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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June 28, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Islamic Groups Gaining Popularity, Could Replace PA
    The dawa -- the civilian infrastructure of Islamic organizations in the West Bank and Gaza -- is starting to endanger the PA's hegemony over the Palestinian street.
    Hamas and its associates operate a large welfare system in the territories that competes with the PA in such fields as education, health, the economy, and jobs.
    Donations, which total tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars a year, come from all over the world: the United States, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Israeli Arabs.
    Unlike the PA, the Islamic associations enjoy a reputation for transparency and lack of corruption, while Palestinian officials routinely take "commissions" for themselves from aid transferred via the PA. Even official government bodies in Arab countries now prefer to transfer aid via the Islamic organizations.
    "Hamas focuses on pockets of deep distress, where the PA has not succeeded in meeting the population's needs," said an Israeli defense source. When Nablus was under a tight closure, the Islamic charities opened their warehouses and distributed food to the residents. When the school year was about to start in Gaza, Hamas distributed classroom supplies. On the Feast of the Sacrifice, it provided meat meals for the masses. "The public understands: the PA steals from me, Hamas takes care of me," said an Israeli source.
    The real Israeli concern is the connection between the Islamic charities and terrorism. "Those who receive help from the Islamic associations pay with support for Hamas. This network, which devotes a significant portion of its efforts to supporting the families of suicide bombers, is part of the murder industry that is spreading through the PA," said a defense source.
    While surveys show Hamas receiving only 14 to 18 percent support from the public at large, among those aged 20 to 30, the numbers are much higher.
    The Israeli defense establishment has been mapping the Islamic organizations' civilian activities in the territories, aided by the documents and computers seized during Operation Defensive Shield. Soon it will propose operational recommendations, many of which will deal with halting the flow of money into the territories.
- Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)

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Back Issues

News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Saudis Said to Seek Weapons of Mass Destruction
    U.S. officials said Riyad has been seeking intermediate-range missiles as well as biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons from Islamic allies. China and Pakistan have been the most prominent suppliers in the Saudi effort, as reported in a recent hearing of the House Middle East and South Asia subcommittee chaired by Rep. Benjamin Gilman. (Middle East Newsline)
  • Study: Syrian Textbooks Promote Hate
    A report entitled "Jihad, Jews and Anti-Semitism in Syrian School Texts" details how schoolchildren are taught to hate Zionism and Jews, view terrorist attacks as martyrdom, reject peace with Israel, and even seek to destroy it. The report was prepared by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace for B'nai B'rith International. (JTA)
  • New U.S. Report Coming on Palestinian Terrorism
    The State Department plans to issue a report on Palestinian Authority compliance with anti-terrorist efforts that, officials said, would reflect the captured PA documents relayed to Washington by Israel. The documents detail PA financing of insurgency attacks against Israel, Middle East Newsline reported. "The next PLO Compliance Act report covers the period that runs through the 15th of June and the period in which we actually received the documents from the Israelis," Assistant Secretary of State William Burns said. (World
  • "I Want to Buy Your Children"
    After a Wall Street Journal editorial about a Palestinian mother who celebrated her son's homicide mission and hoped her other children would follow, a reader wrote to the woman: "I want to buy your children. I'll offer more than Saddam Hussein; he'll pay $25,000 each, if they are willing to turn themselves into human bombs, but I'll pay $30,000 each. For a long time my wife and I have wondered what we might do to help in the war on terror. In buying your children, I see an opportunity for us to save countless innocent lives, among them your seven children. Contact me. I'll pay. (Wall Street Journal)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:
  • Bush Plays Down G8 Differences over Arafat
    President George Bush played down resistance to his call for the removal of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and said European leaders had responded well to his strategy for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Most European leaders understand something has to change in order for there to be peace," Bush said. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that Arafat should book himself a place in history and stand down. (Ha'aretz)
  • Secret Report on Arafat's Health Influenced Bush's Speech
    The recent serious decline in Yasser Arafat's medical condition is one of the reasons behind the American government's call for his removal from the political scene, according to the Italian weekly Panorama, owned by Prime Minister Berlusconi. It referred to a secret American intelligence report stating that "Arafat suffers from memory loss, accompanied by mental confusion, to such a degree that sometimes he does not recognize his close aides. He is subject to fits of anger, and his associates have removed the clips from his pistol so that he does not harm them or himself. The medication he was taking to calm himself no longer works."
        Arafat is now assisted by two aides "who help him to complete sentences and remind him of names and dates." His advisors have decided to limit his contacts with journalists so that they will not report on his condition. (Yediot Ahronot)
  • Remove Arafat Before the Elections
    The American government "believes Arafat should leave office before the next elections in the territories," according to a senior American official. The official said Washington is aware that Arafat will try to scuttle the American plan by running for reelection. [Maariv)
  • Chasing Terrorists with the Goldsteins of Memphis
    Sidney Goldstein, 52, and his son Ben, 25, along with 30 other volunteers, just completed two weeks of border patrol duty in Israel. They went on night time patrols, manned spot roadblocks, looked for terrorists, and arrested Palestinians traveling without permits in Israel. Sidney, a Memphis business consultant, had undergone training on a "Shomer Yisrael" program a decade ago. Ben had served as a combat soldier in the Givati brigade in 1996 as a foreign volunteer before moving to Jerusalem (Jerusalem Post)
  • Poll: Jordanians Reject Cutting Ties with Israel
    Only one in 10 Jordanians favors cutting ties with Israel, according to a poll released by the Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan. "There seems to be a general sense of realism, despite the anger and anti-Israeli sentiment, as to what Jordan can do," said CSS Director Mustafa Hamarneh. (Jordan Times)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Europe's Anti-Israel Excuse - Abraham H. Foxman
    It is time for Europe to assume responsibility for a situation of its own making. The combination of significant, openly expressed anti-Jewish bias together with irrational anti-Israel opinions creates a climate of great concern for the Jews of Europe. It is not surprising that in such an atmosphere Muslim residents feel free to attack Jewish students and religious institutions not because they are Israelis but because they are Jews. (Washington Post)
  • A Provisional Palestinian State? - Editorial
    A provisional Palestinian state is a phony Palestinian state, a chimera, a sop to the violent Palestinian streets, a capitulation to the Riyadh-Cairo analysis of the present crisis. A Palestinian state that is not created in a negotiation with Israel is not a Palestinian state that will live in peace with Israel. (New Republic)
  • Saudi Arabia's Role - Editorial
    The Saudis have played a key role in financing the infrastructure of terror responsible for the past 20 months of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel. (Washington Times)
  • Yasser Arafat and the Myth of Legitimacy - Daniel Polisar
    Arafat has acted to destroy the elements of a pluralistic society that had been present in the West Bank and Gaza, and to mold the Palestinian Authority into a police state and a personal dictatorship, thus damaging the prospects of a viable, alternative leadership emerging. (Shalem Center)
  • The Islamic Arab Minority in the Jewish State - Zeidan Atashi
    Druze former MK Zeidan Atashi warns that the Muslim Arab citizens of Israel are being swept up by radical movements that subscribe to fantasies about eradicating Israel. He calls for strengthening the Arab leadership seeking to pursue peace. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Middle East's e-War - Shaazka Beyerle
    A review of Arab and Israeli players in the Middle East's cyberwar. (Foreign Policy)

    More on the Bush Speech

  • A Vision for Peace--After 28 Drafts
    What happened between the speech's first version and the last tells a great deal about Bush's world view, his decision-making and the divisions within his administration, U.S. officials say. Central to the first version, drafted at the State Department, were proposals for a U.S.-hosted international conference, but increasingly, the White House's National Security Council, headed by Condoleezza Rice, took over drafting the text. Also, in the aftermath of the U.S. role in Afghanistan, the idea of ousting a well-entrenched leader didn't seem untenable, U.S. officials said. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Genesis of the Speech
    Mr. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, and Dick Cheney, the vice-president, are worried about allowing America to become too entangled in one of the world's most intractable problems. But they are also overtly partisan, regarding America and Israel as engaged in a similar fight against terrorism. Mr. Bush's speech clearly marked a singular triumph for the Rumsfeld-Cheney axis. (Economist - UK)
  • A Democratic Palestine, With No Discounts - Ari Shavit
    The new American understanding is a fairly profound Jeffersonian understanding -- an understanding that draws a clear moral boundary between those who are committed to democracy and stability and those who are not so committed, between those who want life here and those who sow death here. The president also declared he is no longer willing to accept the bigotry of low expectations with regard to Palestinian society. (Ha'aretz)
  • Roadmap to Nowhere: Second Thoughts on Bush's Speech - Spencer Ackerman
    Even if America is the architect, it won't be the contractor. That crucial job will be left to others--namely, the Palestinians themselves under the watchful eyes of neighboring Arab states and the "international community." If the past is indicative, these groups lack the capability--and, more importantly, the will--to create a free Palestinian state. The inevitable conflict between American designs and Arab, Palestinian, and European interests risks consigning the enterprise into a miasma of superficial changes and unmet Palestinian expectations. (New Republic)
  • Close the Chapter on Arafat - Robert Satloff
    Surely, certifying Arafat's leadership through an election was not Bush's intent. In fact, no true democratic election can take place with Arafat's control over the machinery of the Palestinian Authority. Bush, therefore, should act now to fix this problem by revoking the legal waiver he and President Clinton have routinely issued since 1993 that permits the United States to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization and allows the PLO to have political offices on U.S. soil. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Bush is Right to Call for Arafat's Replacement - Seth Gitell
    Middle East peace has come a little step closer. No longer will the U.S. maintain the fiction that a thug like Arafat is a peacemaker. (Boston Phoenix)
  • Talking Points:

    The Emergence of the Sharon Plan - Ze'ev Schiff

    Sharon does have a political plan to deal with the Palestinian question. The following are its main points:

    • In the current state of affairs, Sharon does not want to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians on a permanent settlement to the conflict. It is possible that he doesn't believe such a settlement is feasible.
    • The establishment of a Palestinian state -- even a political entity in a small area -- should be postponed for as long as possible.
    • No settlements are to be dismantled, not even the most isolated of them. If Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer wants to remove a few "illegal" outposts, he can amuse himself by doing so. In any event, the settlers set up some of these outposts for the purpose of removing them, so that they will be able to maintain other, more important sites of this kind.
    • The army should seize Palestinian areas for an extended period until the terrorism is brought to an end.
    • Sharon is not talking about a fence, but about security zones -- in the east, the entire Jordan Rift Valley; and in the west, the entire "seam area," along a line that, in sections, runs far to the east of the 1967 Green Line.
    • Concurrently, the Palestinians must be forced into a position in which they will consent to a long-term interim agreement. (Ha'aretz)

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