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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October 14, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Al Qaeda Believed Thriving in Indonesia - Richard Halloran

    Muslim extremists seek to drive the United States out of Southeast Asia and establish strict Islamic regimes in Indonesia and Malaysia.
    Zachary Abuza, a political scientist and director of the Asia program at Simmons College in Massachusetts, reports that the al Qaeda cell in Indonesia may be the most dangerous because of the breakdown of government authority in that country.
    "New ties between Indonesia and al Qaeda are being uncovered at an alarming rate," he says. "Until Indonesia begins to get serious about the threat of terrorism, it will remain al Qaeda's next great frontier." (Washington Times)

Beleaguered Christians in the PA - David Raab

    There are numerous signs of the beleaguered position of the Christian population in the areas administered by the Palestinian Authority.
    In August 1997, Palestinian policemen in Beit Sahur opened fire on a crowd of Christian Arabs, wounding six. The PA covered up the incident.
    In February 2002, Palestinian Moslems rampaged against Christians in Ramallah, and the Palestinian Authority failed to intervene.
    As reported by the Boston Globe, "Hundreds of men poured out of the refugee camp and went to Ramallah, where they burned Hanna Salameh's house and store. They then burned his brother's store, damaged several businesses owned by Christians not related to the Salamehs, and torched the exercise room and terrorized more than 100 children at Sariya, a scouting and youth center."
    A Palestinian convert to Christianity living near Nablus was arrested by the Palestinian police. A Muslim preacher was brought in, who attempted to convince the man to return to Islam. When he refused, he was brought before a Palestinian court and sentenced to prison for insulting the religious leader.
    The exile of 39 hard-core Palestinian militants from Bethlehem - 13 to Europe and 26 to Gaza - after the siege at the Church of the Nativity, ended a two-year reign of terror for local residents that included rape, extortion, and executions. Palestinians who live near the church described the group as a criminal gang that preyed especially on Palestinian Christians. (IMRA)

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Rumsfeld Orders War Plans Redone for Faster Action
    U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered military commanders to rewrite all of their war plans to capitalize on precision weapons, better intelligence, and speedier deployment. "Today you can have overwhelming force, conceivably, with lesser numbers because the lethality is equal to or greater than before," he said. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Embassy Guards Help Avert Terror Attack in Israel
    A major terror attack was averted in Tel Aviv on Friday by U.S. embassy security guards, who overpowered a would-be Palestinian suicide bomber who had intended to blow up a cafe close to the embassy. After a security guard at the cafe had searched the man and discovered he was carrying explosives, the man ran away and the guard chased after him, while calling out for help. Security guards from the embassy joined the pursuit, helping to tackle the man and pin him until the bomb squad removed his vest of explosives. (VOA)
  • Radical Shias are a Worry for Bush as well as Saddam
    About 60 percent of Iraqis are Shia, and they have been largely excluded from power and denied the fruits of the country's lucrative oil-smuggling trade because Saddam and his ruling clique are Sunni Muslims, a grouping that counts for 18 percent of the population. Saddam has ruthlessly repressed this volatile majority, murdering one cleric after another and ordering his largely Sunni Republican Guard to crush any hint of rebellion. In 1991, the Republican Guard perpetrated a bloodbath in the city of Karbala, ploughing through the bazaars in T72 tanks emblazoned with the slogan "No Shias After Today." (Times - UK)
  • Campus Collision on Israel
    The divestiture drive is designed as a way to protest Israeli treatment of Palestinians, but Jews and others say that by adopting tactics used to oppose apartheid in the 1970s and 1980s, the movement not so subtly paints the Israeli government as racist and oppressive. "What this movement does is compare Israel to South Africa. That is hideous," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "There is a greater tolerance on the college campus than elsewhere for expressions of anti-Semitism." (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Israel to U.S.: Easing Closure Harms Security
    Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told the cabinet on Sunday that the attempted attacks of the last few days demonstrate that: "Every time we open things up [ease the curfews], the terrorists take advantage of this to carry out attacks against us." Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad, coordinator of government activities in the territories, said all attempts to ease up on restrictions, without the Palestinian Authority taking real action against terrorism, will fail. Prime Minister Sharon is expected to discuss this and other issues with President Bush on Wednesday in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Good Morning Baghdad, This is Washington Calling
    After six months of broadcasts, Radio Sawa, which is owned by the U.S. government and broadcasts music and news to the Arab world, is now the most popular radio station among young people in Amman, Jordan. Western journalists recently visiting Iraq related that Radio Sawa is the favored station among the country's taxi drivers. For the first time ever, the U.S. has managed to penetrate the Arab world. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Of Pirates and Terrorists - Saul Singer
    As historian Paul Johnson has pointed out, European states in the 19th century initially found it convenient to ransom their citizens from pirates rather than fight them. It was the U.S. that broke this pattern by sending the marines across the Egyptian desert to force the Bey of Tripoli to surrender all American captives and sue for peace. The entire strategy of terrorists is based on the targeting of civilians - what is known as "war crimes." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Liberals Should Support the War - Jonathan Chait
    Liberals and conservatives share many foreign policy values in common: encouraging democracy and capitalism, responding to direct aggression. That is why both overwhelmingly supported overthrowing the Taliban and hunting down al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We are contemplating the overthrow of one of the most internally violent and repressive regimes on Earth. Indeed, from a purely humanitarian perspective, the case for this war is stronger than for the Gulf war - in which we restored an authoritarian monarchy in Kuwait and left Saddam's tyrannical regime in place. (New Republic)
  • Talking Points:

    Double Standards: Iraq, Israel, and the United Nations (The Economist - UK)

    • The UN distinguishes between two sorts of Security Council resolutions. Those passed under Chapter Six deal with the peaceful resolution of disputes and entitle the council to make non-binding recommendations. Those under Chapter Seven give the council broad powers to take action, including warlike action, to deal with "threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression." Such resolutions, binding on all UN members, were used against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait. None of the resolutions relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict comes under Chapter Seven.
    • Resolution 242 of 1967, passed after the Six-Day War and frequently cited in the double-standards argument, does not instruct Israel to withdraw unilaterally from the territories occupied in 1967. It does not condemn Israel's conquest, for the good reason that most Western powers at that time thought it the result of a justifiable pre-emptive war. It calls for a negotiated settlement, based on the principle of exchanging land for peace.
    • In the case of Iraq, the Security Council has instructed Mr. Hussein to take various unilateral actions that he is perfectly capable of taking. Resolution 242 cannot be implemented unilaterally, even if Israel wanted to do so.
    • Some of the diplomats who drafted Resolution 242 said afterwards that they intended to allow for some changes in the armistice lines that separated Israel and its Arab neighbors before the war of 1967. The Arabs maintain that the resolution requires a complete withdrawal from every inch. But even if this were so, the resolution cannot be implemented without arriving at a negotiated agreement.
    • It is commonly asserted that Israel's occupation is "illegal." This is questionable. In the view of Sir Adam Roberts, professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, it was a "serious mistake" to describe the occupation itself in this way. Legal or not, the occupation has lasted a terribly long time. But this is not solely Israel's fault. In 1967, it was the Arabs who rejected Resolution 242. They did not, in fact, acknowledge Israel's right to exist at all after 1967, until Egypt alone made peace.
    • The UN's approach has been to recognize the complexity of the respective claims, lay down broad principles, and urge a negotiated peace. The case of Iraq could hardly be more different. That country is in conflict with the UN itself, having refused to comply with the clear instructions, under Chapter Seven, to give up its weapons of mass destruction.
    • Israel has still not signed the NPT. As with any other treaty, governments are free not to sign. What they are not free to do is sign, receive the foreign (civilian) nuclear help to which signing entitles them, and then try to build a bomb secretly. This is what Iraq tried to do, and may still be trying to do. Israel is thought to possess a nuclear arsenal, but being a nuclear-armed power is not, by itself, a breach of international law and is not evidence of "double standards."
        See also Baseless Comparisons: UN Security Council Resolutions on Iraq and Israel (Jerusalem Issue Brief - Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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