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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September 4, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

We Have Committed a Serious Mistake

    Nabil Amr, former Palestinian minister for parliamentary affairs, catalogued the Palestinian Authority's mistakes in a letter to Chairman Arafat published in Al Hayat (London):
    Let us be frank with each other: There is something other than conspiracy that has made the whole world either stand against us or incapable of helping us. What works is frankness and admission that a grave failure has occurred.
    Doesn't the "giant fighter" (the Palestinian people) deserve some time to rest and take a breather? Is it not wise to besiege Sharon with calm, perhaps we will win the third party that we have lost because of our miscalculated steps?
    What prevents us from acting immediately to stop the chaos spreading in the administrative department where the army of employees has reached 130,000 persons, three quarters of whom do not know what their work is?
    We have committed a serious mistake against our people, authority, and the dream of the establishment of our state. (IMRA)
    See also Ex-Minister Criticizes Arafat (Ha'aretz)
    Ex-PA Minister: Arafat Missed Chance at Camp David (Jerusalem Post)

Southern Wall of Temple Mount in Danger of Collapse

    The Temple Mount in Jerusalem represents the greatest point of sanctity for the Jewish people, the site of the biblical Holy Temple.
    Muslims, led by the Israeli Islamic movement, are seeking to turn the entire area into one giant mosque, and into an exclusively Muslim area. They are working diligently to erase and destroy every archeological remnant and finding that may testify to any Jewish spark or connection to the place.
    During October 1999-January 2000, a huge hole was dug in the Temple Mount and archeological remnants from the First and Second Temple periods were thrown into city garbage dumps.
    The unsupervised construction has also led to an increasingly dangerous buckling of the southern wall, which may collapse at any moment.
    (Jerusalem Viewpoints - Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Israel Prepares for Iraqi Response to U.S. Attack
    Israel has asked its security and emergency services to complete preparations for a possible U.S. attack on Iraq - and an Iraqi counterstrike against Israel - by Nov. 1, officials said Tuesday. Israel is getting ready for the possibility that if the United States attacks Iraq, Saddam Hussein will strike against Israel. In 1991, Israel did not respond when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at it, but officials have publicly said Israel will retaliate if Baghdad attacks again. Maariv reported that Sharon met Tuesday with the heads of his security forces to discuss a possible U.S. attack on Iraq. (Washington Post/AP)
  • Blair Says "No Alternative" to Iraq Attack
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair told critics on Tuesday that there is no alternative to acting against Saddam Hussein. Blair, who is expected to meet President Bush in Washington over the next few weeks, will tell his constituency on his return from Johannesburg that doing nothing about Saddam is "not an option." (Times - UK)
  • A Wall of Separation
    Israel's government is slowly, grudgingly, beginning the process of walling its citizens off from the residents of the Palestinian territories. Phase One of the project - 64 miles in the northern West Bank and 22 miles around Jerusalem - is currently under construction; it is budgeted at $200 million and scheduled for completion in July 2003. (Boston Globe)
  • Kuwait Breaks Ranks on Saddam
    Kuwait became the first Arab state to signal support for a U.S.-led military coalition against Iraq, in marked contrast to the caution shown by other countries in the region. The Kuwaiti foreign minister stated, "While Saddam Hussein continues to keep Kuwaiti prisoners of war, and continues to televise threats against Kuwait, we consider the war against Iraq to have never ended. If America asks for support Kuwait will give it. I expect the same response from all Gulf states. There may be the need publicly to be anti-war, but under-the-table deals are being struck." (Daily Telegraph - UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Israeli Textbooks Still Push Peace
    No Israeli text books call for war or violence against Arabs in spite of the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, according to a study released Tuesday by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace. A study by the CMIP last year showed that 58 textbooks being used in Palestinian Authority schools did not mention Israel or the peace process. In contrast, the new study of 350 Israeli textbooks, including those published in 2000 and 2001, showed that many promote peace, speak of the peace process, and discuss the issue of borders between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mortar Hits Roof of Jewish Home in Gush Katif
    A Palestinian mortar shell hit the home of a Jewish family in the Gush Katif region of the Gaza District Wednesday morning, causing extensive damage but no injuries. Palestinians fired mortars, an anti-tank missile, and threw fragmentation grenades at Jewish villages and army posts Tuesday evening. (Maariv)
  • Samaria Man Survives Second Terror Attack
    "God is watching over me," said Eitan Rado, 45, who was attacked for the second time in 14 months on the road near his Neveh Tzuf home Tuesday. Rado, a father of four, was driving past the turnoff to Bir Zeit on the way to Ma'aleh Ephraim when he saw an Arab running toward him with a gun. He drove in a zigzag in an attempt to avoid being hit while the gunman fired 14 bullets into his vehicle, hitting the windshield and wounding Rado in the head, arm, and shoulder. The previous time, he was attacked by two terrorists on the same road and was wounded in the back and leg. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Al Qaeda's Recovery - Editorial
    The last few weeks have brought a steady stream of discouraging reports that "al Qaeda is by all accounts 'fit and well' and poised to strike again at its leisure." The Iranian government is supporting al Qaeda's recovery and harboring some of its senior leaders. Even as it semi-publicly debates invasion plans for Iraq, it's not clear that the administration has a strategy for neutralizing al Qaeda's reemerging tentacles. (Washington Post)
  • Taking Apart Iraq's Nuclear Threat - Ehud Barak
    If Saddam Hussein is allowed to cheat the inspectors and the world for another year or two, we might end up making an unforgivable mistake. We in Israel have already been through this. Prime Minister Menachem Begin ordered the destruction of an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981. This action delayed an Iraqi bomb by at least 15 years. The whole world condemned Israel - only to realize later how farsighted it had been. Saddam Hussein now is much more cautious. His military-nuclear infrastructure is geographically spread out and protected to avoid a repetition of the 1981 defeat. (New York Times)
  • Our Friends the Saudis Still Hold U.S. Citizens Hostage - William McGurn
    "Any American woman in Saudi Arabia who wants to leave will be free to do so," said Prince Saud al-Faisal on Sunday in Jeddah to a U.S. congressional delegation. But though American women may now, in theory, be allowed to leave (the prince said nothing about their children), not a single American is in fact getting out. At a time when the Saudis are desperate to improve their image in the U.S., and spending millions to do so, their continuing failure to produce tangible results on something so obviously in their interests is not a happy sign that this is a regime willing to take on the Wahhabi view of the United States. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Talking Points:

    The Palestinian Intifada has been a Disaster - Editorial (Globe & Mail - Canada)

    • The violence has been a tragedy for Israelis, but it has been a disaster for Palestinians, and has done nothing but ill for the Palestinian cause.
    • Unemployment in the territories is 50 percent. The tens of thousands of jobs in Israel that Palestinians depended upon have disappeared. The rate of poverty is now 70 percent in the Gaza Strip and 55 percent in the West Bank.
    • The violence has transformed the Israeli political landscape. The majority view in favor of accommodation has been replaced by a conviction that the Palestinian threat is existential - it's either us or them.
    • The intifada has been particularly disastrous in terms of public opinion in the United States, where it really matters. Americans view Israel as facing much the same threat that they have since Sept. 11.
    • The first intifada lasted from 1987 to 1992 and was instrumental in forcing Israel and Palestinian leaders to the negotiating table. The second intifada did the opposite. It has besmirched the Palestinian cause. It has to end.

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