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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December 5, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Canadian is Hamas Assassin, Israel Says - Jeff Sallot (Toronto Globe & Mail)
    Israel says a Canadian man has confessed to being a trained assassin for Hamas with orders to kill Israeli officials and Jews in Canada and the U.S., marking the first time the Palestinian terrorist group has planned attacks in North America.
    Israeli security forces arrested Palestinian-born Jamal Akkal, 23, of Windsor, Ont., last month on suspicion of being a member of Hamas, Israeli embassy spokesman Ofir Gendelman said.
    During the subsequent investigation, Akkal admitted that he had been trained by Hamas in bomb-making and the use of small arms.
    Akkal was to use his Canadian passport to "carry out terrorist attacks in North America against Israeli and Jewish interests," Gendelman said.
    "Some of the scenarios for those terrorist attacks were assassinating a high-ranking Israeli official during his visit to North America, booby-trapping cars that belong to Israeli officials - diplomats - and killing a Jew who would come across Akkal's way," Gendelman said, attributing the information to the Israeli security services.

Terror 101 - Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
    In early October, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made an official visit to Saudi Arabia where he told Saudi officials that the teaching of hard-core jihadi ideology at the King Fahd Academy in Bonn "must be stopped."
    The Saudis pledged to curb extremism and fire any radical teachers, but they also told Schroeder that schools attended by the children of German diplomats and businessmen in Saudi Arabia could face similar harassment or even closure.
    As a result, the Schroeder government promised to back off from any plans to close the King Fahd Academy for "foreign-policy reasons."
    The Saudi government pumps tens of millions of dollars every year into Islamic centers, mosques, and schools named for King Fahd in Los Angeles, Moscow, Edinburgh, and Malaga, Spain, where they spread Wahhabism - the puritanical, hard-core brand of Islam that is the official Saudi state religion.
    A prominent Saudi dissident, Mai Yamani, says the Saudis are incapable of true reform and the Saudi royal family is "deeply connected" to the country's hard-core Wahhabi clerics. "The hard-liners are the state, fully embedded in its structure."

"Miracle Baby" Draws Thousands to Bethlehem - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Ala Ayyad was born three weeks ago on the 27th day of Ramadan, the night the Koran was revealed to Muhammad by God.
    Thousands of Palestinians have been thronging the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem to pay their respects to the infant boy, who is being hailed as "the miracle baby of Bethlehem."
    The child has a large birthmark across his cheek, which spells out in clear Arabic letters the name of his uncle, Ala, a Hamas member who was killed by the IDF eight months ago.
    The family said they would raise the baby to follow in his uncle's footsteps and lead a new generation of terrorists to fight against Israel.

Fury at French Comic "Heil Israel" Jibe (AFP/Expatica)
    A French comedian, Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, appeared on state-owned France 3 television dressed as an Orthodox Jew and made the Hitler salute while shouting "Heil Israel."
    The presenter of the show, Marc-Olivier Fogiel, as well as the board of France 3 issued statements declaring themselves "shocked and scandalized" by Dieudonne's performance, without directly accusing him of anti-Semitism.

Israel's First Eskimo Soldier - Raffi Berg (BBC)
    Eva Ben Sira, 18, is training to become an IDF squad commander in the Negev desert - a far cry from the frozen wastes of her homeland.
    Eva was born to a Yupik Eskimo mother and a Cherokee American father before being adopted by an Israeli couple.
    Her twin brother, Jimmy, will become the army's second serving Eskimo, when he joins the force next year.

Israel Food Exports for First Nine Months of 2003 Rose 20% - Aaron Priel (
    Israel's food exports from January to the end of September 2003 amounted to US$377.6m, an increase of 20% from the year-ago period.
    According to data released by the Food Division at the Israel Manufacturers Association, exports of meat and poultry products rose 8.2%, citrus products rose 12.6%, and confectionery items increased 67% to $12.2m.
    During this period, food exports to the EU rose 22.6% and to the U.S. they increased by 36%.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • President Bush on the Geneva Accord and the Powell Meeting
    President Bush said Thursday:
        In June 2002 I laid out what I believe is necessary to achieve peace in the Middle East. It starts with having a Palestinian state that is at peace with Israel, a Palestinian state based upon democratic principles, a Palestinian state which recognizes the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people, and a Palestinian state with leadership which is committed to defeating and dismantling the terrorist organizations who are trying to prevent a Palestinian state from emerging. I also talked about the need for the Israelis to keep in mind that if they support a Palestinian state, which they have told me they do, that the conditions on the ground must be such for a Palestinian state to be able to emerge. And that's why we're continuing to talk to them about the illegal outposts and settlements, as well as the fence.
        Q: This is a productive process, the Geneva Accords and Secretary Powell's meeting?
        Bush: Well, I think it's productive, so long as they adhere to the principles I have just outlined. And that is, we must fight off terror, that there must be security, and there must be the emergence of a Palestinian state that is democratic and free. We appreciate people discussing peace; we just want to make sure people understand that the principles to peace are clear. (White House)
        See also below Observations - The Geneva Accord: A Strategic Assessment - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (ICA/JCPA)
  • Israel Will Have to Draw Its Own Borders, Says Deputy Prime Minister
    "If I believed there was a real chance of reaching a (peace) agreement, I would advise making the effort, but that is not the situation," Israel's vice-premier Ehud Olmert said in an interview published Friday in Yediot Ahronot. Olmert said Israel has two choices - either to withdraw to the so-called "green line," or an "inclusive unilateral move...where we define our borders that will in no way be similar to the 'green line.'" Sharon and prime ministers before him have said they will not withdraw to the 1967 borders. "I won't define the border," Olmert said. "I will just say that it will be based on a maximization of the number of Jews and a minimization of the number of Arabs inside the State of Israel." (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • France Plans to Ban Muslim Headscarf at School
    The French government plans to ban the Muslim headscarf from public schools to protect teenage girls from "fundamentalist pressures" to wear it, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said last week. Women politicians have been especially keen for a ban on the headscarves, saying Islamic fundamentalists and conservative male family members were pressuring teenage girls into wearing them in violation of France's principle of sexual equality. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF: School Bombing Could Have Drawn Strike on Syria - Margot Dudkevitch and David Rudge
    A senior military source said Thursday that had Wednesday's foiled attack on a school in Yokneam succeeded, it would have been grounds to consider an additional strike inside Syrian territory. Israeli security services said the order for the bombing of the school came from Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus. "They (Syrian leaders) know very well what the Islamic Jihad is doing in Damascus," the source said. Meanwhile, the Syrian Air Force has gone on high alert fearing another IAF attack, Channel 2 television reported Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Explosives Belt Found in Ramallah
    IDF forces discovered a ready-to-wear explosives belt in Ramallah Thursday. Shots were fired at an Israeli car driving near the West Bank town of Neveh Tsuf Thursday. In Gaza Thursday, Palestinians detonated an explosive device and fired a missile at IDF troops in Rafah. A booby-trapped letter was detected by border police in the central Gaza post office. A Kassam missile landed near Sderot in the Negev, and several mortars were fired. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Cease-Fire Talks Open in Cairo - Khalid Abu Toameh
    Representatives of 12 Palestinian factions began talks in Cairo on Thursday on a possible cease-fire with Israel. Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman, who helped broker the previous cease-fire that collapsed in August, said an agreement would strengthen the opposition to Sharon in Israel. Ahmed Ghnaim, a member of the Fatah delegation, said the main aim is to create a unified Palestinian voice, subordinate to the PA. Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders have refused to use the term hudna in referring to the Cairo talks, preferring instead to describe the discussions as a "national dialogue" designed to create a unified Palestinian position. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat's Resurgence - Amos Harel
    Military Intelligence reckons that Arafat will lend a hand to a new hudna. Arafat is looking for any opening to get out of the corner he's been in since the terror escalated and he lost international legitimacy. Breaches in Israeli society are perceived as encouraging signs on the Palestinian side. The internal dispute in Israel helps remove some of the pressure on Arafat to make concessions, says MI.
        As opposed to his predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei does not have pretensions of controlling the PA security forces. Arafat is dictating the PA delegation's policies at the Cairo cease-fire talks, and without his approval, the Palestinian delegation would not have gone to Geneva this week. During the previous cease-fire, it was Arafat's organization, Fatah, that was mostly responsible for the violations - the army counted 250 such. (Ha'aretz)
  • Let's Not Make a Deal - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Contrary to claims by the Israeli authors of the Geneva Accord, according to which the Palestinian opponents of the agreement consist mostly of Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters and activists, this week's protests showed that the mainstream secular Fatah organization (headed by Arafat) was spearheading the campaign. Fatah's armed wing, al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, is believed to be behind the shooting attack on Geneva drafter Yasser Abed Rabbo's home in al-Bireh. Fatah is also responsible for the most pugnacious leaflets and statements against the accord. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Geneva Affront - Editorial
    Imagine if a failed American politician, along with one of Saddam's former henchmen, announced their own peace plan and reconstruction timetable for Iraq. Imagine then if international luminaries such as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov announced their support for the plan and a wish to meet the architects. One would expect a furious President Bush. Yet a comparable indignity has been visited upon Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by Mr. Bush's secretary of state, Colin Powell, by giving credence to something called the "Geneva Accord." Secretary Powell might argue that he has a duty to look at any proposal that offers the slightest chance of peace, and hence his decision to meet with the two drafters. But his State Department minions should have warned him that there is no such chance.
        He has affronted Mr. Sharon and Israel as a democracy. The Israeli public elected Ariel Sharon to lead them; Mr. Beilin didn't even make it into parliament. One of the foreign policy aims of the Bush administration is to bring democracy to the Middle East. Respecting the sovereignty of the government of the Middle East's only democracy would be a fitting start. (Wall Street Journal; 4 Dec 03)
  • The Lies of Geneva - Shlomo Avineri
    Geneva's initiators said it contains Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as "the state of the Jewish people." Not so. The "Jewish people" is not mentioned in the document. The Palestinian signators do not include anyone who believes there is a "Jewish people."
        Not only will the Arab refugees be entitled to compensation but also some Arab countries - for the expenses they incurred in "hosting" the refugees since 1948. (Yediot Ahronot/IMRA)
        See also The Dangers of the Geneva Accord - Ari Shavit
    In going to Geneva, the peace yuppies did it once more: They forced through an irreversible diplomatic fact that they were not authorized to make. Essentially, they asked the world to force their will on their own people. But now, after the peace elite has once again chosen to go to the world powers over the head of the elected Israeli government, there is no longer any cause for sympathy. There is no choice but to clearly state the inherent dangers of the seemingly innocent document. (Ha'aretz)
        For a contrasting view, see Citizens Show Peace is Possible - Bill Clinton
    Israelis and Palestinians reached agreement in a meeting in Geneva this week on a settlement of all issues that have divided them for so many years. No one was acting in an official capacity, so the plan has no force of law. But the fact it happened at all is an encouraging sign for a region so bloodied by conflict. (USA Today)
  • The Mistaken Arab Experience - Michael Young
    For all the justifiable grievances it has aroused, the Palestinian fight for self-determination has, in many respects, rendered the Arab world impotent. Through overriding attention to the fate of their Palestinian brethren, Arabs - whether consciously or not - have sacrificed much-needed political, social and economic advancement in other domains. Here in the region, the prevailing reaction to President Bush's recent speech on democracy was resentment. The main justification for the derision was the fate of the Palestinians. "How can President Bush be sincere on democracy," went the standard reaction, "when he allows Israel to abuse the Palestinians?"
        To invite the Arab world to look beyond the problem of the Palestinians is hardly incitement to abandon their cause. However, the prism of 1948 has distorted so many things in the Middle East that it is with little imagination that Arab states and societies tend to address such fundamental issues as democracy, sovereignty, the perils of overmilitarization, relations with the U.S. and, even, the optimal pursuit of national interests. In reaffirming the value of such issues and playing down the importance of the Palestinian predicament with respect to how it affects them, Arabs would not only help themselves, but also the very people whose sad destiny they cannot seem to quite shake off. (New York Times)
  • Can We Win the Guerrilla War in Iraq? - Jim Hoagland
    This week in Samarra, Iraqi bandits ambushed a U.S. convoy carrying money to Iraqi banks, and were repulsed with heavy losses. At one basic level, the guerrilla war waged by Baathist remnants of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship is about money and privilege. The warring Arab Sunnis of Iraq want the money. And they want to regain the privilege of dominating the country's other population groups. The country's majority Arab Shiite population offers tacit political cooperation to the occupation force, and the Kurdish Sunni minority is allied with the coalition. That represents three-fourths of the nation's population. This war is led and fought by a small, embittered minority of oppressors. (Washington Post)
  • European Dishonor - Sharia on the Old Continent - Lorenzo Vidino and Erick Stakelbeck
    Young women killed for dating. Limbs amputated for petty theft. Makeshift courts deciding the fates of members of local Muslim communities. The Western world has grown accustomed to hearing about the brutalities of Islamic law. However, these primitive practices are no longer limited to the remote tribal areas of Pakistan, the backward kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or oppressive, mullah-dominated Iran. Today, thanks in large part to a massive flow of immigration from Muslim countries, sharia law and medieval customs are becoming increasingly common in the heart of Christian Europe. (National Review)

    Weekend Features:

  • Gaza Residents Receive Holiday Greeting from the IDF - Amos Harel
    The readers of the Palestinian daily Al-Quds found a rather surprising advertisement in their paper last Monday. "Dear residents of the Gaza Strip, Holiday greetings for the Id al-Fitr [the holiday ending the month of Ramadan] ... and we ask Allah to make our common journey easier. During the past year, the Israeli army was forced to fight elements that harmed the daily lives and the public order in both Palestinian and Israeli societies - and this by steadfastly seeking to destroy every opportunity for establishing peace between the two peoples. The fighting against these gangs, with force and determination, is necessary - along with extending a helping hand to anyone who wants to gain just and total peace, based on the principles of mutual understanding and respect." Signed: Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel, head of Southern Command
        Efforts are now being made to address the Palestinian people directly, over the heads of their political leadership. The IDF has no illusions that the effort will turn any of the residents of the Gaza Strip into a supporter of Israel, but hopes to avoid the link of the PA in explaining its actions to the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • A Tale of Two Jewish U.S. Soldiers - Joe Berkofsky
    Lt. Col. Scott Rutter, 41, who retired from the service after 20 years last month, was one of some 300 Jews among 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. A veteran company commander of the first Gulf War who had won a Bronze Star for valor for heroism in ground combat, Rutter won a Silver Star in combat this year in Iraq. 2nd Lt. Daniel Helmer, 22, a recent graduate of West Point, is awaiting orders to get shipped off to Iraq. At West Point, Helmer helped organize the first Jewish Warrior Weekend at the academy, which explored Jewish connections to the military. "Jews don't understand that military service is derived from the idea of tikkun olam," or repairing the world, Helmer said. (JTA)
        See also Jewish Life at West Point - Peter Ephross
    At the U.S. Military Academy, 50% of the first graduating class was Jewish; Simon Magruder Levy was half of West Point's two-person graduating class in 1802. Today there are some 80 Jewish cadets enrolled at West Point. (JTA)
  • Observations:

    The Geneva Accord: A Strategic Assessment
    - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • A self-appointed Israeli negotiating team, claiming to speak in the name of a majority of Israelis, concluded the Geneva Accord with a Palestinian delegation. It conceded almost all the security arrangements for the West Bank and Gaza Strip sought by past Israeli governments.
    • The Geneva Accord leaves Israel with no safety net in the event that the agreement is violated by the Palestinian side. It is as though its architects learned nothing from the collapse of the Oslo Agreement.
    • The Geneva architects agreed to the expulsion of more than 100,000 Israeli Jews from the territories.
    • In the name of the Jewish people, the Israeli Geneva team gave up the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Jewish history. They seem unaware of the long-term implications for the Zionist movement of conceding Zion.
    • According to Geneva, Israelis recognize for the first time a Palestinian "right of return" to pre-1967 Israel. In exchange, the Palestinians agreed that not all the Palestinians will come to Israel. The number that will enter Israeli territory cannot be understood from Geneva's wording.
    • The Geneva model should not be adopted by anyone concerned for the security and future of the Jewish state.

      Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror is former commander of the IDF's National Defense College and the IDF Staff and Command College. He is also the former head of the IDF's research and assessment division, with special responsibility for preparing the National Intelligence Assessment.

        See also Geneva is a Blueprint for War, Not Peace - Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe); The Return of Poisoned Discourse - Yossi Klein Halevi (Jerusalem Post); Geneva Accord Splits Israeli Left - Stewart Ain (New York Jewish Week)

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