Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 30, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Entering the Church of the Nativity
    The Palestinian takeover of the Church of the Nativity was planned and premeditated.
    According to senior Tanzim commander Abdullah Abu-Hadid, as reported in Yediot Ahronot on May 24, "The idea was to enter the church in order to create international pressure on Israel....We knew beforehand that there was two years' worth of food for 50 monks. Oil, beans, rice, olives. Good bathrooms and the largest wells in old Bethlehem. You didn't need electricity because there were candles. In the yard they planted vegetables. Everything was there."
    There was nothing noble or sacred about the Palestinian seizure of the Church of the Nativity. It was a premeditated act of sacrilege.

Barghouti Ignites the "al-Aqsa Intifada"
    On April 14, 2002, an IDF force in Ramallah arrested Marwan Barghouti, head of Fatah in the West Bank and leader of the military wing of the al-Aqsa Brigades. Between September 2000 and April 2002, the al-Aqsa Brigades carried out thousands of terror attacks against Israel, including suicide bombings.
    In a September 29, 2001, interview with Al Hayat (London), Barghouti exposed his role in igniting the "al-Aqsa Intifada." (IDF)
    See also "Marwan Barghouti, Fatah-Tanzim, and the Escalation of the Intifada." (Jerusalem Center)

Useful Reference:

  • Twenty Facts about Israel
  • Myths & Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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  • News Resources - USA and Europe:
  • Planned Meeting on Mideast Peace May Be Delayed
    Bush administration officials said today that a conference on Middle East peace first planned for early summer may now be delayed until at least late summer. CIA Director George Tenet will leave on Friday for a brief trip to the region, where he will assess how to rebuild a Palestinian security force free of extremist elements. In a separate mission, Assistant Secretary of State William Burns is in the region to explore ways to create a more democratic Palestinian Authority. (New York Times)
  • Plans for Peace Conference Vague
    Having committed itself to an international peace conference this summer, the United States is now trying to determine how such a meeting can garner results -- or whether it should take place at all. (JTA)
  • Bombers and Antibombers Discuss Democracy
    At a meeting of the Palestinian Council on Foreign Relations, participants discussed the urgency of a democratic overhaul of Palestinian institutions: new elections, a more effective separation of powers in the Palestinian government, a renewed struggle against official corruption. Yet, according to Dr. Abu Amr, an American-trained political scientist, "Even the crooks are saying, 'We have to fight corruption,'" and the meeting received little mention on Palestinian television news programs. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • PA Reform Meaningless If Arafat Remains in Control
    Palestinian Authority reform is meaningless if Yasser Arafat remains in control of security and finances, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday, previewing Sharon's expected message to CIA Director George Tenet next week. Furthermore, Arafat may interpret a meeting with Tenet now as proof that he can get away with just talking about reform and not actually implementing it. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Sees Gaza Strong-Man Dahlan as Arafat Heir
    Israeli sources claim the U.S. now regards Mohammed Dahlan, head of the Palestinian Preventive Security forces in Gaza, as a leading candidate to head the new Palestinian security structure -- and possibly step into line as Arafat's heir. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Buries Its Dead
        Family members held Hen Keinan back from jumping into the open grave of her mother, Ruth Peled, 56, and daughter Sinai, 15 months, both of whom were killed during a suicide bomb attack while ordering ice cream Monday evening outside a mall in Petach Tikva.
        Hundreds attended yesterday afternoon's funerals of Avraham Siton, 17, of Shilo, Gilad Shtiglitz, 14, of Yakir, and Netanel Riahi, 17, of Kochav Ya'acov, students at the yeshiva in Itamar who were killed by a terrorist on Tuesday night.
        Avraham (Albert) Maloul, 50, who was shot to death on Tuesday night on the Ramallah bypass road, had survived the suicide bomb attack in the supermarket in the Jerusalem suburb of Kiryat Hayovel a month and a half ago. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Jenin Still a Hotbed of Terror
    The terrorist attack on Tuesday night in the settlement of Itamar is an indication that the terror infrastructure in Jenin has already recovered and that further attacks from there can be expected in the near future. Despite the IDF's sweep during Operation Defensive Shield, Jenin remains the main hotbed of terrorism in the territories and numerous terrorist organizations are active in the town, said IDF area commander Yossi Adiri. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Violating the Laws of War - David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey
    The Palestinian Authority and its supporters have undertaken a frontal assault on one of the oldest and best established laws of war: the traditional rule forbidding deliberate attacks on the civilian population. There is no exception that excuses noncompliance by the "weaker" side, or those with a good cause, including a "national liberation struggle." Such an exception would permit attacks like those of September 11 as legitimate acts of warfare. (National Review)
  • American Hoopsters in an Israel at War - Bill Finley
    Ryan Stack of Ironi Ramat Gan, a Nashville native and 6 feet 11, says, "I've found it to be totally opposite of what I expected." "I feel safer in Israel than I do in any of the five boroughs," said Jamal Faulkner, a Brooklyn native who played this season with Maccabi Ashdod. (New York Times)
  • Why the Settlements Should Stay - Hillel Halkin
    In 1967, Israel had as good a claim as anyone to the West Bank, which in effect belonged to no government. Most Jewish settlements are surrounded by empty space rather than by Arab towns and villages. Making the West Bank Judenrein is no way to bring peace. (
  • The Last Negotiation - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
    President Clinton's special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs continues the debate over Camp David 2000, and whether to strive for a final comprehensive agreement now. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Bomb Saddam? - Joshua Micah Marshall
    To give the go-ahead to war with Iraq, you have to decide that the experienced hands are all wrong, and throw in your lot with a bunch of hot-headed ideologues. One other thing: The last few times, the ideologues have turned out to be right. (Washington Monthly)
  • Talking Points:

    Next Steps after Escalation of Terrorism: Views of Israel's Security Establishment

    • IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz: Israel must expel Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, otherwise a "historical mistake" will have been made. He also stated that the Israeli army must be given the chance to finish the job.

    • Head of the General Security Services (Shin Bet) Avi Dichter: Israel must re-enter the Palestinian areas and control them until a buffer zone can be set up separating Israeli and Palestinian population centers. Israeli entry into and control of Area A, until the establishment of buffer zones, is also recommended by Lt. Gen. Mofaz.

    • At yesterday's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer disagreed, preferring the continuation of the current level of military response. NRP Minister Effi Eitam, a former brigadier-general, agreed with the security establishment. (Jerusalem Post, Maariv)

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