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
Arab League Drops Bid to Transfer Funds to PA Employees (Reuters/Times of Oman)
- May 11, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Who's Who in Israel's New Government?
Hamas Hate-Comics for Kids - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
U.S. General: Israel's Arrow Missile Useful (JTA)
Egypt as a New Front of al-Qaeda - Ely Karmon (Institute for Counter-Terrorism)
Tech Firms Turning to Israel - Jim Landers (Dallas Morning News)
Israel to Help Build Disaster Center in Kenya - Philip Mwakio (East African Standard-Kenya)
Chief of Indian State Rajasthan Seeks Israeli Expertise in Agriculture (UNI/Deepikaglobal)
Silicon Valley Gets a Taste of Israel in Film Fest - Dan Pine (Jewish News Weekly of Northern California)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Two Hamas activists arrested in Jordan last month in connection with a plot to stage attacks in the country said in televised confessions on Thursday they had received military training in Syria. The suspects said they were recruited by operatives from Hamas' Damascus-based leadership. Jordanian state television showed piles of rocket launchers that were part of uncovered Hamas arms caches.
Jordanian Ayman Daraghmeh, 34, said he was ordered by a Syrian-based Hamas contact he had met in Damascus to follow a Jordanian intelligence officer and photograph him. Another suspect, Ahmad Abu Dhaib, confessed to going to Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba to undertake surveillance of targets that Western tourists frequent. Jordanian officials say they are still searching for other arms caches that Hamas had hidden across the country. (Reuters)
See also Islamists Growing Stronger in Jordan - Hassan M. Fattah (New York Times)
A visit to an Islamic Jihad "safe house" in Tulkarm in the West Bank reveals not grizzled veterans of the endless battles with Israel but young men barely out of their teens. Israeli troops have arrested and killed many senior members of this extremist Palestinian faction. Cells attached to Islamic Jihad, which Israeli security sources say gets an estimated $2 million a year in state-sponsored funding from Iran, have claimed responsibility for nearly all of the nine suicide bombings that have struck Israel in the last 15 months, killing 36 people and wounding hundreds. The group's external leader, based in Syria, Ramadan Shallah, recently called for "nonstop efforts" to infiltrate suicide bombers into Israel and the West Bank to kill Jewish settlers.
Ghaleb Shafi, 20, who said he is in charge of booby traps, is not worried about an eventual confrontation between Islamic Jihad and the Hamas-led government. "Fatah never dared arrest us, and the same applies to Hamas....No Palestinian will put me in jail. I defend the pride of a whole nation." Shafi's mother, Ghada, 40, enters the room and reminds him that she twice tried to hand him over to Israeli troops because she would rather see him go to prison than be killed. "I don't sleep," she said. "I pray all night for his safety. I tell him: 'All the people [in his group] have been killed or arrested. Your turn will be next. Please stay away from them.'" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
See also Four Islamic Jihad Activists Surrender in Tulkarm - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Federal airline officials are considering a request by the Israeli national airline, El Al, to screen its own baggage at Newark Liberty International Airport, as it does at four other major American airports, a government spokeswoman said on Thursday. Since February 2002, when the newly created Transportation Security Administration assumed the responsibility of inspecting luggage, El Al alone has been permitted to conduct a second screening at Kennedy in New York, O'Hare in Chicago, Miami International, and Los Angeles. (New York Times)
President Hosni Mubarak's government dispatched thousands of riot police to central Cairo on Thursday to silence demonstrators intent on showing support for judges demanding independence from the president. The police clubbed men and women trying to demonstrate as well as half a dozen journalists. Egypt's 7,000 judges have also called for the right to be the sole monitor of elections. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Shin Bet security service on Thursday announced the April 14 arrest of two Hamas members who infiltrated into Israel with the intent of carrying out attacks and kidnapping soldiers. The two Palestinians from Jabalya in Gaza infiltrated the southern Negev through Sinai. They were in possession of firearms and grenades, as well as money intended for funding the establishment of a West Bank terrorist cell. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians fired four Kassam rockets at Israel's western Negev Thursday from northern Gaza. (Ynet News)
Israel's Dor Alon Energy company plans to resume providing gasoline to the Palestinians on Friday after halting supplies over unpaid bills, Mujahed Salameh, the head of the Palestinian Petroleum Agency, said Thursday. He said the deal had been reached after PA Chairman Abbas sent a letter guaranteeing to send funds within ten days. (Ynet News)
The Jerusalem District Court is to charge on Friday four Palestinian members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine suspected in the October 2001 murder of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. They were detained in an Israel Defense Forces raid on a Jericho prison. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had decided earlier that it would not constitute double jeopardy to try the men in Israeli courts, even though some had already been tried by a PA court, because the judicial process in the PA took only a few minutes and could not be considered a valid legal proceeding. (Ha'aretz)
The Hamas-led PA's new 3,000-strong police force, under the command of Popular Resistance Committee leader Jamal Abu Samadana, is set to become operational in Gaza on Sunday. Samadana is not only wanted by Israel, but is also linked to the bombing of a U.S. Embassy convoy in Gaza in October 2003 in which three Americans were killed. "It's like hiring a mob boss as chief of police," said Asi Shariv, spokesman for Prime Minister Olmert. "If Hamas wants to be taken seriously, it must first renounce terrorism...and looking at the people they are putting in these positions is discouraging," said Stewart Tuttle, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv. The vast majority of recruits to the new force come from Hamas and from the Popular Resistance Committee. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Palestinian people are not being punished for democratically electing the Hamas terrorist organization as its government. The Hamas administration knows full well that if it gives up its terrorist ideology, acknowledges the commitments already entered into by the Palestinians vis-a-vis Israel, and recognizes the existence of Israel as a viable neighbor, rather than advocate Israel's elimination and glorify suicide bombings, then it will receive the funding of the international community that is presently being withheld. Hamas should simply agree to the conditions established by the international community and give up terror. By refusing to do so, its members themselves are fully responsible for the lack of funding and for any humanitarian consequences thereof.
Blaming Israel, while a convenient and oft-used ploy, will not change the situation. Only when the Palestinians realize that terrorism gets them nowhere, will they benefit from the goodwill of the international community. (Toronto Star)
Near the Shiite holy city of Qom, Iran, cranes hover over two soaring concrete minarets and the pointed arches of a vast new enclosure at a once-humble yellow-brick mosque. The expansion is driven by an apocalyptic vision: that Shiite Islam's long-hidden 12th Imam, or Mahdi, will soon emerge - possibly at the mosque of Jamkaran - to inaugurate the end of the world. The man who provided $20 million to prepare the shrine for that moment, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has reportedly told his cabinet that he expects the Mahdi to arrive within the next two years. Mehdi Karrubi, a rival cleric, has reported that Ahmadinejad ordered that his government's platform be deposited in a well at Jamkaran where the faithful leave messages for the hidden imam.
"Some of us can understand why you in the West would be concerned," a young mullah told me in Qom last week. "We, too, wonder about the intentions of those who are controlling this nuclear work." Ahmadinejad's own spiritual adviser, Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, recently suggested that future elections were superfluous because a true Islamic government had arisen. (Washington Post)
Separating the economies of Israel and the Palestinian territories will have little effect on the Israeli economy beyond the costs of building walls and fences, Israeli economists said. "We have different economies. There's no synergy," said Eitan Raff, chairman of Israel's Bank Leumi.
Traditional Israeli industries such as construction once relied on Palestinian workers, but those workers have been replaced. Israeli manufacturers of textiles and furniture have opened plants in Jordan and Egypt, where workers earn less than the Palestinians, and free-trade zones offer access to European and American markets.
"If somehow the two economies could be separated out and both have sources for healthy growth, that would be fantastic," said Joseph Bachar, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Finance. "But the Palestinian economy is quite dependent on the Israeli economy." (Dallas Morning News)
On February 28, Sami Al-Arian - formerly a tenured associate professor of computer engineering at the University of South Florida - entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to procuring "funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist [Organization]." At his sentencing, U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. delivered a stinging rebuke to Al-Arian from the bench: "You are a master manipulator. You looked your neighbors in the eyes and said you had nothing to do with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This trial exposed that as a lie....The evidence was clear in this case that you were a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad."
"When Iran, the major funding source of the PIJ, became upset because the PIJ could not account for how it was spending its money, it was to your board of directors that it went to demand changes." "You laughed when you heard about the bombings, what you euphemistically call 'operations.'...And yet...you continue to lie to your friends and supporters, claiming to abhor violence and to seek only aid for widows and orphans. Your only connection to widows and orphans is that you create them, even among the Palestinians; and you create them, not by sending your children to blow themselves out of existence. No. You exhort others to send their children." (Tech Central Station)
"They're like someone who has had a big surgical operation, which might have been fatal, but he didn't die." Yassin Haj Saleh, a Syrian writer and dissident, is describing his country's Ba'athist government. "But now he has to be extremely cautious about his health and he's holding on to life very tightly."
Tellingly, the patient has also turned to religion. A new Islamic fervor is abroad in Syria as the regime abandons what was a fiercely secular identity. President Bashar Assad prays more visibly and made a special appearance at a commemoration in Damascus last month of the Prophet Mohammed's birthday. Assad recently appointed as vice-president Najah al-Attar, the former culture minister: her brother was a Muslim Brotherhood leader in exile. The regime also allowed demonstrations in defense of the prophet to get out of hand - mobs torched the Norwegian and Danish embassies in Damascus in February.
"Every time they [the regime] feel squeezed, they try to flirt with Islamic symbols," says Haj Saleh. "They attempt to give an Islamic legitimacy to the regime." Some analysts in Damascus warn that playing the religious card could backfire on the regime, making the ground more fertile for Islamist parties. (Financial Times-UK)
When Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon in May 2000, Hizballah rightly claimed a historic victory. Your party for the first time did what no Arab army or guerrilla force had done: it imposed on Israel a humiliating withdrawal from occupied territories without negotiations. Hizballah, during the past six years, has launched numerous attacks against Israeli border positions. But the Israelis benefit from international legitimacy because they are deployed behind the UN's so-called Blue Line. Sadly, today it is Hizballah that is being described by the UN as an aggressor in southern Lebanon and the one starting senseless fights.
Meanwhile, your party has amassed a military arsenal in the south, enabling it to massively shell towns and villages deep into northern Israel. Why this military build-up? Only to liberate the Shebaa Farms? Or to respond to a possible American strike against Iranian nuclear installations? Or to help the Syrians pressure the Israelis to return the Golan Heights? Hizballah argues that it needs arms to repel "Israeli aggression." What aggression? The Israelis, since May 2000, have been more than happy to be out of Lebanon.
It is time to show that Hizballah is loyal to Lebanon and not to any other country. It is time to tell Iran that solidarity has its limits. It is also time to wish the doomed Syrian regime good luck, and time for your fighters to integrate in the Lebanese Army with dignity. The writer, a Shiite from southern Lebanon, set up Greenpeace in Lebanon in 1994-1999. He is now executive director of a lobby in Brussels influencing EU environmental policies. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
In Europe there are countries that are friendly toward Israel and others that are less so. It is very important that Israelis do not have the false perception that their country is being attacked by everybody. Israel has friends in Europe who generally support it. Many of Israel's problems in Europe result from poor information. Since Israel is the subject of the distorted news, it has to take the initiative to change this. Hildegard Muller is a member of the German Bundestag and chairwoman of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The X-ray filling the screen in the conference room at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., showed black shrapnel from a shattered watch lodged in the throat of a 19-year-old Israeli girl - a lesson in the anatomy of terror. "This young woman was on a bus on her way to college at 7:30 in the morning. There was a bomber aboard," said Dr. Charles Weissman, director of the department of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. "The bomb went off, and this is what we found in her neck - a Calvin Klein watch." Saving the young woman required a critical care team of vascular surgeons and throat specialists, Weissman told the 60 health and safety professionals. "But don't worry - she's going for her master's now."
Weissman's lecture also covered organizational challenges in responding to terror events: How do you get physicians to the hospital when all the roads are blocked? What about the surgeons who rush to the hospital but can't find a parking space? How do you get ambulances in and out when a decoy ambulance may be rigged with a bomb? How do you integrate the casualties into a hospital already filled with emergency cases and ongoing surgeries? How should you organize your command center? (New Jersey Jewish News)
Later this month, after years of pressure from Holocaust scholars, Jewish groups, and the U.S. government, the immense terror trove at the Red Cross's International Tracing Service are expected to be opened to historians and other researchers for the first time. "In the concentration camps, unlike the extermination camps, everything was carefully recorded," said archive manager Udo Jost.
A cardboard-covered composition book, of the type that schoolchildren use for handwriting practice, describes the special killing of 300 prisoners at Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria on April 20, 1942, to mark the Fuehrer's birthday. The execution list runs for pages, each individual receiving a single line - name, birthdate, place of birth, inmate number, and cause of death, which for each was a single bullet to the base of the skull. The birthday celebration murders started at 11:20 a.m. 11:22 - Neck shot. 11:24 - Neck shot. 11:26 - Neck shot. (Boston Globe)
Genocide on the Agenda - Shahar Ilan (Ha'aretz)
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