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 31, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Hamas Develops Rockets that Reach Ashkelon - Amir Rappaport (Maariv-Hebrew)
    Hamas is developing a new version of the Qassam rocket that can reach the southern neighborhoods of Ashkelon, a distance of 10 km., a senior security source said Tuesday.
    Hamas is taking advantage of its freedom of movement in the Gaza Strip to prepare for the renewal of hostilities, said the source.
    Tens of terrorists are currently attending an "engineer's course" to learn how to prepare explosives.
    Hamas is developing a new and particularly lethal roadside bomb similar to those used by Hizballah against the IDF in southern Lebanon.

Shootings, Bombs, Rockets Continue During Ceasefire - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    In the past week, which completed the first month of the ceasefire, there were 15 shooting attacks on soldiers and Israeli civilians in the West Bank.
    In addition, five bombs were detonated near troops deployed in Judea and Samaria.
    In the Gaza Strip over the past week, there were five shooting attacks on soldiers.
    In addition, two Qassam rockets and two mortar shells were fired by Palestinians.

Diving for Clues of Scuba School's Ties to Terror - Sebastian Rotella (Los Angeles Times)
    Between 50 and 150 Muslim men, including several suspected Islamic extremists, have taken classes in recent years with a Tunisian instructor at a diving school in Eindhoven, Holland.
    Dutch investigators worry that al-Qaeda-trained divers could plant explosives on the hulls of ships, act as seagoing suicide bombers, or sneak aboard vessels and commandeer them for attacks.
    Diving students were also linked with al-Qaeda operatives convicted in Morocco of plotting maritime attacks on U.S. ships in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Useful Reference:

No Distinction Between Military and Political in Hamas (Simon Wiesenthal Center)
    A new report on Hamas by the Simon Wiesenthal Center - Unmasking Hamas' Hydra of Terror - debunks the EU position that there is a distinction between the military and political branches of the movement.
    In Hamas, the civilian infrastructure remains totally subordinate to the leadership and has no independence from it.
    In fact, the so-called civilian network, which emphasizes social services, allocates substantial amounts of its budget to subsidize the military wing, to finance terrorist operations, and to recruit volunteers for suicide missions.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • DeLay: End to Palestinian Terrorism a Prerequisite
    House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told the Israel Knesset on Wednesday:
    We know our victory in the war on terror depends on Israel's survival. And we know Israel's survival depends on the willingness of free nations - especially our own - to stand by all endangered democracies in their time of need. Freedom and terrorism cannot coexist. Terrorism cannot be negotiated away or pacified. Terrorism will either destroy free nations, or free nations will destroy it. Freedom and terrorism will struggle - good and evil - until the battle is resolved. An immediate and total end to Palestinian terrorism is not a concession the civilized world asks of the Palestinian Authority to advance the peace process. It is a prerequisite to the Palestinian Authority's invitation to it. (National Review)
        See also DeLay Says Palestinians Bear Burden for Achieving Peace (New York Times)
  • Palestinians Ask Donors for $416 Million in Aid
    The PA asked for an emergency aid package of $416 million for the next six months during a meeting Monday with international donors. Finance Minister Salam Fayad said the package consisted of $220 million for the PA's budget, $74 million to rebuild infrastructure, $71 million for humanitarian and social purposes, and $51 million for the private sector. Fayad also said an international donors conference to help "rebuild Palestinian society" would be held in November. (World Bank)
  • Remembering Israel's Campus Blast
    Inna Zusman remembers the day her life changed forever - July 31, 2002. The Russian-born Hebrew University student had stopped off at the university's Frank Sinatra cafeteria when a bomb exploded, killing nine people and wounding dozens more. One of the most badly injured victims, she spent the next month in a coma. A brilliant 22-year-old computer student, Zusman is now confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. (BBC)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Prime Minister Returns After U.S. Visit - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Sharon arrived in Israel Thursday after a three-day U.S. visit. Senior officials in Sharon's entourage said the meeting with President Bush went smoothly. They said they were pleased that the president stressed the need for the Palestinians to dismantle the terror organizations, and did not publicly pressure Israel on the fence issue, calling fears of pressure from the White House "overblown." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Report: U.S. Says Syria Incapable of Reining in Terrorists in S. Lebanon
    Syria today is incapable of stopping the activities of terror organizations operating in south Lebanon, as well as the flow of money and military supplies from Iran to the area, a senior U.S. source told Prime Minister Sharon. The same source said that the U.S. has detected that Syrian President Bashar Assad is experiencing difficulty in controlling the advisors of his late father, former president Hafez Assad. While these advisors had little influence when the elder Assad was alive, today they are setting Syrian government policy and exploiting the younger Assad's inexperience. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Syria's Silent Earthquake - Ehud Ya'ari
    Three years after becoming president, Dr. Bashar Assad is perceived by all those around him as an awkward disappointment. The London-trained ophthalmologist has turned out to be a young conservative, entrenched in the thinking of past generations and the language of pan-Arabism which completed its time on earth some 30 years ago. The lesson from Iraq is that any regime not anchored in popular support is liable to be easily uprooted. And the Syrians are aware of just how similar their model is to the one that was wiped out in neighboring Iraq. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Police Halt Non-Muslim Visits to Temple Mount - Etgar Lefkovits
    Jerusalem police on Wednesday abruptly suspended the limited visits of non-Muslims to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, just weeks after the ancient site was partially reopened to Jewish and Christian visitors for the first time in nearly three years. Over the last month, more than 400 Jewish and Christian visitors visited the Mount under police escort. The sudden closure came on the day ADL national director Abraham Foxman was due to visit the site. "It is sad and offensive for the Palestinians to continue to fuel the myth that the Jewish people has no stake, history, or interest in the holy site that is the cradle of Jewish faith," Foxman said Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iraq's Liberation is the Perfect Opportunity to Smash OPEC - Claudia Rosett
    Talking straight about the twisted tyranny of Saudi Arabia is a terrific trend. We need to do it more. So let's check out another Saudi-led affront to the free world - OPEC, the 43-year-old Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It would be accurate to sum up this outfit's activities as follows: a gang of price-fixing, oil-rich thug regimes that meet to reinforce assorted terrorist-sponsoring tyrants and gouge consumers. The Saudi-led collusion that goes into keeping world oil prices high is the kind of stuff that would get private capitalists in the U.S. fried on prime-time TV and thrown in prison. (Wall Street Journal)
  • "The Globalization of Gaza" - Michael J. Totten
    Suicide bombing is spreading, striking Casablanca, Moscow, and Pakistan in recent months. Is it possible to support a Palestinian state without encouraging terrorists elsewhere? Before the intifada was launched in 2000, a Palestinian state was not a guaranteed outcome but an option to be negotiated. George W. Bush is the first American president to use the words "Palestinian" and "state" in the same sentence. He did so because they violently demanded it. It's an object lesson for would-be terrorists elsewhere. Terror precipitates a crisis, generates public sympathy, and produces results on a much faster schedule. The moral case for a Palestinian state is trumped by the need to contain a fast-spreading barbarism. Peace at any price has a price tag too high. (Tech Central Station-Washington)
  • Islam's Image Problem - Daniel Pipes
    The Council on American-Islamic Relations, with 17 offices across North America, has emerged as the powerhouse of Muslim groups in the U.S. Consider the sentiments of its leadership: Omar M. Ahmad (chairman) says suicide bombers "kill themselves for Islam" and so are not terrorists. Nihad Awad (executive director) proclaims his "support" for Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group. Ibrahim Hooper (spokesman) declares, "I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the U.S. to be Islamic sometime in the future." Despite this ugly record, the U.S. government widely accepts CAIR as representing Islam. The White House invites it to functions, the State Department links to its Web page, and senators rely on its research. (New York Post)
  • Observations:  

    Do Fence Me In - William Safire (New York Times)

    • The security fence, one-fourth completed, provides what Sharon sees as not only more security for all Israelis but also as an incentive to Palestinians to make peace.
    • Beyond the physical barrier is the chance to change the diplomatic dynamic: "Arafat's strategy is to make terror a part of political negotiation," Sharon told me after his meeting with President Bush this week. "When you don't get all you want, you use terror - you start an intifada. The security fence, when it is finished, will close off this strategy. Losing this negotiating weapon bothers them."
    • Sharon does not see the defense-fence as a unilaterally decided border. "It's neither a political nor exactly a security border. If we decide a certain place will or will not be in our hands," he said, "the fact that there is a fence there will not affect the ultimate decision." The veteran leader added, "But it should be very clear we will not return to the '67 borders."
    • Does Saddam's ouster mean change throughout the Middle East? Sharon is cautious: "The U.S. won't be in our neighborhood forever. Israel will stay there, and I haven't seen a democratic Arab country yet."
    • I've never seen Sharon more optimistic: "There is a shift, a potential for even greater change. With all the criticism he gets, President Bush is a determined man. He has created an opportunity in the Middle East that nobody has done before. And that could make a great difference."

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