Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 12, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Riots Follow Hamas Victory in Ramallah Student Elections - 100 Wounded (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    After student elections at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, which the Islamic Bloc of Hamas and Islamic Jihad won with 2,600 votes compared with 2,100 for the Fatah list, Fatah sought to show by force who was "in charge."
    Together with Palestinian security forces, primarily from Preventive Security, Fatah "shabiba" began to beat the candidates of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their supporters, and threw rocks and bottles.
    Palestinian sources report that security forces opened fire on the crowd, and over 100 students were lightly wounded.
    Similar elections are to be held at Bethlehem University on December 17.

Saudi Dissident Group's Leader Critical of Clerics - Susan Schmidt (Washington Post)
    Ali Ahmed, head of the Washington-based Saudi Institute that seeks democratic reform in Saudi Arabia, complained Wednesday that an upcoming conference in Houston on Dec. 24 will feature addresses broadcast from Riyadh by clerics who have praised holy war and Osama bin Laden.
    Instructors at a Virginia Islamic institute who hold diplomatic credentials issued by the Saudi Embassy are scheduled to speak at the gathering.
    One of the keynote speakers, Sheikh Allamah Ibn Jibreen, has publicly urged young Saudis to join al-Qaeda and fight U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

FBI Reveals Tampa Terrorist Cell Evidence (AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
    FBI agents monitored a group of Palestinians in Florida for more than a decade and drew the connections between Middle East terrorists and the seemingly quiet academics through a web of money transfers, faxes, and scanned mail, according to court documents released Thursday.
    In a 100-page affidavit, FBI Agent Kerry Myers detailed the investigation of former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian and three others named in a 50-count federal racketeering indictment.
    The evidence ties Al-Arian to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
    In June 1993, Al-Arian sent four wire transfers of $2,000 each from his bank in Tampa to the bank accounts in Israel established for the spouses or close relatives of four terrorists responsible for the February 1992 slayings of three Israelis.

Egypt Firms Approach Israel in Tie Warming - Envoy (Reuters/MSNBC)
    Egyptian businessmen have approached Israel on setting up joint venture economic zones in Egypt in what Israel's ambassador to Cairo said on Thursday was a slight warming of ties between the two states.
    Eli Shaked said the idea of such zones was raised in talks between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Wednesday. The zones would benefit from an Israeli-U.S. trade pact.
    Shaked said textile plants would be set up in Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs), which already operate in Jordan.
    ''A couple of months ago...the Egyptian authorities gave the green light to the Egyptian businessmen to start searching for this idea of QIZ,'' he said.
    An Israeli-owned textile firm, Delta Egypt, is already working successfully and exporting, including to Britain's Marks & Spencer.

Egged Bus Company Publishes Its First Environmental Report (
    Egged, the largest public transportation company in Israel, has recently released its first environmental report for 2002.
    Egged switched to low-sulfur diesel fuel and has been replacing its older buses with newer Euro-III standard buses to meet a goal of 50% emission reduction in just 3 years for its inner-city fleet.
    In the city centers of Haifa and Jerusalem additional 30% and 15% emission reductions have been achieved.
    Egged built new integrated transportation terminals in Haifa and Jerusalem, where indoor air quality and noise levels are carefully monitored and controlled using state-of-the-art design and technologies.

Israel Included in U.S. Gov't Civilian Procurement - Hadas Manor (Globes)
    Israeli exports to the U.S. federal government market will reach $100 million in the next two years, compared with none at present.
    40-50 Israeli companies will be included in U.S. government civil procurement, Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute director Yechiel Assia said Tuesday.

Useful Reference:

Saving Lives: Israel's Security Fence - a special report (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    The right to live free from terrorism must take precedence.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Quietly Helps U.S. in Iraq, Aides Say
    A key U.S. ally behind-the-scenes in the war in Iraq, Israel has been contributing intelligence, tactics, and technology mostly in secret to avert an Arab backlash, congressional aides and analysts said on Thursday. The commander of the IDF's Golani Brigade briefed U.S. Marines in mid-June, and Israel has supplied the American military with aerial surveillance equipment, decoy drones, and D-9 armored bulldozers, sources close to the Israeli government said. U.S. Navy F-18 planes routinely use an Israeli glider, and U.S. A-10 Thunderbolts, F-15E Strike Eagles, and AV-8B Harrier jets are equipped with "pods" that provide real-time images of the battlefield in Iraq. American forces have also made limited use of a helmet system which allows a pilot to more easily target the enemy without maneuvering the aircraft into attack position. Israeli security sources say mass assaults by covert squads of soldiers and swoops by troops posing as Arabs were among the tactics U.S. forces were studying for use in Iraq.
        Yet Israel was left off the White House's much-publicized list of coalition partners, and this week was denied - along with anti-Iraq war countries France, Germany, and Russia - eligibility for lucrative post-war reconstruction contracts. "It's hard to believe that a country like Moldova has done more for the U.S. war effort than Israel," said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Reuters)
        See also Israel Working Behind Scenes to Get Iraq Contracts - Ran Dagoni
    Israel assumed a long time ago that it would not be included in the list of countries eligible to participate in Iraqi reconstruction tenders. Israel is now working behind the scenes with the Bush administration and the U.S. Congress to obtain access to these projects, Washington sources said Wednesday. The sources said that Israel and the U.S. had no interest in publicizing their discussions on this very sensitive issue since the two countries were "under an international microscope." The sources added that the provisional Iraqi administration would oppose any Israeli presence and Israel was aware of this sensitivity. Israel is requesting, however, that it be given the opportunity to serve as a subcontractor in telephony, infrastructures, irrigation, and other projects, and as a supplier of inputs, since it supported the U.S. war in Iraq. (Globes-Israel)
  • Donors Press Palestinians on Security
    Donor nations, in Rome for their annual meeting, put new pressure Thursday on the Palestinians to crack down on militants and clean up their finances, suggesting that future aid could be in doubt if there is no improvement, diplomats said. International aid accounts for 60% of the annual budget of the Palestinian Authority. "There are signs of what you may call donor fatigue," said Jakken Biorn Lian, Norway's special envoy to the Middle East. "In the absence of results, I foresee an increased donor fatigue, which will result in a diminishing of the means that will be going to the Palestinians." (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Diplomat Says Palestinian Reform All But Halted
    ''I will be blunt. The reform process is at a near standstill,'' Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield said in a sharp assessment delivered to the Quartet task force on Palestinian reform in Rome. Satterfield called on the new Palestinian government to take a series of actions, including: unifying and reforming Palestinian security services; direct deposit of all security service salaries; adoption of a revised elections law; passage of capital markets legislation; and restraint in Palestinian Authority wages.
        The U.S. diplomat also faulted Israel for not having done enough to help the process of Palestinian reform. ''Continuing Israeli restrictions on movement, and the consistent failure to issue permits to Palestinians identified as critical to the success of the reform effort, significantly hamper the Palestinian reform agenda,'' he said. ''Quite simply, there is much more that the Israeli government can do and should do - without compromising its legitimate security interests.'' (Reuters/MSNBC)
        At a meeting in Rome Thursday with European nations that help finance the PA, David Satterfield said, "The Israeli government has done too little for far too long to translate its repeatedly stated commitment to facilitate Palestinian reform into reality." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Powell Meets with Moderate Palestinian
    Secretary of State Colin Powell gave fresh encouragement Thursday to private peace efforts in the Middle East, meeting with Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh who, along with former Israeli security official Ami Ayalon, is seeking Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns were also present. "The secretary welcomed our effort," Nusseibeh said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Seven Israelis Wounded in Joseph's Tomb Shooting - Jonathan Lis and Amos Harel
    Seven Israelis, members of the Bratslav Hasidic sect, were wounded - one critically and one seriously - after a Palestinian gunman opened fire at a van carrying the unauthorized visitors to the site of Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus before dawn Friday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Seven Pilgrims Injured in West Bank (ABC-Australia)
  • Sharon Plan Aims to Minimize Confrontation with Palestinians - Gil Hoffman
    The goal of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new diplomatic plan will be to give the PA a contiguous state that would minimize the points of confrontation with Israel, Sharon's ally Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Thursday. Sharon is expected to outline the plan at the Herzliya Conference next Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PM's National Security Advisor: Unilateral Measure will Improve Security - Alex Fishman
    In an interview, Maj.-Gen. Giora Iland, the new national security advisor to the prime minister, said: Whoever thinks that the '67 lines are defensible in the context of a peace agreement and thus the fence should have been built on the '67 lines is making an irrelevant argument. There is no peace agreement and there is no one to take responsibility on the other side. The fence must provide sufficient warning time. Therefore, there has to be a distance between the fence and any settled area. There are also tactical considerations like (topographical) control over an area, line of sight, and saving on the numbers of deployed forces. The purpose of the fence is to protect people, not territory. Erecting the fence on the '67 lines would be indicative of a political fence - not a security fence. And the other side would interpret this as a victory won through its terrorism. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew; 12 Dec 03)
  • Baghdad Jews Fear Wahhabi Terrorism - Matthew Gutman
    With the tenor of threats from Iraq's Wahhabi mosques increasingly acid and incitement rank in the country's newspapers, Emad Levy, 38, custodian of Baghdad's dying Iraqi Jewish community (numbering 24), wants out. Increasingly, Baghdad is no place for Jews, and Levy scoffs at those who would come back to reclaim some 1,600 Jewish properties across the city. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Price of Intransigence - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Today there are headlines once again about formulas for a settlement, but it is clear that the Palestinians are far less prepared for peace than they were a decade ago. Suffused with messages of hate, indoctrinated early in the schools, and subjected to poisonous broadcasts in the media and the mosque, they nurture a culture that longs not for the creation of a Palestinian state but for the destruction of the state of their Israeli neighbors.
        The majority of Israelis have concluded that a comprehensive peace is not possible in the foreseeable future. Given that wishful diplomacy is dead, there is only one course for Israel. That is to continue building its defensive physical barrier between itself and the West Bank. 80% of Israelis from both the left and the right consider the fence an absolute necessity as a last resort in protecting themselves and their children from terror. A fence is an imperative, given how many Palestinians still want to see the onslaught of terrorism against Israel continue. Until there is a successful negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians resulting in a peace agreement truly worthy of the name, the message must be that when one society declares war on another, there will be a price to pay. A substantial price. (U.S. News)
  • The Mullahs' Nukes - Editorial
    Iraq was a failure of the UN arms-control system, but Iran could very easily be its last hurrah. If the mullahs follow North Korea in going nuclear under the not-so-watchful eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that body will have breathed its last. Yet the IAEA has decided not to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for sanction. If this is as far as the agency is prepared to go following inarguable violations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, then it might as well close up shop. The Bush Administration has, if anything, been remarkably restrained on all of this. U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton put things with his usual clarity earlier this month when he said that "The United States believes that the longstanding, massive and covert Iranian effort to acquire sensitive nuclear capabilities makes sense only as part of a nuclear weapons program." But so far it has accepted the UN refusal to act. (Wall Street Journal; 12 Dec 03)
  • Sharon Promises Continued Jewish Presence in Hebron - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Sharon came out with an impassioned defense of continued Jewish presence in Hebron at Sunday's cabinet meeting, saying there will always be a Jewish presence in the city. "Can anyone imagine that there will not be Jews living in Hebron?" Sharon asked. Sharon recalled how when he was foreign minister in 1999, he met the pope who told him that Israel is holy to Christians, Moslems, and Jews, but was promised only to the Jews. Sharon asked what other nation in the world has a national monument like the Machpela Cave, where the nation's forefathers are buried. "In a normal country, all foreign visitors and all schoolchildren would be brought to this site," Sharon said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Diplomat Defends Israel's Actions Against Aggressors - Larry Ramer
    Chicago-born Chaim Shacham, who represents Israel at the UN General Assembly, explained that one key to defending Israel is "eliminating the confusion between cause and effect." "Israel's security measures don't cause terrorism, they are a result of terrorism. If we didn't have terrorism, then we wouldn't have to be involved with the Palestinians," he said. "UN reports say that Israel...causes economic hardship. However, most of these reports totally ignore the fact that the reason the Palestinian economy is in a shambles is because the Palestinian leadership has pursued a campaign of terrorism against the Israelis." "Those who attack Israel are criticizing the country for defending itself."
        "The current stage of the conflict is not the result of the Israeli is the result of the Palestinian leadership's unwillingness to compromise. In the Camp David Summit of July 2000, (former Israeli Prime Minister) Ehud Barak made the most forthcoming offer ever made....The reply of the Palestinians was to resort to terrorism and to attempt to gain what they want through violence." (Tri-Town News, NJ)
  • About that Wall... - Mark R. Levin
    As the U.S. builds barriers between our troops and hostile Iraqi villages for the purpose of reducing American casualties, the Bush administration is denouncing Israel's construction of a wall to protect its citizens from Palestinian terrorists. The wall is about Israel's self-defense, and nothing more. The wall can be moved if future agreements require it. The problem has never been Israel's unwillingness to exchange land for Palestinian promises of peace: It has always been the Palestinians' unwillingness to keep their promises. This is just one more example of a double standard that devalues Israeli security and the lives of Israeli citizens. (National Review)
  • European Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism: Similarities and Differences - Interview with Andrei S. Markovits
    Anti-Semitism in Europe goes back a thousand years. Anti-Americanism emerged more than 200 years ago among European elites. Current European prejudices are enhanced by the Europeans' perception of how America and Israel use power. America and Jews are seen by many Europeans as paragons of a modernity they dislike and distrust, and thus hostile to established traditions and values. Anti-Americanism fulfills a structural role in helping to create a European identity. Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are the only major icons shared by the European extreme left and far right, including neo-Nazis. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • U.S. Military Commanders: Why We're Winning in Iraq - Vernon Loeb
    Commanders from the four major U.S. Army divisions in Iraq explain why they believe they were winning the war against Iraqi insurgents, religious extremists, and foreign terrorists, and what they use as measures of success. (Washington Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Wahhabis at the Gate - Stephen Schwartz
    Among the ethnic Albanian Muslims - especially in western Macedonian regions where they and their Christian fellow-Albanians continue agitating for the right to education in the Albanian language - there is much discussion of infiltration by Saudi-funded agents of the Wahhabi sect. Riyadh continues to send Wahhabi missionaries, in their characteristic beards and archaic Arab outfits, to seek control over Balkan Muslims. These European Muslims, living in a remote and disregarded country, understand the truth about the Saudi/Wahhabi threat to the Islamic world, and to the world at large - even as many in capitals like Washington continue to deny it. (Weekly Standard)
  • Israeli Arab Wins Israeli Version of "Big Brother" - Justin Huggler
    Firas Houri, 21, an Israeli Christian Arab, was named as the winner of Project Y, Israel's version of the reality TV show "Big Brother," after he won the popular phone-in vote. Houri was the only Arab in a house full of Jewish Israelis for three months. Many of the other contestants admitted he was the first real Arab friend they had ever made. Houri stressed repeatedly during the show that what matters to him is individual people, not race or religion. Houri's open-mindedness has won him a lot of popularity in Israel - and his own TV show. (Independent-UK)
  • "Checkpoint Entertainer" Wows Roadblock Crowds - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Muhammad Fakih has become so famous among Palestinians stranded at checkpoints that some are dubbing him the "Checkpoint Entertainer." When a soldier asked him to identify himself, Fakih responded by imitating Sharon. "There can be no peace until the Palestinians start fighting terrorism," he barked at the stunned soldier, who called his friends to come hear the impressionist. When Israel TV's Arabic service invited him to appear, he turned the offer down. "It wouldn't have looked good for me to appear on Israeli TV," he explained. The PA's TV station, on the other hand, has never approached him. "Unfortunately, our authority does not value this kind of art," he said. "I've never seen anyone impersonating Yasser Arafat on Palestine TV. I don't think anyone dares to do so." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    It's The Terrorists, Stupid - Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz)

    • The idea that negotiations and a readiness by Israel to make extensive concessions will lead the terrorists to cease their murderous activities is absurd and has been proved wrong time and again at great cost.
    • Terrorism, deliberately directed against civilians, with the intention of causing mass casualties, has become a worldwide scourge in recent years. If not controlled, it threatens the very existence of states as we have come to know them in the past century.
    • Defeating terrorism was the goal clearly enunciated by President Bush after the September 11, 2001, attacks on America. Israel, more immediately threatened by terrorism than the U.S., must adopt the same goal. Nothing less will do, there are no substitutes.
    • Would a unilateral withdrawal by the IDF, leaving the terrorists in control of the abandoned areas, strike a blow against terrorism or expose Israelis to additional dangers?
    • The idea that the IDF can be withdrawn and Israelis can settle down to live peacefully behind the security fence, while terrorism reigns on the other side of the fence, is an illusion.
    • Demographic considerations play no part in the battle against terrorism. Demographic considerations are valid and legitimate once the permanent borders of Israel are being negotiated. We're not there yet.

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