim establishment. The Islamic Society of Rutgers University (ISRU) has established a little Saudi Arabia on the Rutgers campuses. ISRU leaders ostracize Muslim women students if they attend its meetings without wearing a headscarf, frequently sponsor lecturers who attack the beliefs of Shia and other pluralistic traditions in Islam, and engage in hate speech against non-Wahhabi believers. (FrontPageMagazine)
Pro-Israeli media-watching has rapidly grown over the past few years. The explosive expansion of the Internet enables media-monitoring organizations to transmit their findings quickly to many readers without major expense. Success in media-watching is manifested in improved accuracy and context in the media criticized. Some of the success stories of CAMERA, a leader in this field, involve the New York Times, Reuters, and the Public Broadcasting Service. National Public Radio remains a major problem. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
When the tsunami struck, we sent medical assistance the same day. Thousands of free loan societies flourish; you can borrow wedding dresses and pacifiers. Fourteen years after Operation Solomon, the first plane's pilot still volunteers to teach Ethiopian youth. Kindergarteners stand for memorial sirens, and know what they mean. Throughout four years of war, we refused to give up essentials like outdoor book fairs. After four years of war, we still feel safest here. (Jerusalem Post)
Why Islam is Disrespected - Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe)
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