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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July 1, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

"Gee, I Didn't Know Arafat Was So Tall"

    On the very day that the Oslo agreements were implemented and Arafat arrived at the Rafah terminal in Gaza in peace and euphoria, a young Israeli soldier looked into the car and then remarked to his comrade: "Gee, I didn't know Arafat was so tall."
    Arafat's kaffiyah was scraping the ceiling, and in a Mercedes you have to be an NBA player for that to happen. It turned out that Arafat was sitting on somebody whom he was smuggling in -- Jihad Amarin -- and Mamduh Nofal, the former military commander of the Democratic Front, was hiding in the trunk.
    On the night of September 28, 2000, Arafat issued orders and instructions to his political leadership and the different commanders of the security agencies to begin a wave of violence. The formal security forces were to stick to the sidelines and allow the irregulars -- the "national and Islamic forces," an alliance of Tanzim, Hamas, Jihad, and the Fronts -- to do the job.
    We are heading towards a system of two to four or more undeclared principalities in the territories, each controlled by a different local coalition.
    We have reached a point very similar to one reached after the intifada of 1936-39, called by the Palestinians "The Great Arab Revolt." At that time, the neighboring Arab states returned to the scene and made decisions on behalf of the Palestinians, whether they liked it or not, after the British killed 5,000 Palestinians and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was exiled.
    A basic tenet of the Oslo accord was the assumption that the Palestinian partner, Arafat, was/is interested in a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, at peace with Israel. But Arafat never intended to end his political career as the president of a mini-Palestinian state.
    The latest insurgency has not become a popular uprising; there is only limited participation by those living in the countryside, in the Jerusalem region, or among students.
    Concerns about the repercussions to the deportation of Arafat are much exaggerated.
    This war is not about settlements. It was never about occupation. It is about whether the Palestinian state is going to be born in peace and for peace.
- Ehud Ya'ari (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/JCPA)

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Back Issues

News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Secretary Powell on Next Steps
    "If they don't bring in new leaders, then we shouldn't expect new approaches....What we have to spend our time to help other Palestinian leaders to rise up and to begin transformation within the Palestinian community....A number of Arab leaders have examined the situation, just as we have, and realized that Chairman Arafat has not been providing the kind of leadership that we need to see...and they recognize that perhaps new leaders would be better." (Fox News Sunday)
  • Condoleezza Rice on "the Suicide Baby"
    What does that picture of a baby dressed as a suicide bomber say about the hopes of Palestinians for life with the Israeli people as good neighbors? You know, we�ve all, in our lives, had experiences with hatred. I certainly have in Birmingham, Alabama. And it all starts with recognizing that the other person is human and deserves a future. If you�re going to send your babies and your teenagers to kill other teenagers, something has broken down in this concept of humanity. (MSNBC/Meet the Press)
  • Arab Activists Target American Products
    Since last spring, any product identified with the United States--and therefore with American support for Israel--may suddenly find itself unwanted by consumers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Indonesia and Lebanon. �In the supermarket, all you hear people talking about is what�s made in America, and not to buy it,� says one Saudi housewife. (Newsweek)
  • U.S., Israel Discuss Joint Anti-Terror Office
    Israeli Brig. Gen. David Tzur and Minister of Internal Security Uzi Landau met with U.S. lawmakers and Defense Department officials last week to gather support for a joint U.S.-Israeli anti-terror office located in Washington to serve as a communications hub. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:
  • IDF Kills Terrorist Mastermind
    Muhanad Taher of Nablus, leader of Hamas's Izzadin Kassam military wing, had been on Israel's most wanted list for four years, and was responsible for planning the homicide bombing on a bus in southern Jerusalem on June 18, killing 19 passengers and wounding 70. He was also behind the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium attack last summer and the Netanya Park Hotel attack this Pessah. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Terrorists Hide in Ambulances
    On Sunday morning, an armored corps unit stopped two ambulances in Ramallah for a routine inspection. Inside the vehicles were 27 Palestinians, at least 10 of whom are suspected of terrorist activity. (IDF)
  • Train Bomb Lightly Injures Four
    A remote-controlled bomb exploded next to a train packed with 500 people in Lod Sunday morning, lightly injuring four passengers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Demonstrations in the PA
    Last week there were unprecedented, huge demonstrations in Gaza and Ramallah against the economic situation and rising unemployment. In May 2001, the Hamas dawa welfare fund aided 3,200 families in Nablus. One year later, that number had risen to 8,000, not including families of homicide bombers. (Makor Rishon)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Palestinian Reformist Speaks - Eyad Sarraj
    In 1998, when Haidar Abdel Shafi, myself, and a few others applied to register our Movement of Democracy as a political party with the Palestinian Authority, our request was rejected by Yasser Arafat. When 20 members of the Palestinian parliament found the resolve to criticize the behavior of the regime publicly and to urge serious reform, they were harshly silenced. One member was shot at and another badly beaten. It is time for Israelis to walk free from fear, and Palestinians to walk with dignity. (Washington Post)
  • The Anti-Semitic Lies that Threaten All of Us - Harold Evans
    What is surprising is the virulence of this new anti-Semitism throughout all the Muslim countries. It is frenzied, vociferous, paranoid, vicious and prolific, and is only incidentally connected to the Palestinian conflict. (Times - UK)
  • State Out of Step - William Safire
    The U.S. government's newsroom at the Voice of America tilts pro-Arafat and anti-Sharon. Four times in one week, VOA director Robert Reilly had to pull stories that featured Arab justifications of suicide bombing. (New York Times)
  • A U.S.-Led Trusteeship For Palestine - Martin Indyk
    Under this approach, a U.S.-led international group would assume control of the Palestinian areas now nominally assigned to the Palestinian Authority (42 percent of the West Bank and most of Gaza). For three years, the U.S.-chaired trustees would oversee the building of the new state's democratic institutions, election of its leadership, and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to define its permanent borders. (Washington Post)
  • Prerequisite to Mideast Peace - Jeff Jacoby
    The dismal truth is that among the Palestinians, it is the majority who nurse hatred and support the slaughter of civilians. What was done to Japan and to Germany can be done to the Palestinians. Pulverizing defeat followed by occupation and transformation would be a blessing to all the peoples of the Middle East - to the Palestinians above all. (Boston Globe)
  • The Most Wanted Palestinian - Elizabeth Rubin
    Qeis Adwan, a student leader at An Najah University in Nablus, assumed command for the northern military wing of Hamas and masterminded suicide attacks that killed 31 Israelis. He was killed by Israeli special forces on April 5, 2002. (New York Times)
  • Talking Points:

    Calls for Democracy Seen as Selective - Howard Schneider

    • President Bush may have discovered a need to upset the ruling order in the Palestinian Authority in hopes of quelling what he views as terrorism, but American leaders have been much more hesitant to apply the same standards in such allied countries as Egypt, where U.S. interests have been protected by a former air force officer, and Saudi Arabia, whose monarchs rule beyond the reach of any electorate.
    • The royal leaders of Saudi Arabia, who are among those trying to put the best face on Bush's initiative, have suddenly become fans of electoral politics. Saudi Arabia, however, has never held an election. It is a monarchy governed by a clique of brothers who rely for advice on an appointed consultative body and extensive meetings with citizens, but are not accountable in any formal way for their performance.
    • Egypt, meanwhile, which has jailed pro-democracy and other activists for accepting foreign donations, has said it is ready to intervene and help restructure Palestinian institutions.
    • In Jordan -- which has postponed parliamentary elections in order to avoid expected gains by Islamic candidates -- King Abdullah welcomed Bush's speech.
    • "There is no number two in the Palestinian Authority. There is no number two in Egypt, no number two in Syria. There is no number two in the entire Arab world," said a Lebanese political scientist. "The U.S. has always backed authoritarian regimes and been very comfortable dealing with these regimes." (Washington Post)

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