Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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New York Named in Terror Threat Against Subways - William K. Rashbaum (New York Times)
See also Police Investigate New York Subway Terror Threat (ABC News)
- October 6, 2005
Issue of the Week:
How Israel Responds When Disaster Strikes Around the World
Al-Qaeda's Search for New Fronts in Egypt and Sinai - Reuven Paz (PRISM/GLORIA-Interdisciplinary
Saddam's Revenge - From Syria - Joe Klein (TIME)
U.S. Considering $2 Billion in Military Sales to Saudis (AFP/Beirut Daily Star)
"Sister Encouraged British Suicide Bomber" (Reuters)
Outspoken Israeli Imam Raises Fears of Jerusalem Jihad - Uzi Mahnaime (Sunday Times-UK)
No Dancing and No Gays If Hamas Gets Its Way - Stephen Farrell (Times-UK)
Iraqi Girl to Be Treated in Israel - Nurit Paltar (Ynet News)
Israel Will Revert to Standard Time on October 9 (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Bush on Thursday declared in a speech that the U.S. and its partners had disrupted 10 serious terror plots since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (New York Times)
See also below Observations: President Bush Discusses War on Terror (White House)
The U.S. has obtained a letter dated in early July from Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, to the leader of Iraq's insurgency, Abu Musab Zarqawi, that outlines a long-term strategic vision for a global jihad, with the next phase of the war to be taken into Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and, eventually, Israel. The letter also warns Zarqawi against alienating the Islamic world, and reprimands the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda for beheading hostages and then distributing videotapes.
The letter outlines a four-stage plan: First, expel American forces from Iraq. Second, establish a caliphate over as much of Iraq as possible. Third, extend the jihad to neighboring countries, with specific reference to Egypt and the Levant - a term that describes Syria and Lebanon. And finally, war against Israel. (Washington Post)
The number of Palestinians slain in vigilante killings and other internal violence has nearly quadrupled in four years, from 43 in 2002 to 151 so far in 2005, according to statistics presented Thursday. A top security official said more Palestinians were killed in internal violence this year than by Israeli troops.
Some Palestinian security commanders have become warlords, using the men under their command for personal gain or illegal enterprise, such as weapons deals or extortion. In many cases, policemen are moonlighting as gunmen in militias. The overlap is particularly pronounced in the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, which has ties to Fatah. Abbas' security chief, Interior Minister Nasser Yousef, argues he can't fight crime without a political decision to confront militants. "When Hamas keeps its military wing, then Fatah will say, we have the right to do the same," said Yousef's spokesman, Tawfiq Abu Khoussa. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Palestinian Investigative Committee: PA Has Done Nothing to Impose Order - Arnon Regular
The committee's first recommendation - to oust Prime Minister Qurei's government - was adopted by a large majority of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Monday. (Ha'aretz)
Egyptian mediators in Gaza have warned Hamas that Palestinian parliamentary elections set for Jan. 25 could be postponed if the Islamic militants don't abide by a truce, including a promise to keep their weapons at home, an official close to the talks said Thursday. Egypt is increasingly influential in chaotic Gaza, with both the PA and armed groups seeking its backing and good will. (AP/Washington Post)
President George W. Bush told Palestinian Authority ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian state, a new BBC series reveals. In "Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs," Abu Mazen, Palestinian chairman, and Nabil Shaath, his foreign minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003. Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq." And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state." (BBC)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
If additional military confrontations develop in the Gaza Strip - and this appears likely - Israel will probably respond more harshly. With the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the time has come to put a stop to the contradictory situation where the Palestinians fire rockets from Gaza into Israel while Israel shows exaggerated sensitivity toward Palestinian factories that have been established by donor states in the Gaza Strip. If the Palestinian public wants aid from donors - including Israel - it has to pressure Hamas and the other extremist groups to stop the war. If the war continues, as Hamas desires, the donor states will have to leave the area, as has happened elsewhere. The choice lies with the Palestinian public and the Palestinian Authority. They must choose. (Ha'aretz)
What was different about Israel's response to Hamas rocket fire into Sderot was not the firepower used, but that it was sustained, day in and day out for more than a week, without any significant protest from the world. If Hamas didn't understand that the rules had changed when the IDF left Gaza, the U.S. and Europe, at last, seemed to internalize that this was not the same old "cycle of violence." As a result, the skies over the western Negev have been quiet for a few days, quiet enough for Sharon to reschedule a meeting with Abbas that was cancelled on October 2 as violence from Gaza surged.
The arrest of more than 400 suspects - including 200 Hamas activists, among them leading Hamas military and political figures - is widely believed in Jerusalem to have "moved Hamas." According to assessments in Jerusalem, the sustained IDF pressure threatened to weaken the operational infrastructure Hamas has tried so hard to rebuild. (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli diplomatic sources said Thursday that Naor Gilon, the former political officer at the Israeli Embassy in Washington who was in contact with convicted Pentagon analyst Lawrence Franklin, had no idea that the information he got from Franklin was classified. "We are not responsible for what is said to us by American officials," said a diplomatic source. "Even if an American official did something he was not authorized to do, we had no way of knowing that." Mark Regev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that "the Israel Embassy staff in Washington conduct themselves in a completely professional manner in accordance with all international conventions, and no one serious has made any allegations to the contrary." Court documentation showed that Israel was not accused of any wrongdoing. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel expects consistency in the EU's stand on terrorism if it wants to increase its involvement here, Foreign Ministry director-general Ron Prosor told EU representatives Thursday in protest against a meeting of EU ambassadors with a Hizballah minister in Lebanon. Prosor said that these types of meetings send the "wrong message" regarding the war on terror, and repeated Israel's call that the EU place Hizballah on its list of terror organizations. In contrast to the Europeans, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said that in recent days the Americans have signaled Israel that they will have no contact with representatives of Hizballah. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A prosecution of this kind is unprecedented. Far from alleging the two AIPAC officials were foreign agents, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty is contending that the lobbyists are legally no different than the government officials they lobbied, holding Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman to the same rules for protecting secrets as Defense Department analyst Lawrence Franklin or any other bureaucrat with a security clearance.
But if it's illegal for Rosen and Weissman to seek and receive "classified information," then many investigative journalists are also criminals - not to mention former government officials who write for scholarly journals or the scores of men and women who petition the federal government on defense and foreign policy. In fact, the leaking of classified information is routine in Washington, where such data is traded as a kind of currency. And, while most administrations have tried to crack down on leaks, they have almost always shied away from going after those who receive them - until now.
The prosecution of Rosen and Weissman threatens to have a chilling effect - not on the ability of foreign agents to influence U.S. policy, but on the ability of the American public to understand it. "If there is a conviction in this case, anyone who talks to anyone in government could be liable if he discusses the substance of the conversation with any foreign national or a reporter," says Morris Amitay, a former executive director of AIPAC. (New Republic, 10Oct05)
The now tiresome refrain is that it's up to Israel to help Abu Mazen and the PA in its fight with Hamas, that Israel should release prisoners, ease things up at roadblocks, provide employment, encourage economic growth, and take down its security barrier in the West Bank. All those gestures would be fine if they would have made even the slightest difference to the ability of the PA to gain the upper hand in containing those who still want to destroy Israel. Unfortunately, easing things at roadblocks and releasing prisoners cannot redeem Abu Mazen's PA; in a nutshell, the current leadership has proved to be not only disappointing but useless.
Israel should recommit itself to the road map, its willingness to recognize an independent Palestinian state, as Prime Minister Sharon has, and hope that a Palestinian leadership emerges that can accept the challenge and deliver. In the meantime, Hamas should be pulverized and punished. (Jerusalem Report)
Bashar Assad's regime in Syria has reached its end phase, even if it manages to hang on to power for months or years. This is so almost irrespective of what the UN prosecutor will say in his report about the alleged role of Syria in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon. Assad's regime has lost the confidence and support of many of Syria's people and elites. Its mismanagement of Lebanon led to a humiliating withdrawal and opened Syria to an international investigation that deeply infringes upon its sovereignty. Assad has misread major regional and international developments, thereby isolating Syria internationally, and has failed to deliver any political reform. (International Herald Tribune)
See also Assad State of Affairs - Arab Nationalism Dies in Syria - Lee Smith
Ordinary Syrians fear what they believe is an imminent U.S. attack. Many Syrians see the sectarian violence in Iraq, and they are fearful the same might happen to them. The ruling Alawites cloaked themselves in Arab nationalism to disguise the fact that a minority sect some Sunnis consider heretical is running the country. With the UN report on the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri due to be released October 25, it's hard to see how the Assad family can entirely escape a day of reckoning.
"Even Saddam had a larger base of support than the Syrian regime," says Farid al-Khazen, a first-term deputy in the Lebanese parliament and a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. "Syria - a state that derives its sense of well-being from repression, fear, and hatred - is hardly ready for a peaceful democratic transition. There is nothing left of civil society."
Washington may hope there is some plausible alternative to the Assads, but none is in evidence - not a secular, democratic opposition, not a reform movement in exile, not moderate Islamists. (Not even Islamist extremists, whose organizational capacity the regime has invariably exaggerated for its own purposes.) Thus, the regime has effectively booby-trapped Syria, and if it falls it is quite likely Syrians will shed each other's blood. (Weekly Standard)
See also Syria Growing More Isolated - Donna Abu-Nasr (AP/San Jose Mercury News)
Bassam Tibi, a Muslim professor at Gottingen University in Germany, said a few months after September 11, "Both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms, these mean different things to each of them. The word 'peace,' for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam - or House of Islam - to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace." That's why they blew up Bali in 2002, and last weekend, and why they'll keep blowing it up. It's not about Bush or Blair or Iraq or Palestine. It's about a world where everything other than Islamism lies in ruins. (The Australian)
Are Arabs the most anti-American people on earth? America is by far the largest pole of attraction for Arab foreign investment. The most conservative estimates put the value of Arab assets in the U.S. at over $4.5 trillion. The U.S. is also one of the top three trading partners of virtually all Arab states. America has been the No. 1 foreign tourist destination for Arabs since the 1980s, and has remained so despite restrictions imposed on Arab visitors after 9/11. Arabs of all political sensibilities also love to send their children to study in America. And when it comes to seeking medical treatment, no country competes with the U.S. in attracting well-heeled Arabs.
It is possible to spend a holiday in most Arab capitals without moving out of the orbit of American-franchised hotels, restaurants, tourist services, and banks. More than 70% of what's broadcast on Arab TV stations is U.S.-made. Sixteen of the 21 member states of the Arab League host some U.S. military presence. (New York Post)
As the pace of suicide attacks increases in the Middle East and beyond, a surprising profile is emerging of those willing to take their own lives: Many are young, middle class, and educated. Many of today's suicide bombers, especially in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, come from societies where many people condone the action, making it easier to execute. Recent studies have debunked some common misperceptions about suicide bombers: that most are poor, that they're in it for personal revenge, that they're crazy and uneducated. Nearly four-fifths of all suicide attacks in the last 35 years have happened since 9/11, according to the RAND Center for Terrorism Risk Management. And 80% of those have been carried out by radical Islamic groups. (Chicago Sun-Times)
The Australian media focuses disproportionately on Israel and particularly on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The bias in this coverage derives partly from trends imported from international sources. However, there are domestic influences within the Australian media that exacerbate the problem. Beyond bias, certain themes emerging in the Australian media are examples of the "new anti-Semitism." These include the alleged financial and media power of the Jewish lobby; an extreme demonization of Israel and extravagant assertions about the supposed worldwide effects of its policy toward the Palestinians; conspiracy theories about American Jewish neoconservatives; and a tendency to claim that anti-Semitism is a response to Jewish behavior and attitudes. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
President Bush Discusses War on Terror (White House)
Speaking Thursday at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, President Bush said:
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