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 9, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

A New Palestinian Voice

    Omar Karsou, a Palestinian from Ramallah who lives in New York, recently met with Vice President Cheney and presented a rarely-heard message of moderation:

  • Israel knowingly encouraged a corrupt and murderous regime headed by a secular dictator, in the hope that he would keep dangerous Islamic fundamentalism at bay. This turned out to be an illusion and Israel is now paying the price.
  • Israel cannot rely on a Palestinian leadership whose only interest is to stay in power. For this purpose, Arafat nurtured an external enemy, Israel, as an outlet for the despair and frustration resulting from failures of his brutal and abusive leadership, the worst the Palestinians could ever have.
  • Israel made a colossal mistake by agreeing to negotiations with Arafat instead of continuing direct talks with an authentic local leadership that had emerged in the framework of the Madrid Conference.
  • Israel gave Arafat guns and channeled money that belonged to the Palestinian people directly to his personal account in Bank Leumi.
  • Israel glorified and empowered PA officials, giving them VIP passes to go in and out of Israel freely, and awarding them lucrative contracts, which were no less than a license to exploit the Palestinian people even further.
  • When the current Palestinian leadership came to power after Oslo, the GDP per capita was 40 percent of Israel's, and now it is 5 percent. We also lost international legitimacy because of a sick terror strategy.
  • Arafat's regime legitimized itself with the rhetoric of liberation. They say they are engaged in a process of liberation, not in reconciliation, of making peace with Israel.
  • We are not a nation of killers and liars and hypocrites. On the contrary, Palestinians are simple, noble and honest people, and our simplicity allowed us to be used, to be exploited by extremists and the Arab world.
  • Our basic need as Palestinians is freedom, and to establish a democratic state. Israel needs its security; its citizens should be safe everywhere, in the streets, in cafes and in discotheques. These are compatible, complementary needs.
  • We are not saying: Put us in power. Just listen to our ideas. By talking to the independent people, like myself, you legitimize them, and by this they have a fighting chance, if and when there are elections. That will definitely help the democratic grassroots movement to emerge. (Ha'aretz)

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  • News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Bush Calls Israeli Actions Justified
    President Bush said yesterday that Israel was justified in occupying the West Bank until "security improves." Speaking at a White House press conference, the president said, "I would hope that everybody got the message that we all have responsibilities to fight off terrorist attacks." American policy in the region appears to be essentially frozen as long as Yasser Arafat remains in place. (New York Times)
  • Boycotts Boomerang
    Boycotts can backfire. Take the Norwegian supermarkets' threat to pull Israeli products off their shelves. "If you try to harm Israeli fruit and vegetable exports, you are actually harming Palestinians," says Ohad Cohen, Israel�s commercial attache to Norway, Sweden and Finland. "Most people who work in that sector are Palestinians or foreigners." One of the two Israeli professors fired recently from a European academic journal was chairperson of Amnesty International�s Israel branch and is active in Peace Now. (Newsweek)
        See also British Students Union Attacks Israel Boycott
    Daniel Rose of the National Union of Students said: "To exclude people based on their nationality is abhorrent and nothing short of racism, and should be universally condemned." (Guardian - UK)
  • Israel to Privatize El Al Airlines
    Israel's national airline, El Al, is to be sold to private investors, reversing an earlier decision to keep 51 percent of the company in the hands of the government. (CNN/AP)
  • London's Arab Press Accused of Inciting Terrorism
    Members of Britain's Jewish community have accused the editors of London-based Arabic newspapers of inciting racial attacks on their children and their synagogues by publishing strong defenses of suicide bombings and quoting an al Qaeda official's "justification" to kill millions of Americans. "There have been a series of attacks in recent years by Muslims who have got so wound up by what they have heard in the mosque or what they have read that they have gone out and attacked the nearest Jew," said security expert Mike Whine, whose Community Security Trust is responsible for protecting Jewish buildings in Britain. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:
  • UNRWA Asked to Halt Inciteful Textbooks
    Meeting at UN headquarters, Israeli Minister Dan Naveh asked the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Peter Hansen, to halt the purchase of textbooks that promote anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel for use in Palestinian refugee camps. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel's New Chief of Staff: Major General Moshe Ya'alon
    Ya'alon, 52, has served as commander of the General Staff reconnaissance unit, head of military intelligence, and deputy chief of staff. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arab-American: "Osama Bin Laden is My Hero"
    The London Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi published a letter from California resident Muhammad Amin Salameh, saying: "Osama bin Laden is one of our noble heroes whom history and generations to come will recognize as restoring honor to this [Islamic] nation. It is my right as an Arab and a Muslim to choose my hero, as the Americans choose theirs." (MEMRI)
  • New IDF Spokesperson
    Veteran diplomat Brig.-Gen. Ruth Yaron is the new IDF Spokesperson. A former spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, she is a senior lecturer at the National Defense College. Yaron's deputy will be Col. Miri Regev. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Times of Dawson - Editorial
    The course the New York Times has hewed in the past decade in the Middle East reminds one of the course that the Times of London pursued under Goeffrey Dawson, the editor who, as World War II was brewing at Europe, counseled the course of appeasement. He sent his correspondents instructions to be sensitive to German sensibilities. (New York Sun)
  • Israel's Learning Curve - Moshe Arens
    Israel is not built for a war of attrition. This war will end only after Israel has scored a decisive military victory and the present Palestinian leadership has been overthrown. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Myth of Islamic Tolerance - Michael Cromartie
    Bat Ye'or is an Egyptian-born Jewish scholar who argues that Islamic tolerance is a myth of modern origin, born of the converging interests of the Islamic states and the Western colonial powers. The actual condition of indigenous Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims under Islamic law as a result of conquest was one of fundamental subjection that permitted only the private exercise of religion. (Christianity Today)
  • Portrait of Evil - Spencer Ackerman
    Last month former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak declared in the New York Review of Books that Palestinians "are products of a culture in which to tell a lie...creates no dissonance. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn't." Barak's portrait of Palestinian culture is flattering compared to the competing snapshot -- a suicide bomber in Pampers. (New Republic)
  • Saudi Arabia's "Female Problem" - Raid Qusti
    Saudi Arabia's "female problem" stems not from the Islamic religion, but from the mentality of Saudi men who perceive women as creatures who are inferior to them. Less than 10 percent of the Saudi female population contributes to our social development, because it is deemed unacceptable for women to work in any fields other than teaching and medicine. In most Gulf countries, women have attained the posts of minister and ambassador. Are these women so much more qualified than Saudi women? (Washington Post)
  • Talking Points:

    No Nation on Earth Yearns for Peace More than Israel
          - David A. Harris (American Jewish Committee)

    • Peace: Israel has not known a single day of peace since its founding 54 years ago because it has not been fully accepted by all its neighbors, some of whom still openly call for its annihilation.
          Whenever a credible peace partner emerged, Israel immediately responded. Treaties with Egypt and Jordan, based on territorial compromise, are the proof. Tragically, no credible Palestinian peace partner has yet emerged, as President Bush said in his landmark speech of June 24, 2002.
    • Democracy: Israel is a liberal democracy, the only one in the Middle East. It shares common values with the United States, including free and fair elections with multiple parties, smooth transfers of power from one leader to another, an independent judiciary, a free press, emancipation of women, and respect for the Christian and Muslim communities in the country.
    • Government: The current Israeli government is a national unity government, despite constant references to the �Sharon� government, as if the prime minister were acting alone. Both the defense and foreign ministers are members of the left-of-center Labor Party. The government continues to enjoy remarkably widespread support in the country.
    • Self-defense: Israel did not initiate the current round of violence that began in September 2000. Like any other nation, Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself against terrorists and suicide bombers. No one would have suggested that Washington sit down and negotiate with al Qaeda or the Taliban after 9/11.

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