Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 2, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Warns of Plots to Kidnap Americans in Gaza (Voice of America)
    The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv said Friday that it has received credible reports of possible kidnapping plots against U.S. citizens in the Gaza Strip. Americans are advised to use caution.

Will the U.S. Attack Syria? - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
    "If Syria doesn't behave according to our explicit expectations, we will attack it," the very senior American officer stated.
    Was he referring to the Syrian forces in Lebanon that were assisting Hizballah? "Not only there," the very senior figure asserted, "in Syria itself."
    A few days later, a colleague of his was asked whether, in the event of an American-Syrian clash, the administration would expect Israel to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.
    "No," the official said surprisingly. "On the contrary, we are taking into account that a confrontation between us and Syria over the attitude toward Hizballah will bring about shooting into Israel by Hizballah and a commensurate Israeli response."
    An American strike on Syria is still far off, and perhaps Bashar Assad will abandon his caprices, but the evaluation of Israeli military intelligence is that this will be exceedingly difficult for the Damascus regime to do.

Syria's Moves toward Moderation are "Cosmetic" - Daniel Sobelman (Ha'aretz)
    Amidst reports that Syria has moderated its tone, intelligence sources in Israel say Syrian moves so far are merely tactical, if not outright "cosmetic."
    Syria is restraining Hizballah in Lebanon, but is not taking any action to dismantle the radical Shi'ite organization.
    There is still no confirmation of the report last week that heavy weapons delivered by Iran to Hizballah in southern Lebanon have been removed.

Winning Entries in the PA Children's Letter Writing Contest (Palestinian Media Watch/IMRA)
    The PA Education Ministry announced the 10 first-place winners from among one million letters submitted in a children's letter writing contest.
    The themes of the winning letters include longing for Israel's destruction, desire to kill Israelis, and hatred of the U.S.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Tens of Thousands March in Annual Salute to Israel Parade
    More than 100,000 marchers, along with thirty-three floats and ten bands, made their way cheerfully down 5th Avenue on Sunday in a sea of blue and white, and red, white and blue, as both flags waved in unity. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said: "Let us send a signal of solidarity and support to Israel that will be seen and heard all around the world today." Mayor Bloomberg led the parade. Senator Charles Schumer was the grand marshal. (WABC)
  • Egypt Losing Grip as Mideast Broker
    President Bush's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, on Wednesday, to be held in Aqaba, Jordan, may signal a challenge by both Israel and the U.S. to Egypt's long-standing role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "The marginalization of Egypt has been in the cards for several years," said Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University outside Tel Aviv. "There's great disappointment in Israel. Egypt is seen as not living up to its peace obligations." (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Iran "Liable" for Beirut Bombing
    A U.S. federal judge has found Iran liable for the 1983 bombing of a U.S. barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, which left 241 marines dead, in a suit brought by family members. District Judge Royce Lamberth said that, based on the evidence presented, it was "beyond question" that Hizballah and its agents "received massive material and technical support from the Iranian government." A lawyer for the plaintiffs said that the amount of damages awarded could reach $2.3 billion. (BBC)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IDF Lifts Closure on West Bank, Gaza - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    The IDF Sunday lifted its closure on the West Bank and Gaza and eased movement restrictions among Palestinian cities as part of the confidence-building measures under the road map, allowing some 25,000 Palestinians with permits issued by the security services to work or conduct business in Israel. However, the Shin Bet security service had 57 warnings of planned attacks. Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said that the IDF's anti-terror tactics will remain unchanged until the Palestinians accept responsibility for security.
        The Shin Bet has given Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz a list of 100 Palestinian prisoners slated for release in conjunction with the upcoming summit meetings. The list includes Abu Sukar, who headed a Fatah terrorist cell that planted a booby-trapped refrigerator in Jerusalem's Zion Square in 1975, killing 14 and injuring 72. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: A Cease-Fire is Not Enough - Joshua Brilliant
    "The Palestinians must take concrete action to eradicate terrorism," Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told foreign ambassadors Friday. "A cease-fire is not enough. Israel wants a permanent cessation of terrorism, not a cease-fire." Shalom said a cease-fire with militant groups would place Israel in a precarious position. "We don't want to be hostages of the Hamas, or the Islamic Jihad," he said. "When they will decide to put an end to the cease-fire, they will renew attacks against Israeli civilians. We can't accept it." (UPI)
        See also Israel Seeks Formal "Jewish" State Label - Joshua Brilliant
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that at this week's Middle East summit meetings, Israel was seeking a "clear statement by Bush of the need to preserve Israel as a Jewish state," as well as "an Arab undertaking to recognize Israel as a Jewish state." (UPI/Washington Times)
  • Hamas Terrorist Convicted of Killing 66 Israelis - Arnon Regular and Aluf Benn
    The Beit El Military Court on Sunday convicted Hamas member Abdullah Barghouti of killing 66 Israelis and injuring 500 people. Barghouti did not contest the charges. He was convicted of making the bombs used in a number of attacks in Jerusalem over the past two years: the bombing at the Hebrew University in which five Americans and four Israelis were killed, a suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizzeria that killed 15 people in August 2001, the suicide bombing at the Moment Cafe that left 11 people dead, and a triple bombing on Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall that killed 10 people. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egyptian Protestors See Bush Persona Non Grata
    Hundreds of Egyptian demonstrators rallied in Cairo against U.S. President George Bush�s envisaged visit to the country, citing his killing of innocent Iraqis and supporting Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon. (IslamOnline-Qatar)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Mullahs' Manhattan Project - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    For better or usually for worse, the Islamic Republic of Iran can always command our attention, easily reminding us, as did the wars with Saddam Hussein and September 11, that the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation isn't the cutting edge of modern Middle Eastern history. Clerical Iran's ever-advancing nuclear-weapons program and its fondness for using terrorism as statecraft have made the country the litmus test of President Bush's war on terrorism and his "axis of evil" doctrine. (Weekly Standard)
  • Cheers for Wolfowitz - Stephen Schwartz
    Last week Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, widely identified (and denounced) as the main architect of America's Iraq intervention, won multiple standing ovations from an audience of hundreds of Muslims at the Shia national convention in Washington, held by the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA). Until now, the discourse on Islam in America was dominated, from the Muslim side, by the "Wahhabi lobby" - groups toeing the extremist line of the Saudi regime - including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Agha Shaukat Jafri, a Shia community leader in New York and organizer of the UMAA convention, said, "We should thank the Bush administration for liberating the Shias of Iraq." (New York Post)
  • Suicide Bombing - a Growth Industry in Gaza - Paul McGeough
    In a town-by-town tour of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip last year, leaders in all the Palestinian militia groups told me they were inundated with offers from eager teenagers, young women, and fathers in their 40s who are prepared to die. In Gaza City, Dr. Rabah Mohanna, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said: "Thousands of young men and women are ready to be blown up. It is a new phenomenon - you have no idea how big it is." Some said a bombing mission could be set up for as little as U.S.$150, but a Hamas operative said the price of a complete mission was more likely to be about $4,000. (Sydney Morning Herald)
        See also Female Suicide Bomber Ignites Palestinian Feminist Debate - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Since Hiba Daraghmeh of the Islamic Jihad blew herself up and killed three Israelis at a mall in Afula on May 19, mosque leaders, school teachers, and Islamic militants say they have been peppered with questions from teenage girls and young women asking what kind of role they could play in the fighting. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Observations:  

    Rice Reiterates President's Call for New Palestinian Leadership - Condoleezza Rice (State Department)

    In an interview with foreign journalists on Thursday, U.S. National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice said:

    • I do not understand the continuing interest [of the French government] in Arafat in this regard. The fact is that the Palestinian people need leadership that is committed to fighting terrorism. That has never been Arafat.
    • The Palestinian people need leadership that will focus on their needs and on trying to get to a Palestinian state that is peaceful and prosperous, rather than someone who simply stokes their grievances. That has never been Arafat.
    • We believe that the future is with the new Palestinian leadership, and that that's where the focus and concentration needs to be. That's been the American position since the President's June 24th speech almost a year ago. But we will see whether or not the world can now mobilize to help the new Palestinian leadership to do what it needs to do.
    • The one message that should go out to Mr. Arafat is that he should not stand in the way of the fulfillment of a Palestinian state for his people.

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