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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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July 3, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Palestinian Demonstrations Raise Hopes

According to Dr. Hillel Frisch of Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the civil unrest in the Gaza Strip might be a positive development, in terms of lessening popular support for suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks inside Israel and, ultimately, in helping to get the peace process back on track.

  • The Islamic organizations are at the root of this economic misery because they were originally behind the suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks that led to closure of the Israeli market to Palestinian workers.
  • The suffering is even more acute in Gaza, with one million people, because there is little in the way of local work or farming. Most Gazans are urban dwellers and landless, and the poverty is much harsher than in the West Bank.
  • In the mid-1990s, as many as 150,000 Palestinians worked in Israel, and their combined earnings totalled more than $100 million a month -- more than the entire PA budget.
  • In Gaza, employment in Israel coupled with the work that this generated locally in the form of taxi drivers, garage mechanics, and the like, accounted for 50% of all economic activity.
  • Even if all the wealth were to be more evenly distributed by the PA instead of going into the pockets of the officials, and there was no corruption, it would still be insufficient to cover the loss of income due to the closure of the Israeli workplace.
  • There is no substitute for the Israeli labor market for the Palestinians, and especially those living in Gaza, even if international relief agencies such as UNRWA provide them with staples to prevent starvation.
  • "I believe and hope that these grassroots hunger demonstrations are a positive development which might turn into a lobby for political and military moderation," Frisch said. (Jerusalem Post)

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    Back Issues

  • News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Arabs Question Suicide Bombings
    Though a narrow majority of Palestinians support suicide bombing, a far broader majority oppose arresting those behind the attacks. Criticism of such attacks is pitched to Palestinian self-interest rather than broader moral concerns. (New York Times)
  • Saudi Arabia: A White-Hot Anger toward America
    Hatred of America as a result of its support for Israel has reached such a pitch that liberal commentators fear the country is being destabilized and that a whole new generation of potential bombers is being spawned. In addition, every year, 400,000 more young men graduate into immediate joblessness. (Guardian - UK)
  • European Academic Journals Sack Israelis
    Miriam Shlesinger, a senior lecturer in translation studies at Bar-Ilan University, was dismissed from the editorial board of The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication. Gideon Toury, a professor at Tel-Aviv University's School of Cultural Studies, was removed from the international advisory board of Translation Studies Abstracts. 300 European academics have signed a petition calling for a boycott of Israeli cultural and research institutions. (
  • Gary Bauer in Israel, Brings Letter of Support
    Former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, on a visit to Israel, presented Prime Minister Sharon with a letter of support for the Israeli people signed by tens of leading American conservative political figures. (American Values)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:
  • Reported Changes in Palestinian Security Services
    Amidst denials, Palestinian sources report that the head of Preventive Security in the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, has been replaced by former Jenin governor Zohir Manasra. Palestinian Police Chief Razi Jabali is to be replaced by his deputy, Salim al Burdena. (Ha'aretz]
  • Barak: Arafat a "Serial Liar"
    Yasser Arafat is a "serial liar" who is completely untrustworthy and has finished his "role in history," former prime minister Ehud Barak said in an interview on Tuesday. Barak doesn't believe Israel should do anything to eliminate Arafat, but said, "We must stop the campaign that exists among some of us to save Arafat." (Jerusalem Post]
  • New PA TV Commercial Recruits Martyrs
    A new Palestinian TV commercial, aired on June 27, depicts beautiful young women clad in billowy white robes smiling fetchingly and calling out to an Arab man to "join us." When the new Palestinian martyr arrives in paradise, a woman in white pulls him into the mist where she and the others surround him and gently caress him. (Michael Widlanski - Media Line]
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Anti-Semitism is Back - Todd Gitlin
    A Left that cares for the rights of humanity cannot cavalierly tolerate the systematic abuse of any people -- whatever you think of Israel's foreign policy. Any student movement worthy of the name must face the ugly history that long made anti-Semitism the acceptable racism, and break from it. If fighting it unremittingly is not a "progressive" cause, then what kind of progress does progressivism have in mind? (Mother Jones)
  • Palestinians Yearn for Democracy - Morton M. Kondracke
    At a conference last Thursday hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Palestinian reformers Khalil Shikaki and Ziad Abu Amr confirmed that significant elements of their society yearn for dependable government and the rule of law. "We want to be a democracy," said Shikaki, a scholar and pollster. "We don't want to be a corrupt, mismanaged entity - just another Arab country." Shikaki predicted that Bush's implicit call for Arafat's ouster would boost the Palestinian leader's approval ratings by only 10 percent from its lowly 35 percent. (Roll Call)
  • Arabs at the Crossroads - Thomas L. Friedman
    It's not only the Palestinians who need radical reform of their governance -- it's most of the Arab world. Out of seven key regions of the world, the Arab region scores the lowest in civil liberties, political rights, a voice for the people, independence of the media, and government accountability. Economically, the GDP of Spain is greater than all 22 Arab states combined. (New York Times)
  • Create a New Mideast State in Washington - Dov B. Fischer
    The greatest challenge will be to create a new Mideast state in Washington, D.C. -- a state of heightened Mideast awareness, of monitoring what is being taught and communicated in Palestinian Arab society and in the neighboring "moderate" Islamist regimes, and of vigilant follow-up on Mideast social progress. Unless and until America demonstrates a Mideast state of follow-up, no peace plan will stand a chance. (National Review)
  • How to Rig a Democracy - Susan Sachs
    In the Arab world, pro-democracy advocates risk arrest, and the kings, sheiks and presidents vacate power only in the event of death or coup. Given the state of the neighborhood, many Palestinians are understandably skeptical about the possibility of creating the full-blown democracy that Mr. Bush demanded as the price of American support for a Palestinian state. (New York Times)
  • Talking Points: Operation "Determined Path": Achievements So Far

    • The operation was launched after terrorist attacks on June 18-20 killed 33 Israelis and wounded 90, included two homicide bombings in Jerusalem and a brutal assault on the home of a family in Itamar.
    • The mission: a sustained IDF presence in the Palestinian cities throughout Judea and Samaria with the goal of stopping the wave of terror.
    • Israel has no intention of establishing a military administration.
    • The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has been ordered to make every effort to ease restrictions on the civilian population and meet its daily needs.
    • The operation has met relatively light resistance.
    • Results so far:
      • A drastic drop in terrorist homicide attacks against Israeli targets.
      • Israeli security forces are able to gather pinpoint information about terrorists' identities and plans.
      • The arrest or elimination of dangerous terrorist leaders and organizers, including senior Fatah and Hamas operatives.
      • Explosive laboratories have been destroyed; hundreds of weapons, grenades, and bulletproof vests captured; homicide bombers' explosive belts and charges including devices similar to those used by Hizballah in Lebanon.

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