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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September 5, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Saudis Cut Oil Exports to U.S., Driving Up Gasoline Prices - Tom Doggett (Reuters/Washington Post)
    The Energy Department is investigating the recent spike in gasoline prices, which jumped a record 12 cents a gallon in just one week.
    Meanwhile, a group of 32 Democratic senators on Thursday urged the Bush administration to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to get more oil in the market.
    The lawmakers, citing preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration, accused Saudi Arabia of influencing U.S. gasoline prices by cutting oil exports to the U.S.
    According to the EIA, imports from Saudi Arabia during the first three weeks of August fell by 25% to 1.5 million bpd from 2 million bpd.
    "Americans are getting gouged when they drive on vacation because the Saudis have cut back our fuel supply," said Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.
  "We have got to find a way to convince the Saudis that for the sake of the relationship they have with this country that they need to resume the export level," said Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.

Saudis Deny U.S. Pressure Over Basing F-15s Near Israel (AFP/Arab News/AFP-Saudi Arabia)
    Saudi Arabia denied Thursday it was under U.S. pressure to withdraw fighter planes deployed in a base near the southern Israeli city of Eilat.
    �Washington did not put pressure on us, and we would not tolerate pressure from anyone when it comes to sovereignty matters,� Assistant Defense Minister Prince Khaled ibn Sultan said.
    Israeli army radio said on Wednesday that Israel had asked the U.S. to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to withdraw F-16 fighters deployed in a base near Eilat.
    �We do not have F-16s, but rather F-15s, stationed in Tabuk, and we will keep them there because they are deployed inside our territory,� Prince Khaled said.

Saudis Seize "Terror" Missiles - Frank Gardner (BBC)
    Saudi authorities say they seized a truck-load of surface-to-air missiles last month near the port city of Jeddah, destined for an unnamed terrorist group.
    Police say the weapons - capable of bringing down aircraft - had been smuggled from Yemen.
    Last month, air travelers from the U.S. and Britain were alerted to the possibility of attack if they went to Saudi Arabia.

Syria: Israel and the U.S. Are Terrorist States - Caroline Glick (Jerusalem Post)
    In a recent interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Syria's Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass explained that Israel and the U.S. are terrorist states.
    At the same time, terrorism-supporting countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia are victims, and terrorist organizations like Hizballah in Syrian-controlled Lebanon and Palestinian terrorist groups operating in Israel and headquartered in Damascus are legitimate resistance movements.
    Tlass explained that the Jews have no right to object to his book The Matza of Zion, in which he described as historical fact the 1841 blood libel against the Jews of Damascus, which accused them of killing children to make Pessah matzot.
    Tlass argued that Jews have no right to object to his writing, because killing children to make matzot is a "Jewish ritual."

IAF Pilots Fly Over Auschwitz Death Camp (Ha'aretz)
    Three Israel Air Force F-15 jets piloted by descendants of Holocaust survivors circled over the former Nazi death camp on Thursday in tribute to the memories of Holocaust victims.
    "It's a protest against the inhumanity of the Nazis on Polish territory," said Israel's ambassador to Poland, Shevach Weiss. "It's a tribute to the ashes of those who were killed here."
    On the ground, some 200 IDF soldiers stood at attention at the former Birkenau death camp, adjacent to Auschwitz.
    The fly-over went ahead despite criticism by the Polish museum located at the site.

Korea, Israel to Cooperate on Satellites - Seo Ji-eun (Korea Herald)
    Korea and Israel are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in satellite and space technology at a meeting of the two nations' science ministers in Seoul in November.
    In one example of bilateral cooperation, Israel's El-Op Electro-Optics Industries Ltd. and AeroAstro Inc. is developing high-capacity cameras to be loaded on Korea's KOMSAT-II satellite that will be launched in Russia in November next year.

More Baltimore Students Traveling to Israel - Melissa Goldman (Baltimore Jewish Times)     The tide may have turned on school and congregational trips to Israel, if Baltimore statistics are any indication.
    The Center for Jewish Education's Community Fund for Israel Experiences gave grants to 254 students traveling to Israel this year, compared with only 100 last year, according to fund administrator Shayna Levine-Hefetz, who said, "We have a wait list of kids this year that did not get funded."
    CFIE gave out more than $220,000 last year, most of it funded by the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Jewish Teens Find Roots in Israel - Neil Zolot
(Swampscott, MA Reporter)
    "It was the best experience of my life," said 17-year-old Swampscott resident Rebecca Gil, who went to Israel this summer.
    Since the early 1970s, the Jewish Federation of the North Shore has been organizing trips, primarily to Israel, with three goals in mind: to give Jewish children a community of Jewish friends, give them a connection to Israel and a positive Jewish experience.

Key Links

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Won't Deal with Arafat Based on "Bitter Experience"
    U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday, "Our view on Chairman Arafat is, unfortunately, based on many years of experience and attempts to work with him, many years of his failing to deliver on commitments. And we have not changed our view in any way. We don't intend to deal with him. Our position is a conclusion reached over a long time, based on some bitter experience, and we don't expect to change it, no." (State Department)
  • U.S. Expects Much More of Syria
    Syria says it has shut down the offices of Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the main authors of suicide bombings against Israel, but it hasn't expelled its operatives. The busloads of fighters who crossed the border into Iraq to fight the Americans have stopped, but others may be slipping through all the same, Western diplomats say. Assad has refused to recognize Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council. Diplomats in Damascus and analysts abroad say the Syrians haven't grasped that the Bush administration expects much more of them.
        When it became clear that Iraq had crumbled, Syria - fearing it was next - went out of its way to look helpful to the Americans. Almost five months later, however, with the occupation of Iraq running into trouble, Syria seems less nervous and less pliant. Washington's main preoccupation now is to get Syria to expel Khaled Mashaal and Ramadan Shallah, the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad respectively, before further suicide bombings blow up the latest American push for Israeli-Palestinian peace. (Washington Post)
  • Palestinian Activist Faces Jail Again in U.S.
    Abdelhaleem Ashqar, a Palestinian activist in the U.S. with alleged ties to Hamas, is scheduled to be jailed for the second time in five years for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the terrorist group's finances and activities. In court records from previous cases, authorities have alleged that Ashqar organized meetings with Hamas activists in Philadelphia in 1993 and Oxford, Miss., where he was a graduate student, in 1994. Hamas was declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Israel in 1995. In a District of Columbia case involving an Islamic charity, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in 2002 that Ashqar was "a senior Hamas activist."
        The FBI since last November has intensified investigations into the alleged supporters of Hamas and Hizballah after a federal court ruling that allowed government agents to use decades worth of classified wiretaps and intelligence reports from foreign security agents that previously had been off limits. Ashqar, 45, received his doctorate from the University of Mississippi's business school in 1997. While there, his apartment was bugged. (Washington Post)
        See also Jihad in America - Evan McCormick
    Federal agents are peeling away the layers of an extensive domestic terrorist support nexus, and some of America's most politically active Muslim groups have been implicated in the process. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Soldier Killed in Clash with Palestinians in Nablus
    Sgt. Maj. Ra'anan Komemi, 23, from the elite naval commando unit, was killed early Friday and four soldiers were wounded in a clash with armed Palestinians in Nablus. A senior Hamas bomb-maker was also killed in the clash. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Says He Won't Launch Crackdown - Arnon Regular
    Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas told Palestinian lawmakers Thursday he prefers dialogue with opposition groups rather than pursuing a policy of "policing" them. Abbas told the Palestinian Legislative Council he would continue talks with militants rather than launching a campaign to disarm and dismantle their groups, as set out in the road map to Middle East peace. "This government does not deal with the opposition groups with the policing mentality, but the mentality of dialogue," he said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Abbas Says He Will Not Use Force Against Terrorists
    Abbas stopped short of seeking a vote of confidence after summing up his first 100 days in office. Though Abbas has little support among Palestinians, there appears to be a widespread understanding that his ouster could deal a heavy blow to efforts toward statehood. Several Palestinian legislators have said U.S. diplomats told them Washington might lower its profile as a Mideast mediator if Abbas is toppled. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • EU to Decide if Hamas Political Wing is Terror Group - Aluf Benn
    The EU foreign ministers will convene on Friday in Italy to consider a proposal to place the political wing of the Hamas movement on a list of terrorist organizations. Israel and the U.S. have made extensive efforts in recent days to convince the EU to change its position. Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, and Luxembourg support the designation, while Austria, Greece, and Ireland oppose the change.
        Prime Minister Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass met Thursday in Washington with U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Israeli sources believe that the American administration fully understands the steps taken by Israel, and that there is agreement on what is required from the Palestinian side. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday that the PA is responsible for the current snag in its relations with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Britain Pushes for Hamas Ban (Telegraph-UK)
  • Palestinian Conference at UN Turns to Israel Bashing - Melissa Radler
    An annual conference meant to bolster Palestinian civil society instead spent its energies denouncing Israeli self-defense policies. Postcards of a Palestinian child dwarfed by the Israeli fence, slide shows of Palestinian humanitarian crises allegedly caused by the fence's construction, and maps of "Palestine" from the river to the sea from 1920 were all on display Wednesday at UN headquarters in New York at the International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People. The conference began with a statement of support by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, said the event "sabotages whatever positive developments there may be on the ground and derails the road map and the peace process." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Thousands Visit Temple Mount Since Its Peaceful Reopening - Etgar Lefkovits
    In the two weeks since Jerusalem's Temple Mount has been reopened to non-Muslim visitors, thousands of Jews and Christians have peacefully passed through the ancient compound for the first time in nearly three years, in a hopeful sign of coexistence. The Temple Mount - Judaism's holiest site - is now open to visitors free of charge Sunday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. While small groups of Israeli policemen traversed the compound, guards from the Wakf (Moslem religious trust) stood at the entrances to the Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, ensuring that only Muslims enter. The Wakf used to let tourists enter the mosque and shrine for a $9 fee, but, for now, these areas remain closed to non-Muslims. In the late 1990s, the Wakf earned millions of dollars every year from the admission fees. Public protestations notwithstanding, Wakf officials have reportedly received the backing of moderate Arab regimes such as Jordan, and the support of a key Saudi prince to reopen the site, in the face of virulent opposition to the move by Arafat. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Thousands of Arafats - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Ironically, it is Arafat's rivals - Abbas and Dahlan - who stand to lose most if Arafat is deported. The two - already accused by many Palestinians of being American and Israeli "Quislings" - would lose all that's left of their credibility on the Palestinian street. "They will have to pack their bags and leave," said a Fatah official and Arafat loyalist. "The people will stone them to death if they choose to stay after Arafat is deported." According to the official, "You must also not forget that the Palestinian cause is not a personal matter. There are many PLO, Fatah, and Palestinian Authority institutions with leaders who are no different from Arafat. There are thousands of Arafats here." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Stalled Middle East Peace Plan - Editorial
    The Middle East peace plan, known as the road map, may be on the verge of collapse. The refusal of radical Palestinian groups - and Yasser Arafat - to abandon terror remains the biggest obstacle. Europe has failed to cut off Hamas funds from Islamic charities there. When its foreign ministers gather Friday in Italy, they should agree to do so. The Arab states need to support Mr. Abbas's efforts to get all Palestinian security services under his unified command and away from Mr. Arafat. Finally, Mr. Abbas can no longer shirk the responsibility that lies on his shoulders. Regardless of whether he gets the help he deserves from outsiders, he must take on terror groups, dismantling them and arresting their leaders. Walking out will serve no one, especially his fellow Palestinians. (New York Times)
  • Hamas Reaps What It Sows - Editorial
    Israel - its patience and forbearance shattered, along with the lives of 22 innocents aboard a Jerusalem bus last month - is now at war with Hamas. Total war. All-out war. War to the bitter end. Hamas seeks Israel's destruction, but it is the terrorist group that must be destroyed. Six Israeli air strikes in two weeks have efficiently exterminated 11 key Hamas plotters. Now their comrades are in wild disarray, running for deep cover, knowing full well that any one of them could be next on Israel's dispatch list. Unlike the mass murder perpetrated by Hamas - bombing buses, stores and restaurants, seeking to maximize the number of soft casualties, like children - Israel has been zeroing in on the killers themselves. Accordingly, the number of bystanders killed has been kept to an absolute minimum. This is what is meant by a surgical strike. Notice that the usual bash-Israel crowd, like the Europeans and the UN, even the Arab states, is quiet. That's because Israel is performing a service to the civilized world - ridding it of monsters who revel in death. (NY Daily News)
  • Al-Qaeda's Agenda for Iraq - Amir Taheri
    "It is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy." This is the message of a new book just published by al-Qaeda in several Arab countries. The author of The Future of Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula After the Fall of Baghdad is Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates since the early 1990s. A Saudi citizen also known as Abu Muhammad, he was killed by security forces in Riyadh last June. The goal of democracy, according to Al-Ayyeri, is to "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world, and abandon jihad." If established in any Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith. Al-Ayyeri's analysis may sound naive; he also gets most of his facts wrong. But he is right in reminding the world that what happens in Iraq could affect other Arab countries - in fact, the whole of the Muslim world. (New York Post)
  • India and Israel - A Strategic Relationship - Edward Luce and Harvey Morris
    On Monday Ariel Sharon will become the first Israeli prime minister to visit India, 11 years after New Delhi established full relations with Tel Aviv. Israel has concerns about Pakistan's nuclear program, trumpeted in the past as the "Islamic bomb." "India might pretend this is simply about buying arms from Israel and nothing more," said Bharat Karnad, an Indian security expert. "But the level of intelligence co-operation on Pakistan is more extensive than with the U.S. This is a strategic relationship." (Financial Times)
        See also A Different South Asia-Middle East Nexus - Ilan Berman
    Ariel Sharon's upcoming visit to New Delhi cements the emerging strategic partnership between India and Israel. Mr. Sharon's high-profile tour is intended to boost counterterrorism and defense ties between Jerusalem and New Delhi and will mark a major leap forward for the geopolitical bonds that have taken shape between the two countries over the past decade. Even more importantly, the expanding partnership between New Delhi and Jerusalem echoes American interests. Over the past year, spurred by concerns over ongoing regional radicalism and the long-term reliability of existing allies like Pakistan, Washington has made its strategic relationship with New Delhi a top priority. The U.S. National Security Strategy, unveiled by the White House in September 2002, identifies India "as a growing world power with which we have common strategic interests." The writer is vice-president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C. (Asian Wall Street Journal-5 Sep 03)
  • Egyptian Challenges Sanctity of Jerusalem for Muslims
    Ahmad Muhammad 'Arafa, a columnist for the Egyptian weekly Al-Qahira, published by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, wrote an article on August 5, 2003, rejecting the established Islamic belief that the Prophet Muhammad's celebrated "Night Journey" (Koran 17:1) took him from Mecca to Jerusalem. 'Arafa asserts that the miraculous journey referred to the Prophet's emigration from Mecca to Medina. The belief in Muhammad's journey to Jerusalem is the primary basis of the sanctity of Jerusalem for Muslims.
        "This text tells us that Allah took His Prophet from the Al-Haram Mosque [in Mecca] to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. 'Al-Aqsa' is a form of superlative which means 'the most distant.'...But in Palestine during that time, there was no mosque at all that could have been the mosque 'most distant' from the Al-Haram Mosque. During that time, there were no people in [Palestine] who believed in Muhammad and would gather to pray in a specific place that served as a mosque. Most of the inhabitants of Palestine were Christians, and there was among them a Jewish minority....The construction of the mosque situated today in Jerusalem and known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque began only in the year 66 of the emigration of the Prophet....So much for the mosque." (MEMRI)
  • Biological Warfare - Douglas Davis
    There is no immediate prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The spate of Palestinian suicide bombings that followed Israel's decision to withdraw from major Palestinian cities last month testified again to a Palestinian determination to scupper progress towards any diplomatic accommodation with the Jewish state. A large body of Palestinians have still not reconciled themselves to the two-state solution. More specifically, they have not, despite the Oslo accords, come to terms with the existence of a Jewish state on what they call holy Muslim soil.
        Palestinians are convinced that they have far more to gain by playing for time. On present trends, say the demographers, Palestinians will outnumber Jews in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River - Israel, the West Bank and Gaza - by 2020. Why accept a truncated two-state solution in the West Bank and Gaza when the one-state solution down the road will deliver Israel, too, by the simple expedient of eroding Israel's Jewish majority. All the Palestinians have to do is breed for victory: make love, not war, and transform their womenfolk into what Arafat calls his "biological bombs." The Palestinians are convinced that Israel's security fence represents an Israeli attempt to destroy the goal of achieving a demographically driven one-state solution. (Spectator-UK)
  • Bringing Democracy to Iraq Isn't Crazy - Just Very Hard - Thomas L. Friedman
    In the emerging debate about Iraq, one of the themes heard is that culture matters - and therefore this whole Iraq adventure may be a fool's errand because the political culture in the Arab world - where family and tribal identities have always trumped the notion of the citizen - is resistant to democracy. I believe culture does matter, but I also believe cultures can change under the weight of history, economic reform, and technological progress. (New York Times)
  • The Academic Boycott Against Israel and How to Fight It - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    Several Israeli academics and American Jewish leaders believe the academic boycott against Israel has failed. They point out that not one major academic institution or organization has supported it; no American university has decided to divest Israeli shares, and the Paris 6 University had to retract its anti-Israel motion. There were many more academics who signed petitions against the boycott of Israel than those who signed for it. Furthermore, the editors of the world's leading general science magazines Science and Nature came out against the boycott. Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, a Jewish French Nobel prizewinner and former professor at Paris 6 University, wrote in the French daily Le Monde, attacking the boycott action by that university: "I'm ashamed of those colleagues who dare to express abhorrence about other colleagues because of their nationality. I'm ashamed of those colleagues who in the case of a painful conflict, where two people suffer cruelly and daily, choose to demonize one of the two parties rather than trying to bring them closer to each other." (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Weekend Features:

  • A Small Revolution in Ramle - Daniel Ben Simon
    Imad Azbarga, 32, is principal of the Al-Amariyya elementary school in the Israeli city of Ramle. Over the years, the Arabs of Ramle have internalized the importance of education and have begun to invest resources for the benefit of their children. At the new elementary school that opened its gates three years ago, the pupils are all wearing the school uniform and most of the girls have their heads covered. Discipline is strict, the level of studies is high, and the classrooms are very clean.
        The school symbolizes changes that have taken place among the Arabs of Ramle and Israel's greater Arab population during the past decade. On the one hand, their national pride as Palestinians has mounted; on the other, they have strengthened their position in the social fabric of Israel. They feel themselves to be Arabs in every respect, but they are forging their way to success in Israeli terms.
        In the past ten years the proportion of preschool Arab children enrolled in an educational framework has risen to 90%, compared to about 89% in the Jewish sector. During the past decade, 16 new kindergartens were opened in Ramle for the Arab sector. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Agony Hits Home - Maida Averbach
    The phone call came at 6 a.m. from my son Steve's wife, Julie, speaking very calmly and slowly from Jerusalem. "There has been a bombing on the bus that Steve was on," she said. "He is alive but hurt." Steve's spinal cord was injured, and he had had surgery to remove a ball bearing that entered his neck. I cannot understand the mentality of a culture in which parents raise a child to want to die in such a fashion - bombs strapped to his waist, that teaches its young to hate with such a passion that instead of wanting to grow up to serve others in a productive way, they kill innocent people while dying themselves, in the belief that they will attain a place in heaven with wonderful rewards. Steve is finally out of immediate danger of death, but he remains paralyzed from the shoulders down. (Newark Star-Ledger)
  • Israel's Vision: An Unbreachable Wall Against Terror - Nicole Gaouette
    Before his trip home to Brooklyn, young American Zvi Weiss visited the Western Wall for one last night of prayer. He remembers seeing three tired children sitting beside him on the bus, their mother squeezing her way to the back, then the light-obliterating roar. Mr. Weiss survived, but 22 men, women, and children riding the bus home did not. "Even on the [political] left, most people say give the Palestinians some territories, but we want a cordon sanitaire, a wall a mile high, a moat with sharks in it, just keep them and us separate," says Judith Baumel, a professor of modern Jewish history at Haifa University. "As long as you have a Palestinian mother who says my first son was a martyr [who died killing Israelis] and insha'llah the other nine will be too, then Israelis will feel deep anxiety," says Baumel. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Hate is the Choice We Reject - Sherri Mandell
    Camp Koby and Yosef, which my husband and I created in the wake of our son's murder, this summer hosted almost 600 Israeli children who lost parents or siblings in terror attacks, or who themselves had been injured. At Palestinian summer camps, children are singing songs of hate, songs that will fill these children's hearts for decades. There is a chasm between the Israeli and Palestinian cultures, and though some want to ascribe it to politics, the tragic truth is that no political solution can dampen the flames of hatred that have been kindled in Palestinian society. Israelis are working to cope with their pain. Palestinians nurture theirs, inflame it, and worship it. The writer is the author of The Blessing of a Broken Heart. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Old-New Anti-Semitism - Robert S. Wistrich (The National Interest)

    • There is currently a culture of hatred that permeates books, magazines, newspapers, sermons, video-cassettes, the Internet, television, and radio in the Arab Middle East, which has not been seen since the heyday of Nazi Germany.
    • Indeed, the dehumanizing images of Jews and Israel that are penetrating the body politic of Islam are sufficiently radical in tone and content to constitute a new "warrant for genocide," combining the blood libel of medieval Christian Europe with Nazi conspiracy theories about the Jewish drive for "world domination" and slanderous Islamic quotations about Jews as the "sons of apes" and donkeys.
    • The al-Qaeda assault on the World Trade Center in New York was not only a declaration of war against the greatest metropolis of international capitalism. It was also seen by its perpetrators as a blow against the nerve-center of "world Jewry." The Islamo-fascists, like the Nazis before them, are genuinely convinced that a corrupt America is in Jewish hands.
    • In the first half of the 20th century, many good-hearted rational people refused to believe that such highly irrational beliefs could be taken seriously by many people. They were wrong. This is an error well worth avoiding in the first half of the 21st century.

    The writer is Professor of Modern History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and heads its International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

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