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 26, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

"Geneva Accord" Blocking Sharon-Abu Ala Meeting (ArabYnet/Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    Palestinian sources said the initiators of the "Geneva Accord" pressured PA Prime Minister Abu Ala not to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon prior to the opening of their campaign for the initiative on Dec. 1, the London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat reported Wednesday.
    According to the sources, Abu Ala agreed to their request.
    The Palestinians believe that delaying the meeting will lead to a softening in the Israeli position.
    Prime Minister Sharon's office has been trying to arrange a meeting with Abu Ala, but without success.
    See also Palestinian Official Delays 1st Meeting with Sharon - Evan Osnos (Chicago Tribune)

    See also An Opening to End a War - Dennis Ross (Washington Post)
    In intensive discussions with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah in recent days, I was struck by their common perception that now may be a new moment to produce a more enduring cease-fire and the resumption of a peace process.

Saudi Bombing Targeted Christians, Not Muslims (Jihad Watch)
    The victims of the Nov. 8 bombing in Riyadh were widely reported to have been Muslims.
    But the bombing took place in a Lebanese Christian neighborhood, and of the seven publicly identified Lebanese victims, six were Maronite Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christians.
    Similarly, in the Oct. 4 suicide attack on Maxim's restaurant in Haifa, the "Arab" co-owner was actually a Lebanese Catholic, as were many of those killed.

Iraqi Baby Arrives in Israel for Medical Treatment (AP/Ha'aretz)
    A week-old Iraqi infant arrived Tuesday in Israel to undergo an operation at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon to correct a congenital heart defect, with the aid of the Israeli organization Save a Child's Heart.

Useful Reference:

The Saudi Embassy's Islamic Affairs Department - Steven Stalinsky (MEMRI)
    A report on how the following topics are presented by the IAD of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.: Jihad and Martyrdom, Teaching Islam's Superiority over Christianity and Judaism, Rights in Islam of Dhimmis (non-Muslims under Muslim rule), the Punishment of Non-Believers, the Superiority of Polygamy in Islam to Western Monogamy, and the Rights of Women.

Key Links

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Rescinds Part of Loan Guarantees to Israel
    The Bush administration has decided to rescind $289.5 million in American-backed loan guarantees for Israel as a punishment for construction activities in the West Bank, the Israeli Embassy in Washington announced Tuesday. An embassy spokesman said Israel had agreed to deduct the amount from the $3 billion in loan guarantees due this year. A White House spokesman said the Bush administration welcomed what Israel had done, and expressed gratitude for its acknowledgment that its activities in the West Bank were inconsistent with American policy. The agreement on the figure was worked out Tuesday at a meeting between top Bush administration officials and Dov Weisglass, Prime Minister Sharon's chief of staff. (New York Times)
        See also Aid Cut Tied to Construction, Not Security Fence - Yitzhak Ben-Horin
    The U.S. government has decided not to penalize Israel over the route of the security fence. The aid cut equals the amount Israel spends on civilian construction in the settlements. However, a further cut related to the security fence is possible in the future. The Israeli Embassy statement said, "Israel understands that the U.S. should not finance directly, or indirectly, activities with which it does not agree." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
        See also U.S. Uses Loan to Punish Israel for West Bank Construction U.S. officials said the figure was about $40 million higher because of the fence construction, while an Israeli official said, "From our point of view it does not include the fence." (Washington Post)
  • Iraqis Wrestle with Jewish Factor - Nir Rosen
    When Imam Mahdi al-Jumeili in Baghdad's Shurti neighborhood met three American officers to resolve a dispute, his first question to them was "are any of you Jews?" In Iraq, references to "al-Yahud," or "the Jews," are made everywhere. A taxi driver explained that "America and the Jews are one." Another taxi driver said that the Jordanian embassy was bombed because Jordan was organizing the migration of Jews into Iraq. After the war, with the flowering of new Iraqi publications, newspaper articles contained numerous Jewish themes, helping to spread the panic that Jews were indeed invading the country. In fact, it seems nearly everyone in Baghdad has a friend or relative who was an eyewitness to Jews buying land. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Tries to Stab Worshippers at Western Wall - Amos Harel
    A Palestinian attempted to stab Jewish worshipers Tuesday at the entrance to the Western Wall plaza in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. No one was hurt. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Attacks Continue - Margot Dudkevitch
    An Israeli child was lightly wounded in the face from stones thrown at the school bus she rode in on the Hebron-Kiryat Arba road on Monday. Shots were fired at soldiers in Nablus and near Kadim west of Jenin. In Gaza, a mortar was fired at an IDF post in Gush Katif, and shots were fired at IDF posts in Neve Dekalim and near Netzer Hazani. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Nablus Mayor Survives Assassination Attempt, Brother Killed
    Gunmen fired at a car carrying Ghassan Shaka, the mayor of Nablus and a member of the Palestinian parliament, Tuesday in an apparent assassination attempt that left him unhurt but killed his brother, Buraq Shaka, a businessman visiting from Jordan. (Al Bawaba-Jordan)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Magical Solution - William Safire
    In Geneva next week, rejected politicians representing not even a minority of the parties in the dispute will pose for cameras while signing an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis in the benevolent presence of Jimmy Carter. But such magical solutions are out of touch with reality. The suicide-bomber war will not be ended when powerless brokers list all the points of disputation and then pretend to trade concessions. Fortunately, Sharon - elected by a landslide and with his strong coalition in parliament - is backed up by a U.S. president who has shown he understands the value of patience and courage in the face of terror. (New York Times)
  • The Three-State Solution for Iraq - Leslie H. Gelb
    President Bush's new strategy of transferring power quickly to Iraqis, and his critics' alternatives, all commit the U.S. to a unified Iraq, artificially and fatefully made whole from three distinct ethnic and sectarian communities. That has been possible in the past only by the application of overwhelming and brutal force. The only viable strategy may be to correct the historical defect and move in stages toward a three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center, and Shiites in the south. Almost immediately, this would allow America to put most of its money and troops where they would do the most good quickly - with the Kurds and Shiites.
        The U.S. could extricate most of its forces from the so-called Sunni Triangle, north and west of Baghdad, largely freeing American forces from fighting a costly war they might not win. American officials could then wait for the troublesome and domineering Sunnis, without oil or oil revenues, to moderate their ambitions or suffer the consequences. For decades, the U.S. has worshiped at the altar of a unified yet unnatural Iraqi state. Allowing all three communities within that false state to emerge at least as self-governing regions would allow us to find Iraq's future in its denied but natural past. The writer is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. (New York Times)
  • Terribly British Schadenfreude - Melanie Phillips
    The fall of Conrad Black is being received in Britain with almost as much glee as the defeat of his hero Napoleon at Waterloo. The former Sunday Telegraph editor Sir Peregrine Worsthorne wrote that the Telegraph has become an "American-propaganda and Israel-propaganda sheet," reflecting a "neo-conservative, right-wing philosophy which is very much an American phenomenon." Indeed, it is his papers' staunch defense of Israel which has perhaps given the hostility to Lord Black its most distasteful edge - not least through the frequent attacks upon Barbara Amiel for writing in the Telegraph about Israel's predicament, which is considered intolerable not just because she is the proprietor's wife but, far worse, because she is a Jew. That kind of disdainful, anti-American, anti-Israel and even anti-Jewish philosophy lying behind the triumphalism over the humbling of Lord Black is - distressingly - very much a British phenomenon. (Wall Street Journal; 25 Nov 03)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Fence of Peace - Meir Shlomo (Boston Globe)

    • For Israelis, the debate outside of Israel about Israel's security fence has come as a complete surprise; most Israelis, both left- and right-wing, consider the fence to be an absolute necessity - it's the last resort in protecting themselves and their children.
    • The security fence is a defensive and nonlethal measure. It has only one goal: to prevent terrorism. The end of terrorism would render the security fence unnecessary. Fences can be built and torn down, but human lives are irreplaceable.
    • Some say the fence is a barrier to peace. In fact, it is just the opposite. The lack of a fence between Israel and the West Bank has made it possible for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to hold the peace process hostage. Each time political progress was made, it was derailed by deadly attacks carried out by these terrorists. Building a fence will cause a sharp decline in the number of such attacks and give leaders more latitude to continue peace negotiations.
    • The media depict the fence as a tall concrete wall. However, 94% is actually just a chain-link fence. The portions made up of a concrete wall are adjacent to a major highway.
    • One argument against the fence states that it will create inconveniences for some Palestinian farmers who will be separated from their fields. A limited number of inconveniences do exist, and they are addressed by the Israeli government on a case-by-case basis. However, they are relatively minor when compared to the benefit of saving hundreds of lives.

      The writer is the consul general of Israel to New England.

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