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 21, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Source: Al-Qaeda Behind Eilat Border Attack - Margot Dudkevitch and Matthew Gutman (Jerusalem Post)
    A senior security source said the attack on Wednesday at the border crossing terminal north of Eilat has the markings of an al-Qaeda strike.
    Al-Qaeda is increasing its activity in Arab countries perceived to be pro-Western - such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan - the source said.
    Hitting tourists is also a well-established al-Qaeda tactic, he noted.
    He also doubted that the attacks were engineered by Hamas or elements of other terrorist groups tolerated in Jordan s capital Amman.
    "[Hamas] would not want to risk their position in Jordan by angering and humiliating the Jordanians in such a way," said the source.
    A tourist from Ecuador was killed and four others wounded by a Jordanian who opened fire in the terminal.
    "The last time there was an act of terror in Eilat was in 1969 when a Katyusha was fired at the city from Aqaba," said Eilat mayor David Kadosh.

Iranian Delegation in Lebanon to Discuss Missing Israeli Navigator (News First Class-Hebrew)
    A senior Iranian delegation arrived in Lebanon Wednesday, sent personally by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, to clarify new information regarding missing IAF navigator Ron Arad, as well as four Iranian diplomats kidnapped by militias in northern Lebanon in 1982, according to Al-Ittihad (Dubai), quoting sources in Beirut.

Saudi Lobbyist Pays for Grassroots Campaign (O'Dwyer's PR Daily)
    Qorvis Communications paid Cambridge Associates, a public policy firm in Charleston, W. Va., $8,200 to obtain letters from "opinion makers" in support of Saudi Arabia, according to CA's just-filed Justice Dept. registration statement.
    The goal, according to Qorvis field team members Steve Shur and Dharma Dill, was to "prop-up the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with select members of Congress, refute bad information being disseminated about the Saudis, and set the record straight about U.S./Saudi relations."
    The idea was to generate 10 letters to selected West Virginia representatives from "friends/acquaintances, local elected officials, party leaders, financial contributors, business leaders, and community leaders."

Amnesty: Prison Torture Common in Egypt (AP/Washington Post)
    Torture and abuse are systematic in jails in Egypt, and at least seven people died in police custody there last year, the London-based human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday.
    "Torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment continue to be practiced systematically in detention centers," Amnesty said.
    Earlier this month, New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a similar report.

Israel Helping Train Greeks to Handle Olympics Terror Threats - Ellis Shuman (Israelinsider)
    Israeli police are helping train their Greek counterparts in dealing with possible terror threats at next year's Summer Olympics.
    As part of an international security advisory team training the Greek police, Israeli instructors have been giving lessons in hostage-taking scenarios, security inspections, and shooting and bombing attacks, Maariv reported.
    "Israelis are regarded in Greece as experts in the field of terror and security," a senior Israeli police officer said.
    Next month, a "Terror Strategy" seminar will take place in Athens for hundreds of local policemen, and Israeli police have taken on responsibility for much of the training process.

Israel Beats Europe in Seed Funding - Oded Hermoni (Ha'aretz)
    Israel outperformed every European country in investments in young technology companies in the third quarter, according to the results of the quarterly Ernst & Young/VentureOne global venture capital survey, with 13 Israeli start-ups raising $85 million.
    Britain was second to Israel, with $51 million invested in 14 start-ups.

Useful Reference:

Israeli Public Opinion Survey on National Security 2003 (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)

Key Links

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Attacks in Istanbul Hit British Sites, Killing 27
    Two huge truck-bomb explosions wrecked the British Consulate and a British bank in Istanbul on Thursday, killing at least 27 people and wounding 450. An anonymous caller to the Anatolian news agency said the attack on Thursday was a joint effort of al-Qaeda and a Turkish group, the Islamic Front of the Raiders of the Great Orient, or IBDA-C. The same group also claimed responsibility for the twin bombings of two Istanbul synagogues on Saturday, in which 23 people were killed. "Those who bloodied this holy day [Ramadan] and massacred innocent people will account for it in both worlds," said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "They will be damned until eternity." (New York Times)
        See also Britons in al-Qaeda Carnage
    The British Consul General, Roger Short, 58, a former ambassador, was killed along with two other British staff, including his personal assistant, Lisa Hallworth, 38, and 11 Turkish employees. Thirty British staff work at the consulate, alongside 70 Turkish nationals. The consulate building, an Italianate palace designed by Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament, was being restored, leaving the consul to work out of a lodge close to the main gate. "He was there when that was blown to pieces," said the consulate's chaplain, the Rev. Ian Sherwood. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israel to Make Offer to Palestinians
    Prime Minister Sharon's adviser Raanan Gissin said Thursday at Georgetown University that Israel's government would make a "decent respectful offer" of statehood to the Palestinians. "We are willing to make painful concessions. We are willing to give away part of our ancestral home so the Palestinians" can have a state. However, "we are fighting for our right to exist as a Jewish democracy." Israel's critics, he said, "deny us the right of self-defense. They present us the right to die peacefully." Gissin reaffirmed Israel's commitment to a U.S.-backed roadmap for peacemaking, although he said there were some reservations. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Officer Defends Felling of Iraq Homes
    The decision to destroy at least a dozen homes belonging to family members of guerrilla suspects in and around Tikrit was "within the rules of war" and was approved by the commander of the Fourth Infantry Division and probably by the overall commander for U.S. forces in Iraq, a spokesman for the division said Tuesday. Some military officers acknowledged that the tactic had caused debate over whether it would inflame opposition rather than tamp it down. The destruction of the homes is a sensitive issue because the tactic resembles a controversial Israeli practice of destroying the houses of families of suicide bombers in the West Bank and Gaza. The State Department has denounced the Israeli actions. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Poll: Iraqis Accept Temporary U.S. Presence
    According to a survey by the Psychological Research Centre of Baghdad University, 71.5% of Iraqis questioned thought the American occupation was necessary at least for a while, compared to 42% of Iraqis in a similar survey in June. The report said: "This shows an acceptance of the foreign presence as a temporary solution because of the fear, confusion, and absence of law and order following the collapse of the old regime." (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israel Basks in Warmth of Friendship with Italy
    During an official visit to Rome this week, Prime Minister Sharon told members of Italy's Jewish community, "Italy is today the best friend that we have in Europe....We have never had a country holding the EU presidency that has been as friendly as Italy today." Berlusconi's government, which will hold the EU's six-month rotating presidency until the end of December, has used its position to offer vigorous diplomatic support for Israel, departing from a traditional Italian tendency to speak up more for the Palestinian cause. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Mubarak to France for Medical Treatment - Ronit Nahum-Halevi (News First Class-Hebrew)
    Egyptian President Husni Mubarak failed to attend an annual religious ceremony Thursday due to ill health. Sources in Cairo expect that he will soon leave for medical treatment in France. On Wednesday, Mubarak interrupted a speech to the parliament for 45 minutes after experiencing a drop in blood pressure. The incident raised concerns among the Egyptian public since Mubarak, 76, has no clear successor.
        See also Egypt's Ailing Mubarak Cancels Speech - Paul Garwood (AP/Washington Post)
  • Palestinian Attacks Continue
    An armed Palestinian crawling toward the fence around Netzarim in the Gaza Strip was killed by IDF troops on Thursday evening, Israel Radio reported. Earlier Thursday, Palestinians fired at an IDF patrol near Rafah. Also on Thursday, six mortars were fired at Israeli targets in the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, Palestinians fired at an Israeli car traveling near Beit Haggai in the Hebron Hills. Several bullets hit the vehicle, but there were no injuries. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA PM a Puppet on a String - Khaled Abu Toameh
    According to announcements published in the official PA daily Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, the cabinet ministers of the new government were directly appointed by Arafat, reducing Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei to a puppet of the PA chairman in the eyes of the Palestinian public. Arafat also made sure that control over the security forces would be placed under the National Security Council, which he heads.
        Said a former PA cabinet minister: "Abu Ala [Qurei] is not an independent prime minister. By succumbing to Arafat, he has tied his own hands by himself. The situation today is that Qurei needs Arafat's approval for every single step. He is spending more time in the Mukata [Arafat's compound] than he is at the prime minister's office....Some of Arafat's low-ranking aides have more power and influence than the prime minister." "It's time for everyone to admit that this is Arafat's government," says political analyst Hani al-Masri. "Arafat has succeeded in scuttling all attempts to sideline him. Today he is back at the center of Palestinian decision-making." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Cairo Hudna Talks in Two Weeks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced on Thursday that they would send representatives to Cairo on December 2 for talks aimed at reaching a new hudna (temporary cease-fire) with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israelis Skeptical of New Hudna
    A poll of Israelis conducted for Israel Radio on Wednesday asked: Do you believe that a new hudna between Israel and the Palestinians would last longer than the previous hudna? Yes 12%, No 67%. (IMRA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Waking Up to the Age of Terror - Editorial
    Many Europeans have been astonishingly slow to understand the impact of what happened on September 11. Thursday's atrocities in Istanbul are yet another reminder that the West and its allies, and moderate Muslims throughout the world, are up against a foe, who, blasphemously, given that God is the creator of life, glorify their deaths and the innocent people they kill as a passport to Paradise. They represent a radically new and ever-present danger. And the sooner we wake up to it, the better. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Terrorism Inc. - Douglas Farah and Peter Finn
    Leaders of the al-Qaeda terrorist network have franchised their organization's brand of synchronized, devastating violence to homegrown terrorist groups across the world, posing a formidable new challenge to counterterrorism forces, according to intelligence analysts and experts in the U.S., Europe, and the Arab world. The recent attacks in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, and Iraq show that the smaller organizations, most of whose leaders were trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, have fanned out, imbued with radical ideology and the means to create or revitalize local terrorist groups. (Washington Post)
  • Chirac and the Jews - Editorial
    France's President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin have through their statements and actions contributed to the creation of an environment that is now getting out of hand. Chirac and his government have refused to deal openly with the fact that many of the attacks on Jews and Jewish centers are carried out by French Arabs. It also doesn't help that Chirac and de Villepin's maladroit way of trying to mollify disaffected Arab voters has been to not waste an opportunity to denounce Israel while cozying up to the worst dictators in the Arab world. De Villepin, according to a parliamentary source who was in the room with him, has denounced U.S. foreign policy as being run by Jews. (Wall Street Journal; 21 Nov 03)
  • Terror and Anti-Semitism - Editorial
    For all the Muslim world's accusations against the U.S. and Israel, no one has done more to debase and defame the religion of Muhammad than the murderers who blow themselves up in its name. In South Asia and the Middle East, Muslim schools teach the vilification of Jews the way Canadian schools teach the multiplication tables. As Middle East expert Martin Kramer wrote, Islam's fundamentalists "de-emphasize the long history of Islamic tolerance of the Jews across centuries...fixating instead upon the early conflict between Muhammad and the Jewish tribes of 7th-century Arabia. The Jews who clashed with Muhammad are presented as archetypes of a universal Jew, treacherous by nature, whose perfidy threatens not only Islam but all humanity." Muslim immigrants in France, especially, have imported the bigotry taught overseas. (National Post-Canada)
  • Naive Spanish Judeophobia - Gustavo D. Perednik
    Spanish traditions, media, and vocabulary, even among intellectuals, point to a rooted hatred of Jews about which Spaniards are utterly naive. This can be traced to a national obsession about unity and homogeneity, which may be related to the frequency with which blood libels were fabricated in Spain and included in law. In spite of the vicious anti-Zionism of its press on both sides of the political spectrum, and the recurrence of "the Jewish lobby" scapegoat, most Spaniards remain unaware of Judeophobia in their country. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Saudi Protection Racket Fails - Rich Lowry
    The Saudi royal family can only be thinking, "What good is protection money if it doesn't protect you?" But the Saudi-funded International Islamic Relief Organization, the Benevolence International Foundation, and many other groups have all been implicated in terrorist financing. It is possible to be a target of radicals and accommodate them as well. Saudi Arabia is a classic "straddling state." Like the Pakistani government and the Palestinian Authority, it faces a radical opposition and often responds by trying to co-opt it. The U.S. must insist that the straddle end. (National Review)

    Weekend Features:

  • The Brownshirts of Our Time - Phyllis Chesler
    The largest practitioner of apartheid in the world is Islam, which practices both gender and religious apartheid. In terms of gender apartheid, Palestinian women - and all women who live under Islam - are oppressed by "honor" killings, forced veiling, segregation, stonings to death for alleged adultery, seclusion/sequestration, female genital mutilation, polygamy, outright slavery, and sexual slavery. Women have few civil, legal, or human rights under Islam.
        Today, the entire Middle East is judenrein. Jews cannot become citizens of Jordan, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, yet no one accuses those nations of apartheid. (
        See also Why Are So Few Women Active in Palestinian Politics?
    A poll carried out by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, as published in Al Hayyat Al Jadeedah on 20 November 2003, included the following question: There are barely any women active in Palestinian politics because: Woman's place is in the home - 38.8%, Not talented enough - 14.1%, Prohibited by religious law - 8.1%, If women were in politics it would hurt the status of men - 7.6%, Other - 31.4%. (IMRA)
  • Why Arab Women Wear the Veil in Israel - Jonathan Cook
    In Israel, a country in which Jewish women take for granted most Western freedoms, young Arab women are facing a resurgence of social and moral controls that even their mothers might have balked at. In Nazareth, the Islamic headscarf or hijab, once a rare sight, is now common. It's a backlash. "The West promised modernity for the Arabs and my parents' generation was suckered into thinking things would improve," says Muna. "Now because they are disillusioned, [Arab women] are reasserting what they think are traditional values." (International Herald Tribune)
  • Slavery Lives On in Sudan - Michael Coren
    Women and children abducted in slave raids are roped by the neck or strapped to animals and then marched north. Children who will not be silent are shot on the spot. In the north, slaves are either kept by individual militia soldiers or sold in markets. Survivors report enduring daily beatings and receiving awful food. Masters also strip slaves of their religious and cultural identities, giving them Arabic names and forcing them to pray as Muslims. This is happening right now in Sudan. (Toronto Sun)
  • Observations:

    It Takes Two to Partition - Yossi Klein Halevi (Jerusalem Post)

    • What we've learned about the conflict over this last bitter decade is that the Oslo-era notion of a comprehensive peace needs to be wiped from our lexicon. Instead, we should conceive not of resolving the conflict but of managing its intensity. A hudna isn't merely a means to an end but - at least for the foreseeable future, and possibly for this generation - the end itself.
    • One compelling reason why a comprehensive peace is now unattainable is the near-total absence, among mainstream Palestinians and the Arab world generally, of the notion that Jewish sovereignty over any part of this land is legitimate. In numerous conversations I've had with Palestinians from all levels of society, the consensus is that Israel isn't the expression of a people returning home but of a colonialist intrusion in the Middle East. The problem isn't Israel's policies but its existence.
    • Consider Gen. Nasser Youssef, arguably the most moderate figure in the Palestinian security apparatus, who recently lost a power struggle with Yasser Arafat. In the late 1990s, I participated in several long conversations between the general and several Israelis in his office in Gaza City. When we asked how he conceived of peace, Youssef replied that the Jewish people would be absorbed into the Arab nation to which it naturally belongs.
    • Even Gen. Youssef, then, is merely a tactical moderate, offering Jews protected minority status under a benign Muslim Arab majority rule. At best, the Palestinian leadership sees a two-state solution as an interim stage.
    • At every level of society in the Arab world generally, a "culture of denial" has taken root which denies the most minimal truths of Jewish history, from the existence of the Temple to the existence of gas chambers. In fact, only in the Arab world has Holocaust denial become part of mainstream discourse.
    • The strategic implications of that culture of denial is that Israel cannot, at this stage, contract itself into the vulnerable 1967 borders. An approximate return to the "green line" is conceivable only in a Middle East that has renounced its longing to eliminate Israel. And that is possible only if Israel receives recognition of its legitimacy - for now, inconceivable.
    • Centrist Israelis like myself are convinced that no concession will bring us peace, because the issue isn't discovering the precise point on the map that will satisfy Arab claims but the Arab rejection of any place on the map for a Jewish state.

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