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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July 24, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

9/11 Study Faults FBI-CIA Lapses - David Johnston (New York Times)
    The Sept. 11 attacks were preventable, but the plot went undetected because of communications lapses between the FBI and CIA, which failed to share intelligence, a Congressional report to be released on Thursday says.
    The report finds that neither agency acted forcefully enough to collect intelligence from informants here and abroad.

At Summer Camp on Golan Heights, Syrian Flags Fly High - Ellis Shuman (israelinsider)
    Hundreds of children from Druze villages on the Golan Heights are attending a summer camp that reaffirms their connection to nearby Syria.
    Children build kites that look like Syrian flags, hear lectures on their Syrian homeland, and have their faces painted in the red, white, and black stripes of the Syrian flag.
    At the camp's parade ground, surrounded by dozens of Syrian flags, a camp instructor says, "We are Syrians; we will always be Syrians."
    There are approximately 18,000 people in the Golan's four Druze villages.

Rush Hour on the Gaza Highway - Jill Lawless (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
    Since militant groups declared a temporary halt to attacks on Israelis three weeks ago, Israel has removed three checkpoints along Gaza's main north-south road, with yellow Mercedes Palestinian taxis, buses, and heavily laden trucks among the first beneficiaries.
    At one junction, Palestinian traffic speeds along the highway, while residents of a nearby Israeli settlement use a bypass road to and from their homes.

Israel's Arab Christian Minority Backed by Chicago Jews, Catholics - Maureen O'Donnell (Chicago Sun-Times)
    An Israeli town of 3,000 Arab Christians is to receive a computer center from Jewish and Roman Catholic leaders in Chicago.
    All the residents of the Galilee town of Fassouta are Melkite Catholics - Eastern Rite Christians under the authority of the pope.
    The Jewish United Fund-Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese are each pledging $50,000 toward the $100,000 cost.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Israel Defends Building of Fence
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Washington Wednesday defended construction of a fence that would separate Palestinian areas from Israel, saying it would help prevent terrorist attacks. He also said U.S. officials have not engaged Israel on the issue of freezing settlement activity, including what is known as natural growth. Shalom said citizens of settlements must be able to have children, build kindergartens, and provide for new construction within existing built-up areas. Israeli officials have suggested they have reached an understanding with U.S. officials that would allow for continued settlement growth in this manner. But Shalom insisted Israel will dismantle every illegal settlement outpost, including new ones that have popped up.
        Shalom said the Palestinians were manufacturing issues that were not in the road map, as a way of drawing attention away from their failure to crack down on the militant groups during a temporary cease-fire. "They are running a campaign all over the world" focusing on the fence and the prisoners, Shalom said. "They don't want to take this strategic decision" to attack the militants. Shalom also said that since the cease-fire went into effect June 29, Palestinian terror groups have dug more tunnels from Egypt into Gaza for weapons smuggling, manufactured more Qassam rockets, and even extended their range so they could hit Sharon's home from Gaza. (Washington Post)
        See also The Good Fence - Robert Satloff (Baltimore Sun) below.
  • In Iraq, Guerrilla War or Killings for Hire?
    Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz reported on his just-completed tour of Iraq: The entire south and north are impressively stable, and the center is getting better day-by-day. So far, the Shi'a extremists and the Iranians don't seem to be getting much traction in the Shi'a heartland. There is no food crisis. Hospitals nationwide are open. Oil production has passed the 1 million barrels per day mark. There are local town councils in most major cities and major districts of Baghdad, and they are functioning free from Ba'athist influence. There is no humanitarian crisis. There is no refugee crisis. There has been minimal damage to infrastructure.
        In the security area, there are three factors that are worse than anticipated. First, no Iraqi army units of any significant size came over to our side so that we could use them as Iraqi forces with us today. Second, the police turned out to require a massive overhaul. Third, it was difficult to imagine that the criminal gang of sadists and gangsters who have run Iraq for 35 years would continue fighting what has been sometimes called a guerrilla war. This will go down as the first guerrilla war in history in which contract killings, killings for hire, going out and soliciting young men for $500 to take a shot at an American, was the principal tactic employed. (Department of Defense)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Stab Israeli Near Jerusalem, Fire Rockets at Israel - Jonathan Lis and Amos Harel
    David Shilo, 40, sustained stab wounds in the back Wednesday after he was attacked by four Palestinian youths while cycling to his home in the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood of Jerusalem. Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip fired two Qassam rockets Wednesday at Israeli targets. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel, PA Negotiating Immunity Deal for Palestinian Militants - Arnon Regular
    Israeli and Palestinian security authorities are negotiating a deal under which armed men wanted by Israel would be granted immunity in exchange for commitments by the PA that the wanted suspects would not be involved in new terrorist acts or attacks on IDF troops. Palestinian sources said the talks are part of an effort to end activity by rogue Fatah cells, and in some cases to draft them into the Palestinian security services. Dozens of armed men have turned themselves in to the PA and moved to Jericho as a way of ending the IDF's pursuit. Some are being held in Jericho's Palestinian prison and others are living there with the agreement that they will not leave the city. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Concerned by Lack of PA Action Against Terror Cells - Amos Harel
    Some senior army and Shin Bet officers are becoming increasingly critical of the Palestinian government's apparent refusal to act against terrorist organizations. Security officials have recommended that Prime Minister Sharon meet his commitment to free a few hundred Palestinian prisoners soon, but to avoid any other prisoner releases or goodwill measures until the Palestinians prove their intentions are serious.
        "A problematic reality has been created," said one senior security official. "The Israeli public is charmed by talk of calm and the end to violence, while the terror groups are in effect preparing for a renewal of attacks." Security sources say Israel frequently passes information about terror plots to the PA, but Palestinian security services make do with "warning chats," or at most arrest people for a day or two. (Ha'aretz)
  • More North Americans Move to Israel - Kelly Hartog
    Two weeks after a group of 317 North Americans made aliya through the Nefesh B'Nefesh 2003 project, a second planeload of almost 300 immigrants landed in Israel Wednesday morning from New York. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Bound for Israel (Newsday); U.S. Jews Feel the Call to Put Roots Down in Israel (Miami Herald); Young Jews Join Aliya Wave (Montreal Gazette)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Barak: At Camp David "Arafat Refused - and All the Rest Is Gossip" - Chemi Shalev
    At a seminar recently hosted by Tel Aviv University titled "The Camp David Summit - What Went Wrong?" former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak summed up the July 2000 summit with this succinct verdict: "Yasser Arafat refused - and all the rest is gossip." But former ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk and former State Department senior Middle East negotiator Aaron Miller now concur that the all-out pursuit of a peace agreement with Syrian president Hafez Al-Assad in the months prior to Camp David probably played a pivotal and potentially fatal role in determining the summit's ultimate failure. (Forward)
  • Israel Without Apology - Sol Stern
    Three decades ago, I was a Berkeley New Leftist. At Bay Area meetings, I heard Israel denounced as an imperialist aggressor that had “ripped off” the land from the native population and had aligned itself with the most reactionary forces in the world. The Arabs, on the other hand, were the truly victimized, the wretched of the earth, right up there in the pantheon of our movement’s other heroes, the Cubans and the Vietnamese. None of this made much sense to me. All you needed was a map to see that Israel was a little sliver of a country, surrounded by more than a dozen retrograde, tyrannical Arab regimes. (City Journal)
  • Observations:  

    The Good Fence - Robert Satloff (Baltimore Sun)

    • The security fence now being built by Israel creates a long-overdue buffer between Israelis and Palestinians, and stands a good chance of fundamentally transforming the strategic landscape. With even moderate Palestinian leaders forswearing any serious effort to disarm terrorists or fulfill obligations to "dismantle terrorist infrastructure," constructing a fence may be the only effective protection against the next wave of suicide bombers.
    • The fence is not, as some have characterized it, a Middle East version of the Berlin Wall. For most of its route, the barrier is a mix of chain-link and barbed-wire fence and an old-fashioned dirt path, swept clean each day to show the footprints of infiltrators, complemented by a multilayered system of high-tech sensors and video cameras.
    • The Berlin Wall separated one people, Germans from Germans, denying freedom to half; Israel's security fence will separate two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, offering the prospect of security to both.
    • At the same time, Israel has declared that the fence does not define a political border, only a security perimeter, and that it remains committed to negotiating the final disposition of the territories in bilateral talks with the Palestinians.
    • For the Palestinians, construction of a fence inside the West Bank sends a clear message that failure to fight terrorism comes at a steep price. The fear of losing control of territory for an indefinite period, even more than the prospect of gaining statehood, may finally provide the incentive for concerted Palestinian action against terrorists.
    • Both the idea of the fence and its construction east of the Green Line, within the West Bank, are good for peace.

      Robert Satloff is director of policy and strategic planning at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

        See also The Seam Zone (Ministry of Defense)

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