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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November 13, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Italian Poll Asks: Should Israel Exist? (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    According to a poll published Monday in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, 22% say fellow Jewish citizens are not "real Italians," and 51% say Jews have a different mentality and way of life from the rest of Italians.
    The poll showed that 52% of Italians have little sympathy for the Jewish state, while 42% do.
    70% said Israel has a right to exist although its government makes mistakes, while 17% said it would be better if the Jewish state didn't exist.

Hamas Recruited Israeli Arabs During Mecca Pilgrimage - Hanan Greenberg (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    The Israeli security services have arrested four Israeli Arabs studying at Jordanian universities who were recruited by Hamas during a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Mecca Souvenirs Booby-Trapped - Margaret Neighbor (Scotsman)
    Muslim militants planning attacks in Saudi Arabia's holiest city, Mecca, booby-trapped clocks resembling the Koran to kill and maim pilgrims, the Saudi-owned, London-based, daily Asharq al-Awsat reported Wednesday.
    Most of those who lived in the Riyadh residential compound that was bombed last week were citizens of other Arab countries.
     Residents said they knew their Westernized lifestyle was under scrutiny after they received a surprise visit three months ago from Saudi religious police and men and women were seen mixing at a party.

Britain Will Not Extradite Iranian Diplomat in Argentine Bombing Case - Jane Wardell (AP/
    Iranian diplomat Hade Soleimanpour, accused of helping to mastermind the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina, was freed from extradition proceedings Wednesday by the British government, which said there was not enough evidence.
    Soleimanpour was Iran's ambassador to Argentina at the time of the bombing.
    Jewish groups in Buenos Aires vehemently protested the decision after having demanded that Britain allow Soleimanpour to be brought to Argentina for questioning.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • At Least 26 Killed in Bombing of Italian Compound in Iraq
    A truck bomb exploded in the courtyard of an Italian paramilitary police headquarters in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya on Wednesday, killing 17 Italians and at least 9 Iraqis and wounding more than 105 others. An Iraqi witness said he saw a truck approach the building at high speed, with a bearded man in the front passenger seat firing at Italian guards before the vehicle exploded. (New York Times)
  • CIA Report Suggests Iraqis Losing Faith in U.S. Efforts
    A top-secret CIA report sent to Washington on Monday says that ordinary Iraqis are losing faith in American-led occupation forces and in the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, creating a more fertile environment for the anti-American insurgency. "It says that this is an insurgency, and that it is gaining strength because Iraqis have no confidence that there is anyone on the horizon who is going to stick around in Iraq as a real alternative to the former regime," one American official said. A classified opinion poll conducted by the State Department's intelligence branch found that a majority of Iraqis now regard American troops as occupiers rather than liberators. There is also an increasing consensus among intelligence analysts that appointed Iraqi leaders do not appear to be capable of governing. The report also described major obstacles to efforts by the U.S. to halt a small but steady infiltration of foreign fighters from Syria and Iran. (New York Times)
  • Saudis Suspected in Two Iraq Attacks
    At least two of the four suicide bombers who struck Baghdad on Oct. 27 appear to have been Saudis, another sign of the growing role of foreign fighters in the Iraqi insurgency, a senior Iraqi security official said. A fifth would-be suicide bomber, who was shot by Iraqi police as he approached his target, is a Syrian national born in Yemen. The man told investigators that he entered Iraq from Syria through an unprotected section of the border. (Newsday)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Senior U.S. Officials: We Won't Settle for a Palestinian Ceasefire - Yitzhak Ben-Horin
    Senior American officials say the U.S. government will not be satisfied with the ceasefire sought by PA Prime Minister Abu Ala, in light of the lessons learned from the previous ceasefire of Abu Mazen. According to the officials, "the U.S. will accept nothing less than concrete action by the PA to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
        See also Mofaz: Powell Supports Israel's Position on New PA Cabinet - Janine Zacharia
    Following a meeting with Secretary of State Powell in Washington, Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz said Thursday that Powell supports the Israeli position on the new Palestinian cabinet, demanding that Prime Minister Qurei work towards dismantling the terror infrastructure. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: "We Want Action, Not Words" - Herb Keinon and Lamia Lahoud
    Reacting to the ratification of the new PA cabinet by the Palestinian Legislative Council on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharon's spokesman, Ra'anan Gissin, said, "We are not interested in what Arafat says, but what Abu Ala [Qurei] will do. What he does to fight the terror infrastructure and dismantle the terrorist organizations will determine whether we move forward on the road map." Gissin said Sharon is willing to meet with Qurei to "see if we can restart the process where it was stopped by Arafat and the terrorists." He said Israel will "do whatever we can to assist and help the Palestinian population, which finds itself in dire conditions. But this can't go very far if the PA doesn't take real measures to stop the terrorism." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat Continues to Divide and Rule the Security Forces - Arnon Regular
    Arafat has in effect erased nearly all of the security reforms made during the Abbas government. According to his instructions to the Gaza Preventive Security forces headquarters on Tuesday, the force, which had been unified under former interior minister Mohammed Dahlan, has been redivided, preventing the new interior minister from using the Preventive Security forces as a power base. Two weeks ago Arafat reappointed General Razi Jibali as commander of the "blue" civilian police in the territories, after firing him last year under pressure from Israel, which declared Jibali a wanted man. Last weekend, Arafat confidante Hakam Balawi, a novelist and playwright, was named interior minister in the new government. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Accused of Assisting Terror
    Egypt supports Palestinian militants by turning a blind eye to arms smuggling from its territory into Gaza, Yuval Steinitz, head of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, said Monday at the Jerusalem Center's Institute for Contemporary Affairs. Hamas militants in Gaza get most of their explosives and other weapons through tunnels on the Egypt-Gaza border, he said. Egypt does little to prevent the arms smuggling and has only briefly cracked down following intense U.S. pressure, he added. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Egypt's Dangerous Game - Michael Meunier
    In an attempt at "historic reconciliation," President Mubarak has recently released Egypt's most notorious and dangerous Islamist leaders, along with over 1,000 of their cohorts. While leaders of the Gamma el Islamiya have issued statements of repentance for their campaign of terror in the 1990s, they curiously omit any remorse concerning the Copts, Jews, and Western victims of their campaign of violence. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Regime Change, Again - Work Undone in Syria - Jed Babbin
    According to an Israeli assessment, Syria's 38-year-old president Bashar Assad will take risks a prudent leader wouldn't, given Syria's weaknesses and immediate proximity to Israel's strength. Worse still, Assad is apparently willing to pay a higher price for his adventurism than a more levelheaded dictator might. Regime change must be our goal, because nothing else will work. The Syrian Baathists will do what their Iraqi brethren did. Stall, talk, whine to the UN, and continue their business of supporting terrorism. (National Review)
  • Israel Builds Fence to Save Its Citizens' Lives - Aron U. Raskas
    Since September 2000, about 6,000 Israelis have been brutally maimed or injured in terrorist attacks. Nearly 900 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian snipers and suicide bombers. Small wonder, then, that in a recent poll, 75% of Israelis stated a belief that they or a family member would become a victim of terrorism. Clearly no nation would tolerate such atrocities in its midst. It is therefore obscene for any nation to complain when Israel - after exhausting every other rational solution - constructs a fence alongside its highways and communities to shield its citizens from the terror and mayhem that have caused more bloodshed, tragedy, and grief than any other society would care to imagine. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Observations:

    An Old Evil Raises Its Weary Head - Josef Joffe (TIME)

    • General Reinhard Gunzel was the commander of Germany's fabled Special Ops force, the KSK. He was sacked for writing a letter praising the speech of an obscure backbencher named Martin Hohmann. Hohmann called the Jews not a nation of victims but a "nation of perpetrators," responsible for millionfold murder in the name of socialism and bolshevism.
    • For Germans, the unspoken logic is this: if the Jews were as bad, or worse, than our forefathers, then they have no special moral claim on us. The original Holocaust was invented not by us, but by them; so let them stop pointing their fingers at us. If we are criminals, so are they. But if they aren't, how can we be? Thus, the score is evened, and we are (almost) out of the moral doghouse.
    • Last year, the American Jewish Committee surveyed the opinions of 1,250 Germans. Only 17% said they would rather not have a Jew as neighbor; far less welcome were Arabs (43%) and Africans (26%). Do Jews have too much influence? No, said 52%, while 21% had no opinion. Seven out of 10 thought it "exceedingly" or "very important" that Germans learn about the Holocaust.
    • Post-Holocaust anti-Semitism is enveloped in a most powerful taboo - people hide it and surveys underreport it. To hate Jews is not permissible in polite society, but to loathe Israel, and especially its prime minister, Ariel Sharon, carries no such stigma. Israel has become the uber-Jew, a legitimate target where individual Jews are not.

      The writer is editor of the German weekly Die Zeit.

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