Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Senior Hizballah Official Met in Sinai with Fatah Terrorists from Gaza (Maariv-Hebrew)
- September 22, 2005
Issue of the Week:
The Summer the Tourists Returned to Israel
U.S. Stopped Parts Sales to Israel During Intifada - Nathan Guttman (Jerusalem Post)
Afghan President Expresses Readiness to Recognize Israel (Pravda-Russia)
Hamas Denies Reports It Will Recognize Israel (Xinhuanet-China)
Israel's New Border Community Dealing With Unaccustomed Threats - Julie Stahl (CNSNews)
German Court Trying Arabs Who Plotted Against Jews (AP/Jerusalem Post)
$1b Israel-Turkey Oil Pipeline Planned - Gal Nissim (Globes)
Indonesian Radicals in Aggressive Mode - Amy Chew (New Straits Times-Malaysia)
This Doll Has an Accessory Barbie Lacks: A Prayer Mat - Katherine Zoepf (New York Times)
"Allah" Ice Cream Banned in Britain (Sun-UK)
Tourism Up 26% in First Eight Months of 2005 (Jerusalem Post)
El Al Airlines Adds Flights to Meet High Holiday Demand (Travel Daily News)
Fifth Century Mosaic Floor Unveiled in Caesarea - See photo (BBC News)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Syria is trying to negotiate a deal to prevent punitive action by the UN if, as is widely expected, the Damascus government is linked to the Feb. 14 assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, according to U.S. and European officials. Over the past month, the government of President Assad has been inquiring about the potential for a deal, roughly equivalent to what Libyan leader Gaddafi did to end tough international sanctions.
A U.S. official familiar with the overtures said Detlev Mehlis, the chief UN investigator, has taken the investigation far deeper, far faster than initially expected and "is coming up with stuff that is making people in Damascus nervous." The investigation has been facilitated by an unexpected flow of information from Lebanese security sources as well as at least two well-placed Syrian officials. Some have been moved to Europe, the sources said. (Washington Post)
Whipping up a Palestinian crowd in the former Jewish settlement of Kadim near Jenin in the northern West Bank, local Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Zakaria al-Zubeidi promised Wednesday that "the resistance would continue until the liberation of all occupied Palestinian territory." Israeli troops left Kadim on Tuesday, thereby completing Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan. "By retreating from the Jenin settlements, Israel has fled the battlefield," shouted Zubeidi, as dozens of armed men fired into the air. Palestinian culture minister Yehya Yakhlaf said: "Today Jenin, tomorrow Jerusalem." (AFP/Yahoo)
Following days of chaos on the Gaza Strip border, Palestinian and Egyptian security forces sealed off the border this week. Containing the chaos on the border is now a top Egyptian priority. Egypt, sources say, is well aware that its image as a key Middle East peace guarantor and its relations with Israel and, consequently with the U.S., are at stake should the state of chaos on the border evolve into a security hazard for Israel. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
See also Egypt's Security Role in Gaza Becoming a Source of Concern - Dina Ezzat
Egypt is coming under increasing pressure from the U.S. and Israel to impose strict security measures on the Rafah-Gaza border to prevent a repeat of the chaotic scenes witnessed in the first days following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and for that matter Palestinian Authority figures are certainly not happy with the excessive signs of Arab and Islamic warmth demonstrated towards Israeli Prime Minister Sharon during his participation in the UN summit last week. Especially alarming to them is a reported Israeli-Jordanian plan to transfer some 100,000 Palestinian refugees from Jordan to Gaza. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
A week after they descended like locusts on the greenhouses that Jewish settlers nurtured in Gaza, looters continue to pillage what should be a prize asset for a fledgling Palestinian state. And the Palestinian Authority appears powerless to stop them. When a Daily News correspondent visited abandoned Jewish settlements in Gaza, he found brazen vandals dismantling farms that once produced some of the world's finest tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
The now-gutted greenhouses were gifts to the Palestinian people from U.S. philanthropists, who raised $14 million to buy them from departing settlers. "We thought it was a chance to show the Palestinians that there were more benefits from cooperation than confrontation," Daily News chairman and publisher Mortimer B. Zuckerman said. "I'm just sad that they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces....It's almost inexplicable."
At the former Katif settlement, a Palestinian soldier said looters made off with most of the metal support beams and even stole the plastic and canvas coverings that protected the vegetables from the hot sun. In Neve Dekalim, there were no soldiers to stop Samir al-Najar and his eight-man crew from demolishing a half-acre greenhouse. (New York Daily News)
Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said Thursday that he had been warning the Bush administration in recent days that Iraq was hurtling toward disintegration, a development that he said could drag the region into war. "There is no dynamic now pulling the nation together," he said in Washington. "All the dynamics are pulling the country apart." He said he was so concerned that he was carrying this message "to everyone who will listen" in the Bush administration. (New York Times)
See also below Commentary: Saudi Scapegoating - Editorial (New York Sun)
Jordan's King Abdullah is stressing that Muslims and Jews have more in common than their current bitter rivalry in the Middle East would suggest. His efforts to reach out to the Jewish community included a meeting in Washington with 70 American rabbis. "Jews and Muslims are tied together by culture and history as well," he said. "For over a thousand years, both our peoples have contributed to the complex tapestry of Middle Eastern civilization. Throughout the Middle East, Jews and Muslims borrowed a great deal from each other in the areas of philosophy, science, mysticism, and law." (VOA News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed three Islamic Jihad gunmen in the Tulkarm area Friday. The armed Palestinians opened fire on Israeli soldiers, who returned the fire. Israel continues to target Islamic Jihad cells in the Tulkarm area that were responsible for a suicide bombing attack in Tel Aviv in February that killed five Israelis. (Ha'aretz)
Neither the U.S. nor the rest of the Quartet are as adamant as Israel about Hamas not taking part in the upcoming Palestinian Legislative Council elections. On Wednesday, David Welch, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said, "It's an obligation under the road map that the Palestinian Authority should take steps to dismantle terror organizations. We consider Hamas to be a terror organization. So regardless if they were having a municipal election next week or legislative elections in January, that obligation is therein before them." Welch noted that Hamas members have already been elected to municipal councils and are in "government already in the Palestinian territory." Welch said that American law precludes any contact with Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Statement by Assistant Secretary of State C. David Welch on Palestinian Governance (ReliefWeb)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Gaza, Egypt, and the Palestinians
For the first time, Israel is relinquishing its control over part of the external perimeter of the Palestinian areas, handing responsibility to a third party. Success or failure will bear important consequences for both Israeli-Egyptian and Israeli-Palestinian relations. With regard to a continued Israeli presence in the Philadelphi Corridor, it was argued that no other party could effectively substitute for Israel's motivation and capability in curbing smuggling. Ultimately, other considerations prevailed including the desire to be able to claim that Israel no longer bears responsibility for Gaza, which required a complete withdrawal of forces.
What if Egypt fails to live up to its commitments? After the Israeli departure, chaos erupted along the Egypt-Gaza border. Vast quantities of arms were smuggled into Gaza; it is still not clear that the border has been effectively resealed, although both Egypt and the PA appear committed to sealing it. A porous border will result in a toughened Israeli stance regarding control of other border crossings, making it harder for people and goods to enter Israel from Gaza. The onus now mostly falls on Egypt and the PA. Failure to shape a stable and secure reality along the Egypt-Gaza border would negatively affect the "cold peace"" of Egyptian-Israeli relations. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also Contents of the New Israel-Egypt Agreement - Brooke Neuman (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Last week some 150,000 people (according to Palestinian media estimates) crossed the Gaza-Egypt border (the Philadelphi route). It was as if all the arguments, proposals, and arrangements that Israel had raised regarding the border had never existed. Control of the border crossings is perhaps the most important element of political sovereignty. Control over who enters and leaves is the symbol of political independence. Not by chance did the Oslo Accords stipulate that Israel would retain full control over the border crossings into Palestinian territory in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The ones who will now determine what actually happens on the Gaza-Egypt border will be the two sovereign powers on either side of the border: the governments of Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. (Ha'aretz)
Judging by the general chaos in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli hand-over, one cannot be blamed for harboring serious doubts about whether the Palestinians will in fact be able to establish and run their own viable state. Nor is it certain that such a future Palestinian state will indeed be peaceful and democratic, rather than turning into one more extremist, Islamist state promoting terrorism all around it. On the contrary, additional arms have been smuggled into Gaza through the wide open border with Egypt, and Abbas himself has declared his uncompromising aims to be identical with those of Arafat - i.e., a complete Israeli withdrawal from its historic lands in Judea and Samaria, making Jerusalem the Palestinian capital, and insisting on the so-called "right of return" of Palestinian refugees - the Palestinian formula for destroying the Jewish state from within. Some people suspect that legitimizing Hamas was a deliberate act on behalf of Abbas to preserve the terrorist option for the future. (Washington Times)
Egypt wants to invest in the Gaza Strip but it is a dauntingly expensive place to do business, Finance Minister Yusef Boutros-Ghali said. "The costs are higher than in India....We have difficulties to convince investors because the costs of business are too high and the market is too small." "The economic incentives are not there, it's not profitable to invest in Gaza."
Boutros-Ghali said Egypt was much happier with the results of a deal covering textiles trade reached with Israel last December. "It's working very well. Our exports are increasing very significantly. Relations with Israel are very good. We hope it (the trade) will increase more," he said. (AFP/Yahoo)
Prince Saud al-Faisal, speaking Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, depicted the kingdom as the victim of "an unjustified intense onslaught" that made it the "scapegoat" of September 11, 2001. To hear the prince tell it, the cause of terrorism against the West, and indeed of all conflict in the Middle East, is the intransigence of Israel. He complained of Prime Minister Sharon's remarks at the UN referencing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and defending Israel's security fence. Once the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is resolved by Israel's "total withdrawal," the prince claimed, "the other conflicts in the region would vanish and fade."
Let the prince not take Americans for fools. The notion that the Baathist remnant in Iraq or the al-Qaeda cells in London will desist the minute Israel abandons Judea and Samaria is understood by Americans as just flaky. They comprehend that the conflicts among Lebanese factions and the Syrian government in Damascus, or between Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, are about something other than land disputes between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. They have to do with religious differences among Arabs and with the effort by forces of evil to thwart freedom and democracy.
What little credibility the prince had was further shredded when he was asked about the flow of Saudi "foreign fighters" into Iraq. The prince might get a warmer reception on his next visit to America if he stopped trying to drive a wedge between America and Israel and focused on trying to stop Saudis from killing innocent Americans and Iraqis. (New York Sun)
By heaping disproportionate blame for the evils of the world on the Jewish state, anti-Israel zealots are providing excuses to the perpetrators of real evils. Consider, for example, a recent report by Amnesty International (AI) on violence perpetrated against Palestinian women by Palestinian men in the West Bank and Gaza. The AI report places substantial blame for "honor" killings of women on - you guessed it - Israel! According to AI, "Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are victims of multiple violations as a result of the escalation of the conflict, Israel's policies, and a system of norms, traditions and laws which treat women as unequal members of society" - in that order.
On Aug. 23, 2005, I spoke with Donatella Rovera, AI's researcher on Israel and the Occupied Territories, and asked her to provide the data on which she had based her conclusion that violence against women had escalated to an "unprecedented level" during the occupation. Rovera acknowledged that AI could provide no such comparative data and confirmed that the report was based on anecdotal information, primarily from Palestinian NGOs. "We talk to anyone who would talk to us," she said. (National Post-Canada)
Anyone who rushed to defend, or condemn, the Palestinians for burning the synagogues that remained in Gush Katif had better see what is happening to the mosques in the war in Iraq. The Muslims, and mainly the Sunni rebels, are blowing up mosques and killing hundreds of worshipers. Why should synagogues be any different for them? Neither are considered holy places by Muslims. That is what Military Intelligence and the Shin Bet security services told the government.
In the Middle East, a hasty American withdrawal would be interpreted as a defeat, and would immediately affect the oil states in the region, including Saudi Arabia, as well as Iran, and Israel's situation. Chain reactions to such a withdrawal are liable to be dramatic for many countries, and in the end will affect U.S. security as well. (Ha'aretz)
It is increasingly clear that the Palestinian movement's goal remains Israel's complete destruction. Whatever average Palestinians or moderates among the leaders think, those setting the agenda - radical nationalists or Islamists - put total victory and revenge above raising their people's living standards or getting a state. Abbas gives nice interviews to the Western media explaining how he will persuade militias to give up their guns and implement development programs for Gaza, when it is obvious these things are never going to happen. Meanwhile, all the other factions - including the Islamist group Hamas and many in his own Fatah organization - openly refuse to obey him or stop attacking Israel. Indeed, Abbas did not even dare attend the celebration of Israel's withdrawal that he himself organized. About ten times more people showed up for the Hamas-sponsored festivities than for his ceremony, which hard-liners disrupted. (Jerusalem Post)
In the National Democratic Party's campaign nerve center in Cairo, Gamal Mubarak, the 41-year-old son of - and heir apparent to - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, was spinning with the smoothness of an American political consultant, insisting to all who listened that democracy had finally arrived in his repressive country. Beside him, campaign mouthpiece Mohammed Kamal, 39, endlessly touted Mubarak's "reform" platform to create more jobs, open more schools, and jump-start the stagnant economy. Kamal and Gamal Mubarak are the rising stars of an old regime that is trying to refashion its image: Western-influenced 40-somethings who speak fluent English, they think that the Middle East's autocracies need a facelift and see reform as the best way to lure foreign investment. (New Republic)
See also No "Turning Back" in Egypt - David Ignatius
It's hard to imagine Egyptian President Mubarak as a change agent, but he won reelection this month on a platform of political and economic reform. The fact that even the pharaonic Mubarak is running as a democrat illustrates the power of the reform movement in the Arab world today. The movement is potent because it's coming from the Arab societies themselves and not just from democracy enthusiasts in Washington. (Washington Post)
A proposed UN convention against terrorism has been stalled since 1997. The holdup? How to define terrorism. The Islamic states insist that terrorism must be defined not by the nature of the act but by its purpose. Putting a bomb in a market or train or bus is not an act of terrorism, they say, if it is done for a righteous purpose; namely national liberation or resistance to occupation. The real question is whether it is ever legitimate to target women, children, and other noncombatants. For the Islamic states, the answer is yes. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Los Angeles Times)
The UN budget pays for a worldwide propaganda campaign against Israel conducted year-round by a unit within the UN Secretariat: the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR). The DPR and two collateral bodies - the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Practices Affecting the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (SCIIHRP) - have been in business for the past 30 years.
In the past three years, the DPR has arranged and staffed 10 international conferences - paid for by the UN. The most recent meeting, held at UNESCO in Paris on July 11-12, 2005, called for a campaign of divestment, boycotts, and sanctions against Israel. The previous session in Geneva on March 8-9, 2005, was devoted to Israel's security barrier. One might ask how it is possible for the UN to participate in efforts to end the conflict as a member of the Quartet while sponsoring programs as one-sided as those of the DPR. There is a promising movement underway, as part of the American-led effort to reform the UN, to abolish the DPR and to eliminate funding for the 30-year propaganda campaign against Israel. (Ameinu)
Islamic hardliners have torched flags to protest Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's overtures to Israel, but analysts say the emerging rapport is a daring and welcome diplomatic coup. The contacts improve Pakistan's image in the West and with the U.S.'s influential Jewish lobby, analysts said. Political analyst Ansar Mahmood Bhatti said the new relationship between the world's second largest Muslim nation and Israel could even help to resolve the Palestinian problem. (Turkish Press)
Israeli and Palestinian hopefuls have been taking part in a beauty pageant meant to bridge the Middle East divide. It is the second year the "Miss Seamline" contest has taken place, but the first time with Palestinian contestants. All eight last year dropped out after receiving death threats from militant organizations. Palestinian Shira Marie Farah, 17, was declared the winner following the parade of evening dresses and swimsuits. (BBC News)
In Egypt's box office hit, "The Embassy Is in the Building," director Amro Arafa uses comedy to try to get Egyptian audiences to consider that peace with Israel is in Egypt's own interest. "We have signed peace with this country," a state security agent says during a pivotal scene in the movie. "This is our country's policy, and it is for our interest. Do you want to be against the country's interests?"
This is not just a movie aiming to make people laugh, but an effort to use the Egyptian cinema to make people at least entertain the notion that peace with Israel is good for Egypt, even while Israel may itself remain an object of hate. Throughout the film, there is strong anti-Israeli language. And it ends with the death of a cute, heroic Palestinian boy at the hands of Israelis and an angry protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Egypt. (New York Times)
Several Chicago-area emergency response agencies are hoping to incorporate some of Israel's techniques into their training after a visit by local emergency workers to the country in June. "We were so impressed with how quickly the Israelis could deal with a complex situation with the use of their command structure," said Andrew Hamilton, a Deerfield firefighter and paramedic. "They are not worried, as Americans are, about patting each other on the back," he said. "They realize they make mistakes and quickly fix it." Hamilton and the group he was with witnessed the Israelis at work during a train derailment. "The minute the incident is over, they all sit down and meet," he said. "If something didn't work out, they take care of it." (Chicago Tribune)
In 2002, the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Israel and the Targum Shlishi Foundation of Miami launched Operation: Last Chance to help facilitate the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, primarily in post-Communist Europe. So far it has been initiated in nine countries and has yielded the names of some 380 suspects; 79 of which have been submitted to local prosecutors. The educational dimensions of Operation: Last Chance were designed to sensitize people to the history of the Holocaust and help them focus on the key historical issues relating to the implications of local complicity in Holocaust crimes. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Palestinian Elections, Who's Allowed to Run, and U.S. Policy - Robert Satloff (New Republic)
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