Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
Hamas Radio: Jaffa is the Same as Gaza, Tel Aviv the Same as Rafah
(Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special
- August 18, 2005
Issue of the Week:
Israel's Battle Against Terrorism - Lessons for the World
Saudi Al-Qaeda Leader Killed in Shootout (AP/FOX News)
Syria and the Plot to Attack Israeli Tourists in Turkey - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
Choice Sealed in '93 - Sidney Zion (New York Daily News)
Arab Bank Fined $24M for Funding Palestinian Terror (AP/Forbes)
In Pakistan's Public Schools, Jihad Still Part of Lesson Plan - Paul Watson (Los Angeles Times)
At Malls, Grim Preparations for the Worst, and Israeli Assistance - Robert Block (Wall Street Journal/Baltimore Sun)
The Jihadi Bomb - Ralph R. Reiland (American Enterprise Institute)
U.S. Visa Problems for Israel's High-Tech Industry (Red Herring)
Merrill Lynch Encouraged by Israel's "Sizzling" Economy - Nathan Sheva (Ha'aretz)
Israeli Super Bandage Saves Lives (Medical News Today)
The Pullout from Gaza: Map and Profiles of Israeli Communities (New York Times)
Profiles of Families in Neve Dekalim (New York Times)
History of Israeli Settlement in Gaza (AP/Boston Globe)
The Disengagement Plan: An Opportunity for Peace (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
One Jordanian soldier was killed and a second severely wounded Friday in a rocket attack apparently targeting U.S. ships in the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba, officials said. Three Katyusha rockets were fired from a warehouse in Aqaba close to the port, a Jordanian government statement said. The warehouse had been rented a few days ago by four people of Iraqi and Egyptian descent. One rocket flew over the bow of the USS Ashland and struck a warehouse used by the Jordanian military. A second missile landed near a military hospital in Aqaba. The third landed in the neighboring Israeli city of Eilat just east of the city's airport. (CNN)
See also Aqaba Rocket Attack Targets U.S. Warship
The Jordanian kingdom, the home country of Iraq's most wanted man Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, has claimed breaking up a number of al-Qaeda-linked networks suspected of plotting attacks against U.S. and other Western targets in Jordan. Zarqawi, who has a $25 million bounty on his head, was condemned to death in absentia in April for the 2002 murder of a U.S. diplomat in Amman. (IslamOnline-Qatar)
Israeli officials said Thursday that 17 of Gaza's 21 settlements had been emptied, with agreements to evacuate two others. Next week the Israeli military will begin demolishing more than 2,000 homes and public buildings. (Washington Post)
See also Israel Removes Gaza Settlers - Photo Gallery (New York Times)
See more on Disengagement below.
The White House on Thursday praised Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip as a bold move that will strengthen ties between Israel and the U.S. President Bush sympathizes with Israeli settlers who are being forced to evacuate their homes, said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. She said Israeli Prime Minister Sharon was "very courageous" to carry out the withdrawal. "We agree that the disengagement will make Israel stronger," Perino said. "We agree with Prime Minister Sharon on that and the president has also said that this will bring our two countries closer together." (Reuters)
UN funding of a Palestinian Arab propaganda campaign timed to coincide with Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip has increased tensions between the UN and American officials. America's newly installed ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, labeled "inappropriate and unacceptable" the UN Development Program financing of materials bearing the slogan "Today Gaza, Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem." William Orme, a spokesman for the UNDP, said Wednesday, "We've seen Ambassador Bolton's comments, and we are taking this matter seriously."
Hamas's top official, Khaled Meshaal, Wednesday echoed the theme: "Gaza is the first liberation, then comes the West Bank, then every inch of Palestinian land." "We are at the beginning of the road, and we have not and will not give up our weapons. The battle is not over," Meshaal said while standing in front of a poster reading: "Today Gaza, Tomorrow Jerusalem." Hamas's embrace of the slogan reinforced the fear of Jewish and Israeli leaders that the message would undermine peace efforts and provoke more violence. The head of the Palestinian UNDP program, Timothy Rothermel, said the slogan is "consistent with the relevant UN resolutions and Security Council resolutions about the status of Palestine." (New York Sun)
See also UN Funds Palestinian Campaign
"This is simply outrageous," said Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN. "The West Bank is disputed territory under UN Security Council Resolution 242. The UN has no business getting involved in sloganeering to call the Palestinians to also take tomorrow the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem." Gold claims the UNDP has also been giving money to organizations tied to Hamas. One UNDP bank transfer request, obtained by FOX News, shows the organization giving thousands of dollars to a Jenin-based organization with links to the militant group. (FOX News)
See also State Department: UNDP Needs to Maintain Political Neutrality
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday: "The United States takes very seriously the need for UNDP to maintain complete political neutrality. In this case, UNDP provided assistance to a political campaign, which was, by its very nature, not neutral. And as Ambassador Bolton said, funding this kind of activity is inappropriate and unacceptable....I think we all understand that there are better uses for UN development funds." (State Department)
Last Wednesday, James D. Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank and current Middle East envoy for the White House, asked his friend, real estate magnate and publisher Mortimer B. Zuckerman, to raise $14 million to help buy the Jewish settlers' lucrative greenhouses in the Gaza Strip so that the Palestinians can take them over when the settlers are gone. "Despite my skepticism," Mr. Zuckerman said Tuesday, "I thought to myself, 'This is perhaps the only illustration or symbol of what could be the benefits of a co-operational, rather than a confrontational attitude.'" (New York Times)
The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the U.S. will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad. The U.S. no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry, or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.
The ferocious debate over a new constitution has particularly driven home the gap between the original U.S. goals and the realities after almost 28 months. The U.S. decision to invade Iraq was justified in part by the goal of establishing a secular and modern Iraq that honors human rights and unites disparate ethnic and religious communities. But the document on which Iraq's future is to be built will require laws to be compliant with Islam. "We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said a U.S. official. U.S. officials now acknowledge that they misread the strength of the sentiment among Kurds and Shiites to create a special status. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The aftermath of Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip will decide Israel's next step in the peace process with the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aam Thursday. "If Gaza turns into a base for shooting missiles at Israel and increasing Palestinian attacks, it will be impossible to move on to another step and take a new risk," he said. Shalom said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has to "dismantle" Islamic militant groups Hamas and Jihad who attack Israel.
"The Gaza Strip will not become a prison," Shalom said. It will be open to Egypt, and humanitarian missions and goods will be allowed to cross from the West Bank. Shalom said Israeli and Palestinian officials were negotiating safe passages, and "we have allowed the building of the Gaza seaport, but we cannot let Palestinians bring militants and weapons through the port from Iran and abroad." (AP/Ha'aretz)
Palestinians opened fire Thursday on Israeli troops on the road leading to Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip. One soldier was lightly wounded, the army said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
The Disengagement Operation
Israeli soldiers also shed tears Wednesday as they forcibly removed Jewish settlers from their homes in the Gaza Strip. 2nd Lt. Sheri Willis, 21, stood outside a home in blistering heat where the Zemora family - a couple and six children - refused to open the door to soldiers. The team pried the door open and found the family sitting on the floor, praying. After about 10 minutes of discussion, the wife emerged from the house holding a baby and weeping, escorted by a female soldier. Some of the other children, including one in a stroller, were brought out by female officers. The father, wearing a white prayer shawl, would not budge until four male soldiers carried him out. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Pulled Out, Tearfully, One By One - Yaakov Katz and Tovah Lazaroff
Even the border police cried as they emptied out the Gaza Strip's largest synagogue in Neve Dekalim Thursday. Amidst prayer and song, border police pulled out - one by one - hundreds of teens who had rallied in its two sanctuaries in a desperate attempt to avert the pullout. "The State of Israel sent us," a red-eyed Southern District police Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev told settler leaders.
The teens had come from all over the country, having snuck through the Kissufim crossing in the last month. They camped out in empty schools, residents' homes, tents, and at times on the grass, waiting for this moment. Many shook and cried as they sat on the floor or on pews. Patting her arm, one policewoman told a girl, "You've done all you can. Now it's time to go." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israeli General: "The Whole Army Hurts" - Gavin Rabinowitz
On Thursday, Maj. Gen. Iftah Ron-Tal, the commander of Israel's land forces, visited his son Omri, daughter-in law, and grandson in Shirat Hayam, a seaside outpost. Ron-Tal kissed six-month-old Nir-Chaim, and asked Omri to leave with his family. "He promised me to leave without using any force and I appreciate it," Ron-Tal said. The withdrawal has been an emotional experience for many Israelis. "The whole army hurts," Ron-Tal said. (Associated Press)
So far, all the assumptions made by the media beforehand have collapsed one by one. There has been almost no violence, no use of weapons. The rabbis' calls for restraint and nonviolence and the mediation of public figures from the religious sector also helped calm the situation. This is the biggest logistical operation the army and police have undertaken since the 1982 Lebanon War, but so far, everything is going like clockwork. (Ha'aretz)
We should hail the everyday heroes of Gush Katif who followed their democratic leaders' advice to pioneer outposts and created little diamonds in the sand, tributes to Western ingenuity that ultimately supplied 15% of Israel's agricultural exports. We should salute these same citizens who disagreed virulently but not violently with a different democratically elected government's decision. Once again, Israel became the only country ever to relinquish land legitimately won from neighbors in a defensive war in a bid for peace. (New York Jewish Week)
On Friday, a day after Neve Dekalim went out of existence, bikes were parked outside houses in Gaza's largest settlement, but no one will ride them again through its streets. Homes were locked, but their owners won't ever unlock them. (AP/Boston Globe)
Israel's historic disengagement from the Gaza Strip throws down a challenge to the Palestinians. Can Mahmoud Abbas finally tame and disarm the terrorists to achieve a law-abiding and peaceful Palestinian society? Now it's time - long past time, actually - for the Palestinians to abandon terrorism and violence. Israel and the world stand ready to help if the Palestinians take the path of peace. Israel said Monday it will "make every effort to facilitate aid, economic cooperation, and the free movement of goods, services and labor." The U.S., Europe, and the World Bank pledge money and assistance. All the Palestinians have to do is to end terrorism. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Over the past few days, the world has witnessed a stunning spectacle in Israel: the government of the Jewish state unilaterally, voluntarily, giving up land in Gaza - and forcing Jewish residents to leave, involuntarily. The depth of sacrifice can't be missed: The settlers see their lives being turned upside down. They see Palestinian terror being rewarded, Israeli security compromised, and a biblical birthright forfeited.
Sharon reckons that there is little upside to deploying - endlessly - thousands of Israeli troops to protect 8,500 Jewish settlers from 1.3 million hostile Palestinians. Sharon also knows that Gaza is not likely to remain part of Israel in any final resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict. By moving unilaterally, he hopes to reach that final point sooner, and with Israel better positioned. The U.S., too, is hoping Israel's move will jumpstart the peace process.
Washington believes that any progress toward the creation of a Palestinian state will help in the effort to transform the Middle East and contribute to victory in the War on Terror. Of course, this presumes that such a state is peaceful and democratic, and not itself a sponsor of terror. A risky assumption, to say the least. (New York Post)
Palestinian Arabs and their European, Saudi, and Iranian henchmen are already plotting Israel's next retreat. "Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem," say the signs funded by the UN. America can play a constructive role after Israel leaves Gaza by avoiding the error the Clinton administration made of investing all its capital in one Arab strongman.
The answer is going to have to come from mosques and schools that don't preach hate, from independent Palestinian Arab newspapers and radio stations that don't preach hate, from Palestinian Arab courts that are impartial and fair. It is going to have to come from neighboring Arab states like Jordan and Egypt making their own strides toward freedom and democracy and only then playing a constructive role with the West Bank and Gaza, respectively. Under any solution, Israel will have to have defensible borders.
The challenge for Washington in the coming months and years will not be to wrest more territorial concessions out of Israel, but to wrest a free and democratic society out of the Palestinian Arabs. (New York Sun)
The Palestinians don't interpret the withdrawal as a grand gesture but, rather, as a sign of weakness, a vindication of their suicide bombings and unrelenting terror against Israel. They think more terror will bring further withdrawals. So the government of Mahmoud Abbas - rather than establish a peaceful, civilized enclave in the Gaza Strip - will prove unable or unwilling to control the militants of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Gaza will become an armed camp from which Palestinians can launch rockets and terrorist attacks against Israel. Then how long will it be before Sharon - or any Israeli leader - sends in the troops again?
Sharon will be able to say: "You see what happens when we make a unilateral move for peace? It is only misinterpreted as a show of weakness and an opportunity to attack Israel. Your assumption has been that if only Israel made concessions of land for peace, the Palestinians would respond and accept a two-state solution. But the Palestinian goal remains what it has always been: to drive Israel out of its land, to destroy Israel." Rather than creating an inexorable logic for withdrawal from all of the West Bank, Israel's withdrawal from Gaza will be proof to the world that the Palestinians can't be trusted to fulfill their part of the bargain. (Newsday)
See also Israel's Hard Choice - Editorial
Whether the settlers' fear that Gaza will serve as a precedent for the West Bank ever materializes will have more to do with Palestinians' future behavior and ability to control militants than it will with what the Israeli government is doing now. (Newsday)
Shalom Harari and Mark A. Heller of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies expect Israel's "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip to bolster Palestinian terrorism, harm the Palestinian economy, and throw the Jewish state into political turmoil. "Most indicators suggest - and most analysts agree - that while the terrorists' major center of gravity will shift to the West Bank and their focus will be on the settlements and the access roads (if not also on targets inside the "green line"), Gaza will at least serve as a training area and as the terrorists' rear echelon and support base for weapons smuggling and local production," they write.
They see little chance in the short-run of new political initiatives. "Israeli politics is likely to be paralyzed after September 2005, by coalition crises and the possibility that the country will enter a pre-election phase," they write. (Chicago Sun-Times)
A lot of Israelis want to give Wadi Ara away. Its ridges, 15 miles southeast of Haifa, are strategic, but many Israelis have become more anxious about demography than about topography. To them, invading armies from neighboring countries seem a remote danger compared to the rapidly growing Arab population in Israel's midst. And Wadi Ara is full of Arab communities, including Umm el-Fahm, the second largest Palestinian town inside Israel's pre-1967 borders. Once disengagement from the Gaza Strip is complete, this will become the next frontier of Israeli politics. (Washington Post)
PA religious leaders and Hamas have for years been presenting their conflict with Israel as part of an unbroken religious war which Allah is waging against Jews - a conflict whose climax will be the extermination of the world's Jews. Within this context, Israel's leaving its towns in Gaza is being presented as a victory of Islam in this war. PA Television hosts and participants alike are calling the Israeli moves a "great victory for Allah." The Hamas website publicized numerous posters that declare the same religious victory theme. One Hamas poster, showing the face of Hamas founder Ahmad Yassin laughing, superimposed over a somber religious Jew, presents the Sharon evacuation plan as a victory of the Koran over the Talmud. (Palestinian Media Watch)
Like many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Kemal Taleb Nassar, the family patriarch, views the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as a military victory for the militants who sent waves of mortars, Kassam rockets, rifle volleys, and suicide bombers at the settlers who lived in their midst. ''This is a big joy, a gift for the blood of the martyrs," Nassar said. ''This is the first step on a road that will take the resistance to the West Bank and then to Israel." Nassar asked the seven assembled children how many of them want to be martyrs; all but one raised their hands. (Boston Globe)
How It Appeared in the Media
On television, the tumult in the Gaza Strip looks like nothing less than a pogrom - soldiers dragging Jews out of their homes and synagogues for immediate, involuntary, permanent relocation. Does it matter that the soldiers are Jewish, too? Not to the Jews being hauled away. Does it matter that some of the most vociferous protesters don't even live in Gaza and are just there to make a point? Not if you remember all the Freedom Riders of the civil rights era who came from Massachusetts or Michigan, not Mississippi. (Washington Post)
Israelis from all walks of life found themselves swept by powerful and contradictory emotions as they watched the emptying of Jewish settlements in Gaza - a national drama, but one enacted on the intimate scale of all Israeli public events. Few were unmoved by the spectacle of settlers being removed from their homes. (Los Angeles Times)
See also In Gaza, a New Generation's Anguish - Paul Farhi
The TV images suggested that it's a conflict among young people. On the first day of the Israeli government's forced removal of Gaza settlers, young people - Jews - pleaded with other young people - also Jews - who had been dispatched to eject them from their homes. There was, perhaps miraculously, almost no violence in Gaza, but there was lots of confrontation. (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America last week denounced the security barrier Israel is building along the West Bank. The church's statement doesn't mention divestment, but urges the denomination to move toward "stewarding financial resources - both U.S. tax dollars and private funds - in ways that support the quest for a just peace in the Holy Land.'' (AP/Guardian-UK)
See also Lutheran Magazine Deceives in Israeli "Wall" Account - Andrea Levin
The magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is spreading extreme misinformation among its members about Israel's security fence. CAMERA requested correction of 12 factual errors that appeared in a distorted and inflammatory article entitled "The Wall" published in the May 2005 edition of The Lutheran. There was not one reference to Palestinian terrorism originating from terrorist strongholds in West Bank cities, the causal factor in Israel's erecting a protective barrier. (CAMERA)
See also Divestment's Downside - Editorial
The divestment campaign by the American churches isn't prejudiced, but it is naive. Any action that implicitly compares Israel to apartheid South Africa is bound to cause offense among many Jews. It is also wrong. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far more complicated than the Afrikaners' attempt to maintain control over an overwhelmingly black society. Rather than divesting from Israel, a better strategy for American churches concerned about peace in the Mideast would be to invest in the future of a Palestinian state. (Boston Globe)
The Muslim Brotherhood, alone among opposition forces, can summon thousands of people to the street. Though the government refuses to allow it to operate as a political party, it remains Egypt's strongest opposition political force by far. (The group has been outlawed since 1954 when its leaders tried to kill Gamal Abdel Nasser.) As Egypt prepares to kick off its first multicandidate campaign for president, leading to a Sept. 7 election, the Muslim Brotherhood has re-emerged as a crucial player.
Ayman Nour, leader of the centrist Tomorrow Party, has courted the Brotherhood and is seeking their endorsement. The Revolutionary Socialists, an underground leftist organization, and the Labor Party, an Islamic Socialist party, have both teamed up with the Brotherhood to swell the numbers at some recent demonstrations. (New York Times)
See also Keep Your Eyes on Egypt - Mona Eltahawy
During this year's summer vacation in Cairo there were no arguments over the U.S., Israel, Palestine, or Iraq. This time, all conversations were about a small but active opposition movement in Egypt that since December has focused on ending the dictatorship of President Mubarak. I have never heard so many relatives and friends take such an interest in Egyptian politics or - more important - feel that they had a stake in them. I am under no illusion that Egypt is on the doorstep of democracy, nor do I doubt that Mubarak will win. But there is a strong sense that this is the time to lay the groundwork for real reform in the years ahead. (Washington Post)
When more than 200 black-hooded, black-clad young men of the Popular Resistance Committees gathered to celebrate in Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza on Tuesday, they found themselves dodging the young men of the Palestine Soccer Club, in electric pink or green jerseys. The two groups split the dirt field and ignored each other. When the black-clad men showed off their training by forming rows, each man with his semiautomatic rifle, their commanders grumbled at their ragged display. When one commander barked, "Why are we here?" he was met not with a roared reply but a pregnant silence, as if each man was pondering this timeless existential riddle. Finally the commander shouted, "To celebrate the victory!" Nearby, several of the rockets that the group fires into Israel jabbed out from the bed of a truck. (New York Times)
The U.S.-Saudi connection is probably the one that Americans would most like to sever, if it could be done without raising gasoline prices. In Saudi Arabia Exposed, British journalist John R. Bradley calls the Saudi royals "perhaps the most corrupt family the world has ever known." The House of Saud and the religious establishment, fired by the puritanical form of Islam known as Wahhabism, hold sway in the central region, al-Najd; elsewhere rifts and tensions abound. (New York Times)
David Gavro, a young Ethiopian from Netivot, was caught in a downward spiral until he realized his love for the cinema. His documentary "Sisai," about a trip to Ethiopia, took first prize at the recent Jerusalem Film Festival. (Ha'aretz)
See also Hazkarah: A Symbolic Day for the Reconstituting of the Jewish-Ethiopian Community - Emanuela Trevisan Semi
Ethiopian Jews in Israel have invented a new holiday, Hazkarah, that commemorates those who perished while trying to reach Israel from Ethiopia before and during Operation Moses (1984-1985). It is held concurrently with the national holiday of Jerusalem Day. Hazkarah expresses the Ethiopian Jews' process of Israelization, in contrast to their traditional holiday of Segd, celebrated in Ethiopia to mark the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai and reintroduced in Israel to express the community's re-Ethiopianization. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Settling In for a Long Wait - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post)
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