Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see web version.


June 13, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
[email protected]

In-Depth Issue:

Background: Hamas Opposes Any Territorial Compromise with Israel
    "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it." (Hamas Charter-Preface)
    "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes Palestine to be the Islamic wakf [sacred property] of all Moslems until the end of days. Neither Palestine nor any part of it can be conceded." (Article 1)
    "[The movement] is striving to fly the flag of Allah over every part of Palestine." (Article 6)
    "Any concession of a part of Palestine is a concession of a part of the faith." (Article 13)
    Read the Hamas Charter (Cornell University)
    See also Hamas - A Branch of the Moslem Brotherhood - Boaz Ganor (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Bus Bombing Casualty Has Message for Bush - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Sarri Singer, 29, daughter of Robert Singer, one of two Republican majority leaders of New Jersey's state senate, was one of the 100 people wounded in the bus bombing in downtown Jerusalem Wednesday.
    She had surgery on her shoulder, where a piece of shrapnel had nicked her bone, and the skin around both her eyes was bruised.
    After the attack, she said, she was very angry. "President Bush, who I voted for and I respect, does not understand what goes on here," Sarri said on Israel Radio.
    Still, her love of Israel and her desire to live here remain intact: "If everyone leaves, then the Palestinians win and I do not want them to win, this is my home."

Should Israel Now Send a New Message to the Arab World? - Dan Diker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    At the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, then Deputy Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "broke the ice" with scores of Arab reporters when he provided articulate explanations of Israel's positions.
    The launch of Arab satellite television in 1994 provided Israel with direct access to millions of Arab and Muslim viewers throughout the Middle East. Prime Minister Sharon's foreign media advisor, Raanan Gissin, is regularly interviewed on the leading Arab channels.
    Despite the high standards of news programming on Israel's new Arabic-language Middle East Satellite Channel, it is not widely viewed in the Arab world because it is recognized as an Israeli government operation.
    By contrast, ArabYnet, an Arabic translation of the popular Ynet news website of the Israeli Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot, has become one of the most popular Arabic language websites on the Internet, with nearly a million unique monthly users.

In Iraq, Things Really Aren't That Bad - George Ward (New York Times)
    Americans are led to believe that Iraq is a nation of gangs roaming Baghdad's streets while public services are shutting down. Having returned from Iraq two weeks ago, I believe this picture is distorted.
    All major public hospitals in Baghdad are again operating. Nationwide distribution of food supplies has resumed.
    Despite some damage to the oil wells, petroleum production exceeds domestic needs, and exports should begin again soon.
    More Iraqis are receiving electric power than before the war.

Using Technology to Develop Arab-Jewish Ties - Etgar Lefkovits (New York Times)
    Israel's first state-supported Jewish-Arab high-technology incubator was privately founded in 2002 by five Israeli Arab businessmen with their Jewish partner, Davidi Gilo, an Israeli entrepreneur who now lives in California.
    Sobhi Sauob, an Israeli Arab from the formerly nomadic Bedouin minority, hopes to develop a better treatment for diabetes, starting from extracts derived from plants known in local folklore as herbal remedies for diabetes and other diseases.

Knesset Rules Settlers' Human Rights to be Respected During Removal - Dan Izenberg (Jerusalem Post)
    The Knesset Law Committee on Monday adopted a resolution calling on the government to respect the human rights of the settlers when it comes to evacuating the outposts and to give the settlers the chance to go through all the legal procedures open to them to prevent the evacuation.

London Economist: Foreign Investment in Israel to Rise in 2003 (Globes)
    The London Economist predicts in its latest edition that foreign investment in Israel will rise in 2003, as part of the recovery in 25 emerging markets.
    Israel is expected to attract $5 billion in foreign investment in 2003, compared with $3.8 billion in 2002.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • White House Backs Latest Israeli Attacks
    The Bush administration signaled strong support for Israel's crackdown on militant groups Thursday, effectively abandoning its earlier criticism of Israel that had sparked an outcry from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and pro-Israel lobbying groups. One pro-Israeli source in touch with administration officials attributed the initial White House criticism of Israel to a "human reaction" after administration officials awoke to discover that the glow of last week's Middle East summits had been shattered by the Israeli strike against Rantisi. "But by Wednesday they realized it was not the natural place of the United States to rush to the defense of Rantisi," he said.
        Bush is not planning on calling Sharon or Abbas to try to revive the peace plan, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "It's not as if a phone call will get Hamas to stop being terrorists," he said. (Washington Post)
        See also Powell Urges Abbas to Restrain Terrorists
    Secretary of State Colin Powell phoned Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday and urged him to move faster to restrain terrorist groups. "We want him to use that limited capability as effectively as he can," Powell said later. Powell credited Sharon with dismantling some West Bank settlement outposts and taking other steps to implement the road map. As for Abbas, Powell said: "I believe that he can do more. He has said he would do more." Powell said he told the Palestinian leader, "I expect him to be taking more aggressive steps." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Bush Moves to Reassure American Jewish Leaders
    President Bush used a dinner Wednesday for close to 100 American Jewish leaders, marking the opening of a new Anne Frank exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, to repair the damage from comments he made a day earlier, in which he blasted Israel's attempt to eliminate a Hamas leader. The comments outraged many Jewish groups, which said Bush was abandoning the principles of his war on terror and his landmark speech of last June 24. Both in his formal remarks and in private conversations with Jewish leaders, Bush emphasized repeatedly that he still believed in the framework of his June 24 speech and that he saw Israel's security as his top priority in the Middle East. Amid a new Israeli airstrike in Gaza, which killed civilians in addition to two Hamas members, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday, the real issue was not Israel or the Palestinian Authority, but the continued violence of Hamas, and he called Hamas "an enemy to peace." (JTA)
  • Students Roil Iranian Capital in 3rd Night of Protests
    A third night of student protests occurred in the neighborhoods surrounding Tehran University early Friday, with large gangs of students fighting running street battles against vigilantes armed with sticks and chains. The demonstrators, chanting "Death to Khamenei," appeared to be in the thousands. It was a far wider protest than on two previous nights - indeed, the largest street demonstrations to erupt in the capital in four years. The protests are being fueled by calls to pour into the streets from opposition-run Persian-language television stations in the U.S. In a nationally televised speech on Thursday, Ayatollah Khamenei accused the U.S. of trying to foment disorder and warned protesters that the government would be merciless against those acting in the interests of foreign powers. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Murder Israeli in West Bank
    The Al-Aqsa Brigades, a militia associated with Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, claimed responsibility for the murder of Avner Maymoun, 49, of Netanya on Thursday, who was ambushed and shot to death in the West Bank town of Yabbed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 2 Israeli Women Injured in Roadside Ambush - Jonathan Lis and Arnon Regular
    Two Israeli women were wounded Friday afternoon in a roadside ambush on their vehicle close to the village of Neveh Tzuf in the West Bank. One of the women was seriously wounded; the condition of the second was described as moderate to serious. (Ha'aretz)
  • IAF Kills Hamas Commander - Margot Dudkevitch
    IDF helicopters Thursday killed Hamas military commander Yasser Taha, 30, and his aide Jihad Srour, in an air strike on a vehicle in Gaza City. Taha was considered master-bomber Muhammad Deif's right-hand man, Israeli security officials said. Taha was directly involved in the infiltration in Atzmona in March 2002, in which five students were murdered, as well as numerous other attacks. He was also actively involved in training Hamas recruits and purchasing weapons. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Leaders Go Underground, Order Attacks on Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian sources said Thursday that most of the leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip have gone into hiding for fear that Israel might try to kill them. PA officials in Gaza said the Hamas leaders are "very nervous." "Most of them have moved to safe houses and have minimized their contacts with the outside world. Only a very few people know where they are," one official said.
        Hamas on Thursday ordered "all military cells" to take immediate action and carry out more attacks against Israel. Gaza Strip Hamas leader Mahmoud Zaher declared, "Your children, your women, and your husbands...everyone is a target now." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Burns: Syria Not Cooperating With U.S.
    Washington's top Middle East diplomat said Syria has failed to fulfill commitments to the U.S. to help rein in Palestinian groups, according to an interview published Wednesday in the Lebanese daily As-Safir. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns accused Damascus of not cooperating with demands laid out in the course of a visit last month by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. "Until now we have not seen enough changes that allow us to say the Syrian regime is taking into account strategic developments in the region," Burns said. "We don't understand how Syria can say it supports the peace process while continuing to openly support terrorist organizations that try with every means to destroy it," he said. (Albawaba-Jordan)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Declaring War on Hamas - Uzi Benziman
    Israel's leaders could not remain impassive in the face of Rantisi's contemptuous declaration of war on the road map and his provocations that sought to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state's existence in the eyes of the whole world. Sharon and Mofaz, at the urging of the Israel Defense Forces' top brass, wished to make plain to the entire Palestinian leadership that anyone who holds these views and works to fulfill them is doomed to disappear from the scene.
        Instead of waiting for the terror attacks that Rantisi says are coming, better to try to create a momentum that will lead, perhaps, to their prevention. If the political leadership of Hamas is made to feel the long arm of the IDF, maybe it will reconsider its plans to use terror to torpedo the diplomatic process.
        The approach taken this week is based on the premise that only Israel has any deterrent capability vis-a-vis Hamas. Rantisi and friends have no fear of Mohammed Dahlan or Abu Mazen. But they are - perhaps - wary of the IDF and its ability to strike at them personally. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon-Watching - Glenn Frankel
    Sharon and his colleagues are concerned that the Bush administration, in pressing the road map, has shifted from being Israel's intimate partner and supporter to a more neutral position, and that Sharon's personal relationship with Bush has been superceded by the president's newfound admiration for Abbas and for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian finance minister. Sharon and his commanders believe they gave the administration maximum support before and during the war in Iraq, showing restraint in fighting Palestinian radicals in order to deny Saddam Hussein an excuse to distract world attention. "Then out of the blue, after the war is over, America springs the road map," said Michael Oren, a military historian. "I think Sharon was surprised and disappointed." Still, Sharon pushed the road map through a reluctant cabinet and attended last week's U.S.-led peace summit at Aqaba. (Washington Post)
  • No Turning Back - Editorial
    The terrorist organizations had no reason to heed Abbas's toothless calls and every reason to continue their attacks. If Abbas is indeed trying to make peace with Israel, why should they help him? At the same time, if Abbas is unwilling to take it upon himself to curb Palestinian terrorism, who will? For now, the only credible answer is the IDF. As for the notion that IDF retaliation only prompts further Palestinian terrorist attacks, we can only point to the dozens of attacks that occurred in the absence of Israeli "provocation," stretching back to the bus bombings of the 1990s.
        That there are still people who believe that every Palestinian atrocity must have been provoked by some prior Israeli misdeed amazes us. We are similarly amazed by the notion that the Sharon government should have abstained from retaliation. Exactly how many victims, we would like to know, must a terror attack claim in order to justify Israeli retaliation? The task now is not to cower from Hamas's threat of retaliation, as if retaliation is what these people do. The task is to strike at Rantisi and his cohorts again, truly to drive the organization underground, and to create the conditions in which Abbas, if he is sincere, can assume the responsibilities he made his own at Aqaba. (Jerusalem Post)
  • "So Many People Were Dead" - Glenn Frankel
    In one seat near a gaping hole that was once the bus's side exit, a woman sat with her head on one shoulder. Her arms were folded over her lap, and from 20 feet away she looked asleep. It took the workers perhaps 15 minutes to gently maneuver her out of the seat and six men carried her up the street to a spot where five other bodies were laid out in a neat row and added her to the group. A worker pulled back the tarpaulin, gently wiped her face and hands with a damp paper towel, took her fingerprints, and searched her clothes for identification. Then he carefully replaced the black plastic over her face and moved on to the next victim. (Washington Post)
        See also A Blast Kills 2 Mothers, and Bewilders 2 Sons - Greg Myre
    Elsa Cohen, 70, was born in Germany, was smuggled into Britain, lost her family in the Holocaust, and came to Israel in 1970. Bianca Shachrur, 63, was born in Italy, and came to Israel in 1969. On Wednesday, the two women got on the #14 bus and a few moments later were among the 16 civilians killed when a Hamas suicide bomber stepped aboard and blew himself up. A 17th victim died Thursday. (New York Times)
  • The Limits Of Saudi Openness - Jim Hoagland
    In the wake of 5/12, as some Saudis call the terror bombings last month that killed at least 35 people in Riyadh, Jamal Khashoggi, editor of the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, launched a sustained campaign in his newspaper to denounce extremism and religious intolerance. Khashoggi's articles ran parallel to the messages delivered to foreign governments and publics by official Saudi spokesmen, who emphasize the kingdom's sudden new awareness of the dangers of terrorism and its commitment to reform. But when Al-Watan made the same points in articles and provocative cartoons to Saudi readers in Arabic, religious conservatives demanded Khashoggi's ouster - and quickly got it. Khashoggi's firing, and death threats directed at him, were scarcely mentioned in the Saudi media. You now know more about this episode than do most Saudis. (Washington Post)
  • Give the Kurds a State - Shlomo Avineri
    The Kurds in northern Iraq have a right not to live under Arab rule if they so wish. There is nothing holy in the commitment to "preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq." Preserving the territorial integrity of a country makes sense only so long as the country itself remains a coherent entity. When this is no longer the case, as turned out in the last decades with the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, legitimacy disappears and other alternatives have to be sought. Turkish claims should not be allowed to trump the rights of the Kurds of Northern Iraq to a polity of their own. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Pain of Being Arab - Thurayya al-Urayyid
    We are not raising our children to feel free to think and be creative, encouraging them to add their own achievements to those of the past. Instead, wars whet our appetite for angry shouting. Crowds filled the streets in virtually every Arab capital to protest against the Iraq war, chanting slogans I have been hearing for quite a while: it is a war on Islam; this is a call for a united front against Western invasion and against America's foreign policy double standards and bias against Arabs. But the reality in Iraq before the war was shameful to the whole Arab world. A tyrant embodying the utmost of sadism and inhumanity was able to torture his people for three decades, right down to rape and killing, mutilating and torturing family members. Thousands vanished in prisons. Iraqis had reached a state of mind where they were scared even of their shadows. The author is a columnist for Saudi Arabia's Al-Hayat newspaper. (The Age-Australia)
  • Observations:  

    Israel Cabinet Meets on Security Situation - Gideon Alon and Mazal Mualem (Ha'aretz)

    • Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the cabinet Thursday that he has made it clear to the U.S. administration that the Israeli policy of striking at the leadership of terrorist organizations will continue "until the Palestinian security organizations challenge the Palestinian terrorist groups." Sharon described Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as a "chick who has still not grown feathers," and said Israel must assist Abbas in fighting terrorism "until he grows feathers."
    • Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz blamed the terrorist organizations for trying to undermine the diplomatic process that began in Aqaba, and chided the new Palestinian Authority leadership of Abbas and Dahlan for their "unwillingness" to confront the terrorists and take responsibility for security.
    • Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said Israel is in a bind. While the Palestinians claim that, at this stage, they have no ability to fight against the militants, the Bush administration is demanding that Israel show the Palestinians more understanding.
    • The head of the Shin Bet security services, Avi Dichter, said 70 percent of the Palestinian security forces are under the direct control of Yasser Arafat and they lack motivation to counter the Palestinian terror organizations. He said that if these Palestinian forces were to be brought under the control of Abbas, it would be possible to move against Hamas in weeks.
          Dichter said the PA has 15,000 armed men in the Gaza Strip who are trained and ready for action, thus the claims that the PA needs time to build up a force before it acts are groundless. (Israel Radio/IMRA)
    • Security officials insisted there is no basis to the PA claims that it does not control the goings-on in the territories. They point to the fact that there were no terrorist attacks during the Aqaba summit, at which time the PA made efforts to prevent them.

    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, click here to send a blank email message.
    To unsubscribe, click here to send a blank email message.